HOMEBREW Digest #5636 Mon 14 December 2009

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  Re: Converting refrigerator with bottom freezer to fermentation chamber (Calvin Perilloux)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 06:39:58 -0800 (PST) From: Calvin Perilloux <calvinperilloux at yahoo.com> Subject: Re: Converting refrigerator with bottom freezer to fermentation chamber Using a frost-free, bottom-freezer unit shouldn't be any problem at all. Addressing your points: >> 1. Being frost-free, i.e., self defrosting, I believe >> it cycles through a warming period every several hours. >> That is not desirable for a fermentation chamber. The most common refrigerator that homebrewers use is a frost-free unit, albeit one with the freezer on the top of it. The principle is the same, though. The coil- heating cycle (15 to 30 minutes) should not be long enough to cause a temperature problem: Firstly, the fan won't be blowing heated air into the fridge while the defrost heater does its job; secondly, the huge thermal mass in 5 gallons of wort will overshadow any slight temperature rise as the compressor is off. >> 2. I'm guessing that there may be a significant >> temperature differential between the top and the >> bottom of the refrigerated compartment. In a forced air system this is not so much of a problem. In a convection system with no fan, it can be. But the thing that matters is the temperature of your beer, and natural convection from the fermentation should even that out inside the fermenter, which is where it counts. Again, homebrewers have not reported problems like this. If you are really worried, perhaps you can use a thermowell and put the temperature probe in there, so you actually measure the beer temperature, which is anyway a more precise method than measuring air temperature outside of the fermenter. >> 3. The freezer on the bottom may not be useful for >> much of anything [...] Generally not. I suspect that it *might* be good for storing non-thaw-sensitive things like hops, when you are holding lager temperatures in the refrigerator, but not ale temps, and certainly not if the outside ambient temperature is anywhere close to your target fermentation temperature (in which case the compressor will rarely run). Even if you read freezing temperatures, you should perhaps check this by putting some ice cubes in a bowl in the freezer, and if they melt then that indicates that it might be freezing sometimes but not always. For what it's worth, I've used top-freezer refrigerators as well as dedicated fridge-only units and converted frost-free freezers for my fermentations. All worked fine. As for bottom-freezer units, I'd love to run an experiment for you, but there is zero chance that SWMBO will let me do any such thing with the one in our kiitchen! I think my above comments are on target, though. Calvin Perilloux Middletown, Maryland, USA Return to table of contents
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