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Old 11-16-2012, 04:36 PM   #1
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Default Solenoids for gas make me nervous. (Vs Gas control valves)

Its none of my business what any of you guys do, but I'd like to express my opinion that using a plain solenoid to control the gas flow to a burner (unattended) makes me very nervous. I'm horrified to see a lot of people doing it.

Yes, I know that a prominent brewer did it. But I feel its only a matter of time before a controller somewhere turns on a solenoid controlling gas (propane or natgas) flow to a burner and it doesn't light. And gas accumulates. And then something does light it and there is an explosion.

Why not use a gas control valve that is made for controlling gas flow to a burner ? Its not that much more expensive and its all set up to do the job properly.

The thing I fear most with manually controlled burners is that the flame gets extinguished after its ignited and running.

This can happen a number of ways.
- gas line gets pinched
- propane tank freezes up
- wind gust
- kettle boil over

The danger is that the gas flow may resume and without an ignition source, raw gas will be emitted. If it accumulates, there is a possibility for an explosion. The gas flow volumes to some of the burners being used on homebrew rigs is very significant. It wouldn't take much to get an accumulation.

A gas control valve that uses a pilot light and a thermocouple is much, much safer. That is why they are used in furnaces and heaters.

With a gas control valve, as soon as anything puts out the pilot light, the gas flow to the burner is shut down. As long as the pilot light stays lit, there is no risk of raw gas being emitted. Very simple, very safe.

Furthermore, some of the solenoids being used for gas control are being used for gases they are not rated for (propane and natgas) and are being used outside of their temperature ranges, especially when very cold propane is being drawn from the tank.

In my mind these practices are asking for trouble and sooner or later will result in trouble.

Safe brewing.

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Old 11-16-2012, 05:02 PM   #2
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As a volunteer on my local fire dept I agree with the above. An argument could be made here about the comparison of using a simple solenoid valve vs a manual valve on a turkey fryer etc burner. Niether have any built in safety if the flame goes out and must be attended.

The post above does suggest planned unattended brewing as the reason for the post.

Forget to shut off the fuel on something controlled by a plain solenoid and a controller glitches, might have big issues. For overall safety with a process that is now not fully manual and can go wrong, I would suggest a dedicated gas valve.

Eric

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Old 11-16-2012, 06:33 PM   #3
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I know MANY people using solenoid valves for this and not one of them thinks of their brew system as something that can be done UNATTENDED. Who the heck is running an unattended brew rig with gas? Also, every rig I've seen has a manual valve inline with the solenoid valve for flame adjustment and a shutoff on the wall (for NG).

I see these posts of people worrying about worst-case scenarios, but the reality is that I've never heard of an instance where something blew up because somebody ran their system this way unattended.

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Old 11-16-2012, 06:46 PM   #4
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That sound a lot safer. If you can spend a couple extra bucks once and eliminate a fire or explosion that seems like a good idea. Thanks man.

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Old 11-16-2012, 07:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Who the heck is running an unattended brew rig with gas?
As long as everyone understands that is the case when operating without a gas valve.

Reading between the lines of posts on various brewing sites and some videos I've seen, some people think that if they run a pilot light with plain solenoids, its automated and thus they can leave the burner unattended.

With a gas control valve you CAN safely leave the burner unattended. Should anything extinguish the pilot light the gas control valve shuts it down.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justintime75 View Post
That sound a lot safer. If you can spend a couple extra bucks once and eliminate a fire or explosion that seems like a good idea. Thanks man.
A Honeywell standing pilot gas control valve is $68.

http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-Inte...+control+valve

A thermocouple is another $10 or so. You need a small 24VAC transformer to supply power to turn it on and off.

The other advantage of using one of these valves is that they regulate the pressure to the burner. And they are adjustable.

I suspect that these valves could be set up for propane if needed.

Caveat: I have no affiliation with Honeywell or Amazon. There might be better valves or suppliers out there. I present this link to illustrate that GCVs aren't out of financial reach of most brewers.

The other thing that people should have on a brewstand operated in a confined space is a carbon monoxide detector.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:57 PM   #7
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My turkey fryer gas a manual gas valve with a timer and a thermocouple, if it loses flame the gas shuts off, i taped the timer but the thermocouple still works, and no power required, and no pilot light. This part seems like it would cheap to buy but i dont know where one could buy it.

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Old 01-04-2013, 03:54 AM   #8
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That is why I plan on installing Fenwal Ignition controller on all my burners for my system. If flame goes out it automatically re-lights it, and if it fails to light after a few tries, it goes into lock-down mode.

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Old 01-04-2013, 12:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonW View Post
I know MANY people using solenoid valves for this and not one of them thinks of their brew system as something that can be done UNATTENDED. Who the heck is running an unattended brew rig with gas? Also, every rig I've seen has a manual valve inline with the solenoid valve for flame adjustment and a shutoff on the wall (for NG).

I see these posts of people worrying about worst-case scenarios, but the reality is that I've never heard of an instance where something blew up because somebody ran their system this way unattended.
Allot of assumptions there JonW. I think the brewman! has some valid points

With all due respect I see some of the ridiculous questions people ask when putting together their gas systems that lead me to believe they have little to no understanding principles of plumbing a gas system. Therefore I find it likely they would have little knowledge on how to configure and operate one safely. A short trip to the bathroom could fill a garage with gas. Many use propane that is lighter than air and will pool at the lowest point. Many times this keeps you from smelling it and should you attempt to re-light the burner without properly clearing the gas... I’ve seen many brew rigs on HBT with No valves other than the tank valve, burners with high pressure orifice and low pressure regulators and vise versa (huge yellow flames and incomplete combustion), valves not rated for gas, tubing undersized, SAE fittings Teflon taped and mated to NPT fittings etc. I think it is a great assumption to believe these rigs are operated safely.

I will run my brew rig unattended at certain stages with gas because I used properly sized/type furnace valves, appropriately size/type gas plumbing, optimum pilot style/placement for burners used, properly adjusted burner, proper size regulator, leak tested and set pressure with a gages. Just like my furnace runs at my house while I'm away. Ether configuration can be operated safely but a solenoid set up with no safety allows a much larger window for error. For the extra few dollars you will spend I would highly recommend using a furnace valve in almost any gas control application whether it is attended or not.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowtires View Post
My turkey fryer gas a manual gas valve with a timer and a thermocouple, if it loses flame the gas shuts off, i taped the timer but the thermocouple still works, and no power required, and no pilot light. This part seems like it would cheap to buy but i dont know where one could buy it.
Even better, if you open the timer up and splice together the two wires going to the timer you have a non-timed burner with a thermocouple. That's what I did and it rules.
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