Temperature Controled Insulated Box - need advice.

CrealCritter

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I built a simple insulated plywood box. internally it measures 26" L x 26" W x 30" H (11.736 cubic feet)

I have an old cermaic space heater 1000/1500 watt and I also purchased a small 120mm 38mm 110 CFM Cooling (HS1238A-X). I also have a inkbird temperature controller (ITC-308) on order.

Although my initial use now that it's winter is to lager beer @35 degrees. But I also want to use it to sprout veggie seeds and hatch chicken and turkey eggs, come spring time. "The Box" will remain in my unheated workshop.

I'm wondering about placement of the cermaic space heater which has a fan and the exhaust fan. Should the heat come in low, since heat rises and the exhaust fan be high since cool air falls? Placement of the temperature probe should be somewhat center, I would think? I also think there really needs to be a baffle for the cermaic space heater so it doesn't excessively warm up what's right in front of it.

For the heat I was thinking I would build a short tunnel with a V baffle to direct the heat. both exhaust and heat would be pushing air through the box, either cold ambient air or heated up ambient air. Is this a wrong approach (Push/Push)?

Any thoughts or advice would be most appreciated - thanks
 
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Lazy Gardener

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Where's the challenge of paying big bucks to buy something when you can MacGuyver it?

I'm a DIY all the way. No great feat to build an insulated box. And the digital thermostats cost $10 - 15.00. If you can re-wire a table lamp with decent instructions, you should be able to wire in a thermostat. This will work with or without extra venting. So... the only thing left to do is the homework re: the most efficient use of venting. When I built my incubators, I just played around with the venting until I got the best air circulation. In the case of the styrofoam incubator, I used a pencil to poke holes here and there where the heat was building up. If I had too much ventilation, i just shoved an ear plug in the hole, or covered it with duct tape. tin foil baffles were also great assists to prevent hot spots in the bators.
 

CrealCritter

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I made it out of scrap, including hinges and the heater. I did purchase a small fan off eBay and put it in the heating chamber. I tested it last night. Ambient air temp was 48 at the time. I was able to get the box to 105 degrees in less than 1 minutes and cool it back down to ambient air temp in also less then 1 minute. So I "think" its good to go. I'm waiting for the mail main to deliver my inkbird temperature controller (ITC-308) and that should about do it. Then I'll be ready to load 5 gallon kegs of beer in it, to lager.

Being made of wood I can mount shelves pretty easy and turn it into a incubator and geminate seeds. It should come in pretty handy.

IMG_20200110_150616753.jpg


Speaking about the mailman :)
IMG_20200110_152620091.jpg
 
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CrealCritter

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So... tell me about this inkbird. I think that's the company that made the thermostat we used in last incubator build. But, it had to be wired in. It looks like yours is already pre-wired??? Just plug in your heat source??? How is the wiring set up? Does it have a heating and cooling thermostatic option?

It's programmable plug and play. The probe works in air or liquid. Has a plug for heat source and a cooling source. It's just the same as the northern brewery controller on my keezer build. One thing to note though is it has a 1000 watt rating so beware how many amps your heat / cooling source pull that you plug into it. My little ceramic heater is a 750/1500 watt so I'm running the heater on the 750 watt setting. All the info you want is here, including the manual for download ---> https://www.ink-bird.com/products-temperature-controller-itc308.html
 

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I've never done exactly what your doing and I'm not familiar with the components...except the space heater. I can tell you that your gonna have a hard time hatching eggs because of over shoot. by the time the element cools off the temp will rise a few degrees over set point. I had to choke mine down to 150 watts.
 

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interesting. looks like an overseas supplier as the website has some language problems (and the manual too), but i hope it is a good quality controller.

i'm not familiar with cooling as much as i am with heating. to smooth out the heating needs it helps to have some thermal mass along with the insulation.

if you have a well you could probably use cool water from the well for some cooling but it won't get you down to 35F.
 

CrealCritter

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For lagering beer you should start out @ 55 degrees and "step" the temperature down 3 to 5 degrees, preferably every 24 hours. Until you reach a final temperature right above freezing and hold for at least 4 weeks. This causes most of the old yeast to become less active and settle out on the bottom of the lagering vessel and die. thereby naturally clearing the beer and making it smoother tasting. The temperature decrease ensures greater yeast viability of healthy yeast. Than if you just cold crashed (no temperature drop steps). There are many other benefits to lagering also, but I won't cover those here.

Most all lager yeast instructions and recipes just say lager @ 35 degrees. But experience and further study tells me the step approach is best to ensure a higher % of yeast viability, if I want natural carbonation (which I do). Viability is also important at the end of the lagering phase because you rack the beer off the trub (dead yeast and other nasty stuff) and into another clean and sterile fermentation vessel. You then add a small amount of fermentables back into the beer. Then seal the fermentation vessel (could be a bottle) which causes fermenation to restart, producing a little more alochol and CO2 (carbonation) that we all know and love in beer. This fermentable addition & fermention restart is call priming, of course you can over prime and create bottle bombs or under prime and have flat beer.

Most all commerical breweries, cold crash, filter to sterlization (.5 micron) and force carbonate with CO2 gas, much the same way soda is carbonated. Have you heard the marketing gimmick "cold filtered" before?

I also could force carbonate, since I do have CO2 setup. But again experience tells me the addition of fermentables to create natural carbonation, also creates just a little more flavor. Besides, for these German style beers, I'm following the purity law for German beer of 1516. Where beer can only contain 4 ingredients, water, barley, hops & yeast. Forced carbonation of CO2 gas is not allowed, but it is a natural byproduct of fermentable barely malt addition, I mentioned above.
 
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