Glycol Jacketing a Conical

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Glycol Jacketing a Conical

Postby blankaBrew » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:26 pm

I have a stainless conical, and I've been trying to figure out a way to regulate it's temperature during fermentation. So, this is what I have thought of.

I will get a small dorm fridge (very cheap), put a small 2.5 gallon bucket in it filled with glycol, and have two copper pipes submerged in the solution, have the pipes come out of the bucket and through a hole in the fridge. Send one of the lines to a small pump (can be purchased for reasonable money), and have it pump it out to a copper coil that is tightly wrapped around the conical. Then have the return line go back to the glycol reservoir in the dorm fridge. I would then insulate the conical with the copper coil with aluminum HVAC tape and then foam. I could even put valves on the glycol lines so that I can disconnect the fermenter from the homemade glycol unit. I would put a thermo-well into the fermenter (through the stopper), and have that run to a temp controller which would turn the pump on/off to regulate the temp of the beer.

What do you guys think? This can be done for under $250 and with minimal work. Plus, I could keep the glycol unit and the conical on casters so that I can move them around with ease while chilling. This is important because you can't move a conical filled with 10+ gallons, and my brewery would be too close to the fridge (if I had one).

Any thoughts?
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Postby glock » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:32 pm

I think it is too much work when something else can be very simple. Why not purchase a smaller fridge or freezer that the chonical can fit directly into? If the freezer is too "short", make a modification to the lid and add on.
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Postby blankaBrew » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:39 pm

Well, when I fill the conical near my brewery, there is no place for a fridge. So, I would have to fill it and move it to the place with the fridge, then I'd have to pick it up and put it in the fridge. When I want to perform a dump, I'd either have to remove it, or I would be limited on space inside the fridge.

With a glycol jacket, I could even have leg extensions on the conical and have plenty of space for dumping from the bottom. Plus I'd never have to pick it up. I has some advantages.
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Postby Backyard Brewer » Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:47 pm

I've chilled my fermenters with glycol but used a window A/C unit to power the chiller. A fridge just doesn't have enough BTU's to keep up, especially without direct contact between your glycol and the cold plate in the fridge. The "bucket in a fridge" model will work, just not very efficiently.

With the system I put together, I can pump 90* wort into my conicals and pull it down to 65* in about 15-20 minutes. With ground water temps what they are right now, it takes a lot longer to get those extra 25* off the wort using my wort chiller.

Anyway, I've had this running for over 2 years now and I'm very happy with it. I'd build it a little differently now though. I'd slot the cooler so you could drop the evaporator coil in it without bending or compromising the evap, then repair the slot with expanding foam and silicone.

You can read about the whole thing here.
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Postby rplace » Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:26 pm

From your brew space to your conical space do you have any steps or other humps/bumps to navigate? If no can you put the conical in an upright freezer with temp control and put the freezer on casters.

On brew day put the empty conical in the freezer...roll it over to the brewery...fill it up...roll it back...plug it in?

My upright freezer that I use for controlling ferment temps is tall. I ferment in 15.5 gallon sanke kegs. I think I could easily get a conical on legs in it. The conical on legs should have plenty of space to dump it while still in the freezer.
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Postby Shyzaboy » Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:45 pm

rplace wrote:From your brew space to your conical space do you have any steps or other humps/bumps to navigate? If no can you put the conical in an upright freezer with temp control and put the freezer on casters.


Heck, I guess I could just put an upright freezer in my (outdoor) brew space....
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Postby Brew4fun » Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:57 am

replace, I do just that. I have a 14.5 Blechmann conical in a 22 CF Arctic Air commercial Freezer that I bought used at a used appliance store. I'm not sure they knew what they had cuse I only paid $450 for it and it's like new. I'ts came equiped with caster brake casters. I have the B3 Ranco dual temp controller. I added the two hole stopper so I can have a thermowell and the bow off comming out of the same stopper. This set up gives consistant and accurate temp control winter and summer. Oh forgot to mention I use the FermWrap heater for winter.
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Postby joechinon » Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:10 pm

I haven't been able to find an affordable upright freezer to put my 12.2 gallon conical in, and my garage beerroom averages about 80-85F in the summer so I really can't brew much besides saisons. But I ran across this idea and I think I can do this pretty cheap and easy.

http://www.benshomebrew.com/website/Beer/kegerator.htm
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Postby rplace » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:20 pm

Keep in mind the upfront cost of a new highly efficient freezer vs. the low cost of a 20 year old drom frig and how much it will cost you in electricity in the coming years.

I had a dorm frig given to me. I used it for the last few years. Since it died (Jan/Feg this year) I have been keeping an eye on my month to month KW usage on my electric bill. Every month with out exception my usage has been down. Even in the months where the average monthly temp was higer (i.e. more A/C running in the house).

I can only conclude that the dorm frig while free was one of the more expensive pieces of electronic equipment in my house. YMMV.

As a bonus my brand spanking new upright freezer looks a lot better then most used, low cost or homemade contraptions.

My freezer was right at $300 at the scratch and dent Sears store. It was new in the box with zero scratches and or dents.

Finally factor in your time to build it, what is that worth? Hey, I am all for making cool brew equipment. But sometimes it just makes sense to buy the right tool for the job.
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Postby joechinon » Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:34 pm

I bought a brand new chest freezer for my kegerator, it's done in oak paneling with a solid oak collar. That's my showpiece.

The link I presented is for a kegerator, I'm talking about using the same idea for my conical. What I'm thinking of is a backroom box with a dorm fridge that will run about 3 days every month while my beer is at it's peak fermentation. Otherwise I absolutely agree. These "great buys" on craigslist of 10 year old freezers for 50 dollars cost them every day they run them. I really don't want to spend $600 for an upright big enough since I know it will only be used a few days at a time.
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Postby blankaBrew » Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:09 am

Backyard Brewer wrote:I've chilled my fermenters with glycol but used a window A/C unit to power the chiller. A fridge just doesn't have enough BTU's to keep up, especially without direct contact between your glycol and the cold plate in the fridge. The "bucket in a fridge" model will work, just not very efficiently.

With the system I put together, I can pump 90* wort into my conicals and pull it down to 65* in about 15-20 minutes. With ground water temps what they are right now, it takes a lot longer to get those extra 25* off the wort using my wort chiller.

Anyway, I've had this running for over 2 years now and I'm very happy with it. I'd build it a little differently now though. I'd slot the cooler so you could drop the evaporator coil in it without bending or compromising the evap, then repair the slot with expanding foam and silicone.

You can read about the whole thing here.


WOW. That is exactly what I was thinking of doing! Great job. However, it seems more complicated than I thought at first. How easy was it to wrap the copper tubing around the conical? Did you have kinking problems?

I also kinda don't know what the hell you did with the disassembly of that a/c unit. But I want to learn. Very professional job.
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Postby Backyard Brewer » Wed Aug 15, 2007 9:54 am

blankaBrew wrote:WOW. That is exactly what I was thinking of doing! Great job. However, it seems more complicated than I thought at first. How easy was it to wrap the copper tubing around the conical? Did you have kinking problems?

I also kinda don't know what the hell you did with the disassembly of that a/c unit. But I want to learn. Very professional job.


First and foremost, DO NOT take a working A/C unit apart, not the a/c circuit itself anyway. It is very illegal to vent the refrigerant. Mine was damaged and I was able to repair it.

You can, very carefully, take apart and cut apart the window unit so the evap coil (undamaged) hangs in the air in its original position. Line up and mark where the lines would penetrate the wall of the cooler. Cut a slot from the top edge of the cooler wall down to where the lines need to go through. Mount the cooler to a board with screws from the bottom of the board that only penetrate the shell of the cooler, we just don't want it sliding around.
Next, drop the A/C unit in next to the cooler, with the evap inside the cooler. Repair the cooler slot with expanding foam, plastic and silicone. You should be able to get it to seal back up without water-logging the foam. You'll need to trim things out of the way so snug the cooler in and probably cut away a portion of the case itself.

As for wrapping the copper, that was the easy part although fighting with the extra wire was kind of a b**ch. The copper comes coiled, so it's just a matter of carefully uncoiling it in place around the conical. In an effort to get greater contact with the conical wall, I wrapped a #12 bare copper wire between the coils and then I laid down vertical bands of solder in about 6 places around the conical. If you were to look at a cross-section it would look like this--> O.O.O.O.O I'm not sure it was necessary but I'm very happy with the way my system works.

One more caveat; temperature wise I found I don't usually run my glycol bath below freezing. Even though you may not need glycol temp wise, do not use plain water as a coolant! The steel frame of the evaporator will rust almost immediately and make a big mess in the cooler. Mine did not rust in the glycol.

I'm going to add another coil in the bath and make a pre-chiller for my IC with a bypass on it.

Too bad you're on the other side of the country or I'd help you make one.
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Postby blankaBrew » Wed Aug 15, 2007 11:10 am

Thanks for the info. What kind of connectors do you have on the copper coil around the conical? Are they quick-disconnects? Do they leak glycol when you disconnect them?

I sent you a PM with my info. I'm fortunate to have found somebody that has already done this. You may have saved me from really screwing up with a dorm fridge :) Plus its nice to see that the copper coils (especially with the wires that you put between them), transfer enough energy to effectively chill the fermenter.

Thanks,
Russ
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Postby Backyard Brewer » Wed Aug 15, 2007 11:32 am

Got your PM and responded.

FWIW, I don't think using a dorm fridge is screwing up, neither is using your kegerator for a cold source. I just think it's much more limited and no where near as versatile or powerful.

I'm just not at the mercy of the ambient temp at all with this thing. Last summer we had a heat spell that started right as my Oktoberfest and a CAP finished secondary. It was about 95* ambient in my shed and I was able to bring both beers down to lagering temps over the week the heat was here. A bank of peltiers or dorm fridge just can't do that.

Having the room for a full-size fridge for each of my fermenters would have been the simplest choice, but it just wasn't an option for me.
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Postby Monster Mash » Wed Aug 15, 2007 11:57 am

I think the most simple solution is to put the fermenter on a cart and then wheel it over to a refrigerator and then slide it in.

I do it with my fermenters and it works great, the fermenter sits on a wood base with furniture movers under it. It take no effort to push it into the fridge, I can push 25 gallons with one hand.

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