The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Light with a dimmer switch for proofing box

slimk23's picture
slimk23

Light with a dimmer switch for proofing box

Could someone please tell me where I might find a light source with the dimmer built in for constructing a proofing box.  I have been looiking on this site and others for ideas of construction and many say they found a light with the dimmer together.  Any ideas or sources would be greatly appreciated.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I have to use a proof box in the winter but I don't use a dimmer switch, I use a thermostat.  A simple enclosed and vented wooden box that's large enough to contain the proofing dough, a lamp socket and low wattage lamp (far enough away from the proofing dough to prevent hot spots during proofing and far enough away from the wood to prevent a fire) along with a thermostat is all you need.  Your local home improvement store or a well stocked harware store should have everything you need.  The thermostat (at about $50) is the most expensive part.  The type used for furnaces requires some additional transformers and switching circuits that complicate the construction so mine is the type used to control attic fans.  Works great.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

flournwater, I would love to see a picture of your proof box.


Eric

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

I use a light designed for reptile cages that has a dimmer dial on it, sold at most pet supply stores for about $12 without the bulb. They also sell reptile lights that have built-in thermostats in most pet supply stores, but I couldn't find one at the time, so just made due with the dimmer and a separate thermometer to monitor the temp in my proofing box. For the bulb you can use any inexpensive low wattage (under 100 watts) incandescant or halogen flood bulb sold at hardware stores or home centers.

slimk23's picture
slimk23

Thanks for the great ideas!

Frosty's picture
Frosty

Hello Slimk23,


Here is the one I build.  Very simple.  A light dimmer, 100W bulb, and a long cord.  I use my (turned off) oven as the prrofing box itself.  This has worked very well for me in the past.


Best of luck


Michael


Proofing Box

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Well, there goes another one of those ideas I wish I had thought of.  I'm going to smash up my proof box (kinda bulky and takes up more room than I would like) and adapt my thermostatically controlled lamp design to something like you've done here.  Well done Michael.

clearlyanidiot's picture
clearlyanidiot

That... Is actually genius! If I can ever get my wood oven designed and built; using my electric oven like that would work perfectly. 

slimk23's picture
slimk23

Thank you...pictures are always helpful.  I love this site.  Fabulous ideas!!

awysocki's picture
awysocki

For about $50 I went with "Hydrofarm MTPRTC Digital Thermostat For Heat Mats" ($30) and a heating pad ($20) no light and you can set the temp you want.

I actually put this all in a plastic box and don't have to use my oven.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Hydrofarm MTPORTC thermostat for heat mats

Hydrofarm 9x19.5" seedling mat

Plus you'll need something to use as a container - a cheap styrofoam cooler is what most folks use.  I'm guessing on the order of another $20 for such, plus $54 for the above - about $75 total.

Though for the price (and storage considerations) I'm seriously considering just getting the folding proofing box from King Arthur - it is 12.5" x 15" x 8.5" which is smallish - but being able to fold it up and put it away is a pretty attractive proposition.   And honestly I don't make 3' long baguettes, and even if I did, they wouldn't fit in a $20 cooler, either, LOL!  (Or my oven, come to think of it)

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

Do I smell a well-proofed moment for shameless self promotion?

Anyway, for a fancy digital box that will control temperature by turning on/off a light, hotpad, hotplate, or anything else you have around the house, look no further:

www.etsy.com/listing/165003109/diy-yogurt-machine

chris319's picture
chris319

I ordered the diy yogurt machine linked to above and it arrived yesterday. I tested it with hot and cold water in the kitchen sink; it works great! The temperature probe is immersible so you can stick it right into the dough and measure the actual temperature of the dough rather than the surrounding air, and wash off the probe when finished. Definitely a worthwhile buy if you want to tightly regulate the temperature of your dough as it proofs.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

 

This works to incubate yogurt, keeps a container at 100-F, it would probably work to proof starter. Place jar of starter on top of crock pot to keep it warm (crock pot interior temps run at 180-F to 205-F) .

Fill the crock pot half full of water. Place temperature setting on LOW. Put the crock pot lid in place, up-side-down. Place a folded dish towel on the up-side-down crock pot lid. When crock pot heats up, place covered bowl or jar of starter on the towel. The rising heat should keep it warm, but not too warm. After the starter warms, take the starter temperature. If it's too low, turn the crock pot to HIGH. If the starter temperature is too high, add another folded towel or two under the bowl.

Crock pots are made to run for hours and hours like what's required for the task here, digital models have timers. Some models have WARM, LOW and HIGH settings.

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

Thanks so much for your feedback Chris!

In case others are interested, the device can maintain any temperature between -40° and 70° C (it's only available in celsius at the moment, sorry Americans!).

I normally sell it programmed for making yogurt, so it holds a temperature of 42°-46° C, but I will pre-program it to any temperature you like. Programming is also fairly simple, so you can change the target temps as well as the range any time you want.

chris319's picture
chris319

You could use Lee's thermostat to control your crock pot temperature, PROVIDED the crock pot draws less than 10 amps or 1,200 watts. The one thing to worry about is whether you'd have two thermostats working against one another.

I use a 40-watt light bulb in the oven as a heat source.

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

If your crock pot is a fancy digital one that won't turn on by itself after the power is cut, then this temp controller is not for you. It works by turning power to the device you're controlling on and off...

Lee

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

According to your specs: 

Temperature sensitivity: 1°C
Temperature calibration: ±5°C

Which makes me wonder what the effective range is.  If I want to maintain a constant temp of 100F, or 37.8C, I'm guessing firstly that the granularity is 1C so I'd have to set it at 38C, which is not a horrible deal; but then I'm wondering what the "calibrating +/- 5C" means - is that limiting how narrow you can set the range, or does it refer to how much the sensor can be off from actual temp?  Can the thermostat/sensor even be calibrated, say by sticking it in a pot of boiling water?  What does this mean in the light of the "sensitivity" of 1C?  What is the narrowest effective range?

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

Yes, it can be calibrated either with boiling water or another thermometer. 

As for temp control, it can control within 1°C, although depending on the thermal mass of whatever you're warming/cooling with you will certainly see some swings, especially at the start if your initial temp is not the same as the target.

Does that answer your question? Please contact me if not, or if you have other questions! Thanks,

Lee

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

So maybe not a great controller for an egg incubator then - temp swings would be a very bad deal for that, LOL!

So if I want to set it for 38C (100F, which is the perfect dosa batter incubating temp) then you are saying that it should operate in the range of roughly 37C to 39C?  Once it's more or less stabilized from initialization?

What's the +/- 5C thing mean then?  Once I've calibrated it, can it still be off by +/- 5C?

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

It can control within a 1°C range. If you set it to 38°C with a 1°C range it will turn on when it detects a 37°C temperature and turn off again when it detects 38. The range and target temp are all adjustable. How accurate the actual temperature is inside the incubator is up to the incubator itself. If it's well insulated and can distribute the heat efficiently inside the confined space, then the temperature will be very stable.

The temperature for dosa certainly matches its origin! That's neat.

It may be a mistake to mention calibration at all, because most users will never ever need the function. If you were to change probes or otherwise modify the controller, the temperature might no longer be accurate, and would require calibration. For example if it's always showing 2°C too low, you can set it to read a bit higher, thus correcting for the error. The unit can be adjusted in 5 degrees up or down, thus compensating for error up to either 5 degrees too high or 5 degrees too low.

It will not be off by more than 1°C, as per the manufacturer's specs for the temperature control module.

Thanks for seeking clarification, some things that might be obvious to me as the creator of the device might not be clear to someone coming to it for the first time, so your questions are quite valuable!

Lee

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

OK, I get it now!  Thanks for the clarification.  I was not familiar with that nomenclature - it's been a long time since I've dealt with lab equipment and the like.

chris319's picture
chris319

You can get the guts of the temperature controller on amazon.com. It is an Elitech STC-1000.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=stc-1000