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Old 02-09-2012, 05:47 PM   #1
Slopples
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Default Equipment Issue

I have come into possession of a commercial 6 head soda fountain with I've dispenser. I have all of the pumps and carbonator. Basically I have the entire setup but I don't know of a good way of cooling the water so that it stays carbonated and doesn't immediately go flat. I've come up with some home grown solutions that involve valves and mini fridges but I wanted to see if anyone had a better solution. It works right now, the soda just immediately loses all carbonation. Any thoughts?

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Old 02-10-2012, 12:51 AM   #2
KevinM
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Generally speaking, you'll need a plate chiller, or similar chiller, rated for the volume that you expect to be serving, as well as a location and drain for the ice bank.

It looks like you'd probably be using more than some of the others where they're using a single dispenser and a 5 gallon keg without a chiller.

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:32 PM   #3
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My issue is that I don't want to have to replenish the system with ice to keep the cold plate cold. The solution I have come up with now seems rube golbergish to me, which is why I wanted to see if there was an easy solution.

The problem as I have defined it for myself, is that the fountain itself only has a cold plate that needs ice. So whatever water is in the system will have to be flushed, because it will eventually return to room temperature once the fountain isn't in use for a while.

My solution was a small mini-fridge. My plan is to run the water from the carbonator into the mini-fridge via an installed inlet, pvc or something else plastic. Once inside the water will go into a coil of flexible plastic hose, kind of like a chiller plate but inside of the fridge and not copper or stainless. It then exits the fridge through another pipe, the outlet. I plan to install a valve on this outlet so that I can shut off the water supply and keep whats inside cold and just purge the line running to the soda fountain.

I am assuming the carbonator will be able to handle the water being shut off in the minifridge, since it handles that when not dispensing from the fountain itself. I think this plan would work, but as I said it seems really cumbersome when using the fountain. If it was just me, I would have to open the valve, get my glass of soda, close the valve and purge the system of water for every glass of soda.

My other thought was to attempt to somehow mount a chilling plate on the cold plate inside of my machine to give it the affect of having ice on it, but not needing to actually put ice in it and the drainage issues that come from that. Maybe re-working a small airconditioning unit.

Basically, I don't think I knew what I was getting myself into when I get thise giant soda fountain, but I am determined to make it work.

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Old 02-11-2012, 06:44 AM   #4
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The problem as I see it is that:
With a chill plate, you will have to figure out a system where you can drop ice in and drain melted water out.
With a large keg set inside a kegerator, you have the best situation, where carbonated water will enter the keg, but (ideally) chilled carbonated water goes out. Your volume will be significant enough not to be an issue for one person. (5 gallons) or several people. If, and IF you get to many people, you'll need a larger keg, or use the ice bank.

A coil inside the fridge, even if you immerse it in cold water, may not have enough heat transfer to be sufficient to dispense. If you don't use cold water, you might have a few ounces. If you do, you might have a full glass. It depends on the length of the coil, what you do, and how much volume it holds.

I don't see an issue with putting a valve after the chiller process.

Someone more versed in the experience and themodynamics will have to tell you how the chill might work. I expect that the energy transfer from the warmer water to the cooler water won't be enough in this situation. Plus, if you don't use water and instead use air... air is a pretty bad material for heat transfer. It's a good insulator, which means that most of the coil will stay the same temperature.

Personally... I think your cheapest bet is either a large keg, or an ice bank. Hopefully the others will chime in and let us know what worked for them. I haven't done this yet, so I'm only going by scientific theory (which can be wrong), not experience.

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Old 02-17-2012, 06:07 AM   #5
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The old Pepsi fountin I'm going to be canabalizing for my project just had a 1.5 cubic foot tub. The fridge coils went in the tub with a small mixing motor. Fill the tub up with water & each syrup line & the carbonated water line had about 6ish feet of SS tube snaking along the side. As long as you have enough thermal transfer, you should be good. As they always tell you when swimming, water transfers heat 20 some odd times faster than air.

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Old 02-17-2012, 08:27 AM   #6
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My experience as an installer and service tech for fountain equipment...fortunately has never provided me with this type of situation... Although It sounds like a fun challenge.

What is the make / model of your fountain unit?

Also, what type of valve....this may be hard to determine....but a good description may work.

The soda fountain design provides the absolute Ideal condition to create good quality soda....The machines like you describe are very efficient at pulling the heat out of the soda water and syrup as it passes through the Ice chilled cold plate. To create good quality soda, the temperature of the product must be below 4o degrees....ideally 38....as it mixes together at the valve and enters your glass....that's with out ice. If it's above...it will be foamy and flat....the warmer it is the worse it gets.....even if you pour it over ice.

I think the keg Idea with the mini fridge may be the lesser of 2 evils. I would plumb the soda out port from the carbonator to a Corny keg inside the fridge....From the corny keg back out to the soda in of the unit... that would give you a 5 gallon reservoir of cold water.....not cold enough by the time it mixes with the warm syrup at the valve because the syrup won't be chilled...but better than nothing...If it's just you....it may be just enough to be work.

I see no reason to turn off the valve to the carbonator....that doesn't really accomplish anything....just run it as it's designed. It turns on when it needs too. If you want to bleed the warm water out of the line leading from the refer....just run the soda side of the valve untill you get cold water. I'm not sure which machine you have, but there should be a manual lever under the valve cover that you can actuate....

You can turn off the water to the carbonator if needed though. It operates on a probe/level proximity switch.....so when the water level inside the tank drops to a certain point, it turns on the pump. If the water is shut off and someone pours enough drink to activate the carbonator, it will run forever cuz it's not getting water...it can burn the motor up.....some do have a overload that will trip...but it can damage it.

If you do use ice......draining the unit is no big deal. You can just drain it into a 5 gallon bucket. The only thing that drains into it is what you pour in the drip pan and Ice melt...so you drain out how ever much you put in....you can control that.

I just realized how much I rambled. Hope this helps. Good luck.

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