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Old 08-20-2007, 01:29 AM   #1
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Default Indoor AG brewing.

So I'd like to set up an indoor operation for my AG brews in the basement so I can dodge the harsh Manitoba winters. Yes, I will be using a Banjo Burner indoors but I'm not one of those Darwin award winners that asphysiate themselves in a bout of stupidity. I also don't want to drive the humidity levels up in my house like some sort of grow op mould thing.

I have a large stainless steel hood I can set up over my pots to contain and expel the humidity from the boiling wort. I'll put a sealed duct fan in there to force the air movement to evacuate to the outdoors. Of course my biggest concern is for CO building up in the brew room.

My current plan is to build a metal cylinder of tin and seal it to the floor. The burner and pot will go in the center and I'll use a bathroom fan attached to the bottom of the cylinder to remove accumulated CO from the cylinder and send it up the stainless hood to be evacuated along with the steam. Because CO is heavier than air, I expect that the cylinder would trap the gas and keep it out of the room. I'm just not sure how quickly the gas accumulates and in what quantities so I don't know if the bathroom fan would be able to keep up.

I may be able to borrow a meter from work to measure CO levels so I can do a test run with just water before I risk a batch of wort. If it passes, I'll buy a CO detector and keep it in the room continuously just to warn me of any failures in the system.

Any comments?

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Old 08-20-2007, 01:43 AM   #2
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If I were going to brew indoors with propane I would, as you said, have a CO detector and also have someone else in the house to check on me every now and then (SWMBO, friend, dog, whatever). Odds are that the day the CO detector stops and your burner starts throwing out deadly gas would never happen at the same time but you can never be too safe.

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Old 08-20-2007, 01:54 AM   #3
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I'd like to know the volume of gas produced at a given rate of burn. If I were sitting rather than standing, door open versus closed, etc. I think it can be done safely if it were done intelligently and with built in safeguards as you suggest. I'd also think about building an electric HLT so the whole exposure would be limited to the boil.

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Old 08-20-2007, 03:50 AM   #4
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The first thing that comes to my mind is that in winter the house is pretty well sealed, and you are going to want to make sure you have some sort of vent for make up air. To replace the air that is being exhausted. Otherwise the exhaust is not going to go out.

The other is that although CO sinks there are going to be some jets pushing it up, so it will not sink immediately. If you build the hood large enough to cover the area around the pot and burner and keep it a couple of feet above the pot, you should be fine.

I am basing this on the way it works in a restaurant. I think you will want a decent size exhaust fan, but I don't think you need the bathroom fan as well.

Make-up air is essential.

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Old 08-20-2007, 04:04 AM   #5
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My first knee jerk reaction was that my old house has enough air leaks to more than make up for the discharge, but you got me thinking, Sean. I think combustion would be increased if I were to run two hoses from the burner surround. One to discharge CO and one to introduce fresh air. That way the burner would have its catalyst and I wouldn't have to heat the incoming air with my furnace. I wonder what effect the colder, heavier air would have? I really don't want to have a hose of -30 degree air discharging into the room unless it's feeding the Banjo.

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Old 08-20-2007, 04:23 AM   #6
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Call me Darwinian, but I brewed indoors for fifteen years with a pretty mega burner! My set-up was a small, steel-legged table with a wooden top and two eight-by-sixteen inch cinder blocks that the burner sat on. Heat rises, mostly. My windows were always open so as to avoid that sinking feeling that comes from inhaling too much CO.

The benefits were many... I brewed in all weather, at all times of the day and I was forced (by the series of co-habitants of the the opposite gender) to get my s#!t together enough such that I did not have to break out the mop after each brewing session. I never had the luxury of a garage in those days (still don't, come to think of it).

The biggest mis-hap I experienced (aside from the occasional boil-over ) was when I set the lighter down under the burner and forgot about it... when it blew, I thought a f#@%!#g bomb had gone off! Would have been considerably less dramatic had it happened out-of-doors...

I mentioned my in-door brewing here on this site awhile back and received a number of critical responses, most of which could be summarized by "man, are you ever a dumb-ass."

I say- go for it (and think it through carefully, as you seem to have done).

Cheers, -p

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Old 08-20-2007, 04:47 AM   #7
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Hey Fingers - I gotta say, man, this idea has me both very intrigued and very nervous! I can certainly relate to your desire to brew indoors. I still haven't figured out a way to do it outside -- I even have an attached garage, but no way to get water out there for the chilling without freezing my faucet later.

Anyways, it sounds like you are thinking through this pretty carefully, and I bet you will get an awesome system going that works really well. But what about the risk of fire? That would be my first concern. Murphy's Law states that if a burner can tip over or flare up or something bad, it will be most likely to occur indoors. Is your tin 'bowl' going to help at all?

And I know you probably don't want to hear these words in reference to your basement, but will your insurance cover any mishaps (like accidental fire)? That's what I would be most leary of. Or maybe after your ordeal this summer, you already punched out your insurance man and lost it anyways? Ha ha -- sorry, bad joke.

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Old 08-20-2007, 10:41 AM   #8
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I would suggest that you order a copy of Nov. 2002 vol. 8 no.7 from Brew your own magazine. It has a thorough article on setting up an indoor brewery, with all the do and don't do things you need to know.

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Old 08-20-2007, 11:18 AM   #9
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Your cylinder idea to trap the CO2 is interesting, but it might prevent O2 from getting to the burner and require a big exhaust fan. CO2 may be heavier at room temp, but I think it rises when hot otherwise indoor fire places wouldn't work. I can't remember where I heard this, but I think the proper way to hood an indoor burner is to weld a skirt around the base of your boil pot. The skirt would go out horizontal or at a slight downward angle then bend down to the floor. Then run a duct from a high point on the skirt to the outside. The duct would act just like a chimney but you could also add a fan if you where worried about air flow. The already rising hot air/gases goes out the chimney and pulls in fresh air under the skirt.

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Old 08-20-2007, 11:33 AM   #10
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I know my descriptive abilities are limited, so I drew this up. Again this is only something stuck in the back of my often faulty memory, so I advise asking a professional. Maybe a fireplace installer would know for sure.

Another thought...The rising hot air would warm your kettle and possibly increase fuel efficiency.

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