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Fan installation in a curing chamber?
Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 00:46
I scored a small, 6-cubic foot beverage fridge. I have the equipment listed by Uwanna and I am following his plan (thank you very much for sharing). I have been looking around for more information regarding the fan installation and I think I am missing something so please let me know if this is correct/ideal:
I have a 2"x2", 115-volt, 18 CFM computer fan. My plan is to control it with a dimmer switch. I am thinking of installing it near the upper end/top of the chamber on the right side so it blows out through holes I will drill in the fridge.
Since the fridge is fairly airtight, I think I need to drill some inlet holes near the bottom of the chamber on the opposite side. This will let air in and create some cross ventilation when the fan is on. I will add some type of damper to close the holes when the fan is not needed.
Am I on the right track? Should the fan be used just to circulate air without holes? Any recommendations/changes would be greatly appreciated.
Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 06:09
Hi Tom - Sounds like you are on the right track. A fan running in a box without ventilation is just circulating the same air, so you cannot depend on it to solve the problem of excessive humidity, which I find happens when I put fresh sausage into my curing fridge. The ideal situation is to hook up the fan to a two-way humidistat set to dehumidify mode. The humidistat will start your fan going when humidity gets too high, and turn it off when the set point is achieved. Once the humidity settles down as the sausages get dryer, you can switch the humidistate to humidity mode, to keep the RH up. The setup you are desribing with ventilation holes at the top and bottom, with a damper, sounds good,especially with the dimmer switch on the fan. You'll have to check it fairly often, I wouild guess. I have a humidistat but it only has a humidify mode. I open my fridge twice a day and let some fresh air in, and so far have had no problems and so have not drilled any ventilation holes. I also have a light bulb in the fridge hooked to a dimmer switch, and if humidity gets too high, I turn on the bulb, guessing at how bright I should turn it up, and checking on it later. The phogo below doesn't show it, but the bulb is shielded with a bent aluminum foil pan so that it sheds very little light. So far so good, because I like to check on my stuff a lot. But I can't just set it and leave it.
Shot at 2012-06-15
Hope this helps somewhat. Everybody seems to do things a little differently, and still get great results.
Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 06:11
oops! wrong picture! Here's the one I meant.
Shot at 2012-06-15
Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 06:25
I wouldn't go cutting/drilling holes or running a fan unless you find that you absolutely need them; I haven't.
The need for air exchange and circulation is minimal in a small dry curing chamber.
Opening the door once or twice per day provides enough air exchange and the compressor will remove moisture.
Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 16:59
Hi Baconologist - Good advice. The reason I'm going to eventually drill ventilation holes is because when I am traveling there is no one home to open and close the fridge door, which as you say, does the trick. But I'll go one step at a time. If ventilation holes do the trick without a fan, I'll stop there.
Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 00:13
Thanks guys, this helps a lot.
Jeff, I have been thinking about what to do if I am away. Perhaps an in-line timer hooked to the the fan to run it a half an hour twice a day.
What do you all think.
Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 04:09
It could not hurt to try, just remember you need a way for air to get in and out. Some people adjust their ventilation holes with duct tape on the outside of the fridge.
Since humidity is harder to control (for me at least) than temperature, I'd recommend testing your new setup for a couple of weeks before you intend to leave it on its own. Once you dial it in, you can go away with some level of confidence. One thing I have found is that I have to make constant adjustments during the first week of drying. Also, there is the incubation stage ahead of that. So I time my sausage making ahead of any travel accordingly... and miss alot of opportunity!
I just made a big mistake with my setup. I am traveling right now, and just before leaving I checked on my fridge. I cranked the light up inside it so I could read the temp/humidiity gauge...and then I left the light on! My son, who I asked to check the fridge AM and PM while I am away, didn't check it for a full day, and when he did it was 100 degrees in there and 25% humidity.
So maybe I lost my batch of chorizo...we will see.