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Chilling the lines and faucets

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Apimyces

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What are generally considered good (or best) ways to get a good pour with minimum waste, assuming the faucets are about 10 feet from the keezer (from basement to main floor, mostly vertical)?

I was thinking of recirculating water (or a solution of) through an insulated pipe along with the draft lines, from keezer to faucet. Potentially even with an additional loop going outside during winter-time, to cut energy costs. I saw such ideas floated about in other threads, but not sure if people actually do that, and if those who do regret it or not.

I've got 6 kegs lying around that I'd like to make the most of.
 

day_trippr

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A chilled trunk line for sure is the best solution for that distance. If done using barrier tubing for the beer runs the beer in the lines overnight shouldn't go stale. How you chill the head end is up to you...



Cheers!
 
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Apimyces

Apimyces

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Thanks. I think I can improvise myself a trunk line on the cheap, my biggest challenge will be drilling a hole through the concrete floor. We'll see if Santa brings anything on that front. Otherwise there might be a few pre-existing holes in there that got covered up, I'll look into those.

As far as I can tell, I don't think I need glycol, though? None of it is meant to ever drop to 0C, plain water should do. I guess a bit of glycol (or salt, or ethanol) could give a safety buffer, though that might change the requirements on the tubing and recirculating pump?

Speaking of the pump, any models to suggest? A sump pump would be overkill. An aquarium pump? I was thinking of having the coolant line pass through a pail or extra keg, in the keezer along with the beers, to add as much thermal mass as possible and help keep everything "beer temp". Possibly making a few loops through the trunk line (ex: going back and forth 3 times through the keezer and trunk line before returning through the recirculator, to add more thermal mass recirculating along the trunk line and improve the coolant:beer ratio in there). Not sure if that's all superfluous overkill, though, but it just feels like a single cooling line for six beer lines and one "hot" return line isn't quite adequate to maintain the desired temp throughout the system. Even with insulation, seems to me like the tubes at the distribution tip would be several degrees warmer than at the point of origin. Though I guess that this all involves a lot of energy (to recirculate, to refrigerate, and then to reheat the house's ambient air) relative to the cost of simply discarding a part of the line's content at the first pour.
 

501irishred

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The pump will need to be larger than you might think simply due to the 10’ head you will be pushing.
 
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Apimyces

Apimyces

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Any tips on how to pick the pump? From what I recall, the descriptions talk about debit a lot, such as gallons per hour, but usually not so much about the volume or weight of water that can be pushed upline, since the 10 feet is pretty much 100% vertical. Though since it's a closed circuit, once it's primed, I'm not sure the climb is relevant anymore, as there will be as much pull (syphon) from the water droping back down 10ft as there is push from the pump to get it back up there?
 

Positronic_Matrix

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Reading your thread, I had several questions of my own, so I did a little research. One of the more informative sources of information I ran into was a thread from this forum from about a decade back. The URL is as follows:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/glycol-vs-water-for-line-cooling.161204/

It provides a light discussion on whether to use the following:
  • ethylene glycol (cars/green, poisonous)
  • propylene glycol (RVs/red, 50/50 mix)
  • salt water (23.3% concentration)
  • water (plain or with bleach)
The main tradeoffs were heat capacity (water is highest), safety (ethylene glycol is toxic), prevention of mold, and accumulation of solids. Water is a risk due to freezing and mold, whereas propylene glycol requires a bigger pump due to viscosity and has a reduced heat capacity. Glycol needs to be changed out yearly, as it gums up and leaves a difficult-to-clean film. Glycol also attacks copper. My preference after reading is brine with a splash of bleach.

There are a few pump types suggested. The following configurations were said to work:
  • 16’ run, 5.5’ rise, 3/8” line: 425 gph pond pump
  • 60’ run, 3/8” line: 425 gph tetra pump from Lowes
  • Maxi-Jet 1200, 300 gph
Other points were that Maxi-Jet is the most reliable small water pump. My takeaway is that any pond pump will work for runs up to 60’, with the Maxi-Jet being more reliable in the long run.

Given that a 425 gph pond pump did a 5.5 feet rise, I’d bet something of the same flow specification could do 10 feet as well. I’d purchase a ~400 gph pump for a test, with the intention to return if it failed.

That’s all I could find. Good luck!
 
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Apimyces

Apimyces

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Thanks! There's so many threads here, but most of them are people pitching ideas about what they are musing of doing (as I'm doing), but finding answers from people with more experience or knowledge through all that is tricky.

And yea, glycol is toxic and reduces heat capacity, and the pumps I saw for it were prohibitively expensive, so I wasn't a huge fan of that option. Not sure if bleach, salt, and/or ethanol can cause corrosion or other issues with the pumps and tubing, though. Figured fermenting sugar+water to 10% ABV was pretty cheap, which could then be filtered and have salt + bleach added if necessary. Wouldn't freeze (unless the beer REALLY froze), wouldn't be overly toxic. Perhaps the bleach part could be skipped.
 

day_trippr

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I'm a bit skeptical of the need for actual glycol, unless one is determined to hold their beer (and everything down stream) at a very low temperature.

I installed a rinser in my keezer just before Thanksgiving and have a keg of straight fresh water inside as the reservoir. Not only hasn't that keg iced up, the line to the rinser has remained totally clear.

I keep my kegs at 36°F (which is likely a few degrees colder than most) and for sure the cabinet air temperature goes well below that when the compressor is running, but zero issues so far. I'd expect similar results for others in that respect, so whatever working fluid is used it's not likely to get any colder and become a freeze-up risk.

Would 36°F at the pump be cold enough to keep the CO2 in the beer to the faucet? If not there's a bigger problem than glycol vs straight water because driving the working fluid colder would push the beer temperature in the same direction...

Cheers!
 

milldoggy

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I have the system you are asking about.

I use 17 ft of 3/16 bev seal the tubing
I use 3/8 glycol lines
Built my own lines, can provide details of you want.
Glycol chilled via dehumidifier converted.

I use a cheap 12/24 volt DC pond pump for gylcol. You have a lot of head, but after priming you have gravity to reduce it. The pump won't work without priming.

Happy to answer any questions
 

milldoggy

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Do you need glycol, no, but a direct contact chiller will ice around the coils. Also, you want something with a rust inhabitor.

Do you need to chiller lower than 36? Maybe, depends on your insulation. Remember the line goes up and down so you need to find you temp to keep your beer at a stable temp. I run my glycol from 2 to -1.
 

milldoggy

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Oh, been running my lines with same glycol and Cooler for 7 years. On my second 12$ eBay pump.
 

day_trippr

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I believe the OP was expecting to run a pumped reservoir inside the keezer to service the trunk line.
A stand-alone chiller has much more flexibility but the cost is considerably higher...

Cheers!
 
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Apimyces

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Come to think, I've got an AC unit lying around, I'll have to check what temps it's willing to chill to. I could probably forego the keezer completely, and just make myself a walk-in beer fridge with it. I doubt it goes cold enough, though.

Checking, it doesn't. Here's the model: https://www.danby.com/products/portable-air-conditioners/dpa100a1gp/

"Variable temperature range from 16°C - 32°C (61°F - 89°F)"

Ideally, I'd want it to drop to 44°F. I know people trick their freezers into behaving differently, but I suspect it's easier to trick a freezer to cool less than to trick an AC to cool more?

For winter-time, I could just have a sensor and fans to suck in cold outside air, but it'd be nice if I wasn't limited to the cold months for draft beer drinking. :p
 

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If you goto Youtube and type in "DIY Coolbot", you might find something that works for you out of all the various stuff people have done.
 
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Apimyces

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Read a bit more on ACs, apparently they set that min temperature because if the compressor get colder than that it can mess it up. I have seen videos of folks rigging ACs to cool a room, but not sure that's such a good idea after all.
 

day_trippr

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There are folks immersing the entire room AC evaporator in working fluid to chill conical fermentors...including crashing same...

Cheers!
 
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Apimyces

Apimyces

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Oh, I see. Hmm, yea, as long as the compressor isn't in the chilled area, I suppose making it go colder shouldn't be problematic?
 

501irishred

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Oh, I see. Hmm, yea, as long as the compressor isn't in the chilled area, I suppose making it go colder shouldn't be problematic?
Yes only the evaporator coil is submerged. To keep it from freezing, you can either increase flow of liquid through the coil and/or add glycol to reduce freeze point.
 
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Apimyces

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Yes only the evaporator coil is submerged. To keep it from freezing, you can either increase flow of liquid through the coil and/or add glycol to reduce freeze point.
Well the inkbird there should allow one to keep it all above freezing?

I've seen some people talk about adding salt (Sodium Chloride) to the coolant to reduce risk of freezing. Could this cause other problems, with rust or crystallization? What about calcium chloride, which is a common de-icer?
 

501irishred

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The coil temp will be considerably colder than your intended line (beer) temp. For a 40F line temp, you might find your tank temp needs to be 34F (will depend on insulation/circulation speed/controller delta settings etc....). In that scenario, your coil will most likely be in the low 20’s.
A saline solution will help keep it from freezing, but is going to be in direct contact with a coil made from aluminum and copper. I don’t have first hand experience, but I would think there would be significant corrosion (might be worth some reading anyway). Propylene glycol really isn’t that expensive in the volumes needed for something like this, and actually has corrosion inhibitors built in.
 
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Apimyces

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Ah, yea. I suppose I don't have any control over the coil temps, though? Other than increasing movement of the fluid around the coils to homogenize the reservoir's temperature
 

501irishred

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Yep, a window unit is pretty basic, just on and off. But even a “proper” chiller with hot gas bypass, an adjustable TXV, and fully dedicated chambers, would have a tough time getting plain water cold enough without freezing.
 

Cam Mayor

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This is my faucet and tower chiller in my kegurator.

All the parts are from banggood and were $25 all together. I used old beer lines and stainless dip tubes to chill the lines and tower. The tower is 2 degrees warmer than my fridge temp.
 
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