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Old 08-10-2010, 02:49 PM   #51
Jan 2009
Posts: 4,998
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Originally Posted by Zaphod42 View Post
This thread is very confusing. If I believe some then I can only brew outside no matter what. Others think you can brew in an enclosed basement if you do enough ventalation. I have recently switched to AG with propane which I can do outside until the weather turns to ZERO degrees here. Should I just not brew 3 to 4 months out of the year or is it conceivable that with a vent hood and a couple box fans positioned well enough can I try to pull it off in an enclosed basement? The last thing I want to do is endanger my wife and beagle when I could just go buy some beer.
Propane burners can be used indoors safely, but it would violate the fire code in most instances. Using and storing the bulk propane tank indoors is the hazard and the violation, not the burner itself. CO production is typically caused by the depletion of oxygen due to poor ventilation. I brew in my garage in the winter. I always use a digital CO detector when brewing. Most of the time I will keep the garage door closed to keep warm, but occasionally open it partly to bring in fresh air. The CO detector never registers a reading while I'm brewing, but it does when I pull my car into the garage and shut it off, so I know it's working properly.

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Old 12-04-2010, 03:58 PM   #52
virginiawolf's Avatar
Nov 2010
South Central Pennsylvania, P.A.
Posts: 169
Liked 7 Times on 7 Posts

Nice Post Glad You're alright
I have a portable air cooler
heading out the storm door but I used to have a few small ones as well which i've been using for other stuff lately. On my last couple brews i was missing those extra fans. I need to bring them back to my brew room for added air flow. This post is a good motivator to bring those extra fans back. Safety 1st is no joke. My recipes are always weighted down because the fan is moving so much air
The portable air cooler is great for drying my floor after mopping up too

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Old 03-06-2011, 02:51 AM   #53
BBL_Brewer's Avatar
Feb 2011
Kokomo, IN
Posts: 3,702
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If you can switch over to natural can avoid alot of the CO...the natural gas burns cleaner and more completely combusts giving off more CO2 than CO. I use three 150,000 BTU jet burners in my system in the basement....somtimes having two crankin at once. I have them hard lined into my gas utility. Not that hard to do if you have nat gas to begin with and a space to plumb more or less permanently. All I do is open a window in the basement and I'm fine. I brew in the winter only when its cold and the temp dif makes for great air exchange. I would like to get a fire extingusher

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Old 03-06-2011, 03:45 AM   #54
Jan 2009
Posts: 4,998
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Originally Posted by BBL_Brewer View Post
If you can switch over to natural can avoid alot of the CO...the natural gas burns cleaner and more completely combusts giving off more CO2 than CO.
This is not entirely true. You can become just as dead with either gas if the burners are oxygen starved. IOW, an oxygen starved natural gas burner can be every bit as deadly as an oxygen starved propane burner.

Stole this from Wiki on the subject:

"Propane undergoes combustion reactions in a similar fashion to other alkanes. In the presence of excess oxygen, propane burns to form water and carbon dioxide.

C3H8 + 5 O2 → 3 CO2 + 4 H2O + heat

propane + oxygen → carbon dioxide + water

When not enough oxygen is present for complete combustion, incomplete combustion occurs when propane burns and forms water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and carbon.

2 C3H8 + 7 O2 → 2 CO2 + 2 CO + 2 C + 8 H2O + heat

Propane + Oxygen → Carbon dioxide + Carbon monoxide + Carbon + Water

Unlike natural gas, propane is heavier than air (1.5 times as dense). In its raw state, propane sinks and pools at the floor. Liquid propane will flash to a vapor at atmospheric pressure and appears white due to moisture condensing from the air.

When properly combusted, propane produces about 50 MJ/kg. The gross heat of combustion of one normal cubic meter of propane is around 91 megajoules[10]

Propane is nontoxic; however, when abused as an inhalant it poses a mild asphyxiation risk through oxygen deprivation. Commercial products contain hydrocarbons beyond propane, which may increase risk. Commonly stored under pressure at room temperature, propane and its mixtures expand and cool when released and may cause mild frostbite.

Propane combustion is much cleaner than gasoline combustion, though not as clean as natural gas combustion. The presence of CC bonds, plus the multiple bonds of propylene and butylene, create organic exhausts besides carbon dioxide and water vapor during typical combustion. These bonds also cause propane to burn with a visible flame.

Greenhouse gas emissions factors for propane are 62.7 kg CO2/ mBTU or 1.55 kg of CO2 per liter or 73.7 kg/GJ"

The bottom line is that both propane and natural gas burners can be operated safely so long as they are properly maintained and supplied with sufficient oxygen.

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Old 04-20-2011, 08:08 PM   #55
Apr 2011
Duncan, British Columbia
Posts: 4

I have to agree. Many modern homes have a wide variety of natural gas appliances that operate safely in an "unvented" installation.
I see people have posted that they have used "extra" ventilation without much elaboration.
There is a way to caculate how much air exchange you need.
Automotive garages and welding shops come under local workers comp regulations and you could use those, or you can refer to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Airconditioning Engineers standards for a building of similar purpose. Based on the size of your space, you could calculate how many cfm are necessary to achieve the required air exchange and stave off disaster.

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Old 07-26-2011, 08:11 AM   #56
Jul 2011
Lynchburg, Va
Posts: 90
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I know I'm going to get gigged for this but.... I live in a 3rd story appartment and we aren't allowed to have any combustables at all. With that said since my patio is facing a small wooded area away from the road I thought I could boil outside without issue, but people being the way they are and the guy downstairs not liking me. I decided to start brewing with my propane burner in my kitchen. When I boiled the water to oxidize my pots I noticed my CM alarm went off so on my first brew I have a portable fan I set up circulating the air. When it stops being 100 I'llm open the patio doors and problem solved till next year. It's really not bad doesn't generate that much heat even in a 90min boil. I checked the floor and surround walls for hot spots, nothing. I did notice the air was better with the fan!
"Ora et labora" (Pray and Labor)

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Old 10-21-2011, 05:36 PM   #57
Nov 2010
Chicagoish, Illinois
Posts: 32

Exhaust fan & intake fan...don't brew inside without one. Intake of fresh air is more important than exhaust, but not having either is just plain stupid.

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Old 12-05-2011, 07:30 PM   #58
Dec 2011
Sacramento, CA
Posts: 1

Originally Posted by Boerderij_Kabouter View Post
Could someone more knowledgeable than I recommend a good place to purchase a CO monitor. Are they a dime a dozen, or are there better and worse models out there? Is this a HD or Lowe's run, or should I be ordering online?

I personally ordered the Protech 8505 commercial CO monitor. It only has a 2 year life, but that's because it monitors CO down to 10 ppm and goes into alarm at 30 ppm. It's originally manufactured to keep U.S. businesses compliant with OSHA and NIOSH. It has a digital display and automatically displays any CO detected above 9 ppm. Most residential detectors that you buy in HD or Lowes, will not alarm until they have read 70 ppm for over an hour. There are multiple places that sell this particular monitor but I purchased my CO monitor at ProTech 8505 DC Powered Commercial CO Monitor. They shipped it out on the same day I ordered, and they were available to answer my questions regarding where to install it and how to recall memory from the unit. Good Luck!

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Old 01-16-2012, 02:08 PM   #59
Nov 2011
Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 107

Quick question: How do you know if complete combustion is not achieved and would you smell natural gas in the event that complete combustion was not occurring?

During my first brew this past weekend I noticed that the flames on my burner were coming out really far, they looked complete disconnected from the actual burner. What was happening? I opened up the window thinking it wasn't getting enough oxygen.

Sometime after the process my CO2 detector (actually it will detect multiple types of gasses) went off...the thing is that it's super sensitive. If you spill a beer or even set a glass of liquor within 10 feet it will go off.

Sounds like mine may have gone off due to high co2 level. I never felt light-headed at any point.

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Old 02-08-2012, 04:08 PM   #60
Nov 2010
New York, NY
Posts: 13

Just wanted to quickly add my story to this really important thread.

It's been said here before but it bears repetition - carbon monoxide is a danger even if you aren't using propane or brewing in a basement. I brew in a small NYC apartment on a standard home model, 4-burner natural gas range. Normally my boil heats up the place so much that I open all the windows, my front door and turn on my AC's fan whenever I brew, even in the dead of winter. But the other night, it was so cold and my place has been a it chilly lately, so I left everything closed during an especially long boil. After about two hours, one of my two CO alarms went off and indicated a level of 91 ppm. I immediately opened all the windows and doors, walked outside and called the fire department. I suspected my brewing had caused this CO level but my place just got a new boiler the week before so I wanted to be sure. The FD showed up in minutes, by which my alarm had dropped back down to 0 ppm, which their monitor confirmed as well. They checked out everything and told me just not to "cook" for that long without opening some windows. I imagine they see a lot of this in small New York apartments.

Afterwards, a fellow apartment brewer told me he'd been setting off his CO alarm while brewing until he installed a fan and opened the windows on brew day.

Don't think you're safe just because you brew in your kitchen, or use natural gas rather than propane..

Keep your brewspace well-ventilated, have at least one CO alarm nearby and make sure to change the batteries, and be safe.

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