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Good Aquarium Pump for Immersion Chiller?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by VikeMan, Jun 16, 2012.

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  1. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,345) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Brewed a Kolsch today and had a tough time getting my wort temp down, even with a prechiller (an extra immersion chiller in an ice chest) in my chain. This is the warmest I think I have seen our tap water, and it's not even summer yet. I know some folks use an aquarium pump to recirculate ice water through their immersion chillers. Is there a pump that someone has used for a long time that's very reliable? Also, please tell me about your method. TIA!
  2. jlpred55

    jlpred55 Initiate (0) Jul 26, 2006 Iowa

    I personally use a small sump pump. It has the garden hose male end on it already. It is low flow and does well to just recirc ice water or snow water in winter. I use a 1/2 inch immersion chiller so it handles the flow with ease. I chill down to 100 then use 1 20lb bag of ice. Takes no time.
  3. MattCinatl

    MattCinatl Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2009 Texas

  4. sergeantstogie

    sergeantstogie Aspirant (202) Nov 16, 2010 Washington

    Mick, things seem weird when you are the one asking questions.
    pweis909 and drperry11 like this.
  5. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    theLostWizard likes this.
  6. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    This is how I do it. I found 5' lengths of garden hose with the attachments. I think they were both under $10 at Menards. I just use about 8 ice cube trays worth of ice in a small kettle that I have for strike water.
  7. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

  8. jokelahoma

    jokelahoma Zealot (531) May 9, 2004 Missouri

    I use an aquarium pump to do exactly what you're describing. One thing to think about, which if you're like me may slip past you: Try to get your bucket o' ice water on the same level as your kettle. Even a little vertical elevation can have a significant impact on water flow. Mine is a small one, rated for up to a 66" head, but even the 24" or so it had to climb from the ground to the top of my chiller reduced flow to the point where it was taking far too long to chill. Placing the bucket on a table where the pump was pretty much level with the kettle eliminated that problem and sped things up considerably.
  9. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,345) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Heh. I have never had trouble getting wort into the 50's this time of year. I'm new at this global warming thing. :grimacing:
  10. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    My first sump pump didn't last long. It was really a pond pump. The one that I have now wasn't the cheapest, but if it lasts longer I'll be happy. One thing that I like vs the first one is that it doesn't need to be completely submerged. And I also use it for cleaning. Agitation really speeds up cleaning.
  11. JebediahScooter

    JebediahScooter Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2010 Vermont

    I use that $15 one to recirculate ice water through my CFC. Probably 5 batches with it last summer, and I just broke it out for the first batch I've brewed since my ground water got too warm. Still going strong, and it gets the job done no problem. It comes with a bunch of adaptors, but the male garden hose length that is the water-in connection on my CFC screws right into the top.
  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,307) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Get the highest flow rate pump that you can afford. I have a 550 gph and wish I had a bigger one. Harbor has a utility pump that flows a little more than 1500 gph for $50 that is tempting.

    It depends on how much length in the chiller. A 50 ft chiller will have lower flow than a 25 ft.
  13. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    1500gph is 25 gpm. That's like a gallon every 2 seconds! I'm all for being manly, but at what point to you explode a garden hose? Doesn't slower water (to a point) pick up more heat than water moving too fast? I think my sump is trying too hard as it is. I think it moves a little over 6gal/min.
  14. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    The GPH/GPM ratings, I believe, are rated at zero feet of lift (e.g. the point between the pump and the highest point of fluid flow)... While my pump is 1056 GPH, its nowhere near that fast because of the 4-5 feet of height between the pump and the top of my immersion chiller, so despite its high flow rate it only pumps out about 25 gallons of water in the 20 minutes it takes to cool my 10 gallon batches compared to the theoretical output at zero lift of 17.6 GPM.
  15. FatSean

    FatSean Initiate (0) Jul 4, 2006 Connecticut

    You asked what we use, so here we go :slight_smile: I had a 1/3hp submersible pump I bought when our basement flooded one year. Probably more money than you want to spend. But it works quite well. Sit it in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket full of ice water, make sure the return line from the chiller pours in from above, not down near the pump intake.

    I wouldn't buy such a pump for your purpose though. It was probably $120.
  16. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,307) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    With zero resistance. 550 gph gives me less than 9 gallons/minute. In fact it is a little dissapointing on the flow.
  17. Pegli

    Pegli Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    I use a 1/6HP Sump Pump that cost < $100. It's rated for 1500gph and has no problem with any head pressures involved with brewing. With 30lbs ($6) of ice, I can get 10 gallons down to lager temps in ~ 15 minutes. It's also one of those tools that, once you have it, you find many uses for it - flooded basement, empty a pool, water the lawn with rain barrel water, etc.
  18. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    I can't see why a pump would work better than a pre-chiller. Less water usage would be my main reason for using a pump(although, we are just borrowing that right?). At least with the prechiller the recirculating water isn't melting the ice right away.
  19. Pegli

    Pegli Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    I think it has to do with flow rate and temperature gradient. If you run through the pre-chiller too fast, it won't get down to ~32*F...if you run too slow, the pre-chiller works but you'll have hot water coming out of your immersion chiller. With my sump pump recirculator, I can scream ice cold water through the whole system which cools things down faster.
  20. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    Interesting, and it make sense. How much ice do you typically go through?
  21. Pegli

    Pegli Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    I usually buy 2qty 15lb bags at the grocery store ($6 = wicked cheap) if I'm doing a lager and/or 10 gallon batch in the summer. Truth be told, there's probably ~5 lbs left over when I'm done. I don't have the freezer space to make my own ice in this quantity but I'm sure it's doable for a penny pincher...
  22. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    That is a good price for 2-15# bags. I guess I think a pre-chiller would use alot less ice and the efficiency wouldn't be that much worse. I have an extra immersion chiller and am weighing out the options. Without anything but my 50' chiller I chilled in 12 minutes last Thursday, but I couldn't get it below 75° which a prechiller would allow me to do.
  23. Pegli

    Pegli Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    The nice thing about recirculation is you can set it up and just let it go while you're cleaning up, sanitizing, etc.
  24. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I live in Texas and have tried varous prechiller methods. The only thing that has worked resonably well for me is an afro-engineered glycol chiller I made with an old air-conditioner and alluminum cooler. It recircuilated antifreeze through my plate chiller. Unfortunately I blew it up last year when I added warm antifreeze after the coils were already cold. It created too much pressure and quickly sprung a leak, and I haven't fixed it yet.

    The solution you are proposing probably wont be worth the effort. You might reduce the overall temperature by a few degrees (less than 5). You're probably better just using your tap water through your chiller and saving your ice for a fermenter bath afterwards. Otherwise you are going to go through a LOT of ice.
  25. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,307) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Chill with tap water to less than 100F, switch to the pond/utility pump and you can get down to lager pitching temps with a couple bags of ice for 10 gallons. Once you get to lower temps the delta T is small so time is your friend.
  26. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    When using a pump and ice water running through an immersion chiller I was going to ask if you all "waste" the first run of water or use a tap to keep your ice from melting as fast. I think this answers my question.
  27. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Oh Yeah, that'll work because your using ice to cool your wort instead of your tap water.
  28. cracker

    cracker Disciple (300) May 2, 2004 Pennsylvania

    This is what I do. And I fill the washing machine with the water that comes out before I switch to my utility pump.
  29. NiceFly

    NiceFly Aspirant (275) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    Hi All, I am going to ressurect this thread because I need a pump for my immersion chiller.

    In the past I had one of those cheap pond pumps at 148gph and hated it. I had really work on it to get a flow going, making sure the kettle and cooler of ice water were at the same level. Sucking the hose to get it to flow (insert joke here:flushed: ).

    I went to harbor freight to replace it. They had some 500-600 gph pond pumps but they just looked like bigger versions of the POS I was using before.

    Every pump I liked required some wiring. This one for example, seems pretty sturdy but has two jumper cable type things for power, not a plug. I am not too smart with the electricity, can I cut them off and wire into a plug and plug it in or will I electrocute myself. I get the felling if I have to ask...:grimacing:.

    That one looked promising, but did not have a plug only a cord with bare wire at the end.

    After that the sump pumps got a little pricey. I do not mind spending a few dollars to get something that works but I am cheap. The first one (marine pump) has lower gph but higher lift leading me to believe it is stronger. Plus it looks pretty sturdy. Am I off base here?

    Either way I am going to have to wire a plug on the end it seems.
  30. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

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  31. NiceFly

    NiceFly Aspirant (275) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

  32. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,345) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I ended up buying the one MattCinatl linked to above. Here it is again.
    So far, so good.
    NiceFly likes this.
  33. NiceFly

    NiceFly Aspirant (275) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    Thanks. 1/8 hp gets it done eh? I will go back and check those out.
    I like that marine one I linked above, but by the time I get that and a plug and rewire it I may as well just spend the few extra bucks.
  34. spartan1979

    spartan1979 Disciple (302) Dec 29, 2005 Missouri

    I bought one of the small pond pumps from Harbor Freight, one of the $10 or $15 ones. It didn't work at all. I took it back and got a 1/6 hp submersible pump and it works great. I think it was $50.
    NiceFly likes this.
  35. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,307) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    The bilge pump is 12V DC, which would not work on the house wiring. It is made for a boat. You might power it off of a battery and a battery charger.

    Get one of the bigger submersible ones.
    NiceFly likes this.
  36. Mfedonczak

    Mfedonczak Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2008 Texas

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  37. NiceFly

    NiceFly Aspirant (275) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    Yes, I am pro no pond pump.
    DC? what do politics have to do with it:astonished: ? just kidding.

    I think I am just going to spring for a decent submersible pump. Thanks all.
  38. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Yes and no. There would be less heat per volume of water, but I can't see where the transfer rate would be less.

    When I start my chiller the output is too hot to touch. Let's sat that it's 25 feet long and the last 6 feet are at 200 * F. That last 6 feet isn't doing much is it? If you can speed up the water and make the whole coil cooler it will cool faster.
  39. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Here's the one I got. I went through a pond pump in about six months.

    I do use this to clean about everything that I have.

    I use it to chill a starter and to push through my IC . I use it to clean kegs, kettles, carboys, silicone hoses, plate chiller, beer gun, cobra line, etc. Basically I have garden hose threads > 3/8" tubing, 1/2" tubing and a corny out post. I love it.

    NiceFly likes this.
  40. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,307) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    You want the most flow. The heat is transfered over the temperature difference from the wort to the water. Keeping it flowing fast keeps the delta-T high.

    If you want to use the least amount of water go slow. If you shut the flow off, let it reach eqilibruim, turn it back on, stop when cold, shut it off and let it reach equilibrium, repeat many times, and you will have used the least water. That would take a long time.

    Running fast will not seem too hot, but the mass of water used will be heated so that the product of mass*temp rise will be greater than running slow.
    NiceFly likes this.
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