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Old 06-29-2011, 03:33 PM   #1
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Default Electric vs. Natural Gas

I've been brewing with NG for nearly a year now and have found it to work quite well. I've had no problems with smell or fumes in the house and appear to have it vented quite well. I have a dedicated brew room and am considering going electric in the future for the simple fact that it gets very hot in there this time of year (95-100F) using (2) Blichmann NG burners. I have a range vent and have two fans to circulate air, but it still is hot.

My questions are:
1.) Is electric more efficient?
2.) Is electric cheaper/more than NG?
3.) Will the room temperature be much lower than NG?
4.) Which one heats to a boil faster?

Any other helpful hints between the two would be appreciated.

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Old 06-29-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
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Electric all the way.
1) More efficient as all of the power (heat) is placed directly in the water. No heat loss up the side of the kettle like a flame burner.
2) Electric is less expensive than NG. (Way cheaper than propane)
3) Room temp? Yes it will be cooler, again as the heat is added directly to the water and none of it is going up the side of the kettle.
4) Faster? That's a huge depends. It depends on the element size. With a burner it also depends on how big your burner is & how hard you drive it.

With electric you can hit your temperatures spot on without having to mess with it at all.

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Old 06-29-2011, 04:07 PM   #3
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Thanks P-J. I've seen many of your posts on electric brewing and am considering it very much. I am good with basic wiring and think I can do it all, but just don't know where to start. I have one 15 gal. brew pot and one 12 gal. hlt now and don't know if I should convert them or start with new pots including adding a mash tun and another pump or what.

Anybody in the Madison, WI area that has an electric setup so I can see it first hand?

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On Deck:-- --
Primary:--Blue Ridge (Blue Moon Clone--
Secondary: --nothing--
Bottled/Kegged: --Bells Oberon Clone, Autumn Amber, Lemon Light Ale, Spotted Cow Clone, Honey Bee Ale, Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Trappist Ale, Bell's Oberon Clone, Savannah Saison, Cream Ale, Fat Tire Clone, Mad Cow, Koppslam IIPA--
On Tap: Ben's IPA, Saison De Noel, Mad Cow
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Old 06-29-2011, 04:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P-J View Post
Electric all the way.
1) More efficient as all of the power (heat) is placed directly in the water. No heat loss up the side of the kettle like a flame burner.
2) Electric is less expensive than NG. (Way cheaper than propane)
3) Room temp? Yes it will be cooler, again as the heat is added directly to the water and none of it is going up the side of the kettle.
4) Faster? That's a huge depends. It depends on the element size. With a burner it also depends on how big your burner is & how hard you drive it.

With electric you can hit your temperatures spot on without having to mess with it at all.
Depending on costs in your area and time of year ($/kWhr), numbers I have run int he past show NG to be cheaper than electric (both significantly cheaper than propane). Yes, electric is more efficient in terms of % of the power delivered to the media, but it is significantly more expensive per BTU.

At least that is how I recall the outcome of my calculations.

As for the OP, you already have what sounds like a nice NG system. Have you considered just adding an element simply as an "assist" to speed up ramp-times? Once you have it boiling, NG should be sufficient. Electric is really nice for control-loop systems. but otherwise the cost adder might not buy you much, if any, real benefit.

Edit: and the converse of heating your room up this time of year is it must be a lot nicer there during the winter brew sessions.
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Old 06-29-2011, 04:13 PM   #5
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Randar, thanks for the input. Those are some of my thoughts as well; is it worth changing over to electric or just find a better way to deal with the heat issues in the room?

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On Deck:-- --
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Old 06-29-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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Number 3 would be my major concern, other than you are using burners not rated to be in house, in house. Yes, you know what you are doing, but if anything goes wrong your insurance company better not know about the burners. They would love to deny a massive claim because of that one little issue.

Anyway, room temp would be kept down by going electric. All other factors would be based on system design and utility rates in your area.

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Old 06-29-2011, 04:15 PM   #7
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Anyway, room temp would be kept down by going electric.
And they wouldn't do the same for unlicensed electrical issues/failures/fires/liabilities?
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Mmm, hot and wet beef.-marubozo

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Old 06-29-2011, 04:18 PM   #8
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Randar, thanks for the input. Those are some of my thoughts as well; is it worth changing over to electric or just find a better way to deal with the heat issues in the room?
Price out the electrical upgrades you'll have to make to your house, to your equipment, etc and then weigh it against the benefit you hope/expect to reap from the modification. I don't think one way is necessarily better or worse, but they both have start-up costs and you have already payed the start-up costs for the NG option.
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Mmm, hot and wet beef.-marubozo

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Old 06-29-2011, 04:23 PM   #9
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And they wouldn't do the same for unlicensed electrical issues/failures/fires/liabilities?
And that's why I brew outside....
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Old 06-29-2011, 04:32 PM   #10
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And they wouldn't do the same for unlicensed electrical issues/failures/fires/liabilities?
That's a big depends. Depending on the area that you live in, you can pull a permit and do it yourself. You then have it inspected & you are good to go. The only thing that needs to be handled by an electrician (or DIY with a permit) is the wiring & install of the power outlet for the brewery. Everything beyond the outlet - no problem. IMHO.
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