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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * September 6, 2003 * How to build a counterflow chiller < Previous Next >

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Aaron MacDonald (167.242.48.41)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 12:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't know if I am breaking internet protocol by posting a link to another forum, but this post was just too good to ignore:

http://forums.homebrew.com/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=4940&s=3e3d031a8d707823a97ee5f86fc47298

I am in the process of building one now, and this is about the best instructions I have seen anywhere on the net.
 

Mike Huss (192.136.16.3)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here is a link to an all copper chiller built by a guy that's on a mailing list that I'm on.

http://www.home.earthlink.net/~ibrew4u/counter.htm

This is the one I'm using as an example to build mine. I was unable to find 3/4" refrigeration tubing so I'm using 5/8" instead. It made the connections easier to do as well since 5/8" soft is the same OD as 1/2" hard pipe.

Just another option.
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.200.231)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 01:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike,

When you get you chiller done, let us know how well it works.

The commercially available CF chillers have an inner tube with a spiral fin that increases surface area and creates turbulent water flow, both of which increase chiller efficiency over using smooth walled tubing for the wort line.
 

Mike Huss (192.136.16.3)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 02:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I really wanted one of the convoluted ones, but I just can't justify spending at least $100 on a chiller! That's just nuts to me! Of course my CFC will probably work half-a$$ed and I'll end up buying one anyway ;-). I have all of maybe $25-30 in materials into mine.

It's killing me, I've had all the parts sitting in my garage for two weeks now, just haven't had time to work on it. I really want to take my time when trying to straighten out the tubing since I did try to build one already using my old immersion chiller for the wort line, but it had all the bends in it already from forming it into an immersion chiller and it just kinked all to heck when I tried to straighten it.

I'm assuming new unbent tubing will work better.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 02:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There's not much advantage to using copper for the outer jacket of a counterflow chiller, as the flowing water is the major factor in conducting the heat. The convoluted inner tubing is more efficient, however, because it creates turbulence. This can be an advantage when the chilling water temperature is warm, but in any case the wort cannot be chilled below the temperature of the chilling water without a post-chiller of some type. Unfortunately the sole manufacturer of the convoluted tubing has made exclusive agreements with distributors that keep the price artificially high. This accounts for the relatively high cost of chillers using such tubing. If you have a year-round source of cold water, regular copper refrigeration tubing will work quite well.
 

Mike Huss (192.136.16.3)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 02:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

That's good news Bill, since our ground water is cold enough year round that I can hurt my fillings if I turn the faucet all the way cold! I think I'll be fine.

I'm making it out of copper mainly because I think sweating copper fittings is fun! Am I strange? Maybe...I think it looks cool too when it's all out of copper.
 

Harwich Hall Of Fame (208.59.33.27)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 03:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

how big is everyone making theirs? What batch sizes would you guys be using them with? Iím a little skeptical on the wort being the right temp when it reaches the other side? What if its too hot, then what? I guess Iím just looking for a ratio like 25 ft per 5 gal or whatever. Also from the brewtree.com ebay links, it says that the CFC can cool a batch in 20 minutes or so. Isn't that a long time? my emersion chiller chills 10 gals in like 5-10 minutes with a little agitation. Just my 2 cents. (even though I would love a CFC and want to build one)
 

John McGrann (66.216.134.16)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 04:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Of course my CFC will probably work half-a$$ed and I'll end up buying one anyway"

I would definitely go homemade if you're so inclined. I kinda thought the same thing when I made mine last winter with PhilChill Phittings (for <$40 total), but it works great. Just a few days ago I chilled a batch to 78 degrees in 15 minutes with tap water about as warm as it'll get here in PA. I probably could even have gotten it a few degrees lower if I jacked up the water flow. If you're in Wisconsin I think you'll have good success.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 04:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A homemade counterflow chiller was the one of the first pieces of homebrew equipment I built when I began brewing. I basically copied the instructions for the Philchill Phittings and used Home Depot plumbing fittings and 30 ft. of 3/8 in. diameter soft copper tubing inserted in 5/8 in. diameter reinforced garden hose. The chiller has served me well for more than six years and will chill 10 gallons of wort to within 2 degrees F of the chilling water temperature in about 20 minutes.

I open the kettle valve all the way and use a thermometer to monitor the wort temperature at the chiller outlet. I adjust the cold water flow until the temperature is at the desired point. In the summer when the tap water temperature is above 70 F I use an immersion chiller in a bucket of ice water as a post-chiller. Alternately the immersion chiller can be used as a prechiller for the tap water but this consumes more ice.

A pump is an advantage with a counterflow chiller. My 3/8 in. inner diameter chiller requires about a 4 ft. height differential to maintain a decent flow rate if gravity fed; larger diameter chillers such as the Chillzilla or St. Pat's chillers need less height.

Cleaning a counterflow chiller is not really a problem. Recirculate hot cleaning solution followed by a rinse after each use, then circulate sanitizer prior to using it. Again a pump makes this a simple matter.
 

John McGrann (66.216.134.16)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 04:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In keeping with Aaron's protocol-breaking, I was just reading a thread on that same forum where two posters say not to keep StarSan in prolonged contact with copper. I had read (here, I think) that it was safe to store your CFC filled with StarSan, and that in fact this would effectively keep nasties from growing inside the chiller. Any opinions/advice?
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.200.231)
Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 04:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My homade CF chiller that I used to use sounds essetially the same as Bill's : 30 ft 3/8 copper inside a garden hose, and Phil's pHittings.

But, since I don't have the space for the 4 ft height dif between kettle and chiller, it took 45 minutes to drain a 10 gal kettle.

The Chillzilla takes maybe 10-15 minutes using gravity.

In the summertime when my tap water is warmer (sometimes almost 80 deg F), I have a 'pre-chiller' (50 ft copper coil inside a pickle bucket) to get the tap water temp down.
 

Steve Hardter (207.172.249.114)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 01:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi all,

I know this thread is about making you own CFC. Here is a link however for what appears to be a very reasonably priced CFC at approx. $40. NAYY

http://www.brewtree.com/catalog/item/270236/110298.htm

I did get one of their immersion chillers to be used as a pre-chiller as identified by Paul above. I still need to tweak this aspect as my pre-chiller results were less than I hoped for.

Paul, Do you use an ice slurry in you pre-chiller or do anything special to make that aspect of the cooling system more efficient? Thanks!

Steve
 

Harwich Hall Of Fame (208.59.33.27)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 01:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

what type of pump does everyone use for there chiller? Is there a general brewing pump that works? thanks!
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The most popular pump for homebrewing applications is a magnetic drive pump from March Manufacturing. It's rated for 250 F so it can be used to pump hot wort directly from the kettle. One source for this pump is B3 (NAYY).
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.200.231)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Steve,

Yes, I pack the 5 gal pickle bucket that has the pre-chiller in it with ice and then top up with water. How long is your immersion chiller that you're using for your pre-chiller?

you might need more copper. Mine's 50 ft.
 

Jeff McClain (137.201.242.130)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I built my own CFC out of 5/8" Copper outter tubing and 3/8" inner tubing. I just went and did it after looking at a bunch of pics and stuff (similar to Bill's, it sounds like). The copper was pretty expensive (it is hard to find 5/8" tubing that comes in less than 60' lengths, and it can get a bit expensive). Having done it, I also put fittings and compression nuts to affix a nice small thermometer into the end of it as well as an aeration block. I've pictures of it on my home page (in my bio if you click on name above).

Anyway, after doing all of that, I have to say, that straightening the 3/8" copper tubing and then stuffing it into 25' of 5/8" tubing was a major pain in the butt. It turned out GREAT and the chiller works wonderfully, but if I had to do it all again, I don't think I'd bother with the outter tubing being made of copper. Just do hose, it is cheaper and easier. Also, honestly, if I was going to do it all again, brewtree has these with a thermometer attached for $39.99. Hoody bought one, and it works just great and I doubt you can build it yourself for much less than that with a thermometer and everything.

Anyone doing full wort boils 5 gallons and up should consider getting a CFC. They work great.

JMHO.

-Jeff
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

For 5 gallon batches and with relatively cold tap water, there is not much of an advantage to using a counterflow chiller over an immersion chiller. With 10 gallon batches and warmer water a CF chiller results in time and water savings.

Inserting one copper tube inside another can be tricky. This is one reason I recommend using garden hose for the outer jacket of a homemade CF chiller. In any case, coating the inner tube with dishwashing detergent makes the process easier. Another tip is to unbend the tubing and work in a large area such as outdoors or in a garage.
 

Vance Barnes (216.85.253.82)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Adding a little ice cream salt to the pre-chiller ice bath would probably help.
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.200.231)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 04:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Vance,

I thought of that, but was worried that the salt water would corrode the copper. I'll run it by John Palmer, metallurgist extraodinaire, and see what he thinks
 

Steve Hardter (207.172.249.114)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 05:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,

I use a 50' pre-chiller. I tried using a slurry with some rock salt added and still not overly pleased with the results. I still need to tinker some more.

And yes, there appears to be some discoloration on the chiller. Could that be the salt?

Steve
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 05:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A post-chiller works better than a pre-chiller because the flow rate of the wort is less than that of the chilling water (more contact time with the chilling medium). That said, a pre-chiller works well enough but consumes more ice.
 

Paul Edwards (199.46.199.230)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 06:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

True, Bill, but a prechiller doesn't need to be sanitized. Plus in my set-up, I don't have the height for a post-chiller between the CFC and the carboys.

I sometimes (when I think to do it) make a block of ice that will fit inside the coil in the prechiller.
 

Midwest Brewer (194.205.123.10)
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 09:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

More chiller instructions:

http://home.earthlink.net/~midwestbrewer/ChillerInstructions.htm

MWB
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.8.83)
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 02:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

you can make your own "convoluted" tubing sort of. just take copper wire, I used the ground wire from some household wiring. wrap it around your inner tubing in an even spiral tack solder it every few inches and voila!! you now have convoluted tubing "sort of". It would definately cause more turbulance anyway.
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.103.179)
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 02:33 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

let me rephrase my last post. Not in a million years would I go to the lengths of wrapping wire around a tube and tacking every few inches. It was just a hairbrained yet entertaining idea
BBB

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