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-   -   Poll: DIY Electric VS Propane build (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/poll-diy-electric-vs-propane-build-348056/)

DrunkleJon 08-16-2012 07:39 PM

Poll: DIY Electric VS Propane build
Searched, and all I found was Electric Vs Propane cost comparisons of setup and cost of use.

Background info, I am a Partial Mash brewer currently on 5 Gal batches with hopes of soon advancing to 5-10 gallon AG. I have my own house, with a long, almost 2 cars deep underground garage with a large window centered above the back wall of it. I am debating whether to build out an electric rig along the back wall\workbench or a propane system on casters that I can place against the side wall near the entrance and wheel out for boils (or additionally add a vent hood to the back wall window if I were so inclined to fire it from the back wall, though I know burners inside the garage is a big no-no).

I want to build up as much of the system as I can DIY and do not mind spending a little extra on parts if it makes a better system. I have no real plans so far of needing it to be portable. From my research, Electric brewers appear to adamantly stand behind their setups, though a larger majority seems to be users of Propane and Propane Accessories for simplicitys sake. I also do not require or desire an automated setup as I find the whole brewing process relaxing.

So my question is which should I persue? I appreciate any input so long as it is constructive in deciding and would like to see what the consensus is. Here is what my research tells me are the pros and cons of each

Cost to use is cheaper (price per BTU)
Heat directly to the wort
Can brew indoors
Can be integrated into an fully automated setup
Takes longer to heat wort/sparge
More expensive build/start up cost
More difficult to build (since I am going the DIY route)

Fast heating
Cheaper to build
(more) portable
Dangerous fumes
Gas is more expensive than electricity
Outdoor only

duckmanco 08-16-2012 08:05 PM

As a 5 gallon for life AG batch sparger (only drinker in the house and 5 gal is plenty) I voted electric even though I'm propane and white trash electric hybrid (makes something sound so much better than it is). Basically I use a heat stick and my outdoor burner.

But if you are trying to keep things simple, and are good with batch sparging (or even wanting or willing to try fly sparging on a batch sparging rig) then I'd go with the following, and hope to in my next house.


It's expensive, and requires 220v 30AMP service, but turning your 10-15 gallon kettle into an E kettle with this allows you to heat batch sparge water (provided you are willing to collect the first runnings in a different vessel - bottling bucket would work well for cheap), and then boil, all while NEVER HAVING TO REFILL F*CKING PROPANE tanks.

It also keeps the setup extremely KISS, which to me is what I love about batch sparging.

P.S. at least 3 dudes will post that building the same thing (the controller) will be cheaper. They might be right, but I don't care. I'm not investing the time to wire anything other than a heat stick.

Chia 08-16-2012 09:59 PM

i am on the fence here, i have a nice bg 14, but only one. I am thinking of getting a rims and using it to heat my strike, but sparging with and boiling with gas. i would like to go all electric, but dunno how it would work with 10 gallon batches.

Zamial 08-17-2012 08:44 AM

I use a cross between the two and it REALLY saves on the propane and time to heat strike water/boil.


But as you read on in that thread, I am doing it wrong and it is destined to fail. I still think the nay-sayers are full of it. My rig is still brewing strong and has zero issues... and I normally brew 13 gallon batches.

lunchbox 08-17-2012 07:59 PM

I sold all of my equipment to go to an automated gas system.

I have since converted to the electric side, and I'm working toward that now. I vote electric.

TopherM 08-17-2012 08:00 PM

I SERIOUSLY considered an automated electric BIAB build recently, and ended up going gas. I'll tell you why. I'm VERY active in my homebrew club, and participate in basically all of the groupbrews and brewing demonstrations I can. I brew about 3-4 times a month, and at least two of those a month are not at home.

With that situation, it made ZERO sense for my main rig to need to run off 20-30 amp power, which obviously would be an issue in the parking lot of most LHBSs or other random places we do brew demonstrations (we did one at the zoo recently).

So I ended up installing my Blichmann burner and plate chiller to my BIAB brewstand, and have a pump on the way to build out a recirculating system. I'm eyeing the Blichmann tower of Power to automate the temps, but am just waiting for a bit more available reviews before i pull the trigger. The best thing is I can put this rig into the back of my van by myself, and I have the shiniest stainless steel stand in my brew club.

Good luck!

rhamilton 08-17-2012 08:04 PM

I recently went through the electric vs gas build process and I had to go gas. My garage is not wired for 220v so I'd need to run a new line from the breaker to the garage. And of course the breaker was caddy corner from the garage so it would be 100+ft of copper which ended up costing $500+ just in high amp copper wire. Labor would have been a few $100 more.

So electric would have cost me $700+ just to get electrical to the right spot before I could even start the brewery build. On the other hand, the gas line was 3 ft from my brewery spot so my fuel choice was made by my house's layout -- not by me :D

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