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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > is copper really this much better then stainless chillers
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:51 PM   #1
allgrain
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Default is copper really this much better then stainless chillers

i'm looking at upgrading my chiller and i've found that stainless IC chillers are cheaper then copper. So ok they probably don't chill as well as copper and the question becomes how much better is copper then stainless at chilling wort.

i found this link that shows the thermal conductivity of various materials and copper has about 10X the thermal conductivity over stainless. does that mean it will take 10' of stainless for every 1' of copper to cool the same amount of wort?

Thermal Conductivity of Metals


Copper, pure 68 223
Stainless Steel 68 7-26

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Old 08-26-2008, 08:58 PM   #2
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It's probably not that simple.

But look at the 100s of chillers on here and the 100s of experienced brewers and look what they are using.

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Old 08-26-2008, 09:14 PM   #3
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Copper is one of the best heat conductors out there. Will be much more efficient then stainless.

Heat transfer is based on a lot of things, not just length of tubing. (flowrate, temps, thickness of tubing, length, turbulence, etc.)

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Old 08-26-2008, 09:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allgrain View Post
i found this link that shows the thermal conductivity of various materials and copper has about 10X the thermal conductivity over stainless. does that mean it will take 10' of stainless for every 1' of copper to cool the same amount of wort?
No, because the walls of the stainless tubing are substantially thinner than copper tubing of the same diameter. My stainless chiller is light as a feather. And while I haven't done any precise tests, I don't notice it being any slower than my comparably sized copper chiller.

I bought it because I prefer stainless, not because it was cheaper. (Actually, it wasn't cheaper at the time!)
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:43 PM   #5
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The chillers that I worked on in the HVAC trade all had tube and shell heat exchangers in which the tubes were always made of copper. The only exception was in the generators of lithium bromide absorption chillers where the tubes were exposed to a very high temperature, highly concentrated salt solution. Even then, the tubes were not stainless steel, they were made from a copper/nickel alloy. So when it comes to the transfer of heat, copper rules.

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Old 08-27-2008, 02:17 AM   #6
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What kind of price differences are you seeing? 50 feet of 1/2" OD copper is like $50 shipped.

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