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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * March 30, 2004 * Air conditioning question - walk-in cooler idea < Previous Next >

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chumley (63.227.170.235)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 05:19 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I live in an old Victorian house in Montana, built in 1885. The basement temperature varies from 42 - 52°F from December to April, and ranges anywhere above that to a maximum of 64°F in the summer.

So, December to April are perfect temperatures for me to brew lagers. Problem is, I run out around September. As discussed on a recent thread, my plan to move a refrigerator into the basement fell through when I couldn't get it maneuvered through the narrow windey stairs.

So, I am evaluating other alternatives. Whilst tipping an IPA at a local tasting room recently, the brewer suggested building a walk-in cooler. Like what Walt has. That much construction doesn't appeal to me, an eternal foe of the work ethic, but it did give me an idea.

The basement consists of three separate rooms, including one approximately 8 ft by 24 ft. It has a door and a basement window. My idea is to take out the window, and install an air coditioner in it from May through October. I can hook it to a temperature controller, and set the temperature to 50°F. Thusm I would create a walk-in cooler for my bottles, carboys, and lager primaries, in a very limited portion of the basement.

My reasoning is that since it is such a limited temperature differential (60° going to 50°), I likely wouldn't see a big jump in my electric bill. But since it is "conditioning" air, and the ambient air outside might be 80-100°F, will I still be drawing significant power? And will it cause the rest of the basement to warm up? Truth be told, I have never lived with air conditioning, and know little about it. I am seeking some "yea or nay" about my idea before I bring it up with my wife. I know her objection will be that burglers will yank it out, slide in, rob us blind and murder us in our sleep, so i am also researching that aspect.

TIA,
chumley
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 05:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

First, it wouldn't warm up the rest of the basement if installed through the window, as the condenser portion is on the outside.

As long as you only want to get the room down to 50, you can probably make it work. You'll most likely have to jump out the built-in t-stat on the A/C unit, as most of them will cut out the compressor in the low to mid 60's, even at the coldest setting. Even then, the length of the room may be a problem, as the evap fans on window units just don't push air hard enough to recirc a room that long. You can add fans to assist, but then you are adding to the heat load.

If you walled off a portion of it, say 8 x 10, it would work quite nicely. If the window is at or near one end of the room, that's what I'd do.
Trying to cool the whole room you'll probably see the unit running 75% of the time.

Another thing to check is the humidity, as many basements tend to be quite humid. High jumidity adds substantially to the A/C load.
 

robert rulmyr (63.156.128.7)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 01:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Man, I wish I had a basement.
 

Mike Kessenich (165.189.92.23)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 01:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I would think your AC unit would run constant with a room that big. Definately shrink that room down and you're good to go with the AC. Make it as small as you can live with, you'll thank yourself when the electric bill comes.
 

RJ Testerman (208.31.88.53)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 02:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumley,
I live in extreme No Calif and dug a root cellar/walk-in cooler in the hillside behind my house. While doing the research on what (it ended up being a 20x8x8 shipping container) and how to do this I ran across several articles and a book on people that converted part of their basements into a root cellar by just building walls, insulating and venting them well. For the temperatures you mentioned you may not need much if any power assist.

Btw I got my walk-in cooler evaporator and condenser at an auction of a pizza place that went out of business for $170

RJ
 

davidw (199.239.30.126)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 02:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not so sure but what someone came up with a similar idea several years ago.

Ahhh yes, just as I suspected. Check this out under 'Brewing' and 'Building a Walk In Cooler at Home'.
 

Mike Huss (24.123.94.154)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 02:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

RJ, do you have any links on that? I'd like to build a small walk-in in my basement, but the area where I want to build it doesn't have a window available. I'd like to see what others did for root cellars and ventilation. Thanks!
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.7.79)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 02:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

didn't Skotrat build one of these puppies? A thing of beauty it was, I think 12 taps on the wall of it.....Scott?
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.7.79)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 02:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

oops...already posted above
 

RJ Testerman (208.31.88.53)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 03:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike, I lost my links but a web search will turn up plenty.
I would recommend looking for a refrigeration unit, if you are patient and keep looking you will find one. Often restaurants that are going out of business have them cheap if you are willing to remove them. Watch for auctions.
 

chumley (65.102.120.129)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 04:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, guys. I was going off memory last night, so today I took the tape to it and measured the room. It is actually 8 foot by 16 foot. So I am closer to the size Kent suggested than before.

This room has foundation for three of its walls, and the fourth wall is double brick. So I don't need to go to the of constructing walls and putting up insulation that Skot did. Plus I'm not aiming for a walki-in cooler (at least for now :)).

The comments on the AC sounds like it still might be pushing the limits for what I want to do. And this morning I was eyeing the window, and not liking what I see. Two windows and bars across to take down, then put up every season. Not for us lazy types.

The refrigeration unit idea is interesting. I am thinking of an alternative design, if it is feasible. The room has a floor drain in it that connects to my sewer line. The brick wall has a small (8 inch wide by 6 inch tall) opening at the base to allow seeped water from the rest of the basement to flow to the drain. Would it be feasible to buy some sort of floor unit to place in the room, then run the exhaust from it through pipe or duct work through this opening to the main basement, about 20 feet in all, and up and out of the basement through the coal chute? The coal chute would be much easier to screw around with than the window.
 

Doug Pescatore (141.232.1.10)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 04:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumley,
Look for what is called a split air unit. It is similar to central air, but instead of sending the compressed freon to a massive air handler and pushing cold air through the house, the condessed freon if pushed to a small wall mount air handler. These units are made for cooling one room at a time and are designed to go in older homes that have no room for duct work.

-Doug
 

chumley (65.102.120.129)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 04:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, Doug. I googled split air and these units do look like they would do what I want, albeit a little pricey. Now I would have to talk my wife into putting an evaporation unit in her garden.
 

Doug Pescatore (141.232.1.10)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 04:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You could pitch the idea that you would buy one for the lagering room and one for the bedroom. Although, you guys probably only have 30 or so days a year that are hot enough at night to really make it worth while.

-Doug
 

chumley (65.102.120.129)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 04:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Actually more like 60 days - July and August. For example, last year we had ten straight days in July when the temp exceeded 100°F. So that is a good idea.
 

PalerThanAle (65.168.73.62)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 05:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You'd think that being in Montana you would be able to find catacombs of underground tunnels to use for lagering.

PTA
 

davidw (199.239.30.126)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 05:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Curious, chumley, do you know of any dental floss farms out there? Heh!
 

chumley (65.102.120.129)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 05:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

PTA:

You, sir, are a genius. I work for an environmental firm that does mostly abandoned mine cleanup. After reading your post, I went over to talk to a co-worker who works at a site about 15 miles from town that has over 150 abandoned mines. I explained my needs, and he identified a mine adit that (a) has a locking gate of which he has a key; (b) is at 8000 feet MSL and is quite cool inside; (c) can be driven to by a pickup truck; and (d) the adit discharges clean water, of which we have the general chemistry analysis of.

So this summer, around early August when my lager supply runs low, he and I plan to drive up there and brew two 5-gallon batches (probably a CAP and Czech pils). We will use the adit water, take a bunch of homebrew and elk sausages up, and camp overnight on the adit dump pad. What a perfect thing to do when its 100°F back in town.

I think I'll shelve my half-baked plans to air condition the basement to get it to 50°F, and work more on the walk-in cooler idea.
 

Denny Conn (63.114.138.2)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 06:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Don't encourage him, chumley! ;)
 

PalerThanAle (65.168.73.62)
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 07:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd like to thank all the little people that helped me get to where I am today (which I guess would be the union workers at Saturn).

Oh, and you mispelled audit a couple times. Again, no thanks needed! :)


PTA

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