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Old 10-05-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
BostonJ
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Default Copper vs. SS Wort Chiller

Which is better? Adv? DisAdv.? Thanks


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Old 10-05-2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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Thermally, they are about the same. With copper prices going up, they are about the same price, too. SS won't tarnish and looks sharper, IMO, so it gets my vote right now. I'm looking to step up to 5 gal AG, so I'll be in the market soon as well.


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Old 10-05-2011, 12:51 PM   #3
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I disagree. Thermal heat transfer coefficient K, given in watts / (meter * deg C):

Copper: 401
Stainless Steel: 16
Aluminum: 250

I can't see Stainless Steel pulling heat out as quickly as Copper. You would need a longer length of stainless to get similar performance. Yes it won't tarnish, but properly cleaned copper should last brewers a lifetime.

You can see that Aluminum conducts heat much better than Stainless as well. Makes me feel a little better about my cheap turkey fryer pot.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solbes View Post
I disagree. Thermal heat transfer coefficient K, given in watts / (meter * deg C):

Copper: 401
Stainless Steel: 16
Aluminum: 250

I can't see Stainless Steel pulling heat out as quickly as Copper. You would need a longer length of stainless to get similar performance. Yes it won't tarnish, but properly cleaned copper should last brewers a lifetime.

You can see that Aluminum conducts heat much better than Stainless as well. Makes me feel a little better about my cheap turkey fryer pot.
+1. From a physics standpoint, SS is a silly idea compared to copper. That's why decent cookware has a copper core or base. Unless you're brewing for a reality show or something, who's going to see your shiny SS chiller anyway?
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:12 PM   #5
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Correct. I apologize. I found some bad numbers.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:14 PM   #6
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There are tons of make your own wort chiller posts out there too. Regular style, Rib cage style, and others with double coils. I'd check them out and make one. If you brew chances are you're not incompetent and can get it done.
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:11 PM   #7
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It's true that copper has a much higher thermal heat transfer coefficient than SS. However that coefficient is just one piece of the equation that determines how well/quickly heat is transferred. One other very important factor is the thickness of the metal. Obviously a very thin piece of SS is going to transfer heat much better than a thick block of copper even though copper has a higher heat transfer coefficient. My point is don't base you opinion solely on the heat transfer coefficient. SS is a more durable metal than copper and therefore SS chillers are able to have thinner walls than the copper chillers. While the copper chiller may cool your wort a minute or two faster (if even that much) than the SS chiller, there are a lot of advantages of SS over copper. FYI, most plate chillers have use a very thin SS plate inside of them due to the advantages of SS over copper.

Bottom line: get a chiller that you can afford, that you are comfortable putting into your wort and that you are comfortable with the amount of time/effort to keep it clean
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:47 AM   #8
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I have a 50' stainless steel immersion chiller from nybrewsupply off of ebay. I love it. No tarnish to contaminate my wort, or, god forbid, 'polishing the coil' The thin walled nature of the tubing makes the discussion of thermal coefficients somewhat misleading. The is no way that a copper IC is 25.0625 times faster (401/16) at chilling my wort than the stainless steel IC. Copper is not even close to being twice as fast. It may be marginally faster, but the advantages of stainless (durability, lack of corrosion, and, for me, the beauty of stainless!) far out way that one aspect. Especially since I reuse my cooling water for other purposes like equipment cleaning and laundry. You can go either way, but for me, especially with prices the way they are, stainless gets my vote.
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:52 AM   #9
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+1 on the 50 foot SS from NYbrew supply. Good price for a good product.
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Old 10-06-2011, 01:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steppenwolph View Post
No tarnish to contaminate my wort, or, god forbid, 'polishing the coil'
I don't have any experience to debate the copper vs. SS argument so I'm not commenting on that. However, I've read of this Copper immersion chiller coming out new and shiny looking thing a few times. I've only used my copper IC three times so far with great success but I've never yet pulled it out and had it looking any newer and cleaner than it went in.

If anyone can explain how/when this happens please I'd appreciate it. So far I am loving my copper IC and I know tons of homebrewers use them all over the world so I don't know how this is a major issue. Not saying it isn't, but I'd like to know how this happens. Maybe mine is just too new or I'm just doing the right thing by cleaning it right after use and StarSan sanitizing it right before use?


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