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Kristjan
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Hey.
I got a question i couldn't find an answer for, sorry if it's already posted.
I'm thinking of advancing to kegs from bottels, and by summer hopefully build my very own kegregator. I am currently procuring the requiered items, and at the moment I think I'm going to get the kegs + co2 first. How big co2 bottle would you reccomend? Where I'm based, I could get a 10 L/200bar bottle for 186€ + refill for 16,7€. Is it enough,lets say, for 4kegs?

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GBRbrew

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How big are the kegs ? 10 liters comes out to a little over 20 pounds, a 20 pound co2 tank should do 30 to 40 5 gallon corny kegs

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mattdee1

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I'd strongly urge you to get a pair of 10lb tanks rather than a single 20lb. For just 4 taps, a 10lb tank will last quite a while, and IMO having a back-up tank is essential. First of all, the obvious: if your system develops any small leaks, you will come home one day to an empty CO2 tank, and having a back-up will at least keep you online until you're able to get a re-fill.

Second, CO2 is just plain handy to have at various stages of the process. Closed beer transfers, purging kegs, seating lids, force carbing, etc. If you have a second tank you can devote it to such utility functions and leave the other one hooked up to your serving system.
 

IslandLizard

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I'm offering a different opinion.

Not sure about Europe, but I'm willing to bet it's not all that different from the U.S. possibly worse.

As long as you don't have leaks,* 20# ("10 liter") tanks are much more economical, both on a) purchase price (of an empty one), and b) refills.

a) A 5 liter (10#) tank may cost 80% of a 10 liter (20#) one for half the size.

b) Cost of refills typically follow suit, a 10 liter refill costing only a few Euros more than 5 liters. CO2 is cheap, it's the "base fee" or "handling fee" that's the major part of pricing, not the commodity (CO2) itself.

Find out if you can get real refills instead of simply tank swaps. Tank swaps have become most common here in the U.S. the past few years.
In a tank swap you'd lose your shiny tank in return for a usually (very) scratched up used one. If you can only get swaps, you may want to review your options, and buy a used tank. Or even "rent/lease" one from a gas distribution outfit.

* Placing the tank on an appropriate scale can tell you quickly whether you have a leak or not.
 

HB2 HughBHomeBrew

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I'm offering a different opinion.

Not sure about Europe, but I'm willing to bet it's not all that different from the U.S. possibly worse.

As long as you don't have leaks,* 20# ("10 liter") tanks are much more economical, both on a) purchase price (of an empty one), and b) refills.

a) A 5 liter (10#) tank may cost 80% of a 10 liter (20#) one for half the size.

b) Cost of refills typically follow suit, a 10 liter refill costing only a few Euros more than 5 liters. CO2 is cheap, it's the "base fee" or "handling fee" that's the major part of pricing, not the commodity (CO2) itself.

Find out if you can get real refills instead of simply tank swaps. Tank swaps have become most common here in the U.S. the past few years.
In a tank swap you'd lose your shiny tank in return for a usually (very) scratched up used one. If you can only get swaps, you may want to review your options, and buy a used tank. Or even "rent/lease" one from a gas distribution outfit.

* Placing the tank on an appropriate scale can tell you quickly whether you have a leak or not.
If I were starting over I might go the rent/lease route. I had a shiny aluminum 5lb but since COVID the gas plant near me stopped doing fills and can only do swaps so I have a scratchy steel one now. I also have a shiny new aluminum 20 pounder that was filled before COVID and still going strong - hoping they bring back fills before it runs out and I have to swap it.
And also to your point, where I am, when they still did fills - it was about 23 USD for filling a 5 lb OR a 20 lb.
But also to the other poster's point - having a back up tank is really great.
 
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Kristjan
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thank you for the food for thought. Since 10L(20#) tank would be alot more financially economical, I'm thinking, I'll go with a single 10l bottle at the moment, and when the need arises, I'll purchase another one, or maybe think of a gas distribution system for doing other steps with the CO2, than just only have a designated bottle for distribution from the keg to tap. And if I do run out, I think I can handle a day or 2 without beer from tap, until i can get it refilled..

Thank you.
 

mattdee1

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The argument for the 20# tank is definitely a good one. I guess I'd revise my earlier post to say, the key takeaway should be the usefulness of having 2 tanks of at least 10# size (5# is a bit small, IMO).

If you choose to go with a single tank to start, just understand that you really need to be careful with setting up the system to avoid "surprise" leaks, because without regularly weighing the tank, you have no really convenient way to detect a problem. Looking at the main pressure gauge on your tank tells you nothing until the needle starts to plummet, at which point it's too late and the tank is pretty much toast.

In 3 years of kegging, I've had 2 instances of mystery leaks that drained near-full CO2 tanks. I checked the whole system for leaks and couldn't find anything. I'm assuming the culprit was leaky keg lid seals but I don't know for sure.

I'll purchase another one, or maybe think of a gas distribution system for doing other steps with the CO2,
I think getting a second tank is a better choice than trying to distribute CO2 from your serving tank for other tasks, because:

- it frees you up to do the "other tasks" wherever you like without being somewhat tehtered to the general vicinity of your serving tank
- gas distribution components (e.g., manifolds, secondary regulators) are fairly expensive
- the dual tank route gives you the "back up" so you're never without CO2
 

Redpappy

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I just bout a 20# tank. Refill for 10# was 30.00, refill for 20# was 32.00. 2 dollars more for 10 lbs of gas. As for leaks, I try to remeber to spray a newly connected keg with star San and then I watch for bubbles.
 

IslandLizard

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Many pros and cons, try finding a balance that works best for your case. With time that balance may shift or change, so look at possible future needs too.

Although owning 2 tanks gives you more freedom, you will also incur 2 hydro tests (~$30 here in the U.S.) every 5 years (or longer, until you need a refill after it expired). So it depends on your usage whether 2 tanks is worth the extra expense.

If you swap tanks, instead of refilling, the hydro test is usually immaterial, as most companies absorb the cost of that. But not all do, from what I've heard, and try passing the test charge on to the customer returning a tank with an expired certification.

IOW, make sure you know what's involved.

That said, a scale is the best insurance to detect leaks. If possible leave the tank on the scale, which shouldn't turn off automatically and reset, to monitor (unexpected) usage.
 

Dland

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Regardless of which size tank you get, there are a couple of ways to save a lot on CO2.

One is spunding, this is the practice of letting the end of the fermentation process, about .006-8 points of gravity, carbonate the beer. Some of lucky few brewers that have high pressure fermentors do this in their primary, but anyone with kegs can do it by racking in to kegs when beer still is working. There are some good threads here on HBT on this subject. Some go into the valves a lot, and an automatic valve is nice, but all you really need is a pressure gauge and a hydrometer. Esepcially after a while once you get the timing down.

The other is using the CO2 produced by fermentation to pre purge your kegs to lower oxidation. Here is good thread on that; Keg purging with active fermentation

Between these two practices, I have reduced bottled CO2 use a lot. Now I only need it to for closed transfers and dispensing of beer, plus the occasional forced carbonation when rack too late to fully spund.

I use two tanks and two regulators, one for transfers, and one for dispensing, in different locations, but admit that may seem extravagant to some.
 

jddevinn

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You can also fill your own 5# tanks off of your 20#er using a transfer hose and inverting the 20# tank. I had leftover 5#ers from when I started kegging that I'll fill now if I'm taking the portable bar somewhere.
 

szap

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You can also fill your own 5# tanks off of your 20#er using a transfer hose and inverting the 20# tank. I had leftover 5#ers from when I started kegging that I'll fill now if I'm taking the portable bar somewhere.
That's also what I do. I figure the 5 lb tank gets at least 2/3 full by filling from 20 lb tank. I also use some paintball tanks for portable dispensing and fill them from the 20 lb tank.
 
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