I will apologize in advance for the picture quality. I was going to use my point and shoot for the pictures, but I couldn’t find any batteries for my camera that weren’t dead. I had to use my phone’s camera instead. I really wish it had a better sensor and optics so that I could drop the point and shoot camera all together.
If you have been reading my posts carefully, you would remember that in my Oktoberfest post, I had been planning some sort of lager chamber. Well, I trolled Craigslist for a bit to see if there were any good deals on mini-fridges that I could use for this purpose. Not only did I find a mini-fridge that could be used for my purposes, it was much better than your typical mini-fridge. I found a wine cellar fridge.
This fridge has a digital temperature control built in, so this forgoes the need of having to buy an external temperature controller to regulate the temperature (the built-in thermostats on a typical fridge don’t give the control that is typically needed for lagering). This cost be about the same as a normal used mini-fridge plus temperature controller, so I figure I am actually ahead because I don’t have to deal with the hassle of messing with an external temperature controller.
Now, for us extreme homebrewers, a simple fridge isn’t quite enough. To aid in heat transfer between the bucket of fermenting beer and the air, we must add fans! The fans will circulate the air to keep the whole fridge a consistent temperature, and I figure the moving air will transfer heat more efficiently from the bucket.
Rummaging through my spare computer/electronic parts, I was able to find exactly what I needed to get a couple working fans in my fridge (I am a programmer by trade after all): two computer fans and a 12v DC transformer.
The assembly of the fan system was actually pretty simple. Instead of stripping the wires for the fans (I don’t have a proper wire stripper, so this would be hard with how small the wires are), I removed removed the leads from the connector assembly. Removing them was pretty easy. I just pushed down on the metal catches with a knife and slid them out.
Cut off the connector on the output wires from the transformer and strip the wires. The hot wire on my transformer was marked, so I connected that to the red wire on the fans, and connected the other wire from the transformer to the blue wire on my fans. I wired the fans in parallel instead of serial because I remember something from my engineering level physics classes in college about how that effects the resistance of the system and makes the voltage lower or something. I really wish I remember the classes better.
After everything was all connected, I positioned the fans so that one would circulate the air up and down and the other would circulate the air around the lagering vessel and plugged it in.
I think the fans are doing their job perfectly. I noticed that after I had the air circulating system set up that the fridge seemed to cycle on more frequently, presumably because the fans were helped to cold crash the beer faster. It would be nice to have a comparison test that compares how fast the fridge cools down the beer with and without the fans running, but doing that would be a lot of work for little to no pay off.