Author Topic: External Refrigerator Controllers  (Read 24465 times)

maddspoiler

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External Refrigerator Controllers
« on: June 03, 2011, 06:19:56 PM »
Does anybody have any experience with external refrigerator controllers such as those sold from Williams or Midwest Supplies? I am looking at buying one soon for lagering/brewing during the warmer months and wondering... What one is the best bang for the buck? Or any companies/units I should stay away from? Thanks,

Offline Ziggybrew

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 09:29:09 PM »
I think they are all expensive.  For what it's worth, I'm happy with my Johnson analog controller. There was a DIY project floating around that I've been trying to find. Let us know if you've seen it.

Offline jomebrew

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 10:13:46 PM »
I have three Johnson analog controllers.  I have not complaints.  Sure, 66f is a little harder to pinpoint than a digital, but it aint that hard  ;D

Offline BobBrews

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2011, 05:47:54 AM »
Don't forget to scan the web for best prices no matter what you buy. Craigslist, Ebay the whole gamut. I was looking a few years ago and although I didn't buy. It was a LOT cheaper on the net. Cheers!
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Offline jomebrew

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2011, 10:19:44 AM »
Don't forget to scan the web for best prices no matter what you buy. Craigslist, Ebay the whole gamut. I was looking a few years ago and although I didn't buy. It was a LOT cheaper on the net. Cheers!

This is generally true but I tend to support my local homebrew shop when it makes sense.  I don't always save a few bucks when I can pop over to the shop and get one.  for example, I have two new and one used controller.  I really like having the shop nearby and being able to drop right in anytime and get stuff.  I live in Silicon Valley and we pay serious sales tax.  Local prices are very competitive at MoreBeer and it is not uncommon for shipping and tax to be close enough that I don't end up saving much off the web so we might be a bit of a different case here.

maddspoiler

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2011, 05:52:34 PM »
I found quite a few DIY projects on this subject but they can cost as much or more than an external controller from Williams. I believe buying one will be quicker and safer. Thanks,

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2011, 05:45:46 PM »
I've got one of the digital controllers from Williams Homebrewing and I like it.
I use it to turn a chest freezer into a keg cooler.

As far as lager goes, I'm fairly new. Last season was my first real attempt. I took advantage of my basement being in the low 50s during the winter. At the moment I have two kegged lagers in said chest freezer maturing at 32 degrees.  I must say the changes this brew is going through as it ages are amazing.
That means my ale must be dispensed at 32 as well.  Oh well. Purists be damned. Cold beer is nice.

I've never used my controller to maintain fermentation temperature.

I do ale when it is too warm for lager, and I'll be doing lager from now on when my basement is cool enough.

Cheers!
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maddspoiler

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 08:20:52 PM »
I unfortunately do not have the luxury of a cool basement to ferment in. If I want to brew at all this summer it will have to be in the fridge.  :'(  Im trying to find a chest freezer on craigslist to ferment in then use the fridge for kegs/lagering.

Offline Ziggybrew

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2011, 09:30:18 PM »
I found quite a few DIY projects on this subject but they can cost as much or more than an external controller from Williams. I believe buying one will be quicker and safer. Thanks,
That is useful, thanks. 

Offline Rusty Nails

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2011, 07:27:41 AM »
Try a local appliance store. If you tell them it's for homebrewing, they may be willing to help. The local one here offered to give me a fridge that came in on trade because it had no shelves. Unfortunately, I didn't have room for it.

maddspoiler

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2011, 10:42:31 PM »
Finally got my johnson controller. Calibration seems off by about 3 degrees F. Other than that all is well.  Best price I found new was at Brewmasters Warehouse for 65 bucks including shipping. Took about 4 days to arrive via fedex ground. Thanks for the help guys! ;D

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2011, 04:55:57 PM »
I thought about using my chest freezer to ferment lager, but wasn't so keen on moving glass carbs in and out.  So I abandoned the idea.

Good luck with it and tell us what you eventually setup and how it works out.
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maddspoiler

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2011, 10:47:58 PM »
Right now Im just using a normal fridge with freezer up top to ferment lagers in and an air conditioned environment for ales. Im planning on finding a chest freezer on craigslist or at a garage sale to ferment in and use the fridge for kegs. Ill let you know how it turns out. So far so good though.

Offline DaveinPa

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2011, 05:14:40 PM »
I have a Johnson Controls digital controller for my freezer.  You can dial in temperature pretty close.  I have mine set to a 2 degree range around the set point - freezer comes on at set point and goes off at 2 degrees below set point. The freezer only runs a couple times an hour, even with the narrow band.

maddspoiler

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Re: External Refrigerator Controllers
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2011, 03:32:10 PM »
Found a huge chest freezer on craigslist for 20 bucks. Been using it for a few weeks now and it works great with the controller hooked up!