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Old 09-02-2013, 11:24 AM   #1
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Default Is brewing in the basement unsafe?

I was reading over in the electric brewing area and kept seeing reference to Being able to brew in the basement now that they have gone electric.

I want to set my brew area up in the basement of my new-to-me house and go natural gas. What is the difference if you have a vent. Is there a proper/improper way to vent if brewing in the basement? Thank ahead of time for any advice.

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Old 09-02-2013, 11:48 AM   #2
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I would never brew with gas (propane or natural) in my basement even with a burner that was specifically designed for this (the way natural gas stovetops/ovens are, not the way you mod a propane burner by drilling the hole bigger).

If you decide to go that way, no matter how much you vent it, always keep a CO detector nearby. Oh and please wait for your wife and kids to leave the house for the day.

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Old 09-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #3
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If you choose to go natural gas, just think like a restaurant (but you do not have to spend like one). Fireproof surfaces, venting and make-up air (fresh air from outside) that equals the volume you are exhausting. For a small batch brwery this does not have to be massive or that expensive.

A commercial quality in-line vent fan with a custom made hood (you can build it) takes care of the venting and a second penetration of AT LEAST the same size for the make-up air...unless you go with powered fresh air.

Keep in mind that the amount of BTU's you can pump into your wort with household natural gas are somewhat limited compared to propane or 240V electricity (this is more because it is more efficient not because you can pump out more). For 5-10 gallon batches this is not an issue.

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Old 09-02-2013, 11:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Onkel_Udo View Post
If you choose to go natural gas, just think like a restaurant (but you do not have to spend like one). Fireproof surfaces, venting and make-up air (fresh air from outside) that equals the volume you are exhausting. For a small batch brwery this does not have to be massive or that expensive.

A commercial quality in-line vent fan with a custom made hood (you can build it) takes care of the venting and a second penetration of AT LEAST the same size for the make-up air...unless you go with powered fresh air.

Keep in mind that the amount of BTU's you can pump into your wort with household natural gas are somewhat limited compared to propane or 240V electricity (this is more because it is more efficient not because you can pump out more). For 5-10 gallon batches this is not an issue.
I was thinking of running a Blichmann Floor Burner w/ Natural Gas conversion for 10 gal. batches. I have a window right above where I was planning the brew pot and had though a homemade range hood and a squirrel cage blower from the old furnace would rid the basement of steam and c02 fairly well. I have a window to use as a direct fresh air source 26' away on the other side of the room and an indirect one from the open stairwell leading upstairs that is 10' away.

I'm not opposed to 240v for my energy source, I just can't justify the expense of automation.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:23 AM   #5
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I'm not opposed to 240v for my energy source, I just can't justify the expense of automation.
Electric can be done on a budget and you can certainly go electric without sophisticated automation. A lot of the electric systems showcased here are high end.

For 10 gallon batches a 4500w element simply run at 100% will yield an acceptable boil. While not particularly fashionable, the ghetto approach to electric brewing is to just size the element to the boil size and run it at full power.

I would seriously look at electric a bit more before attempting a natural gas rig in your basement.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:25 AM   #6
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I think anything you are going to set up inside needs to be done with some caution and common sense. I have brewed in my basement with natural gas for about 14 years or so (and absolutely love it).

That said - I have a walkout basement which allows for a full size window as well as a vent fan in the wall. I have a Carbon Monoxide detector in the room - it has never gone off. It sounds like you are working with less ventilation than I am, so, you likely have more significant obstacles to overcome. If you do not feel that you can overcome those, I would look more toward electric at that point.

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Old 09-03-2013, 01:25 AM   #7
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I'm also with using electric. Add a 5500w element and get a controller from still dragon. I purchased mine while in college...not that expensive.

Carbon monoxide poisoning sucks. Trust me.

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Old 09-03-2013, 01:41 AM   #8
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As an alternative...and seriously ghetto...what do you have for dedicated circuits in the basement? Three 1500 watt elements will cost you say $75 in parts. Add a good hole saw are you ate at $100. that is for your boiling keg.

Now, want a BIAB system? Want a single tier RIMS? Want an old-school three tier? ALL REQUIRE ventilation for steam but no make-up air.

Three tier requires at least on 1500 watt element for the HLT.

So worst case scenario for no automation 10 gal brewing your need $130 in elements and install gear. 4 switches and appropriate box. Some 12 gauge wire. Three 12 gauge extension cords. Finally, appropriate ventilation. Pump and plumbing if you want single tier.

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Old 09-03-2013, 10:01 AM   #9
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Hey,I want say thanks again for all the feedback. I was thinking a lot about 3 tier system and my 1st vessel for heating water being electric any way. I'm pretty comfortable with basic electrical work both 120 & 240 so no real problem there. The only thing that makes me leery of an electric brew kettle is I've never used one before. It was always on top of the stove or outside with my turkey fryer's burner.

The general consensus seems to be a NO so I'll take that advice and look further into the electric brewery. Thanks!

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Old 09-03-2013, 10:33 AM   #10
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Honestly, make a cheap eHLT like I did. Unless you are doing a HERMs or RIMS or some other acronym, you Hot liquor tank's purpose it to heat water 165 F give or take....once for your strike water and once for your sparge water. Mine is a 48 q cooler with a 2000W element. It heats 60 F water to about 170 in an hour'ish. LEts you get your feet wet with electric.

As I have mentioned before on other threads, if I were to do it all again...I would be an eBIAB guy. One vessel and a giant mesh bag. You could go all gran with the 3 -1550W elements, 3 light switches and three extension cords.

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