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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Bottling/Kegging > Beer line question
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:01 PM   #1
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Default Beer line question

So I finally picked up my first kegerator. There's only about five feet of beer line, so I'd like to increase the length to about nine. How do I orient the extra line within the kegerator? I know most ppl say to use about nine feet, but I have no idea where to situate the extra footage! Do I just coil it? Let it hang? Secure it somehow? Thanks!

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Old 12-29-2012, 05:50 PM   #2
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I've coiled the excess around my kegs before, but when I'm too lazy to do that I've also coiled it up as best as I could and just stuffed down in available open space.

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Old 12-29-2012, 05:56 PM   #3
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I hang mine on the inside of the brew fridge door (my taps are through the door). The rest is run so that there's slack in the lines to prevent issues. It also allows me to connect the kegs up with them on the floor, them move them inside the fridge.

I would start with 10' of 3/16" ID beer line (Bevlex) and go from there. That should be good for up to about 14-15psi on a keg. If you want to hang the extra line, get a sheet metal screw and some velcro (1" wide is best). Simply cut a long enough piece of the velcro, and screw it to the inside of the brew fridge someplace that makes sense. Then coil up the hoses and secure with the velcro.

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Old 12-29-2012, 05:57 PM   #4
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Coiled zip tied and sitting on top of kegs.

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Old 12-29-2012, 05:59 PM   #5
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I am NOT a draught beer expert, so I am hoping to learn something here since I do own a draught unit.

With 3/6" diameter line providing 3 pounds of resistance per foot, a 9 foot line would provide 27 pounds of resistance. Unless you have a reason for putting that type of pressure on your CO2 cannister, what is the point of using that much line? I would assume that if you are running your CO2 at a lower level, at some point your beer would go flat and not push through the full line.

I am trying to understand the draught balancing process, so looking for the rationale. Not trying to critique.

Here is the info that I was researching from Beersmith

Ideal Beer Line Length Equation (L)
L = (keg_pressure – 1 psi) / Resistance

Resistance by Type of Line:
3/16″ ID vinyl tubing = 3 psi/ft
1/4″ ID vinyl tubing = 0.85 psi/ft
3/16″ ID Polyethylene tubing = 2.2 psi/ft
1/4″ ID Polyethylene tubing = 0.5 psi/ft
3/8″ OD Stainless tubing = 0.2 psi/ft
5/16″ OD Stainless tubing = 0.5 psi/ft
1/4″ OD Stainless tubing = 2 psi/ft

Thanks

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Old 12-29-2012, 06:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twalte
I am NOT a draught beer expert, so I am hoping to learn something here since I do own a draught unit.

With 3/6" diameter line providing 3 pounds of resistance per foot, a 9 foot line would provide 27 pounds of resistance. Unless you have a reason for putting that type of pressure on your CO2 cannister, what is the point of using that much line? I would assume that if you are running your CO2 at a lower level, at some point your beer would go flat and not push through the full line.

I am trying to understand the draught balancing process, so looking for the rationale. Not trying to critique.

Thanks
I agree- why not try out the 5' of line first and see how it goes? Chances are it will work great. I built my keezer with 9' of line then soon after cut out 4' because it was too long. At 5', I carb and serve at 10-12 psi wonderfully.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twalte View Post
I am NOT a draught beer expert, so I am hoping to learn something here since I do own a draught unit.

With 3/6" diameter line providing 3 pounds of resistance per foot, a 9 foot line would provide 27 pounds of resistance. Unless you have a reason for putting that type of pressure on your CO2 cannister, what is the point of using that much line? I would assume that if you are running your CO2 at a lower level, at some point your beer would go flat and not push through the full line.

I am trying to understand the draught balancing process, so looking for the rationale. Not trying to critique.

Thanks
Reality of beer, turns those figures into non-absolutes. A LOT of us have found that 5' of 3/16" ID hose is far too little and will get TONS of foam in the glass at normal serving pressures (at temperature). Longer lines resolves the issue 100%. I'm using under 14psi for the kegs in my beer fridge, at 40F. With 10' lines I get nice pours without excessive foam. Using shorter lines on the same exact setup produces glasses of foam with almost no beer in them.

IMO/IME, there are enough variations of kegging systems to make mathematical formula's almost useless for a lot of us. IMO, the formulas work with one setup and that's about all. I don't have that setup, which is why it doesn't work for me.

BTW, the only 'negative' effect I've heard about from longer lines is slower pour times. I don't mind if it takes me a few seconds more to pull a pint of my beer. Especially if I don't get more than half a glass of foam that way.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twalte View Post
I am NOT a draught beer expert, so I am hoping to learn something here since I do own a draught unit.

With 3/6" diameter line providing 3 pounds of resistance per foot[...]
See, right there there's a problem with using virtually every calculator on the planet: they all use (presumably) manufacturer product metrics completely out of any context - context that might shed some light on why the calculators always seem off by at least half.

I have to believe those resistance numbers are based on some combination of working pressure, fluid viscosity and velocity numbers that simply isn't replicated on the typical home serving system.

For that matter, who knows where the vinyl and poly resistance numbers even come from. Barrier lined beverage tubing is manufactured with very smooth inside walls - virtually polished if not actually so - which I bet has considerably lower resistance than some random plastic tubing.

Anyway, the whole thing is suspect.

Like a whole lot of folks, I went down the standard 5 foot 3/16" Bevlex 200 path, and as soon as my first keg was nicely carbed I had a hand-to-tap fight going on, and the foamy tap was winning by a mile. Simply by going to 10 footers on all six faucets tamed nearly all of the beers I typically brew (my 3+ volume wheats still benefit from a mixing stick dropped down the keg diptube).

Cheers!
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Old 12-29-2012, 11:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twalte View Post
I am NOT a draught beer expert, so I am hoping to learn something here since I do own a draught unit.

With 3/6" diameter line providing 3 pounds of resistance per foot, a 9 foot line would provide 27 pounds of resistance. Unless you have a reason for putting that type of pressure on your CO2 cannister, what is the point of using that much line? I would assume that if you are running your CO2 at a lower level, at some point your beer would go flat and not push through the full line.

I am trying to understand the draught balancing process, so looking for the rationale. Not trying to critique.

Here is the info that I was researching from Beersmith

Ideal Beer Line Length Equation (L)
L = (keg_pressure – 1 psi) / Resistance

Resistance by Type of Line:
3/16″ ID vinyl tubing = 3 psi/ft
1/4″ ID vinyl tubing = 0.85 psi/ft
3/16″ ID Polyethylene tubing = 2.2 psi/ft
1/4″ ID Polyethylene tubing = 0.5 psi/ft
3/8″ OD Stainless tubing = 0.2 psi/ft
5/16″ OD Stainless tubing = 0.5 psi/ft
1/4″ OD Stainless tubing = 2 psi/ft

Thanks
Line resistance isn't a fixed figure for a specific line type and diameter, but actually varies based on the fluid velocity. Those equations and resistance figures all assume a flow rate of ~1gal/min, which may or may not work for you depending on the beer temp and carbonation level. That flow rate works relatively well for commercial draught systems where all the beer is stored between 34° and 38°F, carb levels are all ~2.5-2.7 vol, and the speed of the pour is important. If you want to serve your beer warmer, like many homebrewers do, you'll need to slow the pour down to keep it from foaming. Same thing if you want to serve a beer with more than ~2.8 vol of carbonation. As soon as you slow it down, those resistance figures no longer apply. Even without slowing it down, those figures are more of a rough guess, since it can vary substantially between manufacturers, and even between different production runs.

Even if you're going to be serving your beer within the parameters that the equation works for, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should use the figure it gives you as your line length. The equation will tell you the MINIMUM line length needed to prevent excessive foaming at 1gal/min, which people often confuse with the IDEAL line length. The only downside to longer lines is a slightly slower pour. For me, the ideal line length is the one that allows me to pour a wide variety of temperature and carbonation level combinations without having to worry about excessive foaming. I'm also not running a busy bar where it matters how many pints I can fill per minute. If I have time to drink a beer, I have a couple extra seconds to wait for it to pour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twalte View Post
I would assume that if you are running your CO2 at a lower level, at some point your beer would go flat and not push through the full line.
The line length has no bearing on the carbonation. It's a closed system, so even with 1,000' long lines the beer isn't going to go flat. The pour could become painfully slow with long enough lines, but that's about it.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:53 PM   #10
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Tons of great info here, thanks for all the replies!

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