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 a1lawng 01-07-2013 07:49 PM

Using welded stainless steal tubing as beer line

I've been lurking around this forum for a while and it's a great resource. This is my first post, so be gentle.

I'm moving my keg fridge to the basement and running a line up to a tap on the first floor. I'm doing my best to use all stainless fittings, so part of that is that I'm planning to use stainless steel tubing as beer line. After calculating the size and length of tubing I need to balance the system it turns out I need 5/16" for stainless. The only 5/16" SS tubing I can find in decent lengths is welded. Should I have any concerns about using welded instead of seamless tubing? I'll be using flare joints but I can smooth out any rough spots after flaring. Would the weld contribute to buildup in the line or is the weld typically pretty smooth? And is the welding material just stainless steel or is there something else in it?

Here's what I'm looking at...304 Stainless 5/16"

Thanks!

 beaksnbeer 01-07-2013 08:35 PM

Waste of money, What you need is Bev-Seal Ultra 235 tube.

 JuanMoore 01-07-2013 09:24 PM

FWIW those line balancing calculators and equations are relatively flawed, and I'd hate to see you spend all of the time, money, and effort on installing SS lines only to find out that they don't work for you.

Every line balancing calculator or equation I've seen is designed to result in a 1 gal/min flow rate. This works relatively well for most commercial systems, where the beer temps are always between 34° and 38°, and the carb level is usually ~2.7 vol. If you try to serve beer that's warmer or more highly carbed at that speed, you'll get a glass of foam. And as soon as you change the fluid velocity, the resistance figures that those calculators and equations rely on are no longer apply (and they're not very accurate to begin with), and the equations become useless.

The terminology used is often misleading as well. They claim to be able to calculate the "ideal" line length, but what it should say is that it calculates the line length that provides the fastest possible pour without excessive foam for systems kept very cold and pouring beer with moderate carbonation levels. The only side effect of lines that are longer than what those calculators and formulas provide is a slightly slower pour. For me, the IDEAL line length is the one that allows me to pour beer at a wide variety of temperatures and carbonation levels. I'm not running a busy bar where the number of pints I cal fill in a minute matters. If I have time to drink a beer, then I also have a couple extra seconds to wait for it to pour.

I also second the suggestion to look at accuflex bev-seal ultra lines. I have them and couldn't be happier. None of the off flavor that I got from vinyl lines, easy to clean, and they also have much lower resistance than standard vinyl lines, which would be helpful for your situation with the large vertical rise.

 a1lawng 01-07-2013 11:51 PM

Thanks for both of the responses. I'm sure the bev-seal lines work great, but I'm one of those people who stays away from plastic and plastic-ish as much as possible. You're probably rolling your eyes, right? I just don't trust anything. We were told for so long that all the plastic we ate out of was safe and then it came out that BPA had some really terrible health effects. I'm pretty set on using all stainless from the keg to the tap because the beer sits in it for days at a time. So let's pretend you don't disagree with using stainless lines...any foreseeable problems with using welded tubing instead of seamless?

Quote:
 For me, the IDEAL line length is the one that allows me to pour beer at a wide variety of temperatures and carbonation levels.
JuanMoore, I'm interested in hearing more about this. I don't disagree with what you're saying, but how did you figure out what YOUR ideal line length was? Trial and error or what?

 JRems 01-08-2013 01:17 AM

That line will be fine. 5/16 stainless tubing is about 1/4" inside diameter. Not sure if you figured that. It also has less resistance than vinyl line. Good luck it's a bit hard to work with the stainless without kinking. Also have you priced out all stainless ball lock disconnects? I think they are \$25 each compared to 5 for plastic. It's going to be roughy not to have any plastic. The flare connectors need plastic washers in them to seal a metal to metal connection.

 JuanMoore 01-08-2013 05:46 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by a1lawng (Post 4758728) Thanks for both of the responses. I'm sure the bev-seal lines work great, but I'm one of those people who stays away from plastic and plastic-ish as much as possible. You're probably rolling your eyes, right? I just don't trust anything. We were told for so long that all the plastic we ate out of was safe and then it came out that BPA had some really terrible health effects. I'm pretty set on using all stainless from the keg to the tap because the beer sits in it for days at a time. So let's pretend you don't disagree with using stainless lines...any foreseeable problems with using welded tubing instead of seamless? JuanMoore, I'm interested in hearing more about this. I don't disagree with what you're saying, but how did you figure out what YOUR ideal line length was? Trial and error or what?
I'm not rolling my eyes. I'm sensitive to many of the toxins from outgassing plastics, and vinyl is one of the worst, which is why I did a ton of research and ended up using the accuflex bev-seal. If it were more practical and less costly I might have gone with SS myself.

The welded SS should work fine. SS lines of any type will be a PITA to install, and you'll constantly be trying to avoid kinking them every time you change a keg out, but you probably already knew that.

And I just used really long lines, not really much trial and error. Like I said, the only downside to longer lines is a slightly slower pour, so by making the lines longer that I thought I'd ever need for any beer, they're the "ideal" length for me. Could I shorten them and still get a good pour? Sure, but what if I decide to bump the temp of my keezer up a few degrees, or try serving a belgian or saison at 4.0 vol? And since line resistance can vary substantially between manufacturers or even between production runs, what if the estimate you used for your calculations wasn't accurate? What if the 1 gal/min pour speed the calculators give you is too fast? My suggestion is to make your lines much longer than you think they need to be. There's no downside other than cost, and even if there was, cutting a couple feet off is way easier than trying to stretch the lines.

 a1lawng 01-08-2013 02:11 PM

Quote:
 My suggestion is to make your lines much longer than you think they need to be. There's no downside other than cost, and even if there was, cutting a couple feet off is way easier than trying to stretch the lines.
Thanks, JuanMoore, I'll try that. I'll have extra from the coil I'm buying anyway, so it couldn't hurt. I can just keep the extra coiled inside the fridge and trim it if I need to. I know SS will be a pain to work with but I've picked a relatively simple locating for running the lines and I don't mind the extra work involved...as long as it all comes together in the end. And I'm sure the accuflex stuff is just fine...I just like going as natural as possible in pretty much any situation. I wish I could use wooden lines. ;)

Quote:
 Also have you priced out all stainless ball lock disconnects? I think they are \$25 each compared to 5 for plastic. It's going to be roughy not to have any plastic. The flare connectors need plastic washers in them to seal a metal to metal connection.
JRems, yes I've priced out the stainless ball lock disconnects. I'm sticking with the plastic one I have for the gas but planning on using this one for the OUT disconnect. And yes, I realize I'll have to use nylon flare fitting washers and I'm okay enough with that. Just trying to go stainless as much as possible...99%.

Heading to my local shop today and will be online-ordering anything they don't have very soon. I'll do my best to take pictures and post details for anyone interested.

 Bobby_M 01-08-2013 02:52 PM

I think paying \$30 per disconnect just to avoid incidental contact with plastic is a little overboard. Sure, there's a lot more surface area in a long run of line so I kind of agree with you there.

 brewingmeister 01-08-2013 07:32 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by a1lawng (Post 4758728) I'm one of those people who stays away from plastic and plastic-ish as much as possible.
Couldn't agree more, the only thing coming in contact with my brew that isn't stainless, silicone or glass are the beer lines. Getting stainless tubing to not kink and move/flex enough to hook up kegs, especially when cold, sounds like a nightmare though. I could see having a few feet for bev tubing on the keg end to work as a flex connection and then having the hard lines to the tap. Seems like a lot of work though.

As far as the welded tubing there will likely be some not so smooth spots that could collect some gunk.

 Bobby_M 01-08-2013 09:30 PM

Ok, well here's an idea. Use stainless for the long runs and add a short piece of braided silicone at the keg end.

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