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Old 12-01-2006, 08:07 AM   #1
javedian
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Default Wort Chiller Copper tube size

Thinking of making a DIY immersion wort chiller - what size tubing? Will 1/4 OD (icemaker size) work? Or should I use 1/4 ID or 3/8 ID? I am getting ready to do a 5gal partial mash, and don't anticipate going AG for a while - would rather spend $ on ingredients . Or can I skip a chiller for now, since I won't be doing a full boil as my pot is only big enough for 3-4 gallons, so I will be adding cool / cold water to fermentor to make 5gal. If I can get away without a chiller now, that would be best.

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Old 12-01-2006, 11:31 AM   #2
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Chiller's nice, not 100% needed for partial boils but still nice.

1/4 is small for a chiller, though. Since I found a great deal on some 1/4, I made a pair of coils that run in parallel. It connects to the hose, then splits into two coils, works its way down, then exits through two hoses. I actually like that design a lot, it gives me a lot of surface area to work with (it's just ugly as f*ck since I threw it together pretty quickly - I need to reconfigure it to now work with my keggle.

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Old 12-01-2006, 12:12 PM   #3
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I also used 1/4" OD, two 20' lengths in parallel.

Pros:
Cheaper
Uses Less Water (efficient)
Easy to bend

Cons:
Slower flow = Slower cooling
Easy to bend (doesn't hold it's shape so I had to do a little creative soldering to get it in a rigid structure)
Difficult to attach a hose in a parallel design unless you use a 3/8" compression Tee with two of the legs on reducer compresssion nuts.

All in all, it's a good chiller, but if I built it again I'd use 25' of 3/8" OD.

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Old 12-01-2006, 04:46 PM   #4
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I built one of these. The size really dosent matter. I mean, yes it does matter. a 1/2 inch tube of 10 feet will have twice the surface area of 1/4 inch tube. But if you really want the easy-to-bend 1/4 inch tube then just use twice the distance.

Upt to you it really dosent matter.

I put my chiller in 5 gallons of just-boiled wort and the water runs out cold. After 5 minutes the wor tmay be 160F but if you touch the chiller it is ICE COLD.

I like this chiller but it still takes too long. I might buy a new hose and junk my cheapy one for a counter flow chiller. Syphon into my fermentor and airate with a fishtank air pump for a bit.

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Old 12-01-2006, 04:59 PM   #5
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The diameter means a lot actually. If you go with big tubing, short length, your output water is going to be pretty cold. Not enough of the column of water got exposed to the hot wort for long enough. This means faster cooling because the temp differential is always high, but more water wasted. If you go small diameter, long length, the water inside will probably soak up as much heat as it's going to, well before it leaves the wort. This means it will take longer, but you won't use as much water in the long run. I think 3/8 OD is a good compromise for both water usage and cost per foot.

Adrian, if you chiller is cold but your wort stays hot, it means you need to stir the wort. You're getting a cold pocket near the coil and it's not mixing well with the hotter sections of your kettle. I basically jiggle the chiller side to side every minute or so to break up the heat zones.

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Old 12-01-2006, 04:59 PM   #6
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What I don't think you want to do is have a huge, single length of 1/4. The water inside the tubing will heat up to wort temp within the first few feet, and then do nothing more for you to cool the wort whether it's traveling another ten feet or another hundred. That's why I split it, so I have two separate coils of cold water.

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Old 12-01-2006, 05:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird
What I don't think you want to do is have a huge, single length of 1/4. The water inside the tubing will heat up to wort temp within the first few feet, and then do nothing more for you to cool the wort whether it's traveling another ten feet or another hundred. That's why I split it, so I have two separate coils of cold water.
Very true, however, the longer length will be MORE efficient when it matters most (ie., most prone to infection)- when the wort is almost, but not quite, chilled enough.
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Old 12-01-2006, 05:08 PM   #8
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Fair enough. I still really like the idea of using the two coils, though; I get a very dramatic drop in temp initially, which helps precipitate a whole lot more proteins that I was able to get out of there when I was just ice-bathing it. More length is better (so they say....), but to be most efficient with it I would split it.

Unless you are using a bigger diameter tubing. If the Depot didn't give me a great deal on 1/4 tubing because they had no idea how much it was, I would have gone with either 3/8 or 1/2. Probably 1/2, so I could solder on the fittings.

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Old 12-01-2006, 08:35 PM   #9
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When I built my wort chiller, I used flexible 3/8 copper tube and bent it around the inside of a bucket. I used about 15-20 feet of copper tube. The cold water goes directly to the bottom on the coil and then comes all the way up thought the coil. It will cool 5 gallons of wort from boiling to pitching in about 15 min. I first had the water connected in the opposite direction and it took for ever to cool then I changed it so the water went to the bottom first and it worked a lot faster.

oh ya with the cost of copper these days I would wait on this project unless you plan on putting your system in hock to buy copper tube. I made mine almost 3 years ago for 15 dollars today you will pay twice that for the tube alone.

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Old 12-01-2006, 08:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zweasel
When I built my wort chiller, I used flexible 3/8 copper tube and bent it around the inside of a bucket. I used about 15-20 feet of copper tube. The cold water goes directly to the bottom on the coil and then comes all the way up thought the coil. It will cool 5 gallons of wort from boiling to pitching in about 15 min. I first had the water connected in the opposite direction and it took for ever to cool then I changed it so the water went to the bottom first and it worked a lot faster.
Hmmm...Now you got me thinking how mine is flowing. I used 3/8" line as well. I wrapped mine around a Korney keg for the shape. I had some extra so I put it to use as a pre-chiller since the tap water here in Phoenix is not cold at all.
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