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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > electric or gas?
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:13 PM   #1
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Default electric or gas?

I'm getting ready to build my brewery and am torn between going electric or propane. I'd love to hear what everyone thinks. If I go has ill be building yet another brutus clone and if I go electric ill be going with something similar to kal's electric brewery. Pros and cons of each? Cost of each to build? Cheap places to look for equipment? Any tips and tricks would be awsome.
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:23 PM   #2
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Having gone electric recently, it's the best thing I ever did. The ability to just set a temp and not have to babysit it is huge for me. It's also cheaper to run for me than propane, by a lot.

The cons are complexity, initial cost and the fact that you will probably have to do some fabrication. Which could also be a pro if you like to tinker

-Joe

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:56 PM   #3
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What element did you go with nos?

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:57 PM   #4
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I've been doing propane for years, but as soon as I get a couple of other (non-brewing) projects done, I'm going to build an electric brewery, based on Kal's system. I have to haul all my brewing equipment up out the basement on brew day and back down when I'm finished. I must go up and down the stairs 40 times when I brew. The convenience of being able to have everything at hand if I can brew in the basement is just so compelling.

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Old 05-26-2011, 05:01 PM   #5
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I guess it also depends on the cost of electricity. Where I live it is very expensive and I can get deals on propane from my local hardware store. I guess if electricity were affordable I would go with that. Being able to dial in a temp is quite appealing.

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Old 05-26-2011, 05:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nostalgia View Post
Having gone electric recently, it's the best thing I ever did. The ability to just set a temp and not have to babysit it is huge for me. It's also cheaper to run for me than propane, by a lot.

The cons are complexity, initial cost and the fact that you will probably have to do some fabrication. Which could also be a pro if you like to tinker

-Joe
I went all-electric in January 2010. The reason is mostly because I want to brew indoors. Our climate is really not a great place to brew outside, and I love the convenience of being indoors.

I love it, and I"m not sorry at all! I love being able to hold the temperatures easily, having everything on one control panel (HLT, BK, pump, HLT stirrer, even a fan for the room!), not worrying about running out or refilling propane, etc.

With a HERMS, there is no scorched wort when ramping up temperatures either. That's a definite plus!
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:02 PM   #7
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Yes, that's the other thing - you can brew indoors. So nice on rainy or snowy days

My build thread can be found here, which contains part numbers and sources.

-Joe

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Old 05-26-2011, 05:07 PM   #8
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If you got a socket to support the wattage of an electric that would be my choise

An old hot water tank is usually free(you probably need another heating element for the boil)

I have also seen builds of 60litre dog food buckets with water boiler elements

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Old 05-26-2011, 06:45 PM   #9
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I've been researching going to electric brewing. When it comes to efficiency, there's no contest. Electric (we're talking immersion elements here) is far and away less costly than gas, and all of the other issues involved in using gas indoors go away, too.

The drawbacks, dealing with the minor first, is that in most cases, a wiring job is going to be involved to run a 240VAC circuit (30A minimum) to the brewing location. It is of course possible do this yourself, keeping in mind that DIY work with electricity is very unforgiving, to the point of being lethal.

The really major drawback to electric brewing, though, is in controls. I should note that I exclude from this discussion the various electric "heatsticks" which are used either for auxiliary or as the sole source of heat. I have multiple reasons for doing this, which are not germane here and now.

For me, electric brewing must incorporate permanently fixed electric elements in the brewing vessel(s), which elements are temperature / time controlled, thus automating all the steps from heating the strike water through lautering. The problem with any given electric element is that it can't be adjusted like a gas flame. It is either on completely, or it is off. For an effective brewing setup (I think the best known on this forum is Kai's Electric Brewery), the controls maintain the proper temperature by automatically switching the element(s) on and off automatically.

If it weren't for the controls, electric brewing could be set up fairly cheaply. As it is, a full-blown set of controls (taking the commercially produced version of Kai's controls as an example) cost several thousand dollars. This, when added to the rest of the cost of the electric brewhouse, means that even DIY, it's pretty pricey.

The most ingenious approach I've seen to electric brewing thus far is the Speidels Braumeister (you can do searches, and there are several YT videos), and it still comes in at $2500 - $3500, depending on whether the 20l or 50l version is desired.

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