How much line cooling do I need?

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mojotele

Well-Known Member
Hey guys,

So I'm in the middle of building a new house. Naturally this seems like a good time to upgrade my kegerator. I want to run four lines from a chest keezer in the basement to four faucets on the floor above. One of these lines will just be seltzer water we can use to mix up sodas while the other three will be beer. I'm planning to build a wall box out of plywood in which to mount the faucets.

Assuming the keezer is straight down from the faucets, I've calculated the distance from the keg to the faucet as about 10.5', figure 11' or so due to some curve here or there. I figure I'll probably have to cool these lines somehow, but after reading a few threads I'm not quite sure how much cooling I need. Is glycol overkill? Will air cooling do? Or is 11' just too much vertical distance for a fan to overcome?

Also, this calculator tells me I need about 28.5' of tubing with a 1/4" ID tube, kegs at 13 PSI, and a 10 second pint fill. If I do indeed need a glycol system then it seems excessive to get a 28.5' glycol trunk. Would you recommend running the trunk the vertical distance and coupling at least the beer lines to cheaper tubing that sits in the keezer?

There's also the fact that these lines will have to run through an outer wall that will have the house's typical insulation in it. Moisture concerns?

Thanks for the help!

About the only thing you shouldn't have to be concerned about is ambient moisture degrading a trunk line.

Otherwise, I'm an all-in fan of Solty's calculator and would take whatever numbers it spits out as gospel.
I suspect your rise puts 3/16" ID lines out of the question, so you're stuck with at least some length of 1/4".
But there are infinite solutions to this problem, if you allow the use of a choker line segment. You could run 1/4" trunk line point-to-point then dial in the pour by inserting some 3/16" line at the keg end.

The problem is nobody (tmk) has ever come up with a calculator that works with two line IDs, so it could easily become an empirical exercise...

Cheers!

I run 27ft of 1/4 line, glycol is required. That much line means a pint is in the lines.

But the line premade, doing yourself, pita

I guess to answer your question. I do indeed splice 1/4 to 3/16 with stainless splicers, I do this 6" from tap lines to step down to fit over stainless tower lines. You could use the same process to splice 5ft of 3/16 trunk to some length of 1/4. I think it would be a guessing game. For the glycol lines, I used John guess fittings for the splicing to my tower, same for trunk to trunk. You could also just coil the 1/4 lines in the fridge, but that is a ton of line. When I redo mine and move my keg underneath my tower in the basement, I will try a combo of 3/16 and 1/4. I would start with all 3/16 and slowly add 1/4 sections.

[...]When I redo mine and move my keg underneath my tower in the basement, I will try a combo of 3/16 and 1/4. I would start with all 3/16 and slowly add 1/4 sections.

In the OPs case, given the rise he really needs the trunk line to be 1/4" ID. Starting with 3/16 line would assure failure...

Cheers!

In the OPs case, given the rise he really needs the trunk line to be 1/4" ID. Starting with 3/16 line would assure failure...

Cheers!
There is some combo of 3/16 and 1/4 that would work. All 1/4 is not required.

Indeed, my point being that the trunk line simply cannot be 3/16" regardless of length in the OP's case...

Cheers!

Thanks for the responses, guys!

About the only thing you shouldn't have to be concerned about is ambient moisture degrading a trunk line.!

I was actually concerned about condensation around the back of the faucets and small bits of uninsulated line at the connection point degrading the insulation, drywall, and/or studs for my house, not the trunk line. Looking back at my OP I wasn't very clear about that. Sorry.

But the line premade, doing yourself, pita

Completely agree, lol. I'm willing to spend the money if it saves me a ton of work and frustration.

The problem is nobody (tmk) has ever come up with a calculator that works with two line IDs, so it could easily become an empirical exercise...

Good point. If I had to go glycol I was thinking about getting a pre-made trunk with 1/4" beer lines, but then coupling that to plain vinyl 1/4" tubing so I'm not spending extra on 3/8" glycol lines and insulation. Maybe I'm just being silly there. Haven't really compared prices. Regardless, as milldoggy says, that would be quite a bit of line stuffed in the keezer. Guess I could always start with however much 1/4" I need for the rise then tack on enough 3/16" to meet the total given by the calculator minus maybe 70% or something. In other words, if I need 20 feet of total line and I use 11 going from keezer to faucet then I would start with 9*0.3 feet of 3/16" or 2.7 feet then just start cutting 3/16" off until the pour stops being slow as hell.

I think one thing I'm still unclear about is, assuming I only have ~11 feet of 1/4" outside of the keezer with the appropriate remainder of whatever ID tubing inside the keezer, do I actually NEED glycol? Or is there a fan strong enough to make that vertical trip that also won't overload the keezer with heat waste?

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Air-cooling would require a fan-driven loop enclosing the beer lines to the faucets and back to the "cold source" (keezer or fridge). This works pretty well if just running through an adjacent wall to the taps, but for a 20-something foot run it's unlikely to work well.
Plus it gets pretty darned soupy down in B'more during the warm season, you wouldn't want to go through the effort of running highly insulated PVC and have the whole thing puking foam in August.

I'm fairly confident you could use the shortest 1/4" run from your beer cooler to your taps for the trunk lines, then tune the flow rate using 3/16" ID chokers inside the cooler...

Cheers!

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Glycol seems overkill here. Cold liquor with submersible pump on loop.

Sch 40 pvc shell. Three products and cold loop. Wrap it in an aluminum or mylar to keep cold inside. Armaflex insulation. Seal it up airtight as possible.

But why in the world is the 3/16 before the 1/4? Seems like youd be asking for foam. Am i missing something?

It actually isn't a problem wrt foaming and is a commonly used solution where there isn't a cold box at the faucet end...

Cheers!

Hate to say, but a cold liquid loop is prob required, does not have to be glycol, a mini fridge, 12\$ pond pump and old keg worked for my 27 ft for a while. Lowest line temp I could get was 45ish. I had some foaming issues and c02 lose in beer as keg temp was 35-38. Change in temp affected beer some, but was livable, but with 16oz in each line, hated dumping. My fridge died and I already made my glycol.chiller from an old dehumidifier, so I moved to it, beer lines are a nice 36 now, no foam issues at all.

One of these days I will also use it from my conical, but my conical fridge still works

Also, I use cheap Hing Kong submersible pump, they add heat to the solution, might get better efficiency moving that outside the cool applicance for the water loop.

I'm interpreting the above to indicate a glycol system is the optimal solution...

Cheers!

With the fridge and 45 degree, the beer in the line was not all dumpers. It was for the most part fine, little foam at the start. Little less carbonated.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I think this gives me enough information to get started!

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