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Harbor Freight CO2 Regulator.........any good?

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EdWort

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Harbor Freight is great for cheap stuff that breaks easily :D, but I would not risk it for a regulator. I'm a big fan of this one from Micromatic.



Adjusting pressure is as easy as twisting the knob. Worth every penny when you can't find a screwdriver and the set screw is cold and stuck.
 
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FPM

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Thanks for the info! Im fairly new to the whole homebrewing scene, especially forced carbonation. By beverage rated do you mean that it cannot be completely cleaned and sanitized?
 

adx

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The one you linked to is for welding. Most welding regulators are rated to output at higher pressures then you would use in a beverage dispensing. Even if you're trying to force carb soda water you don't need to got much past 35 psi for dispensing beverages.
 

puney_the_youkel

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I bought one a year ago. Same as the one sold now. Works good and is the same regulator that both of my local welding shops sell. Might not be PC to buy from Harbor Freight, but this item works for me.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I always say that harbor freight is fine for things that aren't meant to wear out and don't have a lot of moving parts.

At this time, my Harbor Freight limit is down to 2. If it has two moving parts, don't buy it at harbor freight. I bought some saw horses from there. It has two moving parts. They were defective out of the box. I'd spend the extra five bucks to buy somewhere else.

Don't get me wrong, I still shop there, but only for things I don't expect to use more than once...
 

malkore

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FPM said:
Thanks for the info! Im fairly new to the whole homebrewing scene, especially forced carbonation. By beverage rated do you mean that it cannot be completely cleaned and sanitized?
you don't clean or sanitize the regulator.

Harbor Freight is selling a welding type regulator...the gauge for the pressure exiting the regulator is gonna be much higher than what you'd use for beer. Its probably increments of 15psi.
so you'd need to change that gauge out for like $10. adn then the adjustment still might not be fine tuned enough.


unless someone gives you a free regulator, stick to beverage grade ones to avoid headaches and more spending.
 
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malkore said:
Harbor Freight is selling a welding type regulator...the gauge for the pressure exiting the regulator is gonna be much higher than what you'd use for beer. Its probably increments of 15psi.
adx said:
The one you linked to is for welding. Most welding regulators are rated to output at higher pressures then you would use in a beverage dispensing. Even if you're trying to force carb soda water you don't need to got much past 35 psi for dispensing beverages.
Folks, stick to posting factual information rather than incorrect assumptions. Perhaps that's your experience with "cheap" regulators, but any regulator for welding wouldn't need to output much more pressure than one for beer or soda. Using more than 20 psi for welding is likely to blow weld spatter all over the place, defeating the purpose of shielding gas.

Also, there is no need to worry about "beverage grade" vs "welding grade" equipment. Welders are as concerned about gas purity as brewers.

EDIT: an extra $5 nets you a pretty nice regulator from www.micromatic.com
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I have no doubt about the information posted by Yuri regarding the regulator and welding. HOWEVER, I have to question his conclusion...

That Harbor Freight regulator is certainly inexpensive, but I bet it would work just fine. The MicroMatic stuff is much nicer if you can afford it.
That HF regulator is $35. The dual regulators from Micromatic start at $40. A five dollar price difference is not enough to justify buying from Harbor Freight. Even if you are really strapped for cash (in which case the cost savings for some things is worth the aggravation), I would not buy that regulator just to save five bucks.
 
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Sir Humpsalot said:
That HF regulator is $35. The dual regulators from Micromatic start at $40. A five dollar price difference is not enough to justify buying from Harbor Freight...
Oops. Guess I should have priced more carefully at MicroMatic before posting about the price difference. I'm with you - $5 is a small price to pay for a better regulator.

For another $13 over the HF price, you can have this really nice one mentioned earlier:

http://www.micromatic.com/draft-keg-beer/regulators-pid-642.html
 

TerapinChef

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I was just getting ready to ask the same question....had it loaded into my clipboard and everything....
Regulator Gauge




Designed for light and medium duty MIG/TIG welding jobs
Cast brass with steel body gauge and chrome plated regulator
Durable phenolic PVC knob

Max inlet pressure: 230-BAR/ 3335.8 PSI; Overall dimensions: 6-1/8"L X 5"W X 4-1/4"H; 0.960-14RH (CGA580) regulator thread with 0.830-14ADP
 

Damonic

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I'm beginning to think going manifold from the get-go is the best plan if you're planning on 4-5+ taps.
 

blk94f150

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I'll have to see if the Mig reg I have downstairs that I'm not using would work for beer.

Mike
 

jcb317

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Harbor Freight is great for cheap stuff that breaks easily :D, but I would not risk it for a regulator. I'm a big fan of this one from Micromatic.



Adjusting pressure is as easy as twisting the knob. Worth every penny when you can't find a screwdriver and the set screw is cold and stuck.
+1 for this reg, its by far the nicest one i've ever used. I got one for my father and father in-law and I highly recommend them. I don't know how soon you want to get a reg, but i have seen these go on sale in the past.
 

oxiderush

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i just bought the hf regulator, 25 bucks open box because it was missing a fitting, that i just so happened to find in the regular stock:D

There is only one problem, it doesnt just read the output P.S.I, it reads either lietres a minute, of cubic feet per hour.

should i just swap out the guage, or is there some sort of conversion table?
 

oxiderush

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it is cool in that it comes with the shafts to do co2 or argon. i hope argon threats are the same as my nitrogen tank, both tanks have female threads on them
 

jpc

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i just bought the hf regulator, 25 bucks open box because it was missing a fitting, that i just so happened to find in the regular stock:D

There is only one problem, it doesnt just read the output P.S.I, it reads either lietres a minute, of cubic feet per hour.
That's not pressure... that's flow. Not sure if you can just replace it... but I think a flow meter would be pretty cool to have (not sure why... just seems cool).
 

oxiderush

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yeah, i get the whole idea of flow rate.

"There is no direct conversion between the two. It would depend on too many other factors than just the flow rate.

You can have a flow rate of 0, but still have lots of pressure, or a very high flow rate still with lots of pressure. That in itself shows its not going to be any direct conversion.

While I'm sure its possible, I am not aware of any formula to do it.

If you were able to calculate it, such as measuring the pressure with a guage, it would be specific to your circumstances. "

i just hope that if i fit in a new guage, it will be the same as a regular regulator. The bodies cant be that different.
 

pizzaman

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How's that regulator working out? I have to say I agree with everyone else that using a regulator that is made for welding doesn't seem like a great idea. Since I live in SA, I will be going to harbor freight tomorrow to buy their $35 CO2 regulator. I've heard nothing but bad reviews about the company on this forum, but its 10 minutes from my house so if I have a problem I can just drive up there.
 

jkpq45

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I took a look at the HF regulator and agree with a few posts above, it measures flow output, not pressure output. No idea if pressure can be controlled (my guess is it controls flow by maintaining a constant pressure across a diaphragm).

Might be better to go with the MM device.
 

samc

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A lot of HF stuff is crap, but some of it is the same stuff you buy at HD for 5 times the price just under a different label. For example $9.97 for corner clamps @ HD, fell apart in the first use. At HF $2.97 so if it fell apart I would not mind so much using a few drops of epoxy on it.

As to regulating gas for my beer - no way would I buy a regulator at HF. Asphyxiation from CO2 leaking can put you down for the count, I almost passed out sticking my head into the Keezer when I had a gas QD leaking.
 

pizzaman

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I just ran down to HF to check it out as I'd never been there before. I felt sketchy walking in there as I saw nothing but what looked like a bunch of half-assed contractors looking to steal good deals. No offense towards contractors in general, but I've never met an honest or intelligent one myself. I found the regulator with the welding supplies, there were three of them on the shelf, all of them had been opened and each box was missing a different part. I knew immediately I wouldn't be buying a regulator today. The box is marked as a CO2/Argon Lite Duty welding regulator.

I think I'll be buying from kegcowboy.com. New 2 gauge primary co2 regulator for $33. It's a dollar cheaper than HF, and there are some good reviews about them here on the forum. Of course I do have to pay for shipping....oh well, join the club right?
 

Suthrncomfrt1884

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I know this is an old post, but I wanted to throw in my input on the HF regulators.

I purchased one for my first regulator when I got my kegging setup. I still own it. It's not used all the time anymore, but whenever I need to bring out a second kegerator (parties), I use it.

I used it for almost a year before upgrading. All I had to do was switch out the gauge that measures output to a gauge that read 0-60psi. Had no issues with under or overcarbonation. For the $30 I spent on it (I think?), it was well worth it.
 

mattd2

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yeah, i get the whole idea of flow rate.

"There is no direct conversion between the two. It would depend on too many other factors than just the flow rate.

You can have a flow rate of 0, but still have lots of pressure, or a very high flow rate still with lots of pressure. That in itself shows its not going to be any direct conversion.

While I'm sure its possible, I am not aware of any formula to do it.

If you were able to calculate it, such as measuring the pressure with a guage, it would be specific to your circumstances. "

i just hope that if i fit in a new guage, it will be the same as a regular regulator. The bodies cant be that different.
Just thought that while this thread has been dug up I'll put my $0.02 in on this point.
While there is no "direct" correlation between pressure and flow there is, as you mentioned, a correlation if you have a specific situation (i.e. the regulator is not changing). Basically that "flow" gauge is just a pressure gauge with a flow scale that is callibrated to the orifice (the exit hole on the low pressure side) to read the correct flow at a given pressure.
I had aan old "welding" reg given to me by my old man that the low pressure gauge was flow, swapped it for a cheap 0-60 psi gauge and its all good (except for it had sat around for a while and the poppet seal perished but the Italian company, Mestriner, sent me 2 replacement poppets and some nylon gaskets completely free of charge! Now thats customer service, I didn't even buy the reg and they looked after me!)
 
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