Beer Brewing Equipment -- Fermentation Chamber
I do most of my brewing in the garage, and during the winter, my garage is normally 50 - 55°F. Most of the yeasts I use require warmer temperatures, so I ferment inside the box shown above. The heat is provided by a 40 watt light bulb, dimmed somewhat by a dimmer switch, and covered by a large coffee can. It is controlled using an AC thermostat that can be purchased from McMaster-Carr for around $15. My setup is a little more complex than necessary -- the thermostat is plugged into an outlet, and the switched side of the thermostat is wired to a normal outlet box. The light with the dimmer is plugged into this outlet box. The reason I've done it this way is so I can see when the light inside is on with a little night light plugged into the sister socket on the outlet box.
I find that the thermostat oscillates about 5 degrees above and below the set temperature, and keeps the beer inside about 2 degrees cooler than the setting and very stable no matter what the garage temperature is. The box also keeps the fermentors out of the light, and the inside is a reasonably inhospitable place for nasties to grow because of all the CO2 produced.
The box is constructed from 1/4" plywood held together with 2 x 2 strips running along the seams. The floor and lid are seperate from the walls so it is easy to deal with fermentors. The walls, lid, and the floor panel are filled with 1 1/2" thick foam insulation sheet material. The edges are taped with duct tape. All electrical items are hard wired together and placed inside the appropriate electrical boxes. A darkroom thermometer displays the internal temperature, but I've also got strip thermometers attached to my carboys so I can see how the two differ.
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