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Old 05-26-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
Sublime8365
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Default Immersion or Counterflow?

Ok so it takes me forever to cool my wort with my current homemade immersion chiller. I'm looking for an upgrade and I'm trying to decide between a bigger immersion chiller or a counterflow chiller. I would use my current chiller as a pre chiller which is why I think a bigger immersion chiller could fit my needs.

My big question is for those people who use an immersion chiller with a pre chiller, how long does it take you to cool 5 gal of wort?

My current thoughts:

Bigger immersion:
Pros - A lot cheaper (for reasons explained below). No need to modify my kettle.
Cons - Not as fast cooling

Counterflow:
Pros - Fastest option.
Cons - Will cost a lot more because I would also have to buy all of the fittings to put a valve on my kettle. Would be a pain if I decided to forgo buying a pump (or fork over more cash).

I know I'm not in brewing to save money but there's no use spending extra money if I think the immersion would suffice. Thanks for any help!

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Old 05-26-2012, 10:10 PM   #2
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How long does it take now?

Mine takes about 15 minutes with a 25ft chiller. The keys is to more around and let the out water hit the outside of the kettle. I've been wanting to get a cheap pond pump and try reciculating ice water

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Old 05-26-2012, 10:28 PM   #3
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What is the current diameter and length of your immersion chiller?

Do you think you will ever move to 10 gallon batches?

Pre-chillers in my experience don't work that well and are a pain to use.

Agitation can definitely help prevent stratification and improve cooling efficiency. An option is to install a valve, and add a pump since you plan on getting on anyway, and then use the pump to recirculate wort while chilling (recirculate for 15 minutes at end of boil to sterilize the pump and tubing, you will want to use high temperature silicone tubing).

You can see how well that works before upgrading your current cooling setup (unless if it is something like 25 ft of 1/4'' copper).

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:09 AM   #4
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My current chiller is 3/8" and 20 (maybe 25?) feet. I use it with an ice bath and it usually takes 30-40 min in the winter and 45-60 in the summer. My tap water must be warmer than normal. I don't have any plans as of now to move to 10 gallons and if I do it will be pretty far in the future.

Why do you find pre chillers to be ineffective and difficult?

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:26 AM   #5
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When I tried a prechiller, I had to manually agitate it for it to work because the water around the prechiller kept stratifying, and I would run through a lot of ice for not much benefit. This was when I was still only on 5 gallon batches even, and this would be a lot more troublesome now that I am on 10 gallon batches.

That is a fairly small and short immersion chiller, and you are on the right path asking the right questions for a chiller.

This is the route I went - 1/2'' x 50 ft immersion chiller, and I have a march pump that recirculates the wort around it to keep the wort from stratifying. I use the ground water to chill down to around 90F, and then I have a submersible pump in a 5 gallon bucket with ice and then I pump ice water directly through the immersion chiller. Circulating ice water directly through the chiller is much more efficient than trying to use ice water to chill ground water before it goes to the immersion chiller.

My method is definitely not the cheapest route, but it was the simplest and best for me and my priorities. I've always wanted a plate chiller, especially since they can be found so cheap now (the therminator used to be the only choice), but since I use pellet hops and no filter in the kettle, I know I would clog it up in no time and have sanitation issues. Same thing for me with a counterflow. I like to be able to see everything that the wort will touch.

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:31 AM   #6
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Do you think 30 ft is long enough for 5 gal?

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Old 05-27-2012, 12:48 AM   #7
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Are you building this yourself, or buying it premade?

I tend to think 30 ft should be fine for a 5 gallon batch. You will want a way to agitate the wort around it to keep the wort from stratifying.

Keep looking in to your options though! Just because this is the method I chose, doesn't necessarily make it the best option for you. Figure out what your priorities are and what your budget is - some plate chillers are cheap enough to be competitive price-wise now with immersion chillers.

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Old 05-27-2012, 01:01 AM   #8
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In my experience, the CFWC is the most efficient of the two.

Using my former IC as a pre-chiller, I can go from 200+ degrees leaving the brew pot to 59 degrees entering into the carboy.

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Old 05-27-2012, 01:48 AM   #9
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I think you should look at plate chillers. They can be had for the price of a CFC if you shop around. I hate my IC. It's a hassle, it takes a long time, it's hard to clean, and because one side gets super hot the hose will often pop off and spray water everywhere. Go plate.

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Old 05-27-2012, 02:26 AM   #10
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I use a CF with a pond pump and ice water. I also run the CF beer output into a 10 foot post chiller that I put into the same bucket that the pond pump is in. I use a march to pump from the kettle to the CF. I get to 60 or lower at full blast (about 10 min). In the summer my water is 89 degrees and in the winter I have to take off the post chiller. My system is a pain to prep and clean, but it keeps me honest with my sanitizing.

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