DIY Homebrew Glycol Chiller / Heater Build .DIY Homebrew Glycol Chiller / Heater build utilizing
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DIY Homebrew Glycol Chiller / Heater build utilizing Ss FTSs system
As a home brewer I feel the next best part to tasting our own beer is building our brew systems. There are many small steps that we can take that will drastically improve our finished products. One of these is fermenting at a constant temperature. This can be accomplished in a myriad of different ways depending on how simple or complex you want to be. The best part is that complex doesnt have to be expensive. I knew that I wanted to couple my new Ss FTSs system with a glycol heater/chiller unit even before I received my unit. The question was how to do this. I searched for a prebuilt system that I could outright purchase. Yes, they are out there provided you dont mind dropping $2-3k for just the glycol system alone. I figured there had to be a less expensive way. After more searching I settled on a system utilizing a standard window A/C unit and an aquarium heater. What follows is how I built my system. What you need to realize is that are countless different ways to put together a system like this. Im sure this isnt the best system out there. But, it works fantastic for my setup. I urge you to modify this system to best match your setup. Utilize things that you may already have on hand. The window A/C unit doesnt have to be new, any size unit will work. Even a dehumidifier could be modified as the cooling portion of this unit. Use an old cooler that is just laying around gathering dust. Leftover CVPC or PVC from another project. All total I have less than $125.00 in this unit. I dont think you can beat that and I had the enjoyment of creating it to match my system and tasting the improved end result our brews!! So, use this guide as what it is meant to be, just a guide of how one person built a system to supplement a superb product that Ss Brewing Technologies has made available to our community.
54 QT rectangular cooler Smaller or larger will work. Two could even be coupled together for a heating reservoir and another for a cooling reservoir. This is probably my next modification using a solenoid valve to switch between heated or cooled glycol as needed.
5,000 BTU window A/C unit again, larger or smaller will work
300 watt aquarium heater I would recommend using a 300 watt unit as it will heat a 54 qt cooler filled with Glycol quickly. But a smaller unit would also work. It will just take longer to initially heat the reservoir.
Johnson Controller for controlling the A/C unit and maintaining the temperature of the coolant.
CVPC pipe, fittings, valves, cleaner & cement
Remember use what you have around or can pick up inexpensively and easily. Modify this setup so that it is custom to your brew system.
Step 1 : Glycol Reservoir Prep The cooler will serve as the Glycol Reservoir. Any reasonable sized cooler could be used. However, the larger you can go
the better cooling and heating ability your system will provide. I had a 54 qt cooler on hand so that is what I used for my system with a 7 gallon Ss Chronical. To prep the cooler we need to drill holes for the outgoing and incoming glycol lines.
I used CVPC on my build partially because that is what I had lying around and it is easy to locate and relatively
inexpensive. You could use PVC or copper if desired.
Start by laying out your outgoing & return glycol lines to best suit your particular setup. Then drill holes for these two l ines in the hinge side (back) of your cooler. A step drill works well for this task drill through from the outside partially and then drill through from the inside the rest of the way so that you have a hole all the way through the cooler. You may have to use a knife to clean out some of the foam insulation between the plastic walls of the cooler. Try not to drill these holes oversize.you want a snug fit on these lines.
Then youll want to cut, fit & dry assemble your CVPC so that you have an outgoing glycol line from the FTSs pump and a
return line after the glycol runs through the FTSs coil on the fermentor. Youll want the return line to form a Tee (with holes drilled in the underside) as in the pic below. This will allow the return coolant to flow over the evaporator coil that will be submerged in the glycol. This will also promote a flow of coolant in the reservoir.
Step 2 : Glycol Line Build in Reservoir
My goal with the inlet and outgoing lines was to have the glycol pumped from the bottom of the cooler utilizing the pump supplied with the FTSs system and then after circulating through the FTSs system in my Chronical it would return to the reservoir tank and be sprayed over the evaporator coil submerged in the tank. This setup would create a constant movement of glycol in the tank so that it minimizes hot or cold spots in the coolant.
The T part of the return line has a series of holes drilled into the bottom of the pipe that allow the returning glycol to spra y onto the condenser coil.
This setup in the pics below works well. I would like to see the pump supplied with the FTSs system a little larger. It will wor k with this setup but the return flow isnt quite as great as I had hoped for. Other than that the cooling and heating capacity of this system is fantastic with my 7 gallon Ss Chronical.
A/C Evaporator Coil
Return Line T spray bar Drill 1/8 holes in the bottom of this spray bar so that return
glycol sprays on the evaporator coil
Outgoing line from pump
Step 3 Chiller Unit Prep
Remove cover off of A/C unit usually just some Phillips head sheet metal screws are what is attaching the cover.
There will be a front plastic grill cover that snaps on the other side of the unit as well remove this as well to give access to both coils and the interior of the unit.
I also removed the blower wheel and adjustable louvers, front grill and filter and set all of these pieces aside. You will probably discard these later. The only cover that I put back on was the large metal cover attached with the Phillips head
Our goal is to get the evaporator coil out and positioned so that it will sit in our glycol reservoir tank (cooler)
The evaporator coil is the smaller of the two coils. The condenser coil is the larger one and has the fan mounted next to it . When the A/C unit is mounted in a window the condenser side is on the exterior of the window.
Metal Cover Condenser Coil
Step 4 : Rotate Evaporator Coil
This is by far the trickiest part of this whole build. So, take your time doing this. Once this is completed then the rest is pretty much just assembling everything together.
Once you have all of the covers off and you have access to the interior of the unit youll want to reposition the evaporator coil from a horizontal position (left diagram below) to a vertical position as is seen in the right pic below.
To do this you will need to bend the two copper tubes attached to the Evaporator coil and twist the unit to a vertical position. WARNING : DO THIS VERY SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY BEING SURE NOT TO KINK EITHER OF THESE COPPER TUBES OR BREAK THEM. These tubes carry the refrigerant that allows the unit to cool. If you break or kink these tubes the unit will no longer function properly.
The good news is that every window A/C unit that I have seen have plenty of length in these soft copper tubes to accomplish this without to much trouble. I cant stress enough though that you need to take your time performing this part of the build.
Bend these two soft copper tubes very
Step 5 : Fit Chiller to Reservoir Tank
The next step is to fit the chiller into the reservoir tank (cooler). Youll want to align the chiller next to the reservoir tank so that it is centered under the return spray bar. When you
have it centered use a black marker to mark where the two copper lines for the evaporator coil enter the tank. More than likely youll have to set the A/C unit on something to get it to sit at the right level in the reservoir tank. Use a dremel tool to notch enough room for the copper lines to sit low enough that the lid on the cooler will close completely. At this time since you have the dremel tool out make two notches on one end of the top lip of the cooler to allow
access for the electrical cords for the FTSs pump and aquarium heater. (See pics below)
Step 6 : Mate Glycol unit to your fermentor
Now its time to mate the unit to your brew system. This is where it really becomes a custom design to what fits your system. This can really be fit into any brewing setup with a little creativity.
Youll notice that I have on my system below piping that not only pumps glycol into the FTSs system in my Chronical but that I also have a couple of valves that allow me to direct cooled glycol into my counterflow chiller instead of using tap water. I use a larger pump than what was supplied with the FTSs for this operation and it works great at cooling my wort to pitching temps in a matter
Step 7 : Finishing touches
Step 8 : Operation
Plug the Chiller into a Johnson temperature controller and run the thermocouple into the glycol reservoir. When cooling is needed set the Johnson controller 15-20 degrees cooler than your fermenting temp and program your FTSs to cooling mode and set at the temp youd like to ferment at.
If heating is desired turn off the Chiller and turn the aquarium heat