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Old 11-17-2011, 01:09 PM   #1
rickprice407
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Default Why Electric? Confused

I'm trying to get a handle on why using electric heat is superior to gas/propane. As an electrical engineer (Indusrial control systems) and having a world class chef for a wife, I have experience with both. NO cook that I have ever seen would choose an electric range over a gas stove. Why? The ability to control temperatures exactly and immediately. The reasons to use electric heating of vessels in industry can be varied. Exact time/temp control not overly critical, few if any variations once operating temp reached, explosive gasses in the area (safety concern with flames/sparks), simplicity (not having to bring in gas lines). That said, most of their chem labs still heated small batches with bunsen burners.

I am looking to expand beyond 5 gallon batches, automating my all grain process (probably with a little AB brick PLC) and essentially making my life easier on brewday. So I'd really like to hear from the guys who are actively doing the electric brewing why I would choose it over my propane banjo burners. I mean even the BrewMagic system is gas/propane.

Looking forward to hearing since I'm still in the analysis and design stages and can make changes before building.

Rick near Atlanta



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Old 11-17-2011, 01:12 PM   #2
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Most people use propane. Propane + closed in space = carbon monoxide + death



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Old 11-17-2011, 01:19 PM   #3
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I posted this last night in a different thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
Well, with electric I brew inside in my laundry room. The rest of my house isn't affected. It's cheaper than propane. I don't have to run hoses outside the freeze in the winter, or deal with water running for my chiller outside. I can run my HERMS and hold temperatures perfectly. I can ramp up the temps within one degree and never risk overshooting, because I don't have to turn a fire off and on. I think those are most of the advantages I can think of right now.
The thing is, a propane turkey fryer isn't like a nice professional gas cooktop. It's hard to control it to a precise heat. For example, I want my strike water to be 5.5 gallons at 169.5. That's super easy with electric controls and a PID, but not quite as easy with propane!

With electric, you can easily choose temperatures, recirculate the mash, and even boil.

With gas, you can also do those things. But not indoors unless you have natural gas plumbed in and a ventilation hood. Unless you have a natural gas system, you will need to make sure you refill or exchange your propane tanks.

If I lived in a warmer, more agreeable climate, I may have never made the switch. But today it is snowing, and I can still brew without going outside or worrying about my water freezing in the hose.
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:20 PM   #4
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I currently use propane, and that presents problems:

Tanks run out of propane
Tanks have issues in the winter
Fire= immediate fire hazard
carbon monoxide


Electricity: on demand
cheaper than propane
safer - in my mind

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Old 11-17-2011, 01:30 PM   #5
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Even if you brew in a semi-enclosed space like a garage with the doors wide open, gas fired systems will raise the ambient temp by up to 20F. In the summer, it's almost a no-brew deal breaker for me. In the winter, well 40F feels better than 20F, but there's also the freezing wind coming in through the half open door (for CO safety).

Electric puts 100% of the heat into the liquid and you can keep your doors completely shut.

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Old 11-17-2011, 01:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper
But today it is snowing, and I can still brew without going outside or worrying about my water freezing in the hose.
Pick a random thread and learn something....I surely would have brewed this winter and been shocked to realize the hose was frozen when I went to hook up my chiller.
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:38 PM   #7
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I concur with Bobby - the gas turns my garage into a sauna. Ive changedto electric but Ive moved the gas (controlled with a solenoid Brutus style) to my MLT (RIMS) - I'll fire the gas when I need to save time, mash out, decoction mash etc. BK also has both gas and 4000W element - gas helps get the boil going quicker then gets turned off.
Also, even with ventilation the carbon monoxide is present. And its heavier than air so while I might be OK my free-ranging 2 yr old is inhaling fumes.
Another advantage is I can start heating remotely so that when I arrive home I can get started straight away - not so easy/safe with gas.

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Old 11-17-2011, 02:02 PM   #8
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True, even with my doors open and the flames burning clean, I need to get fresh air to avoid a headache. I have a CO alarm in there with me but it must be just below the alarm threshold.

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Old 11-17-2011, 02:06 PM   #9
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If you're a chef, cooking with gas is better for a couple reasons:

More control! Solid burners take a while to heat up and cool down, the pot/pan base, which on a good one is heavy gauge to give even heat distribution, takes a while to heat up and cool down. Gas burners turn on/off instantly, so you have tighter control, ASSUMING you are standing over it the whole time.

With brewing, there are differences. The element is submerged in the liquid, which means NO efficiency loss in heat transfer, and NO long lag times for a big element to heat up/cool off. In terms of cost and efficiency, electric wins!

More control! Gas turns on/off instantly, and gives you visual indicators of how hot it is!

With brewing, we want MUCH finer control. 152 vs 156 in a mash is a BIG difference. It's damn tough to manually control a flame to hit exact temps. With electric though, you just set your PID to a certain temp, set the alarm, walk away, and 15-20 minutes later the alarm goes off, and your strike water is at the EXACT temp you want. And it will hold there. Electric gives you "set and forget", gas gives you "hover over and obsess".

Plus, there's the inside vs. outside thing others talk about.

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Old 11-17-2011, 03:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewersKaramazov View Post
Pick a random thread and learn something....I surely would have brewed this winter and been shocked to realize the hose was frozen when I went to hook up my chiller.
This is one of the main reasons why I'd like to go electric- I can move indoors in winter. Problem with moving indoors, as I understand, is that you're boiling off a gallon or two of water pretty quickly, and this is not necessarily a good thing to be doing indoors. In the summer, I can stay out in the garage.....easy to put 240V service to either location.


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