Temp Controller

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by KPlen, Dec 2, 2021.

  1. KPlen

    KPlen Initiate (58) Apr 19, 2017 Colorado

    I plan on installing a Thermowell in the lid of my 6.5 gallon plastic bucket fermenter. I need to get a Temp Controller unit also. I do plan on building a fermentation chamber using a freezer unit for fermenting lagers eventually also. So, for now I will only be using it for monitoring the temp in the fermenter. What would you recommend that will work for my current plan and will work for future use? Inkbird? Johnson Controller? Northern Brewer Temp controller? Any other options? Thanks in advance!!
  2. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I would go with Inkbird. I built my own, but the Inkbird is basically the same thing. Johnsons are too damn expensive. Just make sure you get the dual temp control version and ensure it reads in whichever temp type you are used to - *C vs *F. It is a bitch to do the conversion everytime...
  3. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    There's a decent rundown of doing just what you mentioned, starting with post # 3 in the thread linked below:

    ETA: this is the Inkbird I use and it's been just fine. Use that link if you want the Inkbird, cuz I just saw another amazon listing for the exact same Inkbird for $7 more
    I found it useful to print out the programming instructions and keep them handy until using it a few times.
    #3 riptorn, Dec 3, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021
  4. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    While I agree with PortLargo's points in the above linked post in theory, I don't see them work out in reality. I have used a controller probe inside the thermowell for 5+ years and never had any issue with drastic swings or over compensating. One thing that you can do to prevent this is to offset your thermowell. Don't put it in the middle of the lid, put it halfway between the outer edge and the middle. There is not enough distance between the wort in the very middle of a 5 gallon batch and the 3" of wort between the wall and dead center. In a 3BBL fermenter, yes, the difference between the middle and the outer edge will be drastically different. But in a 5-15 gallon batch the differential in a matter of inches is not enough to ruin a beer. Fluid dynamics of the fermenting wort keeps the temperature difference between the innermost 2.5" diameter and the next 2.5" out fairly consistent.
  5. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    I use a WiFi Inkbird temp controller with an old kegerator and a heat wrap. Works great for me.
  6. PortLargo

    PortLargo Zealot (510) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Are you using a diff of one degree? How long does your compressor normally run and how much off time before the next cycle? Are you using a converted freezer (air temps below zero) or converted fridge (40'ish degrees)?

    For the OP: stick with the Inkbird. To save a few bucks the basic model does everything the advanced model does...except you have to splice in an extension cord (I have both). The latest model has WiFi, you could go on a cruise and control temps. Plus the Inkies have a big red display you can read from across the room. Just be sure to calibrate the probe of whichever unit you end up with.
  7. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I have mine set to a 0.3 *C differential - roughly 0.5 *F. I've never paid enough attention to compressor run times and down times. I am using a converted fridge for my chamber, but with a good enough seal I can freeze water. I removed the divider between the upper freezer and lower fridge. I use a reptile heat pad for heating.
    PortLargo likes this.
  8. PortLargo

    PortLargo Zealot (510) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Clever idea . . . being a Frankenheit person I was limited to 1° increments. By switching to Celcigrade you are cutting that in half which would roughly cut your cycle/run time in half.

    I nominate you for Thermodynamicist of the Month.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  9. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (123) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    I like my inkbird and anvil brewing temp controllers equally. Using both right now for lagers and a keezer.
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,027) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

  11. Southern-Pol

    Southern-Pol Initiate (18) Dec 12, 2020 Alabama

    Ink bird is the way to go. I have two. Don’t need anything else.
  12. Applecrew135

    Applecrew135 Initiate (52) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I typed up an excel sheet with a listing of degrees F to degrees Celsius that I taped to my fridge so I don't have to do those conversions any more. My unit only displays degrees Celsius.
    riptorn likes this.
  13. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I had the same thing. It got destroyed. I need to make a new one. Maybe I'll do a cool design with it and have the marketing lady at work print it out on vinyl for me.
    Applecrew135 and riptorn like this.
  14. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    That's another clever idea (two in 5 days....you're on a roll!). Target temps or other important temps can be underlined or circled with a dry-erase marker for quick peeks. Folks who don't have access to a marketing lady can get adhesive laminating sheets from an office supply store.
    Applecrew135 and PapaGoose03 like this.
  15. PortLargo

    PortLargo Zealot (510) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    But...but...I don't have a marketing lady or an office supply store. Damn old Fahrengrade...has cursed me to long cycles.
  16. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    This is what I whipped up:

  17. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Vacuum sealer?