Plate Chiller Temperature Monitoring – The Right Way

Chiller Thermometer Apparatus 2

The assembled chiller thermometer apparatus. The thermometer was damaged from a fall; I blame it on being hard-piped to the chiller at the time.

So, want to purchase a thermometer to measure the temperature of the wort exiting your plate chiller, to ensure that it’s entering your carboy at the proper temperature.  There is a right way and a wrong way to attach your thermometer; I know from experience, having tried the wrong way a few times.

Briefly, the wrong way is to try to hard-pipe the thermometer to the unit. The right way is to use a camlock or quick-disconnect.

First, what about the wrong way?  Why shouldn‘t you try to hard-pipe the unit to the chiller?  Two major reasons:

  • You cannot adjust the final position of the thermometer dial with respect to the chiller.
  • The inability to easily remove the thermometer makes handling the chiller cumbersome and awkward.
Chiller Thermometer Apparatus 1

The assembled chiller thermometer apparatus, attached to the plate chiller. Note, I used an extra pipe nipple, plus a Type “D” camlock. Variations like this are easily accomplished with a little planning.  Notice I have the thermometer positioned in the wrong spot—it’d block my garden hose supply line, but this can be easily fixed with an on-the-spot 45-degree rotation with this kind of setup.

In my case, once I tightened all the pipe fittings onto the chiller, I wasn’t able to actually view the thermometer dial!  The only option was to loosen one or more pipe fittings, which resulted in leaks!  Also, the wobbly connection and extra bulk & length made it’s weight off-balance and awkward to handle.  As you can see in the above picture, it fell off the edge of the table upon which it was situated, directly onto the thermometer itself.

The “right way” is the right way because it addresses the two failings, listed above, of the “wrong way.”  The camlocks allow for a firm, snug fit that also allows for the dial to be rotated to any degree around the Y axis.  And, of course, the camlocks also allow the thermometer apparatus to be removed, also good to facilitate cleaning.

To do it the right way, you will need $17 to $47 of equipment, mostly dependent upon whether or not you already have a suitable thermometer:

The above assumes you already have male camlocks attached to your plate chiller.  It also assumes all fittings are half-inch.  If you want to extend the length, you can use additional male pipe nipples and/or female pipe couplers of varying length.

On a related note, I do not recommend the Blichmann Thrumometer.  Though it’s relatively inexpensive, the major drawback is that it’s only compatible with the smaller, 3/8″ tubing.  That is to say, the inner diameter (ID) of the Thrumometer is even smaller than 3/8″!  As I use 1/2″ tubing in every part of my system, this was simply incompatible, let alone could have meant a significant reduction in flow.  I like the idea, in theory, but I ended up returning mine nonetheless.

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