The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Low cost gadget to maintain constant starter temperature

Nickisafoodie's picture

Low cost gadget to maintain constant starter temperature

I recently came across a gadget that can be used to maintain starter temperatures in a rather easy way.  The LUX WIN100 is a programmable thermostat with built in sensor that also has an outlet.  It is designed for room air conditions or heaters where a constant temperature is desired.  The unit plugs in and when the desired temperature is reached, the power cuts off.  After cooling down a degree or two, it comes back on keeping a rather constant heat.

So can this be used for managing a starter at a constant temperature?  I took a large cardboard box, put the device, a 100 watt lamp, and the plastic wrapped bowl holding the starter on the room rug.  Lamp is plugged into device, and device is plugged into an extension cord coming out to wall outlet.  Simply place the box upside down on all of it with flaps open and spread out on the floor.  

The unit was on the floor next to the bowl. The sensor worked surprisingly well!  I periodically tested the culture with my laser thermometer and it was accurate to within 1-2 degrees.

Rather than caught up in trying to time multiple stages at multiple temperatures, it is far easier to use the “hold” function, and set to the desired temperature and it takes about 2 second to set to another temperature.

For my 55% Detmolder Rye Bread method, I built the starter as follows:

Freshen: 5 hours at 79°, followed by the basic sour at 76° for 18 hours, followed by full sour at 86° for 4 hours, with bulk fermentation and proofing at 82°.  This certainly will work for single stage.  So not as pretty as a commercial proofing chamber, it is cheap and easy. 

The unit costs about $35 online, but can be as high as $65 so shop around if you wish to find one…


isand66's picture

That's very interesting and ingenious.

Thanks for posting.



BurntMyFingers's picture

You describe its use for "starter" though the Detmolder method with its multiple temps is a bit more than that. Still I see where you are going. Could also be useful for making beer potentially... how high does the temperature measurement go?

There's lots of talk here about expensive "proofers" and this could be a feasible alternative. Plus I love buying electrical things for something other than their intended usage!

Janetcook's picture

Your idea is a lot more portable than mine :-)

This past winter I made a proofing box using a reptile cage, ceramic heating bulb, computer fan and thermostat used for controlling temps in a reptile cage HERE.  It was very inexpensive to construct and works like a charm too but is a 'permanent' fixture on one of our unused fireplace hearths.  

Your loaf looks really nice.  Very tall for a rye loaf.

Have fun with your new toys cooking gadgets.  :-D


Nickisafoodie's picture

Temp range is up to 90° on the upper limit and 45° on the lower so more range than you need on the warmer cycle.  Janet, a proofing box may be the next step.  Carboard worked well and 100w bulb was perfect as 60 watt took longer to heat up.  To some degree bread people are gadget people, or should I say those that like experiments?



PeterS's picture

I've seen LUX thermostats at my local Menards. Now if you can find us one that has a built in humidstat, too ;-)