Keeping your beer at the right temperature during fermentation is a key part of getting those delicious flavors. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution – invest in a temperature controller.
If you’re thinking of doing just that but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! We’re going to check out seven of the best fermentation temperature controllers for home brewing. We’ll discuss their good and bad points, and show you how to choose one that’s perfect for your needs.
So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at what’s out there!
Quick Pick: The Best Fermentation Temperature Controller for Homebrew
The Best Fermentation Temperature Controller for Homebrew 2021
1. Pymeter Digital Temperature Controller for Homebrew
Pymeter’s thermostat has two probes and sockets that enable it to control two separate power supplies. That means you can connect your fermenter to both a refrigeration and heating unit to maintain the perfect temperature.
It’s a good, mid-priced unit. It comes pre-wired, so set up is very simple. There are four buttons to program it, and a large, clear digital display. You’ll be able to see the current temperature from a reasonable distance away.
The two waterproof sensors check the temperature and ensure there’s no danger of things going dramatically wrong if one malfunctions. An alarm will sound if the temperature drops too low or rises too high.
The display shows the temperatures being recorded by each sensor. And you can choose to see the reading in either Fahrenheit or Celsius.
Each of the two sockets is independently controlled. That gives you maximum flexibility for any combination of heating and refrigeration you require. You program each socket with the temperature at which you want the relevant unit to switch on or off.
If the socket will be connected to a cooling fan, the “on” temperature will be the warmest you want your fermenter to get. Then select the temperature you don’t want your beer to go below as the “off” point.
It’s the same principle for connecting up to a heater. The “on” temperature in that case will need to be the coolest you want your fermenter to get. The “off” temperature will be the hottest.
It will work to control temperatures between -58 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit. That will give you more than enough range for fermenting your brew. And it’s accurate to plus or minus 1 degree. Note that this will work with a heater with a maximum of 1,200 watts.
You’ll need to be pretty on the ball when you’re setting the temperatures, though. The setup menu times out fairly quickly. If that happens, you’ll need to start again.
The controller is a neat 8.26 inches long, 2.16 inches wide and 1.57 inches deep. The power cord is 4.5 feet long, and the cords to the sensors are each 6.56 feet long.
- Two probes provide a backup in case one malfunctions
- Alarm to alert you if the temperature gets too low or too high
- Accurate to plus or minus 1 degree
- The connected heat source must have a maximum output of 1,200 watts
- The setup menu times out quickly, so you’ll need to be on the ball.
2. Inkbird WiFi ITC-308 Digital Temperature Controller for Monitoring Controlling Home Brewing Fermentation
Inkbird offer their ITC308 temperature controller in both wifi and wired forms. They’re both worthy of consideration. We’ll start by looking at the wifi version.
The controller can be connected to heating and refrigeration units to maintain the perfect fermentation environment. Note that the heater will need to have a maximum power output of 1,100 watts.
The wifi capability allows you to control the temperature of your fermenter wherever you are. It’s compatible with either IoS or Android operating systems.
Simply download the Inkbird app to your smartphone, plug in your device, and connect the two together. It’s generally a simple procedure, and the app walks you through it step by step. But there is a quirk to be aware of …
The wifi uses the 2.4 GHz frequency. If you don’t have a dedicated 2.4 GHz router, you won’t be able to connect the app to the controller. You can overcome the issue by connecting to the Inkbird Pro (rather than the Inkbird SmartLife) app. But strangely, this isn’t covered in the instruction manual.
Once set up, you’ll be able to view the temperature at any point. There’s a trend feature, showing you the temperature in line chart form over several days. And you can control all the settings remotely.
You can also choose whether the temperature is displayed in Fahrenheit or Celsius.
And if you have multiple thermostats – for example, one controlling your homebrew and another for your aquarium – they can all be controlled via the same app.
You can check the temperature via the controller too. The display shows both the target and current temperature. There’s an alarm to detect if the probe is malfunctioning. And you can set a separate alarm to alert you if your fermenter gets too warm or too cool.
If you’re worried about the reliability of wifi devices, you’ll be reassured to know that this one comes with two years of after-sales service. Customer services promise to respond within 24 hours on a working day.
One thing to note is that the probe is hardwired to the controller. That means that if it malfunctions, you’ll have to cut wires or replace the whole unit.
- Wifi capability allows you to control your fermentation temperature remotely via your smartphone
- App can control multiple thermostats around your home
- Comes with two years of after-sales service
- The wifi set up requires some jiggery-pokery if you don’t have a dedicated 2.4 GHz router
- The probe is hardwired to the controller, so you’ll have to cut wires or replace the whole unit if the probe malfunctions.
3. Inkbird ITC-308 Digital Temperature Controller (Our Top Pick)
If you don’t need wifi, you can get the rest of the Inkbird ITC308’s functionality in a wired controller. And it’s about two thirds of the price of the wifi version.
This is another controller that can be connected to both a heating and a cooling unit. And it will control the temperature across an impressive range, from -58 to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s accurate to within two degrees Fahrenheit.
You can choose to display the temperature in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, as you prefer. The default is Celsius, but go to the settings menu and you can change it.
The display is exactly the same as the wifi version, showing both the current and target temperature. It’s nice and bright, so you won’t have to get up close every time you want to check it.
There’s only one temperature probe, but there’s an alarm to warn you if it malfunctions. And you’ll also get an alarm if the temperature strays outside the target zone.
You can also set the differential for heating and cooling separately. That will allow you to stop the temperature in the fermenter changing more rapidly than you want.
The maximum output load is 1,100 watts. Bear that in mind when choosing your heating and cooling units.
The instructions here aren’t particularly clear, but take your time with setup and you’ll get there. You may also want to calibrate the controller before its first outing, so you can be confident in its accuracy.
- Bright, clear display showing target and current temperatures in your choice of Fahrenheit or Celsius
- Alarm to alert you if the sensor malfunctions
- Set the differentials for heating and cooling separately to avoid sudden temperature changes
- The instructions aren’t as clear as they could be
- Maximum output load of 1,100 watts.
4. Elitech STC-1000WiFi Digital Temperature Controller Thermostat Aquarium Home Brewing
The Elitech STC-1000 is the second wifi temperature controller to make our list. It’s roughly the same price as the Inkbird, and has many of the same features.
It will connect up to a heater and cooling unit simultaneously, making it easy to fine-tune your fermenter temperature. It runs on a 100/250 VAC, 50/60 Hz power supply, and has a total power consumption of under 5 watts.
It will measure temperatures between -49 and 239 degrees Fahrenheit. The sensor is waterproof, so you can use it to regulate the temperature of your mash or strike water. And it’s replaceable too, so you won’t have to invest in a whole unit when its time is up.
You can choose to display the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. View the target and actual temperature either on the controller display or through the app. There’s an alarm to tell you if the temperature gets below or above your chosen levels.
There’s also an alarm to let you know if the sensor isn’t working correctly. All the alarms incorporate sound, a flashing light, and a message on the display – so you won’t miss them.
You can both set your temperature parameters and view data through the Elitech iCold app or cloud platform.
But although the app is free, some of the features require you to purchase iCloud storage. This requires payment of a monthly fee. You’ll need it if you want to use the graph function, for example, which shows you the temperature over several days.
The unit has a total output load capacity of 1,200 watts. It comes with a standard US plug and a 59-inch power cord. That’s on the short side, so you may find you need to use it with an extension lead.
- Control the temperature of your fermenter remotely using the Elitech iCold app
- The sensor is replaceable, so you won’t have to buy a whole new unit if it malfunctions
- Alarms are activated if the temperature moves outside the pre-set range, or if there’s a problem with the sensor
- You’ll need to pay for iCloud storage to make use of some of the app features
- The power cord is a bit short.
5. Fermentation Carboy Heat Pad with Controller for Home Brewing
Kenley’s controller comes with a heat mat – and it’s no more expensive than some of the controller-only options on our list.
The mat is 1,100 watts and takes the form of a thin film that wraps around the outside of your fermenter. It will fit any vessel with a capacity of 8 gallons or less, whether it’s made of glass, metal or ceramic.
It measures 32 inches by 11 inches and is secured around the fermenter with large elastic bands. These are included in the pack. You may, however, find they’re a tight fit if you have a larger fermenter. If that’s the case, some bungee cord or duct tape will do the job just as well.
Connect the mat to the controller and it will switch it on and off as needed to maintain the selected temperature. That’s monitored with a waterproof probe made of 304 stainless steel. That makes it more resilient than glass versions.
The closer the probe is to the center of the fermenter, the more accurate the readings will be. You may find it helpful to invest in a thermowell to achieve this. It’s not particularly easy to keep the probe steady in the liquid without one.
If you’re using the controller for kombucha, the better option is to tape the probe to the outside of the fermenter. The acidic mixture will damage it otherwise.
The controller will switch off the mat automatically if the temperature reaches 108 degrees Fahrenheit. This will avoid too high a heat killing the yeast or damaging the fermenter.
The display shows the current temperature, so it’s easy to monitor it at all times. And you can choose between Fahrenheit or Celsius.
The major drawback of this one is that there’s no way of connecting it to a cooling unit. If you want a controller that will also enable you to cold crash your beer, this won’t be the right choice.
- Cost-effective controller and heating mat package
- Automatic switch off at 108 degrees Fahrenheit prevents killing the yeast or damaging your fermenter
- Choice to display the temperature reading in Fahrenheit or Celsius
- The elastic bands to attach the heating mat aren’t long enough for bigger fermenters. Use bungee cord or duct tape instead
- There’s no way to connect this to a cooling unit.
6. Homebrew Electric Fermentation Heating Thermostat and Probe
If you’re looking for a simple thermostat to use with a heating mat, check out this one from Homebrew. It’s very similar to the version from Kenley, but in this case you’ll get the controller only. It’s a very economical purchase, but remember to take account of the extra cost of the heating mat.
It will work best with smaller batches of between 1 and 5 gallons. And it will work equally well whether your fermenter is made of plastic or glass.
It comes with a 66-inch power cord. There’s a single probe, which sits at the end of a cord 68 inches long. There’s a handy suction cup to help keep it secure inside the fermenter.
Connect up your heat mat and then plug in the controller to your power supply. You can set your target temperature in 1-degree increments anywhere between 68 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The range isn’t as wide as some controllers, but it will suit most fermenting needs.
The controller monitors the temperature and turns the heat mat on and off as required. The current temperature is shown on the display, and you can choose between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Note that this has a maximum output load of 1,000 watts. That should be fine for most heating mats. But it isn’t designed to be used with cooling units. If you want a controller that can also regulate the temperature in a fridge or freezer, this won’t be for you.
- Simple and cost-effective controller
- Works well for smaller batches, between 1 and 5 gallons
- The probe has a suction cup to help keep it securely in place inside the fermenter
- Can’t be used with a cooling unit
- The temperature range isn’t as big as you’ll get with more expensive controllers.
7. iPower GLHTMTCONTROL
iPower’s controller is another one that’s designed to be used with a heat mat. The marketing material targets reptile owners looking for a way to keep their scaly friends safe and warm. But it works just as well to control a heat mat wrapped around a fermenter.
The controller will allow you to keep the temperature stable between 40 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The display has a bigger range, between 32 and 140 degrees, and it shows the current temperature.
You can switch to readings in Celsius if you prefer. A light on the front of the controller indicates which units the temperature is being shown in.
iPower make their own heat mat, which will work perfectly with this. But most heat mats will work fine – just make sure they have an output of no more than 1,000 watts.
Adjusting the temperature is easy. Simply press and hold the “set” button for 3 seconds. This will take you into temperature setting mode. Press the up and down buttons to select the correct temperature. When it’s shown on the display, press the “set” button a second time to lock it in.
This means you’ll have a specific target temperature, rather than a temperature range. We have, though, heard a number of reports that the temperature will drop below this level before the heat mat turns back on. The variance is anything between 2 and 4 degrees.
It’s easy enough to compensate for this once you know how your individual controller works. But you may need to be prepared to experiment to get to that point.
And note that the probe should not be immersed in liquid. You can tape it to the outside of your fermenter, but you’ll get a more accurate reading if you invest in a thermowell.
- Simple controller for use with a heat mat
- Clear display, with a choice of readings in Celsius or Fahrenheit
- Easy to set your required temperature
- Can’t be used with a cooling unit
- The probe shouldn’t be immersed in liquid – invest in a thermowell for more accurate readings.
Still, wondering which is the best fermentation temperature controller for your home brewing setup? Here are some simple questions to help you decide.
Hot or cold?
Some of the temperature controllers on our list are designed to be used with heat mats only. They’re great at maintaining a steady temperature during fermentation. Just check the maximum output load, to make sure they’ll be compatible with your chosen heat source.
But if you want to cold crash your beer, these kinds of controllers won’t be sufficient. For that, choose a controller that has two sockets, one for a heater and one for a cooling unit.
These are usually slightly more expensive, but the difference isn’t as much as you might expect. And they’ll give you a lot more flexibility.
Know what you’re buying
Make sure you know what’s included in the price of your controller. Most of the ones on our list are just that – a unit designed to control temperatures. They need to be plugged into a heat source and/or a cooling unit.
But the Kenley controller comes with its own heat mat. So while at first sight it looks slightly more expensive than other heat-only options, that’s not the case. Take into account the extra cost of a separate heat map, and it’s very cost-effective.
Wifi controllers are more expensive than their wired counterparts. But if you don’t mind the extra cost, they’ll give you the ability to control your fermenter temperature remotely.
Check out the sensor
The temperature sensor is one of the most important parts of the controller. Check whether it’s waterproof. If it isn’t, you’ll need to tape it to the outside of your fermenter, or invest in a thermowell. The latter will give you far more accurate results, but does mean spending more money.
Sensors are also vulnerable to damage. Some controllers come with replaceable sensors while in other cases they’re hardwired in.
If the controller has a hardwired sensor, you can be looking at more expense in the longer term. If the sensor malfunctions, you’ll either need to mess around with cutting wires – not recommended if you’re not a confident electrician – or you’ll have to replace the whole unit.
We’d also recommend choosing a controller with an alarm that will tell you if the sensor is damaged. Otherwise, you can ruin a whole batch of beer as the unit records an inaccurate reading.
Ready for your next home brew?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of some of the best fermentation temperature controllers for home brewing! These clever gadgets aren’t very expensive, and can help take your homebrew to the next level.
Our favorite is the Inkbird ITC308. We love its broad temperature control range and clear display. And the alarm for an abnormal sensor reading will prevent ruined batches.
Whichever temperature controller is right for you, we hope you enjoy using it to craft your next homebrew. Cheers!