Dedicated Spring Water Soda Water Machine Build

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bryanf650

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One last pic. You can still see the old soda stream on the counter, but here is the final wetbar with everything closed up. The soda faucet is on the right side of the sink.

Thanks for all the help! I'm not sure I could have done it without you guys. I'd be more than happy to provide p/n's etc if anyone is interested.

Bryan

IMG_2577.jpg
 

MT2sum

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I have one of those carbonators in my "stuff." I'm a packrat, and I hate to get rid of anything. I bought an old coke 'soda fountain' machine back when I was an appliance repairman and the carbonator came with it .... I sold it and the buyer only wanted the coke machine, not the carbonator setup, so I've been packing it around for about 30 years, thinking I might do something with it one of these days ;0 - now I know what I'll do with it! I don't know exactly how yet, but this thread has given me some ideas. The wife makes milk kefir and water kefir ... the milk kefir tastes like the buttermilk we used to make on the farm when I was a kid, and the water kefir is kinda like soda pop, but without enuff carbonation .... now I gotta figure out how to adapt some of your ideas to that.

I won't be able to get to the carbonator for a few months, it's still back in Montana, and we're visiting in Tennessee until the winter is over, but I've copied and pasted all of the posts and pix so that I can use some of your ideas for my setup. Then she can make soda pop as well, just make syrups and add them to the soda water. Our syrups will, of course use organic-tyoe sugars .... we are anti-white sugar .... (we only use pilloncillo, jaggery, panela, or organic sugar which is not heavily processed and still has the molasses in it for the vitamins and minerals the body needs - the white sugar has all of the food value stripped out of it) because, as was said earlier, most sugars are toxic (I agree with your original statement, roger55!) - I use the same sugars in my beers when sugar is called for, and it really makes porters and stouts taste better IMHO.

A lot of beer recipes say to use table sugar - which could be cane or beet - I used to haul the aged, dried sludge for a sugar-beet plant in Montana and I wouldn't use beet sugar on a bet - they have to use 17 different toxic chemicals to process that bitter, black relative of the radish. The sludge is so toxic it has to be pumped into ponds and aged for 4 or 5 years in the open air before it can be used as dirt for fertilizing the beet fields. Just think of the ground underneath the ponds, which are not lined, just a layer of gravel at the bottom, I can imagine how much of those toxic chemicals are slowly seeping into the earth .... I know the wells in the area are very deep, but eventually ........ Use beet sugar at your own risk!
 

bryanf650

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I just started experimenting with making some syrup to make lemonade and hard lemonade. The nice thing is that you can adjust the sugar to your liking. Most syrups are just way too sweet for me. I don't have any recipes, I just keep mixing until I like it. Just made a lemon, lemon zest, lime, raspberry combo that worked out really well for regular lemonade and somewhat dangerous hard lemonade. I wasn't expecting to make syrups this when I started working on making the soda dispenser, but I think it will be a fun little hobby since it is so fast to make a syrup...
 

MT2sum

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bryanf650 - when you figure out your recipes, write them down and don't forget us ...... ;) I agree that most available syrups are too sugary, we would tone them down if we had some recipes, so I'm with you on that! Besidesw that most (all?) commercial syrups are bound to be made with white sugar .... Pepsi I know for sure uses beet sugar .... so we wouldn't be using any commercial syrups, only home made.
I haven't checked out these recipe sites, but they all say they have recipes ..... might give you some ideas:
Mother Earth News
Not Dabbling in Normal
Huffington Post
... and there's more, I just put "DIY soda recipes" in the Startpage search and I got 8 or 10 results. The Huffpost article mentioned something about some books with recipes, so I'm going to copy them down and look in the local library for them.
 

Beerlover88

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I'm trying to replicate this system with not a lot of success. I've got a McCann's Big Mac carbonator with the tank separated from the pump. The differences are that I'm using a mini-fridge, and a old style crane neck soda tap like the one in Bryan's post above.

The first glass comes out carbonated, but subsequent glasses do not. The water comes out really fast, even when using 12' of 1/8" supply line to the tap to reduce the pressure.

I'm just trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I'm thinking that my water is just not cold enough in the mini-fridge, or I've got the PSI too high to the carbonator (110 PSI). Any other ideas? I really want to get this working.

Thanks!
 

bryanf650

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I think your pressure might be too high or maybe something is wrong with your faucet. I found that at higher pressures the seltzer comes out to fast and then foams up an loses carbonation. ~80 psi seems to work well for me with the fridge set to 41deg. In theory you can lower the pressure if you lower the temperature to achieve the same carbonation. I was a little afraid of freezing the lines, so I kept my fridge at pretty high temperature.

Is the water pre-chilled coming into the carbonator in your setup? Obviously higher temperatures incoming water will affect the carbonation level.

Also, maybe the 12' line is hurting you by allowing the soda to warm up?
 
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roger55

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...I didn't see if anyone asked yet, but how long is your CO2 tank lasting just making seltzer?
Now that I've been using my system a while, I can give a good report at how long my 20# CO2 tank lasts. The carbonated water is used by both my wife and I and we drink it every day, year round.

I've filled re-filled it 3 times since the initial full bottle in February of 2012. I just got a re-fill llast week so I just started my 4th bottle.

The fist bottle lasted 13 months.
The second bottle lasted 12.5 months
The third bottle lasted 15.5 months

I don't know why the 3 bottle went a little longer. I suspect Airgas might not fill them all to the exact same charge.

I wasn't too happy when Airgas nearly doubled the price in 2014.

My first refill in early 2013 cost $16.83 and the refill I just got was $31.22

Just as a note, my system is now almost 3 and a half years old. Everything I did to work out the initial bugs has been posted in this thread. It's a solid and reliable system and I'm extremely happy that I built it.
 

piyoman

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i'm interesting in doing something similar to this but I haven't found an inexpensive solution to completing the faucet side. It seems a simple wall mounted soda faucet costs $150+ and $450(!) for a tower. I'd like to adapt a beer faucet tower but I haven't heard of any confirmed set ups. There's chatter of running 8-10' or 30' of 1/8" line directly from the carbonator or 100psi keg but not really a definitive answer as to what was successful. Ultimately I'd like either a regular filtered water faucet or faucet tower for beer to mount and dispense the seltzer water on top of my bar fridge. Adapting a wonderbar soda gun or Cornelius UF-1 dispenser head could be doable but I'd prefer a more elegant solution if possible. Any confirmed suggestions?
 

WasserMitGas

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Now that I've been using my system a while, I can give a good report at how long my 20# CO2 tank lasts. The carbonated water is used by both my wife and I and we drink it every day, year round.

I've filled re-filled it 3 times since the initial full bottle in February of 2012. I just got a re-fill llast week so I just started my 4th bottle.

The fist bottle lasted 13 months.
The second bottle lasted 12.5 months
The third bottle lasted 15.5 months

I don't know why the 3 bottle went a little longer. I suspect Airgas might not fill them all to the exact same charge.

I wasn't too happy when Airgas nearly doubled the price in 2014.

My first refill in early 2013 cost $16.83 and the refill I just got was $31.22

Just as a note, my system is now almost 3 and a half years old. Everything I did to work out the initial bugs has been posted in this thread. It's a solid and reliable system and I'm extremely happy that I built it.
Hi Roger,

Awesome setup!! Thanks for sharing so many great details and pictures :). I love carbonated water, and I'm working on a somewhat similar setup with a Mccann Big Mac Carbonator I got on ebay for $135 shipped. I picked up a tank and regulator, and it all tests good when the output line is submerged in ice water to cool it. Now to figure out what my cooling and dispensing solution will end up being!

piyoman, I was thinking about a pressure regulator before the faucet, and just using a normal faucet like filtered water systems use. <$50 for a regulator and <$30 for a small faucet would probably work pretty well. Can anyone here weigh in?

http://www.kegman.net/categories/Soda,-Seltzer-&-Water/Soda-Regulators/Secondary/
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DuPont-1-4-in-Faucet-in-Chrome-WFFT110CH/203445405

:mug:
 
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roger55

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i'm interesting in doing something similar to this but I haven't found an inexpensive solution to completing the faucet side. It seems a simple wall mounted soda faucet costs $150+ and $450(!) for a tower. I'd like to adapt a beer faucet tower but I haven't heard of any confirmed set ups. There's chatter of running 8-10' or 30' of 1/8" line directly from the carbonator or 100psi keg but not really a definitive answer as to what was successful. Ultimately I'd like either a regular filtered water faucet or faucet tower for beer to mount and dispense the seltzer water on top of my bar fridge. Adapting a wonderbar soda gun or Cornelius UF-1 dispenser head could be doable but I'd prefer a more elegant solution if possible. Any confirmed suggestions?
The output from the carbonator tank has to stay cold or get chilled if it gets warm or is warm coming out of the carbonator. Not sure how you intend to do that with 8 to 30 feet of feed line. Dispensing faucets need to be very close to the chill source. Look how short Wunder-Bar dispenser hoses are. Looks like they are insulated too.
 
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roger55

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Hi Roger,
Awesome setup!! Thanks for sharing so many great details and pictures :). I love carbonated water, and I'm working on a somewhat similar setup with a Mccann Big Mac Carbonator I got on ebay for $135 shipped. I picked up a tank and regulator, and it all tests good when the output line is submerged in ice water to cool it. Now to figure out what my cooling and dispensing solution will end up being!
:mug:
Thanks!

Sounds like you are well on the way. Post a couple of photos once you get it all working. I'd like to see what you've done.
 

piyoman

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Hi Roger,

Awesome setup!! Thanks for sharing so many great details and pictures :). I love carbonated water, and I'm working on a somewhat similar setup with a Mccann Big Mac Carbonator I got on ebay for $135 shipped. I picked up a tank and regulator, and it all tests good when the output line is submerged in ice water to cool it. Now to figure out what my cooling and dispensing solution will end up being!

piyoman, I was thinking about a pressure regulator before the faucet, and just using a normal faucet like filtered water systems use. <$50 for a regulator and <$30 for a small faucet would probably work pretty well. Can anyone here weigh in?

http://www.kegman.net/categories/Soda,-Seltzer-&-Water/Soda-Regulators/Secondary/
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DuPont-1-4-in-Faucet-in-Chrome-WFFT110CH/203445405

:mug:
Unfortunately I don't think that would work. Regular faucets are made of brass which I hear can leach into your slightly acidic carbonated water. I was looking into that as well. I'm caving into the high price tags and opting for a beer tower with the Perlick 650ss faucet. Though it's not designed for seltzer water it is all stainless steel and has a built-in flow control. Hopefully I can use it to dial down the stream to pour without relying on just the handle. If it doesn't work at least it'll look pretty :mug: I don't know if anyone else has tried it. If so please elaborate on your experience.

Doing all this work and it seems a bit like a half measure and because of that I'm also adding in a reverse osmosis system ;) This way if I'm going to be drinking tap water at least it's pure. So my set up will be city water supply>RO system>carbonator>beer faucets.

Now i'm all worried about the water pressure going into the carbonator and all the fittings and adapters required. It's a headache but possible and will also cost an arm and leg. We'll see how it goes.
 

Taz420NJ

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Good god I totally forgot about this.. I don't understand why in a year, this last reply is the first one that triggered a subscription email..

Anyways I've had good performance from my system so far. I have been going through a 20# tank in about 6-7 months - but I think there's a few reasons.. We drink a LOT of seltzer (which carbonating at 95PSI), and I have since tied in the BIB pumps and they use extra gas. Considering we used to drink 2-3 2L bottles of seltzer a day (and a lot of waste since the end of the bottle is always flat) at up to $1 a bottle, this entire system has already paid for itself several times over. I can even deal with the CO2 being $35/20# now, because I get a few hundred bottles worth of seltzer out of each one.

Here's the pics I promised before.. I just realized I had posted them in another thread but not here..

















Roger - the Wunderbar lines are not insulated, it's just got that flexible metal conduit over the micro-lines leading to the gun handle. Also remember in a standard installation, the lines running from the cold plate to the connection block are also not insulated. The first dispense is usually warm and flat. That's why I decided to mount my entire gun assembly inside the fridge.
 
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roger55

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Nice Job Taz. That looks just great. Glad it is working well for you too.

One question though. Have you thought about putting a hole in the side of the fridge for the Wunderbar hose to come through? You would put a some type of rubber seal on it to where it would hold it snugly but allow you to pull the hose out for use and to push it back in afterwards so the hose will stay cold.
It just seems like it would be a little easier than opening and closing the fridge door every time you use it.
 

Taz420NJ

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Nice Job Taz. That looks just great. Glad it is working well for you too.

One question though. Have you thought about putting a hole in the side of the fridge for the Wunderbar hose to come through? You would put a some type of rubber seal on it to where it would hold it snugly but allow you to pull the hose out for use and to push it back in afterwards so the hose will stay cold.
It just seems like it would be a little easier than opening and closing the fridge door every time you use it.
Ehh, I see your logic, but it honestly wouldn't make any difference. I'm one of those people who brings the glass to the refrigerator and pours something with the door open. Standing there with the door open spraying the soda into the glass is business as usual for me, LOL!

Besides, I was not able to find a gas loop diagram for my fridge, and the hole for the hoses is where it is because there was already a plugged hole for something there from the factory. I just took a hole saw and drilled it an inch bigger. The thought of blindly drilling and possibly nicking a gas line scared the crap out of me.
 
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roger55

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Ehh, I see your logic, but it honestly wouldn't make any difference. I'm one of those people who brings the glass to the refrigerator and pours something with the door open. Standing there with the door open spraying the soda into the glass is business as usual for me, LOL!

Besides, I was not able to find a gas loop diagram for my fridge, and the hole for the hoses is where it is because there was already a plugged hole for something there from the factory. I just took a hole saw and drilled it an inch bigger. The thought of blindly drilling and possibly nicking a gas line scared the crap out of me.
I figured you would have already done it if you had wanted it. I thought it would might add kind of a cool custom factor but that's a just a personal tidbit.

Btw, when drilling my fridge holes, I didn't do it blindly. I carefully cut through the plastic liner with an exacto knife and then gently scraped away the insulation all the way to the outer metal. Neither place I wanted holes had any tubes so I was good to go. I wasn't going to take any chances after just paying $500 for that new fridge.
 

sarink

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I've got some updates to my setup, I reduced the size of my soda tank and the accumulator tank, and of course I had to replace the hoses as roger warned (it's really fun when one bursts). I'll post some new pictures soon.

Regarding the dispenser taps... My Cornelius UF-1 setup is working nicely. It can be mounted in a way that looks professional and stand-alone, like at a restaurant (of course mine is currently still on an ugly piece of plywood :p).

Do you just dislike the look?
 

bryanf650

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I got the subscription email as well for some reason--so I guess I'll update too.

It looks like there are some great systems out there! My system has been working very well for ~9 months now. My main concern when I built it was that my reservoir in the fridge was too small and the soda would warm up after a few glasses (I was trying to integrate it into a wet bar and didn't want to lose much space in the mini drink fridge). That hasn't been a problem at all. Even during parties I have not noticed a change in temperature or carbonation. I've even had neighbors come over and fill up 2l bottles without any noticeable change. I think the heat capacity of the carbonator tank, lines and reservoir is pretty big so it would take a lot of flow for the water to warm up. Anyway, I couldn't be happier with the performance.

As far as usage goes, I have refilled my 5 lb tank twice. I get 3-4 months out of one tank. I have a spare 4 lb tank as a 'back-up' tank, so the system has never been down for more than about 5 minutes. We probably use 1-2l of soda per day.

I may upgrade to a 10 lb tank to reduce refills and lower cost a bit, but I'm not sure if it will fit under the counter of the wet bar and 3-4 month refills really aren't too much of a burden.

Thanks again to Roger and everyone else who helped!

Bryan
 

WasserMitGas

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Good god I totally forgot about this.. I don't understand why in a year, this last reply is the first one that triggered a subscription email..

Anyways I've had good performance from my system so far. I have been going through a 20# tank in about 6-7 months - but I think there's a few reasons.. We drink a LOT of seltzer (which carbonating at 95PSI), and I have since tied in the BIB pumps and they use extra gas. Considering we used to drink 2-3 2L bottles of seltzer a day (and a lot of waste since the end of the bottle is always flat) at up to $1 a bottle, this entire system has already paid for itself several times over. I can even deal with the CO2 being $35/20# now, because I get a few hundred bottles worth of seltzer out of each one.

Here's the pics I promised before.. I just realized I had posted them in another thread but not here..



Roger - the Wunderbar lines are not insulated, it's just got that flexible metal conduit over the micro-lines leading to the gun handle. Also remember in a standard installation, the lines running from the cold plate to the connection block are also not insulated. The first dispense is usually warm and flat. That's why I decided to mount my entire gun assembly inside the fridge.
Hi Taz, thanks so much for sharing your setup and info! I'm thinking about doing almost exactly what you did but without the syrup (just carbonated water, single tap). I have the same carbonator tank, and I'm wondering how much good cold soda you get out of it before it gets so warm it doesn't carbonate well?

Also, can anyone recommend a simple tap that can handle the 100psi from the carbonator? I'd like to keep the setup as simple as possible, but I'm having trouble identifying a tap that will work that doesn't have brass/copper/etc.

Here's me testing my carbonator in my (unfinished) basement! Chilling the output line in a 5 gal bucket enabled me to produce a glass of carbonated water to prove the system is working ok (good b/c it was a used carbonator), and now all I need is a cooling system and a tap to install in my kitchen... (see attached image). I'm strongly leaning towards just putting the tank in a mini fridge, but I'm worried that it would only put out a few good glasses before needing to chill for a long time again.



:mug:

carbonator test.jpg
 

WasserMitGas

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Unfortunately I don't think that would work. Regular faucets are made of brass which I hear can leach into your slightly acidic carbonated water. I was looking into that as well. I'm caving into the high price tags and opting for a beer tower with the Perlick 650ss faucet. Though it's not designed for seltzer water it is all stainless steel and has a built-in flow control. Hopefully I can use it to dial down the stream to pour without relying on just the handle. If it doesn't work at least it'll look pretty :mug: I don't know if anyone else has tried it. If so please elaborate on your experience.

Doing all this work and it seems a bit like a half measure and because of that I'm also adding in a reverse osmosis system ;) This way if I'm going to be drinking tap water at least it's pure. So my set up will be city water supply>RO system>carbonator>beer faucets.

Now i'm all worried about the water pressure going into the carbonator and all the fittings and adapters required. It's a headache but possible and will also cost an arm and leg. We'll see how it goes.
I was originally planning on a system setup similar to what you're suggesting, but found that without cooling the co2 escapes immediately (when I hooked it up to test without any cooling method...). If you do have a plan to chill the water, how will you do it? I like the methods used in this thread a lot! I tried a wort chiller (25' 3/8"OD) in a bucket with ice water, but that was not near long enough to chill the flowing water (it did chill the water at rest and produce a good cup at a time after a bit of a wait, but it wasn't a good system).
 
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roger55

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I know they are a lot of money but there's probably good reason for it since they're designed to do exactly what you need it to do and are having trouble finding.

This is what I have and the place I got it from. Gone up a little in price though.

http://www.kegman.net/1755-wall-mount-post-mix-1-faucet-1755/

You might be time and money ahead and just bite the bullet and pay it. Making trial and error purchases could end up costing you more in the end.

It was a pretty good gamble for me with my whole system. I made a pretty good investment in a bunch of stuff for something I didn't know for sure would even work. A thread like this didn't exist then. I had searched for many hours looking for someone that had done something similar to no avail. It was kind of a relief when it all worked even though I believed it should. I also searched quite a while for what looked like the best forum for me to post this build. Looks like I made a good choice there and I'm glad my being a pioneer has helped others.
 

Taz420NJ

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Hi Taz, thanks so much for sharing your setup and info! I'm thinking about doing almost exactly what you did but without the syrup (just carbonated water, single tap). I have the same carbonator tank, and I'm wondering how much good cold soda you get out of it before it gets so warm it doesn't carbonate well?

Also, can anyone recommend a simple tap that can handle the 100psi from the carbonator? I'd like to keep the setup as simple as possible, but I'm having trouble identifying a tap that will work that doesn't have brass/copper/etc.

Here's me testing my carbonator in my (unfinished) basement! Chilling the output line in a 5 gal bucket enabled me to produce a glass of carbonated water to prove the system is working ok (good b/c it was a used carbonator), and now all I need is a cooling system and a tap to install in my kitchen... (see attached image). I'm strongly leaning towards just putting the tank in a mini fridge, but I'm worried that it would only put out a few good glasses before needing to chill for a long time again.



:mug:
If you mount the Big Mac tank in the fridge, you won't have any issues. The tank holds over a gallon. I can fill my half gallon travel water jug easily with no offgassing issues.

The only other way to do it without chilling the whole tank is with a cold plate. However those devices are designed to be submerged in an ice bin - the melting ice keeps the chunk of aluminum at 33 degrees and allows it to draw off more heat as liquid flows through.

The refrigerator itself is too warm (with surface-to-air heat transfer being extremely inefficient), and if you put it in the freezer it'll freeze the lines. You could use a glycol bath, but that will require taking up space in the fridge AND freezer. The problem with inline chiller circuits though when they aren't used as designed - as you have already discovered - is that they don't have the capacity to cool more than a few ounces at a time, and don't stand a chance at chilling a continuous flow to a suitable temperature. The volume of 25' of 3/8" tubing is only 20 ounces.

One other thing, since you bought your carbonator used.. You will want to remove the probe/float and take a whiff. Mine had water left inside after it was removed from service, and it got a mildewy smell. I put in a cup of baking soda and a bottle of peroxide (a quart I think) and let it foam up and sit for a few hours, swishing it around every so often. Then rinse it well and close it back up.
 

bryanf650

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If you mount the Big Mac tank in the fridge, you won't have any issues. The tank holds over a gallon. I can fill my half gallon travel water jug easily with no offgassing issues.

The only other way to do it without chilling the whole tank is with a cold plate. However those devices are designed to be submerged in an ice bin - the melting ice keeps the chunk of aluminum at 33 degrees and allows it to draw off more heat as liquid flows through.

The refrigerator itself is too warm (with surface-to-air heat transfer being extremely inefficient), and if you put it in the freezer it'll freeze the lines. You could use a glycol bath, but that will require taking up space in the fridge AND freezer. The problem with inline chiller circuits though when they aren't used as designed - as you have already discovered - is that they don't have the capacity to cool more than a few ounces at a time, and don't stand a chance at chilling a continuous flow to a suitable temperature. The volume of 25' of 3/8" tubing is only 20 ounces.

One other thing, since you bought your carbonator used.. You will want to remove the probe/float and take a whiff. Mine had water left inside, and it got a mildewy smell. I put in a cup of baking soda and a bottle of peroxide (a quart I think) and let it foam up and sit for a few hours, swishing it around every so often. Then rinse it well and close it back up.
Just to follow up with what Taz said--another option is to have a chilled reservoir that feeds the carbonator tank. I made one out of PVC pipe that works well (I posted a picture earlier in this thread). I have the smaller carbonator tank (32oz) and with the reservoir I have never had any issue with the water getting too warm to carbonate properly even with heavy use. The amount of carbonation depends on the pressure in the carbonator tank and the temperature of the water, so if the water is pre-chilled you can adjust either the temperature or the CO2 pressure to adjust carbonation. I found that 41degF and 80 psi gives a nice level of carbonation without any danger of freezing a line and a good relaxed pour out of the faucet, but I'm sure others have different preferences.

As far as the faucet goes, after looking at a bunch of options for rigging something up, I just went with the (expensive) option of a swan-neck soda faucet. It is all stainless and has high pressure fittings and high flow rates so the soda is cold from the first part of the pour. Basically, it is the right part for the job (and it looks cool). Pricey, but it works really well.

Bryan
 

Taz420NJ

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Just to follow up with what Taz said--another option is to have a chilled reservoir that feeds the carbonator tank. I made one out of PVC pipe that works well (I posted a picture earlier in this thread). I have the smaller carbonator tank (32oz) and with the reservoir I have never had any issue with the water getting too warm to carbonate properly even with heavy use. The amount of carbonation depends on the pressure in the carbonator tank and the temperature of the water, so if the water is pre-chilled you can adjust either the temperature or the CO2 pressure to adjust carbonation. I found that 41degF and 80 psi gives a nice level of carbonation without any danger of freezing a line and a good relaxed pour out of the faucet, but I'm sure others have different preferences.

As far as the faucet goes, after looking at a bunch of options for rigging something up, I just went with the (expensive) option of a swan-neck soda faucet. It is all stainless and has high pressure fittings and high flow rates so the soda is cold from the first part of the pour. Basically, it is the right part for the job (and it looks cool). Pricey, but it works really well.

Bryan
Funny you mention freezing lines. Mine has frozen the line from the pump to the tank several times, and my fridge is at 41. It turns out, the cold air flow from the freezer dumps right down the back of the fridge compartment where the hoses are. I haven't found a cure yet because I can't move the lines. I may have to put some insulation on that one. That's also scaring me from hooking up the plain water chiller reservoir - I've seen PVC literally explode from ice clogs, and I can't have a flood. I may pull it out and make a new one out of orange CPVC or PEX.
 

WasserMitGas

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Roger - thanks for the links. Reading the descriptions, the plastic one is pre-mix, which usually means 10-30psi from what I've read. I ran across this and thought it might work (chrome plated brass): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hot-Water-F...-12915-0000-/200918335663?hash=item2ec7aa80af

bryan - I looked at your setup, and having a secondary tank pre-carbonator in the fridge with the carbonator is brilliant - really opens up options due to the lower pressure! I realized that you could put a T before the carbonator for a chilled still water output as well if desired (and filtered if you have that in the line, too).

Taz - thanks for the feedback about your setup! I've decided to just put the carbonator tank in a very small throwaway used mini fridge to test for a while before permanent installation. I'm excited about getting it working with just the refrigerated carbonator tank. I have a garden hose bib rated at 120 psi I've been using for testing (I may just install that as my tap lol), and I'll probably just coil that in the fridge for the moment so I can get to a point where I'm happy with the performance before spending more and installing permanently.


So it looks like I'm going to need a few more fittings, but I'm having trouble finding the ones I want. Can anyone point me to a source of 90 degree bend barbed 3/8" hose to male 3/8" flared fittings? I need three of those, a smaller 90 degree bend for the co2 hose (1/4 maybe) and a length of hose (my local ace has spools of the reinforced hose for like 1.24/foot).

Thanks again for all of the great info and support guys! Glad I stumbled on this site and thread.

:mug:
 

piyoman

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Roger - thanks for the links. Reading the descriptions, the plastic one is pre-mix, which usually means 10-30psi from what I've read. I ran across this and thought it might work (chrome plated brass): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hot-Water-F...-12915-0000-/200918335663?hash=item2ec7aa80af

bryan - I looked at your setup, and having a secondary tank pre-carbonator in the fridge with the carbonator is brilliant - really opens up options due to the lower pressure! I realized that you could put a T before the carbonator for a chilled still water output as well if desired (and filtered if you have that in the line, too).

Taz - thanks for the feedback about your setup! I've decided to just put the carbonator tank in a very small throwaway used mini fridge to test for a while before permanent installation. I'm excited about getting it working with just the refrigerated carbonator tank. I have a garden hose bib rated at 120 psi I've been using for testing (I may just install that as my tap lol), and I'll probably just coil that in the fridge for the moment so I can get to a point where I'm happy with the performance before spending more and installing permanently.


So it looks like I'm going to need a few more fittings, but I'm having trouble finding the ones I want. Can anyone point me to a source of 90 degree bend barbed 3/8" hose to male 3/8" flared fittings? I need three of those, a smaller 90 degree bend for the co2 hose (1/4 maybe) and a length of hose (my local ace has spools of the reinforced hose for like 1.24/foot).

Thanks again for all of the great info and support guys! Glad I stumbled on this site and thread.

:mug:
You could probably make one out of 2 fittings. I just ordered all my fittings from installationpartssupply.com

http://www.installationpartssupply.com/product/S82-6.html
http://www.installationpartssupply.com/product/S30-66.html

I'm curious why everyone is using braided hoses. I know this is the industry standard but there are a couple of references to the hoses bursting which is definitely not good. Has anyone considered Linear Low Density Polyethylene (lldpe) poly tube? Unlike hoses which use inside diameter measurements poly tubes use outside diameter. Thus the same diameter tubes will output less than half the flow. This is my primary concern especially when driving the carbonator pump. Otherwise the smaller tubes are rated to withstand higher pressures. 230 psi max should be plenty for this seltzer setup.

http://www.installationpartssupply.com/category/poly-tube-3-8.html#.VdPPC_lViko

I only mention this because that seems to be the standard for RO systems which can also operate at 100+ psi regularly if using a booster pump. There are a few advantages which I prefer over beverage hoses. John Guest push-fit fittings are usually cheaper since they're made of plastic rather than brass or stainless steel. No clamping required. Hose softness, wrong diameter clamps, wrong clamping pressure, etc can be avoided. Thinner tubes means more flexibility and easier to work with. Tubes can be cut, pushed into the fitting and if it's the wrong length, can be pulled back out and resized to use the same fitting. No waste with the Oetiker clamps or cutting off too much hose to take it off to begin with. Just a thought... feedback and arguments welcome :D
 

piyoman

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I was originally planning on a system setup similar to what you're suggesting, but found that without cooling the co2 escapes immediately (when I hooked it up to test without any cooling method...). If you do have a plan to chill the water, how will you do it? I like the methods used in this thread a lot! I tried a wort chiller (25' 3/8"OD) in a bucket with ice water, but that was not near long enough to chill the flowing water (it did chill the water at rest and produce a good cup at a time after a bit of a wait, but it wasn't a good system).
My original thought was to use Roger's idea as a jumping point putting the whole carbonator tank in the fridge and copying beer enthusiasts line balancing technique. I'd run 8-30' of hose from the tank to the tap but everything but the faucet would be left in the fridge.

My other thought was for the concern of refilling the emptying carbonator tank with unchilled tap water as you consume your seltzer. I was thinking of just buying water filter housing and putting that in the fridge. Well I found a good deal on an RO system so I'm opting for that which also comes with a pressure tank. So the tank will go into the fridge instead offering a 2-3.2 gallon supply of cold water for the carbonator tank. The RO filter system will instead sit under the sink as putting everything in the fridge is just too much. Looking at sarink's setup and I was amazed at how everything fit so well. With my 4 gallon pressure tank there's no way a brita reservoir would fit beside it. That must be a huge mini fridge or a smaller tank :)
 

bryanf650

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You could probably make one out of 2 fittings. I just ordered all my fittings from installationpartssupply.com

http://www.installationpartssupply.com/product/S82-6.html
http://www.installationpartssupply.com/product/S30-66.html

I'm curious why everyone is using braided hoses. I know this is the industry standard but there are a couple of references to the hoses bursting which is definitely not good. Has anyone considered Linear Low Density Polyethylene (lldpe) poly tube? Unlike hoses which use inside diameter measurements poly tubes use outside diameter. Thus the same diameter tubes will output less than half the flow. This is my primary concern especially when driving the carbonator pump. Otherwise the smaller tubes are rated to withstand higher pressures. 230 psi max should be plenty for this seltzer setup.

http://www.installationpartssupply.com/category/poly-tube-3-8.html#.VdPPC_lViko

I only mention this because that seems to be the standard for RO systems which can also operate at 100+ psi regularly if using a booster pump. There are a few advantages which I prefer over beverage hoses. John Guest push-fit fittings are usually cheaper since they're made of plastic rather than brass or stainless steel. No clamping required. Hose softness, wrong diameter clamps, wrong clamping pressure, etc can be avoided. Thinner tubes means more flexibility and easier to work with. Tubes can be cut, pushed into the fitting and if it's the wrong length, can be pulled back out and resized to use the same fitting. No waste with the Oetiker clamps or cutting off too much hose to take it off to begin with. Just a thought... feedback and arguments welcome :D
I used chicocompany.com for all of my fittings and tubing. They have a nice selection of stainless and brass fittings. I'd be careful with the hardware store braided high pressure tubing--I've heard that they can burst at high temperature. I don't know if the soda-specific stuff sold by Chico is any better, but I haven't had any problems (although my entire setup is at room temp).

I tried using the JG press-on plastic fittings early when I was trying to integrate a LDPE refrigerator reservoir into the system. It was a bit of headache to get fittings to convert to the flared fittings on the carbonator, but that may have been because the reservoir used a weird size (5/16" I think). I didn't have any problem with the fittings, but I'd be careful going too small on the ID inlet tubing for the pump. The carbonator pump is pretty strong and I'm sure it will pull a heck of a vacuum on the system which can't be good. The oetiker clamps work extremely well when properly sized and are standard for high pressure lines in all kinds of applications. You can order a kit them on amazon for pretty cheap, which makes correcting mistakes and reconfiguring cheap enough.

I have a spreadsheet with the part numbers I used in my setup if anyone is interested. It is probably about 85% correct due to last minute changes, so I would double check everything, but it could be a useful starting point for someone...

Bryan
 
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roger55

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Taz420NJ

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OK, a couple things.. First, this is potable water you are dealing with. DO NOT use just any old hose, make sure it is NSF certified beverage hose. Non-certified hose can contain chemicals like BPA and traces of petroleum and heavy metals that can leech into the water (especially carbonated water).

I used high pressure braided hose for mine based off Roger's experience. He said soon after installation, the hose between the carbonator pump and tank began to balloon. I used Eaton Type 60 3/8" NSF braided hose, rated for [email protected], and it shows no sign of ballooning. The CO2 line to the tank is 1/4" hose of the same type. Considering the CO2 is at 95PSI and the pump is 125PSI, that's a good safety margin. I also used the 1/4" braided hose for the syrup lines just because I got a good deal on the full rolls, but in retrospect I could've used regular polyethylene to save a little space and fit more hoses through the hole in the fridge, since the syrup is only pumping at 35PSI.

With the pressures involved in this system, I would not trust any type of push-fit or Shark-Bite style connector not to blow off.

My fittings I got from a beverage supply on Ebay. At the bare minimum you need 3/8" female flare to 3/8" hose for the supply to pump and pump to tank, 1/4" female flare to 1/4" hose for the CO2 inlet, and 3/8" flare to 1/4" hose for the soda outlet. Since the Big Mac has two soda outlets, you'll also need a 3/8" female cap for the second outlet if you don't already have one. Use ONLY stainless fittings. Be aware, some places sell the "fitting" and the "nut" separately, so when comparing prices make sure you're comparing apples to apples. And don't forget the washers! Every flare fitting requires a washer.

Oetiker clamps are the best to use, but unlike the worm clamps they don't clamp a range of sizes - they are specifically sized for the OD of the hose. Make sure the ones you buy are correct for your hose. There is a special tool for them that runs about $30, but it is for all intents and purposes the same as an $8 pair of end cutting pliers from Home Depot (if you go back and look at my pics, they're sitting on top of the water filter bank).

The Big Mac has a 6 liter capacity, and the probe is set to start the pump when the tank gets down to half. So even if you trigger a water injection during a pour, there's still enough cold water in there to buffer it. The new water is also being forced into a headspace full of several atmospheres of cold CO2 (between pump activations, as the water level in the tank drops, CO2 comes in to fill the space), which cools it a little further as it dissolves into the water.

Also when you separate the tank from the pump, make absolutely sure that your check valves are in the correct places and oriented correctly. They keep the carbonated water from backing up into your copper piping (very bad/toxic) and from backing up into your CO2 regulator (bad/expensive).
 

WasserMitGas

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Thanks so much for the links and suggestions! I just ordered some fittings from CHI and International Supply.

I ran across these pressure reducers on the International supply site that look like they could work between the carbonator and faucet:

http://www.installationpartssupply.com/product/183-130-SS.html
http://legacy.shurflo.com/pages/Food_Service/beverage/pdf/911-380-E.pdf

And it looks like there are no offending materials. It's rated for a max of 120 psi input, and says it will drop 100 psi down to around 35 psi per the graph in the manual. It might be a good way to use cheaper beer style faucet (http://www.installationpartssupply.com/product/BF1002SC-SS.html) after the carbonator. At $25, one could do worse. Thoughts?

:mug:
 

WasserMitGas

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Another option for a dispensing valve:

http://www.sodadispenserdepot.com/valves/flomatic.html

The last one on the page is post-mix (100psi - verified with customer support and a flomatic manual), and manual/mechanical - requires no mounting block and no power. It looks to me like you could just hook the thing up and find a way to mount it. I'm tempted, and may order once I get a fridge and fittings and test out my system to see if I'm happy with it. This is the style dispenser I'd really like, after all - able to fill a glass without using two hands.

flomatic-202-lever-valve.jpg
 
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roger55

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Well done. Very good find. I think it should work but I'd plug the syrup input line.

$60 price is excellent.
 

piyoman

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Just an update on my set up. I got all my fittings including the hoses and tubing. All in all, it seems to work as planned. The 3/8" OD tubing is actually a lot stiffer than I thought. It's more like narrower PEX household plumbing lines. With the push-fit mechanisms they have blades to bite down on the tubing when inserted. It's like a zip tie or a handcuff that can't be pulled out unless you push the collet in. There is a concern that it'll leak though since it seals with an O-ring. Bending the fitting the wrong way could cause leaks. If the tubes fail, it'll simply burst rather than ballooning out. :confused:

In summary, I have my RO system feeding the pressure tank, it starts with 1/4" OD tubing and expands to 3/8" OD tubing right after all the filters. This 3/8" tubing loops from the RO pressure tank to the pump and finally to the carbonator tank. I only used braided hose to connect both the faucet and the co2 cylinder to the carbonator tank. I opted for the push-fit connectors and tubes when possible to keep everything consistent and simple. It's easier to work with despite the lack of flexibility in the tube especially when testing out different configurations. With the RO system it comes with the standard 3 stage filter and RO membrane but then there's also a DI filter and carbon finishing filter. I'm still not sure whether I should install the latter before or after the pressure tank since I hear the pressure tank can give an off taste due to the rubber inside. I'm still testing but for now all filters are installed before entering the pump/pressure tank/carbonator tank set up.

The Perlick 650ss faucet looks great and works well. I can adjust the flow accurately and keep it consistent. I wish I had thought of the pressure reducer or the non-electric soda faucet earlier. If anyone tries it, keep us informed. What can you mount the tap against to make it look elegant? Would the co2 bubble up inside the pressure reducer if the psi's are suddenly dropped?

On a side note the pump motor can be a bit startling whenever it turns on as there's no gradual ramp up and I have it out in the open. I can definitely notice a difference in noise when there's low water volume. When testing I left the pressure tank valve closed and the pump was only fed with 1/4" OD tubing after filtration (but bypassing the RO membrane). It was loud. With the pressure tank valve open, it's just a loud hum.

With the inside diameter of the tube being 1/4" this is smaller than the recommended minimum requirement of 3/8" for the carbonator. I'm tempted to keep everything as-is just because it's all set up now but if noise and duty cycle is negatively impacted I may just change everything out. Can someone be so kind as to test their set up to see how long 1 duty cycle lasts? Basically I timed it with turning on the faucet, letting it run until the motor kicks in. Start stopwatch, turn off faucet and wait until the motor kicks off. Stop stopwatch. At 80 psi I have 18.64 seconds. If using 3/8" ID hose literally cuts the pump on time in half then I'll change over to the hose setup. If it's only a marginal difference then I may just leave it as-is.
 

WasserMitGas

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Does anyone know what type of connector the float is connected with on the McCann carbonators? It looks sort of like a pc power plug, but a bit smaller. I'm thinking of just getting/making an extension cable rather than modify the wiring on the carbonator in case I want to put it back together without much fuss.
 

Taz420NJ

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It's not standard, there are no 'extensions' you can buy. With mine I took the motor end off.. Then I took a 25ft orange extension cord and cut the female end off about 6" from the end. I installed the female end on the motor just like the original, then spliced the original onto the male end. That way I can still disconnect it at either end if something needs to be pulled out.
 
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