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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Propane or Elecrtic
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:08 PM   #1
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Default Propane or Elecrtic

I posted a reply about a hybrid system where I suggested that I would heat with propane and control with electric once at temperature. It was suggested that electric was quicker but looking at hot water heater recovery times, propane is much better than electric so I would think electric is slower than propane. Also according to hot water heaters, electric is almost 6 times as expensive.

Any ideas on this? Anybody do any side by side comparisons?

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Old 03-25-2012, 07:23 PM   #2
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All of the research I have found indicates propane is much more efficient at heating water than electric, both in terms of time and cost. However there are many brewers who say the electric is not only faster but more efficient in brewing. Hot water heater research all give the nod to gas (propane/natural gas). I have never done a side by side comparison but it would interesting research.

I chose propane because of the cost of installation of the electric. I would need 75 feet of 6 AWG - 3-1 and it was near $300.00 for the wire alone. My entire propane install was less than that. A $20.00 exchange for a 20lb tank gets 6 brews. Electricity where I live is provided by rural electric CO-OP and very costly.

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Old 03-25-2012, 07:52 PM   #3
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Main thing in efficiency you have to consider is that the element is submerged. With propane you're losing a tonne of heat to the air.

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Old 03-25-2012, 07:53 PM   #4
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a hot water heater is much better at transferring the burning propane heat to hot water than a boil kettle. how much of that propane heat goes up the sides of the kettle and to the atmosphere instead of heating water? I've found a 4500 watt element heats to boiling much quicker than what I was getting with propane.

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Old 03-25-2012, 08:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewerinBR View Post
A $20.00 exchange for a 20lb tank gets 6 brews.
Wish I would have got 6 brews to a 20 pounder. More like a brew and a 1/2. Since I switched to electric, I brew 2-3 times a month and I can't see a big difference in my electric bill. And yes, its slightly faster with electric.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:31 PM   #6
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Not sure if this adds anything to the topic, but I did my first electric test a few days ago. 11 gallons of water from 58F to boiling in 53 minutes using 1 5500W element. Almost 3 degrees rise per minute. Wish I'd done a similar propane test.

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Old 03-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #7
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I don't think you can compare a propane burner under a kettle to a water heater - the water heater is designed for efficiency. Most of your heat from the burner under your kettle floats up the outside of the kettle and out into space. An electric element is completely submerged and 100% of it's energy is transferred into the water or wort.

There are other threads that have gone over this topic, and anyone who has used propane and have gone to gas I think will generally agree that electric is quicker and cheaper. This is from Kal's electricbrewery.com

What are the benefits of brewing with electricity vs. gas?

There are many benefits to brewing with electricity vs. gas:

Easier precise control of temperature
Safer for indoor brewing (no poisonous gases, no emissions)
Absolutely silent (the bigger gas burners required for brewing sound like jet engines)
Much more efficient use of energy (our 5500W heating elements produce ~20,000 BTUs of heat and will outperform an 80,000 BTU propane burner)
No tanks to refill
Cheaper to run (use $1-2 in electricity instead of approximately half a tank of propane per batch)

We don't know of one brewer who, after switching to electric, wished they were still using gas.


Here's another thread discussing costs and efficiencies of electric.

If you search the forum for 'gas vs electric' or 'cost per electric brew', you'll find loads of threads on the topic.

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Old 03-26-2012, 09:06 PM   #8
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That is all good information. I just need to find a good stainless welder to convert. I will use tri clover fittings. As a side note, I will take 11 gallons of 58 degree water and heat to boiling to check the time. Time is more important than cost at the moment.

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