Whether it's for lagering, a kegerator/keezer, or temp controlled “cellar” for your beer, there will come a time when you will need to get into temperature control. When that happens, what do you do?
Let's be honest, there are at least a handful of options out there. For the super adventurous there are house thermostats that you can use to fashion your own DIY system. But not all of us are proficient at such things. We need something that “just works” and works well. That presents two groups of options, namely analog and digital.
For me, analog wasn't an option. 1.) It's the 21st century, and I'm a 21st century Digital Boy! 2.) In all seriousness, you forfeit granular temperature control. You can get close, but it's very difficult to get dialed in to an exact temperature. To me, I don't think it's worth the ~US$15 savings.
After a bit of research and looking, I ended up going with the Ranco ETC-111000 temperature controller.
You can purchase them for around US$50-60 or US$90-100 pre-wired. If you want to save yourself a little bit of money, go ahead and buy the bulk version, and here is a guide to wiring it up.
Great things about the Ranco ETC-111000
- Dial in to an exact temperature (Excellent if you are wanting to secondary or lager at a specific temp)
- Configurable delta shift. I have my delta at 2 degrees, and I don't have any problems maintaining temp.
- Universal add-on. Doesn't matter what type of equipment you have or branding. Just throw the sensor inside, plug it in, and set your temperature.
Let's say that you don't need temp control for lagering, but you need to control the heat in your brew system. No problem! Switch the Ranco over to heat, and you have the same results. It's a very versatile temperature controller. I have the one to control my cellar and lagering fridge, but who's to say that I won't use at least one in my new brew system setup?