Tagged ‘fermentation temps‘

Carboy Thermowell Setup

Just a quick continuation of my last post on the Brewer’s Hardware thermowell. I haven’t had a chance to brew a batch using this yet, but I picked up a couple carboy caps when I was at Northern Brewer Minneapolis las weekend and the thermowell fits nice and snug thru the center opening. Better, the thermowell sits dead center in wort level in either a 6 or 6.5 gallon carboy. One extra thing to sanitize on brewday,  but beats taping a probe and insulation on a carboy every batch.

Thermowell in 6 gallon carboyThermowell in 6.5 gallon carboy

Love TSS2 Temp Controller

Just in time for the Dead Ringer brewday, I finished up the last of the top three wanted items for this year: a fermentation temp controller. I did a bunch of research on the differences between the budget-friendly STC-1000 and Love TSS2. Ultimately, I found more information on the Love, and I felt more comfortable buying from a company than off eBay, so I spent a little extra and went with the Love and a stainless-cap probe.

Love TSS2 Temperature Controller

I originally planned on splitting the hot feed to a single outlet for the heating and cooling circuit and nothing else, but I decided rather than come back later and re-wire the box to add another outlet should I want an always-on option, I added a second outlet to the build. I used a $9 weatherproof box from Home Depot for the housing, and aside from wresting with getting all the 12-gauge wire into the box, everything was pretty straightforward.

Love TSS2 Build

I’d be happy to post up a wiring diagram if anyone is interested, but generally I have one outlet that’s always on, and the other has a split hot feed from the TSS2 so one plug controls the heating circuit, and the other the cooling circuit. I used a carbide grout-removal bit on the plastic box to cut out the holes for the controller and the outlets. A few tips to anyone that’s building one of these:

  • Mount the controller first, and then figure out where you want your probe and power-supply wires to come into the box. You’re going to need to work around the controller and the outlets, and still make everything fit.
  • Make use of the bridged connections on the outlets. Rather than trying to wire-nut several wires together, make use of the common neutral on the outlets. The screw-terminals are more secure than wire nuts, which tend to come undone just when you have almost everything into place. The fewer connections, the better.
  • Keep your wire lengths reasonable. You need some slack in the connections to make installing everything go smoothly, but unless you have a ton of space in the box, you’re not going to have room for big balls of extra wire.

I also ordered a thermowell from Brewer’s Hardware so I can submerse the probe directly in the wort. Since that hasn’t shipped yet, I had to tape the probe onto the carboy & insulate it for my IPA fermentation. I hadn’t done much reading about how accurate this was, but it seemed very effective:

TSS2 Trial Run

My IPA wort was 85°  when I decided to give up on my immersion chiller, so I racked into a carboy, taped on the probe and insulation, and plugged in the fridge while I cleaned up. The above shot shows the ambient temp in the fridge (69°), and the wort temperature given by the probe (84°), so it was exactly what I expected. My setpoint was 64°, and when I woke up the next morning, the probe was registering 64.2°, so I went ahead and oxygenated and pitched my decanted starter.

Besides finally having proper, accurate control for ale fermentations, I’m really stoked that I’ll finally be able to ferment lagers, and I purchased ingredients for an Oktoberfest that I’ll probably be brewing up in a week or so.