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Old 07-31-2009, 11:21 PM   #1
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Default Immersion Chiller - Home Depot Here I Come!!

So I have a Home Depot gift certificate that is burning a hole in my pocket and would like to build an immersion chiller (before my wife decides that we need to update the ceiling fans or some such nonsense!). I went today to the Depot to scope out what I would need and now have some questions for the people that have done this before. My goal is to use my big cooler to hold water/ice and use some sort of pump to circulate it through the chiller.

  1. Should I get 25' or 50' of copper? Is it twice as good?
  2. 2 What type of pump should I get? What type of GPH rating?
  3. 3 Is there anything else I should look for?

I really appreciate any advice!!
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:37 PM   #2
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I wouldn't buy copper at home depot. it is much cheaper online.... i cant remember the website cause it is bookmarked on my work computer.

I would grab a submersible pump from harbor freight and get 50 feet of 3/8" copper tubing..... you can always grow into a bigger chiller, and the difference between 25 feet of copper and 50 is not 2x

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Old 07-31-2009, 11:49 PM   #3
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Any major difference between 3/8" and 1/2" besides about $15?

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Old 08-01-2009, 12:21 AM   #4
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Some things that come to mind.

1/2" will get you more surface area, and allow a faster flow rate. Also you will use more water unless you are recirculating. Finally the 1/2" will be a bit harder to mold to shape. Nothing horrible, just a bit stiffer.

All things being equal with the greater surface area and faster rate you will chill the wort quicker. If you are going to stay with 5 gallon batches for a while you would be hard pressed I would think to fit the entire 1/2" chiller in your brew pot.

Nice avatar by the way.

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Old 08-01-2009, 12:25 AM   #5
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go to coppertubingsales.com for the tubing.

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Old 08-01-2009, 09:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cellardoor View Post
go to coppertubingsales.com for the tubing.
Before you order online, do a price check with Lowes / Home Depot. Depending on what you get, and factoring in shipping, I've found the prices comparable if not cheaper at the store.
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Old 08-01-2009, 12:59 PM   #7
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I bought my 3/8 tubing from home depot. But make sure you can do all you're fittings with the materials availiable there. I originally had the 1/2 but nothing fit up. Also the 200gph pump at depot fits nicely with 3/8.

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Old 08-01-2009, 01:15 PM   #8
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If you have a Menards in your area they will have 50' of 1/2 copper for about 10 bucks cheaper the Lowes/HD. I think mine cost 17-18 bucks.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjlammer View Post
I wouldn't buy copper at home depot. it is much cheaper online....
Not in my experience. The difference between CopperTubingSales and HD was significantly less than the shipping I paid coppertubingsales. It would have been about $10 cheaper had I just bought at HD, IIRC.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:53 PM   #10
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Going to a greater diameter will obviously increase the surface area in contact with the wort, and make possible a greater flow rate- but this creates a situation I (not being a scientist) would call "diminishing returns." The more water flows through that tubing, and the faster it flows, the less heat transfer per gallon will occur. The further you push this, the less cooling you'll get per gallon.
I had occasion to start thinking about this when I went to redo the connections on my Midwest entry level 3/8" 25' copper chiller. When took the connections off, I discovered there was a plastic tape in the copper tube. When I inquired to Midwest, they said that the plastic tape is deliberately inserted into the tubing to slow down (and I suspect, provide turbulence and lessen laminar flow) the process, and they said this actually chilled 15% faster than if the copper tube were unobstructed. Mind you, I haven't tested that last statement, and find it a bit improbable. But, as I said, I'm not a scientist, so whatinell do I know? The chiller takes my wort from boiling to <70F in around 21-22 minutes, good enough.

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