Chiller. Counterflow or plate? Which one works best.

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Looking for advice on which type of chiller works better. I usually do full boil for 5 gallon batch. I currently have the cheaper hose pipe with copper tubing inside setup. Works ok but would like to find something more efficient. Ground water here in NC is pretty warm in the summer. Hoping at some point to run across a small glycol chiller reasonable and use it, so that may have some impact on which type I purchase. Thanks in advance, KT:mug:
 

gnef

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You will need to give a few more details for a better recommendation.

Do you have a pump?

How warm does your ground water get up to in the hottest part of the summer?

What is your budget?

Have you tried recirculating ice water through the immersion chiller as a second phase of chilling after using ground water?

If your ground water isn't at or below your desired chill temperature, you will need to recirculate ice water somehow. If you can't chill to your desired temperature in one pass, you will also need a pump to recirculate the wort. If you desire to go with a plate chiller, it would be highly recommended to use a pump regardless.

How do you filter and drain from the kettle?

Once you answer these questions, we can give you a better idea of recommendations.
 
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gnef
I do have a March pump i can use
The ground water gets up around 75 to 77 degrees in the summer( county water)
Would like to stay under 300.00 on the budget if possible unless its a gylcol chiller of course
I have a counterflow chiller(I think its a Phil's-rubber hose pipe for water source with copper tubing inside for the wort to flow though)
I gravity feed the wort from brew kettle down thru to ferm bucket.
I do not filter with the current setup. Any suggestions on filtering?
I have also made a pre-chiller for the ground water w/cooler(5 gallon igloo with ice) and cooper line but doesn't seem to help much.
I was wanted to see if maybe the Chillzilla counterflow or Termanator was more affective.
Thanks for all you help in the post. KT:tank:
 

gnef

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That's good information, I thought you had an immersion chiller!

The cheapest route I can think of, is to get a submersible pump to be able to recirculate ice water through your counterflow. What I would do is to pump the boiling wort through the counterflow, and back in to the kettle, until the temperature drops past 100F with ground water, or even into the 80's or so. Once it hits that temperature, switch from ground water to ice water that is recirculated with the submersible pump, and pump the wort through the chiller and into your fermenter, or back in to the kettle if you want it all to get to pitching temperatures.

With your ground water in the 70's, you will need to use ice water in whatever system you choose - given that you want to pitch at a temperature lower than that of the ground water.

Going to a plate chiller without ice water won't do any good right now, and you would need to have a massive glycol chiller to be able to go from boiling to pitching temperatures. Glycol is great for keeping it cold, but to have a system to pull away that much heat is expensive and unnecessary for most.

If you keep the counterflow, you shouldn't have to worry about filtering. If you decide to go with a plate chiller for some reason (do we ever really need a reason to upgrade? :] ) then you would want to figure out the best way to keep debri out of the chiller. I have seen threads where people backflush, reflush, bake, soak, and even after all that cleaning, crud still comes out. So if you go this route, you need to make sure to clean it and do preventative maintenance on it.

Another option is to go with some sort of post-chiller. In my experience, pre-chillers are pretty worthless. I've never done a post-chiller, but it would be much better than any pre-chiller.

To combine two of these ideas into one, you could build a smaller counterflow chiller, have the first one use ground water, and then feed the chilled wort to the second chiller, which has the ice water recirculating through it. I have seen one brewer that used two therminators in this way with great results (it was also quite expensive!).
 

el_loco

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Or, depending on your set up, you can just run your CFC with the 70 ish degree water, chill your wort to 70 ish (even if it's 79 that's fine) the throw it into your temp controlled fridge/freezer/fermentation chamber and kick it on full blast until the wort temp drops to 72 or 68 or whatever, then pitch. Beats having to mess with a bunch of water source switches while you're trying to chill.
 

Catt22

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Or, depending on your set up, you can just run your CFC with the 70 ish degree water, chill your wort to 70 ish (even if it's 79 that's fine) the throw it into your temp controlled fridge/freezer/fermentation chamber and kick it on full blast until the wort temp drops to 72 or 68 or whatever, then pitch. Beats having to mess with a bunch of water source switches while you're trying to chill.
+1 This is now my standard procedure. I often brew lagers and it would take a lot of ice to get down to 50*F and especially so in the warmer months. I suppose there is a bit more risk in the delayed pitching, but so far I've had no problems and I've been doing it this way for a long time.
 

iancl

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I have both an immersion, and a plate chiller. The immersion goes into the igloo cooler with as much ice as I can muster, feeding ground water through this prior to it's trip through the plate, allows for about a 80 degree delta through the plate at about 2 gpm. I recirc through the plate back into the BK until the wort hits about 160, and then slow the flow down as required to hit 70 degrees into the fermenter. Knck out for 10 gallons is about 30 mins, boiling to pitch. It uses quite a bit of water, but the garden loves it, and water is cheaper than good beer.
 

alphaomega

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IMHO the straight counter flow chiller is king (such as this one from JaDeD brewing)


The obvious advantages are:
* Cleanability
* Can be visually examined

Downsides
* Not as efficient as plated heat exchanger, but really good
* Not as compact as plated heat exchanger, but still good
 

Owly055

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Personally I would not buy a plate chiller unless it could be disassembled......I've seen the big ones in microbreweries taken apart to clean them and saw a great deal of trapped material. I don't feel they can be fully flushed out because of how they are designed. The counterflow chiller like the one in the illustration here is about as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned, and it's something you can build. Each passage is open on each end if the hoses are removed......... You can visually inspect the interior, as well as being able to push or pull something through, and there are no dead spaces to collect junk.


H.W.
 

schematix

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When it comes to pure performance, the plate chiller rules all. Nothing has more surface area with less restriction. It's a brutal mathematical fact that a stack of plates has vastly more area than a single tube. Plate chillers do have their drawbacks, namely cleaning and clogging. Both can be overcome though.

The JaDeD chiller mentioned above is an interesting design, but it has very low surface area so will bow down to a plate chiller in terms of raw speed. If you wanted to go CFC and cleaning was important to you, it'd be a worthwhile consideration.

For the record, I have a Therminator plate chiller. It's very fast but i have had a few clogs with it. Hop spiders help but at the expense of utilization and late addition oomph. Recirculating chilling doesn't help (but I do anyways). You must heat sanitize it before every use (i do with hot wort).

I'd LOVE to see a modular plate chiller for the home brew market that can be disassembled. I think there's money to be made if someone can sell one for a reasonable price (under $300).
 
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