Boil kettle condenser - no overhead ventilation needed

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luckybeagle

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Not sure I'm adding much to this, but I wanted to share my experience and numbers. I recently built the steam condenser. Wow, what a game-changer. We converted half of our detached garage to a brewery/bar/hangout for the family (perpetually in progress), and the noisy, obnoxious inline fan I had on hand would've really wrecked the mood out there. It would've also had me cutting a hole in my siding to ventilate, or forced me to roll up the garage door during all sorts of weather. It is easily among the top 3 best brewing-related things I have in my system. I should've made this years ago.

FWIW, being able to brew with the kettle lid on (and condenser going) has allowed me to set the power output on my 5500w element to around 35% via the Auber Cube 2E controller. Before building the condenser, I'd be anywhere from 65 to 75%. I didn't expect it to be that dramatic. As a side benefit, on sunny days the brewery's energy draw is now completely offset by the solar panels over the garage.

Currently I just run the condensed steam/water down a utility sink, but it'd be on-theme/more green to repurpose this water (and the water I run through the plate chiller) somehow. Maybe I'll rig a valve attached to the utility sink to divert runoff water to a rain barrel or something. Anyway...

The boil-off rate with this setup is 0.8 gallons per hour, which seems to be consistent regardless of batch size. I've done 5 batches of 5.25g and 1 batch of 8.25g since building it, and was bang on each time with final volume. I boiled for 90 minutes once and achieved 1.5hr x 0.8 = 1.2 gallons of boil off over 90 minutes. Love having everything dialed-in!

I built mine using 1.5" piping and found it to be more than adequate for these batch sizes and at the power I run the heating element. I get no visible steam leakage from the boil kettle, and it allowed me to easily punch a hole in the kettle using the Harbor Freight punch kit I had on-hand from when I first built my system. I contemplated building it with 2" piping, but that would've complicated life and required yet another tool (a larger punch) to bring everything together.

This was also my first experience using Tri-clover clamping, which I'm learning is awesome. Brewing is such a slippery slope--I can see some new connections in my brewery's future.

Anyway, I love it when analog/non-moving parts requiring minimal service replace more complicated ones. The inline fan would've had me dealing with drippy issues, potentially draining from the fan housing, the potential for rust, worn out fan motors, vibration issues, the need to purchase a 3 or 4" hole saw, dryer ducting, fabbing up a hood, etc. It would've easily exceeded the $125 or so that I spent on this gizmo. Not hating on ducted and ventilated systems--this one just works best and kept life most simple for me.


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DuncB

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@luckybeagle
That looks great.

Not sure whether you can get them in USA but I picked up several of the liquid containers that are used commercially. They are plastic and sit in a metal cage, often nuisance value to the people who emptied them. Only cost me 5 US dollars each. They hold a 1000 litres so are great for rainwater, brew water capture. I suppose I could use mine for a heatsink if I went down the heat exchanger route with my cooling water.

Agreed noisy fans should be banned.
 

luckybeagle

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@luckybeagle
That looks great.

Not sure whether you can get them in USA but I picked up several of the liquid containers that are used commercially. They are plastic and sit in a metal cage, often nuisance value to the people who emptied them. Only cost me 5 US dollars each. They hold a 1000 litres so are great for rainwater, brew water capture. I suppose I could use mine for a heatsink if I went down the heat exchanger route with my cooling water.

Agreed noisy fans should be banned.
Thanks! And I like that heatsink idea. Lots of thermal mass for cooling wort down without heating up the water in the vessel, if I'm understanding correctly. Very green!

We have a reclaim store near us--they have all sorts of things like that as they receive surplus and donated items from contractors, landscaping companies, local businesses etc. They do have rain barrels there, but something more along the lines of what you're describing might be better. I'll have to take a look next time I'm on that side of town.
 

DuncB

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@luckybeagle

These are the things I got. They often have syrups or shampoos etc so safe once washed out. Often on ebay as well.
 

RocketBrewer

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@luckybeagle

These are the things I got. They often have syrups or shampoos etc so safe once washed out. Often on ebay as well.
This is exactly what I use to collect water from brewing. I have 2 side by side and use a pump to cool with these via my counter flow chiller. Depending on the season and whether I'm doing an ale or a lager, I might have to involve some ice and a prechiller coil. When it gets really hot, I use tap water but still collect it . If too much collects in the tanks, I use the pump and water trees with it. We really have to watch water consumption in CA these days
 
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