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Author Topic: Building a DIY Meat Cooler  (Read 25055 times)

Offline Heetor

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Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« on: December 10, 2012, 08:50:23 AM »
I got some good feedback on hanging late season deer in the garage, and a couple fo the posts talked about DIY meat coolers.  Sounds like something a few guys have build in their shops/garages.  This idead sounds like a lot of fun and would allow more home butchering.  Not to mention add some fun to the off season.

I was hoping some guys could elaborate a little on the setups they built, and discuss some of the challenges in building a system like this.

Off the top of my head I am thinking of two ideas, either modify an old 8x6 shed in the back yard, or wall of about 8x5 feet of garage space.

If I do the shed then it would be a lot easier to cut a hole in it to mount a window style AC unit, and I could also use the shed for storage most of the year.  In the garage I would probably have to go with a room AC unit and plum it out the door when it use, and I would loose some precious garage space.  So I think old shed is the answer.

I am thinking double insulate it, hang a wall AC unit in the side, fabricate some cool hanging racks to beams,  and add waterproof AC outlet on the side.  Any thoughts on the obvious parts I am missing, or other better ideas?

Matthews Z7, g5 Montec 100 grain, Easton Flatline DOA 340

Offline lokidog

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Offline Blacklab

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2012, 06:46:45 AM »
Awesome thread! My wife and I were just talking about how I needed a fridge to start making dry cured sausage. " Well I was telling her"  :chuckle: Something I've been kicking around for a while. Great ideas tell us more  ;)
Hey! I'm not a complete idiot I have parts missing. Though sometimes I wonder.

If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

Offline Heetor

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2012, 08:03:28 AM »
Looking at those threads that blacklab posted and poking around the internet I was able to learn a lot about this mad concept of home built walk in meat coolers, sounds like my first idea was a no go as a regular AC unit won't cool the room down into the 30's without some modifications to the thermostat, but then you have to be careful about icing the unit up.

I did some research on the Ranco thermostat replacement unit and the Coolbot system that were mentioned in the post.  The coolbot is specifically designed for making DIY walk in coolers, the Ranco was a replacement thermostat that would let you bring the temp down lower on the AC unit.  The Ranco unit you can get for $40 but it does not provide any protection against the AC unit icing up, so you have to be very careful what temp you set it to and probably can't bring the room down below the mid 40's.  The coolbot manages both the icing and the room temperature so you can bring the room down to just above freezing and hold it there.

Another thought is that you can take an off the shelf thermo monitor for $40 that has an output, hook it to a relay and a power resistor and you have built a coolbot without all fo the bells and whistles for about $50.  I am an electrical engineer by trade, and we do a lot of work with temp monitoring systems so we have the components laying around the shop to build a coolbot knockoff, so it is an interesting possibility, but would probably take about 40 or 50 hours to layout, build and test.  So I have to ponder if for $300 if it is worth it to buy one that I know works (coolbot) vs. cobble one together that might take a little tweaking to perfect but more fun to do.

Another thought is that coolbot claims they do not void the AC units warranty, so if you buy a name brand LG or GE AC unit, which go on sale pretty cheep in the middle of the winter, you would have 5 years of warranty on the AC unit, interesting possibility.  My cobbled together unit would definitely void the warranty.  I'll have to leave the buy vs build decision for another day on the controller.

I think the next decision is what to use for the cabinet.  Should a guy use a shed and insulate it, or use some sort of large steel cabinet, it could be anything but it just needs to be insulated.   That other DIY meat cooler showed a guy that had gotten ahold of a large industrial fridge with about 4 doors on it, and made it into a meat cooler he could pop onto a utility trailer and take hunting (with a generator to run the AC), that was pretty slick.  I was thinking of maybe trying to get my hands on an old mini shipping container or something like that, have to think about the cabinet for a while.

Anyway this is starting to shape up to be a pretty interesting project.  Anybody have any better ideas for a inexpensive cabinet?  We may have to ponder humidity in this one as well as I read some articles that mentioned the you also need to be as concerned with humidity as temperature when storing meat, and dealign with the humidity would also allow a guy to try some dry curing?
   
Matthews Z7, g5 Montec 100 grain, Easton Flatline DOA 340

Offline Blacklab

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2012, 10:51:09 AM »
Heetor that was loki w/ the internet threads  ;)
Anyway this is starting to shape up to be a pretty interesting project.  Anybody have any better ideas for a inexpensive cabinet?  We may have to ponder humidity in this one as well as I read some articles that mentioned the you also need to be as concerned with humidity as temperature when storing meat, and dealign with the humidity would also allow a guy to try some dry curing?
 I was thinking of building and oversize closet in the shop. Insulating it an useing that. Dry cureing will be my main purpose   :drool:.
Hey! I'm not a complete idiot I have parts missing. Though sometimes I wonder.

If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

Offline DUGANDEER

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2012, 11:18:29 AM »
Cool bot works awesome. My father inlaw just got the unit and hooked it up in early sept to a digital AC unit. He messed around with it and was able to hold the temp right about 33 to 35 which is perfect for keeping animals cool. He has a 4 foot by 4 foot inclosed insulated room inside our shop.  the outside temp was in the 70's or so. Not sure what it will do when it is in the 90's or above but i am guessing it will be fine. Does a great job. It is 300 is the only downfall.  :twocents:

Offline Pete E

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2012, 02:06:41 PM »
How big a cooler do you need?

Many folks over here in the UK convert large commercial fridges or drinks coolers as below:



Thats a pic from a British site and its holding a Sika staggie carcass that weighs around 100lb or so..Obviously the double door drink chillers will hold more.

This is my set up below. its an old fridge I had off Ebay for about $70 delivered and will hold two Roe deer or one fallow doe or pricket



The main thing to look for apart from internal size is that they have some sort of circulator  fan..

Mine is about 60" tall, 22" wide and about 19" internally and is only just big enough..as I said earlier, the double door drinks chillers are a better size...

Regards,

Peter

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2012, 03:32:18 PM »
Look around for fast food restaurants closing shop, Quiznos are shutting down right and left, and you may be able to get a cooler for a song and dance.

You don't necessarily need to have a split system if your unit is in the garage, you could just use the garage space as your ambient atmosphere.  The problems are a hot garage in summer.  The bonus is a warm garage in winter

Offline buckfvr29

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Re: Building a DIY Meat Cooler
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2013, 04:36:44 PM »
Just lookin around on here and thought I'd comment on this post even though it's a bit old. I made a 8X8 walk in, worked great but took some messsing around to get it right. 2X6 walls, insulated well, osb on all surfaces. Used pond liner on the floor then crawl space plastic on the walls, that way you can hose the whole thing out. A/C unit doesn't work. Once it get's really cold the fins freeze over and it stops working. I ended up cutting a hole in the back of the walk in and used an old upright freezer. Took the door off and slid it in place and sealed it up. Took out the freezers thermostat because it's set too cold. Got a fridge stat from an appliance repair place. Mounted it to the outside of the walk in with longer wires to the freezer. Also mounted a digital temp gauge to the outside with the probe inside. That way I could adjust the temp from the outside without having to open the door. Freezer had no problem keeping the room at a consistant 34 degrees once it got cooled down. Hope that helps.

 


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