I have been waxing about getting my hands on a GE 7 cubic foot chest freezer for a temperature controlled fermentation chamber to live in my garage. I found one on Craigslist for $50 . The GE 7 footers sold at Home Depot do exactly that. The GE 7 footer that I bought (albeit for $50) is slightly deeper and less wide, and don't fit two carboys. So, I have a decision to make. Cut a hole in the top of the freezer for one of the carboys, or add a collar between the lid and the freezer body to accommodate the 2nd carboy on the hump carved out for the compressor. I have found pictures on-line of people who have made collars to create a kegerator, it would take some wood and a couple of door hinges (and some insulation, I figure). The nice thing about this design is that it can be restored to original for future sale....but, why do I care it is old and was only $50.
I need to purchase a controller to convert the freezer to more of a sensitive fridge. The big decision here is whether I go for a two stage controller (one that can accommodate heating and cooling for winter months) or a one stager for only cooling. I am inclined to get the one stage as deep winter doesn't last long here in Colorado, and the insulation of the freezer and the garage will keep the fermenters above freezing certainly, and more likely in the ale range anyway. I can always manually heat the chamber in those few instances, too (one stage controller is $50, two stage is $65).
I need to hear from other brewers opinions on the modification or which controller to purchase. Please let me know.
My next purchases (after the controller) need to be at least a mashing vessel ($409) so I can take advantage of the rack in my garage, and possibly a hot liquor tank ($179 plus $60 for valve and thermometer)....and then a pump (approx $110-$150) so I can pump into and out of my carboys (not having to lift them into my chest freezer)....and hoses, parts, and fittings (probably another $100). I also need a potable water hose to supply water to this project ($50)....I need to find benefactors (like a rich long lost relative that puts me in their will....fat chance).
In the meantime, I am taking donations. (ha)