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- Posted on
January 20, 2006, 11:20 am
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I'm very new to brewing and will be starting my first batch soon....I
want to lay my hands on a heater as the fermentation will be done in my
shed and it is pretty cold out there at the moment! What I don't want
to do however is waste money on heating the garden as well as the
beer....does anyone have any recommendations for insulating the
fermentation bucket against heat loss ???
What I did was build a wooden "warm box", and glued some styrofoam on the
outside of it for insulation. I placed a mini oil filled radiator in it set
to a low setting.
It's in my basement, where it's normally about 50-60 this time of year, I
have a cheap walmart $8 electronic thermostat with a sensor inside my wooden
box, and from that I can see the temperature is always in the 67-73 range.
I built my box in such a way that the top and front is removable, to provide
easy access to my fermentors, and for syphoning etc.
If you have some old furniture - maybe an old kitchen cabinet, or an old
armoire - you could also easily adapt that for the same purpose, (I didnt
unfortunately, and had to build from scrap) - just make sure it's strong
enough to support the weight.
I find that my radiator is off for most of the time, as it's such a small
area to heat. (I built it 28" high, and 36" wide, 19" deep) - big enough
for 2 fermentors and the mini-radiator.
If you dont have a mini-radiator, or dont want to buy one, you could also
build something using a 100w lightbulb and a thermostat, I did this at
first, and it worked, but I was just uncomfortable with the possibility of
light damaging my beer (though Im told incandesant light wont harm it) and
it seemed to be powered on more than off when it was cold overnight,
indicating (to me) that it was struggling to keek the cabinet warm enough.
Why not just build an appropriate sized Box (closet crate, whatever)
insulate it with fiberglass insulation and put in a light bulb with
enough wattage to keep it at you're desired temp? My wife does this
with a styrofoam box when she makes yogurt and a small box and a 60
watt bulb keep her yogurt at 110 F
Bubble wrap, saved from parcel deliveries. Or if you have electricity
in your shed, invest in a thermostatically controlled heater from a
home brew shop for your fermenter - they aren't expensive.
Incidentally, you don't necessarily have to ferment where you brew.
I brew in my garden shed, but once it has cooled to pitching
temperature, I carry the beer into the house to ferment - in my small
upstairs computer room as it happens; I usually have a 5 gallon keg of
beer ready to drink, at least one other keg of maturing beer and a
further 5 gallons fermenting, all within reach of my keyboard.
I had the same need for a heater and was about to install a heater in an
insulated cabinet in my cold basement, until I found another method
using a large enough container that will hold your carboy, but keep it
surrounded by water. Use an aquarium heater to keep the water (and thus
the fermenter) at the desired temp. I added a small aquarium pump I had
handy so the water would be stirred around and more evenly heated. Note
that you may want to set the heater in some water without your fermenter
a few days or more beforehand so you can get the temp adjusted to
exactly where you want it. Someone else also made a good point of
putting a "rain loop" in your electrical cord, so if you have blowoff,
etc. wort or water will not travel down the cord to the electrical
outlet. Also consider wrapping the water container with an old blanket
or somthing to insulate it if it's really cold and you loose heat to
fast. Hope this helps!