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Old 02-20-2008, 06:07 PM   #1
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Default Parden me for my ignorance, but....

If I had a 5/8" water hose that I wanted to use for a wort chiller what size diameter copper tubing would I need. I would assume 5/8", but the instructions I have found on the Internet for building one of these says to get 3/8" tubing? Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 02-20-2008, 06:18 PM   #2
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It depends if you're building an immersion chiller or a counter-flow chiller.

Immersion chillers are commonly made of 3/8" copper, but you could go smaller (1/4") or bigger (1/2"). These are connected by fittings to a garden hose on the inlet side and another tube or hose on the outflow side.

Counterflow chillers have a copper tube running inside an outer tube or hose, so of course the copper (inner) tube must be smaller than the outer tube to allow the cooling water to flow between the inner and outer tubes. I would guess the inner tube of the counter-flow is probably 3/8".

There are a few designs for each in the DYI section if you use the search function. They probably have a parts list, instructions, and pictures as well.

Personally I made a 3/8" immersion chiller and it works fine. Others like counter-flow.

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Fermenter 2: Best bitter (2)
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:53 PM   #3
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It will be an immersion chiller. I guess I will just grab the tubing and then run over to where the hoses are and see how snug the fit is.

Thanks for answering my idiotic question. I am new to this hobby and in fact will be brewing my first beer this weekend.

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Old 02-20-2008, 09:23 PM   #4
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Welcome to the hobby,

I know for my first few batches, I didn't know anybetter so I just made an ice bath to cool my wort down. So cheers to you for doing you homework and understanding the importantance of cooling down wort quickly, it really does make a big difference in the finished product.

First, I would say that you will should be able to find fittings that will allow you to adapt your hose to whatever size copper you choose.

Second, I would recommend that you go with an immersion cooler. I have never owned a counterflow but I choose an immersion for the following advantages that I think it has over a counter flow.

1. Since the wort is exposed to the outside of the tube and not the inside, it is easier to clean and sanitize.

2. It is easier to monitor temperature control since you can just continue to run water through while you monitor the temp and then just it off when you hit you pitching temp. ( I actually like to chill down to 5 degrees below my pitching temp because I have found that the wort heats up a bit as it gets racked into the fermentors)

Personally, I would recommend 50 feet of 3/8" cooper. A thicker diameter will not materally increase the surface area exposed (meaning it won't cool things down any faster) but will increase the cost. A thinner diameter doesn't really supply enough water to maximize the heat exchange before the water inside the tube becomes the same temp as the wort outside. Also, just because the copper is expensive, don't cheap out on the length. If you move to bigger batch sizes in the future then 25 feet of cooper just won't cool it. Remember, you can't cool the wort down too fast but you can not cool it down fast enough.

You may also want to look at morebeer.com and look into just purchasing one. I found that once I figured out the material cost that it wasn't much more to just to buy one and that way I didn't have to worry about getting the fittings just right so that I didn't have any leaks...don't worry, you will have plenty of other DIY project with this hobby....

Anyway, that is just my two cents...good luck and happy brewing!

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Old 02-20-2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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What I did was buy some siphon tubing at the hardware store that's inside diameter was about the same as the outer diameter of the copper tube. I inserted the copper in the siphon tube, jammed it in a few inches and sealed it tight using two stainless hose clamps (one wasn't enough because it leaked a little).

To the the other end of the siphon tube, I attached a barbed/threaded brass fitting and then an adapter fitting to allow this to be threaded onto my garden hose. HomeDepot has all the parts - it may take some figuring out to get the right ones. On the outlet side, I repeated the steps to attach the siphon tubing to the copper (nothing is needed on the 'free' end).

I use about 4-5 feet of 3/8" ID siphon tubing for each side. The outlet water will be hot (trust me - it can scald you). The outlet water is at a higher temp than the tubing is rated for, but I haven't had a problem using it. You could buy some high-temp tubing if you can find it.

If you do use standard siphon tubing, do try to keep some distance between the tubing and your burner while you're sterilizing the chiller (in the last 15 mins of your boil). I could see it melting if you weren't careful, since there's no cooling water running through it at that point.

Sorry for the long-winded reply. Good luck. You'll be amazed how quickly it can cool off your wort.

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Fermenter 1: Best bitter (1)
Fermenter 2: Best bitter (2)
Fermenter 3: APA
Fermenter 4: APA

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Old 02-20-2008, 09:42 PM   #6
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thanks guys for the insight. I will see what I can get it done for by doing it myself vs. buying one from Midwest Supplies or MoreBeer.

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Old 02-20-2008, 10:04 PM   #7
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I recommend just buying one, if you have to ask about how to build one, building one might be a difficult task for you and as always holds the possibility that you will ruin the stuff needed to build a chiller. Currently copper is very expensive and breaking the tubing or making the chiller incorrectly could be costly. I personally don't think it is worth it to save the 20 or 30 bucks you would save over buying one that is pre made. I personally made mine, but I always caution people against making things that they obviously have no idea how to make. Because inevitabley someone will wind up paying for something twice, once as their own mess up and once buying one from the store...

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Old 02-20-2008, 10:28 PM   #8
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a fellow brewer once gave me the same advice Donsay and I have to agree, especially when it comes to the chiller, I have built most of my brewery myself but the chiller is one of the things I just bought, same with my spare arm...

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Old 02-22-2008, 12:44 AM   #9
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Making an immersion chiller isn't hard. I'm not the most blessed in DIY skills and I found it pretty easy. However, since copper tubing prices closely track with the commodity market, you might find a pre-made one that is priced lower than you can make it for, if it was manufactured a couple years ago when copper wasn't so expensive.

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Fermenter 1: Best bitter (1)
Fermenter 2: Best bitter (2)
Fermenter 3: APA
Fermenter 4: APA

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