Don't think it's the same thing. The Accuflex is impermeable, and thus its "flushing effectiveness" is literally infinite... therefore making it infinitely more "effective at flushing" than vinyl tubing (a lot more than 3!)
Your beer can sit in the line for really any amount of time, and not take on a plastic-like taste. Some people detect the taste in vinyl lines (from the vinyl and/or oxidation) after less than a day! Heck, once you taste your beers with barrier tubing, you may very well be able to pick out the vinyl taste no matter what. It's there. Either way, even if you're really insensitive to the off-flavors due to vinyl tubing, everybody has a point where the plastic and/or cardboard taste in that first pour is too strong to deal with causing them to dump it.
Also, since vinyl is permeable (easily demonstrable by how quickly and easily it stains), it has a tendency to absorb flavors from beverages, which gets picked up by other beverages that end up using the same line. To me, that's a big issue... every beer served through vinyl lines is tainted by the beers that came before it. Barrier tubing like Accuflex doesn't pick up any flavors. As an extreme example, try serving carbonated water through the same vinyl tubing that was recently used to serve root beer. I guarantee that you're going to taste the root beer. But with this stuff, a simple flush of the lines, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between brand new tubing, or tubing that has been serving root beer for a year! To get vinyl lines to perform similarly, you'd have to change the line AT LEAST as often as you switch what's being served. And that STILL wouldn't address any plastic off-flavors...
Originally Posted by ocluke
The Accuflex website
states that the ID of this hose is actually 0.190, so it is larger than 3/16 = 0.1875. That could be another contributing factor to the longer lengths required.
(I haven't read all 233 posts up to this point, so if someone has already posted this, forgive me.)
The line lengths are a function of resistance, and that's it. A .0025" (just over 1%) difference in ID isn't going to make an appreciable difference in resistance. The resistance is lower because of the material of the tubing itself. So the lines are longer because the material is different, plain and simple. That's all there is to it.
Bottom line is that it's a premium product. It's really the best beverage line available. And when you put it all into perspective, it really isn't that much of an investment to be able to taste your beer, and nothing else. You're not tasting your beer + vinyl, your beer + oxidation from the lines, or your beer + all the other beers that were ever served through the tubing. Just your beer.
In fact, it's marked up so little, that the price it's available to us for is significantly less than some other types of beverage line that don't even perform as well. And they are ALL purpose-made for serving beverages.
Vinyl tubing isn't though. It's just generic tubing, like I can buy at Home Depot. It wasn't ever made with serving beverages specifically in mind. Is it really any surprise that a vendor is trying to sell some generic tubing that costs next to nothing to buy in bulk?
Even still, the Accuflex tubing obviously isn't for everyone. To me, the reasonable cost of the premium stuff in order to get the most out my beer that I have spent so much time and money on is a no-brainer. But some people would rather not pay a mere $20 or $30 extra, and that's their call. It's your call. No one is forcing you to buy it. I made such a long post because I sincerely believe in the product, and believe in helping fellow brewers to make (and by extension, serve) the best beer they possibly can, but I'm not going to lose any sleep if you decide to go with vinyl.