PVC Tower Cooling Solution

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bradsul

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I posted about this in my kegerator conversion thread but I think it's a good idea so I thought I would give it a thread so it would show up in searches more easily.

I wanted a way to cool my tower that didn't require wiring up a fan since the fridge I used didn't have a lot of excess space.

My solution was to use a 1/2" ID copper pipe per beer line that extends into the fridge and up into the tower. The copper transfers the cool of the fridge along it's length keeping the lines cool. In all of my tests (and now in subsequent usage) the first pour of beer is the same temperature as any other. I also don't get that initial excess amount of foam that I've seen reported quite often.

I drilled a 1.25" hole through the insulation to snuggly take the 2 pieces of copper pipe. The pipe should extend into the fridge about an inch and go up the tower to within 2" of the goose neck on the shank.




Spray foam the void and make sure to lean the pipes back slightly away from the shanks so you have clearance. If you just bring them up the center of the tower you will have a weird kink in your lines. Here are the assembled shanks with 3/16" beer line routed through the pipes.


Important: Be sure to use a file to round out both ends of the copper pipe so that you don't cut into your beer line.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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I painted mine with a high gloss acrylic enamel. The pipes are black but it's a very dull finish, has writing on it and is rarely in good shape even after cleaning. The only end cap I could get in the correct size was blue so I would have had to paint anyway.
 

missing link

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Making the copper stick into the fridge further would enhance the cooling significantly. You want more copper mass in the fridge than in the tower so that the larger mass cools the smaller mass.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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missing link said:
Making the copper stick into the fridge further would enhance the cooling significantly. You want more copper mass in the fridge than in the tower so that the larger mass cools the smaller mass.
Yes that is true. Space considerations and clearance don't allow that in my case. But there is also less than 1C differential between the temperature of the copper in my fridge and at the top of the tower so I'm not worried about it in my case.
 

kornkob

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It's notable that there is nothing about that solution that requires the use of PVC tubing. You could conceivably do this with any tower.

Regarding getting more copper into the fridge: one could use a pipe bender to bend the pipe as it entered the fridge and run the line along the top of the interioir, thus increasing the amount of copper in the fridge without requiring additional clearance.


Nice solution.
 

BeerCanuck

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I think soft copper would work well in this application.
I have another sylvania conversion for my beer brewing buddy.
You got like a small hole through the top of a mini fridge :mug:

BeerCanuck
 

z987k

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I'm torn over what to do with mine, I have a spare 120volt mini fan laying around that would be really easy to wire up, or I could go this route which takes no energy... what to do.
 

RadicalEd

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Do the math:
find the price of copper in your neighborhood (very high nowadays). Find the price of running your fan for 5 years. Compare. Done!

:D.

Seriously though, the copper is a very nice solution and I'd go with it if the copper won't cost you an arm and a leg. Maybe you can get lucky at a local scrap yard.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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It's not even the cost of running that little fan that's the issue, it's how well is your tower insulated (ie. how hard is your little fridge trying to cool the room it's in because of the tower).

One of the nice side benefits of this solution is you get just a small hole in the top of your fridge, plus the tower is completely insulated.
 

the_Roqk

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Excellent post bradsul! I was trying to figure out a way to do that to my DIY tower. With the use of copper tubing and it's great heat/cold conductive qualities it does make sense. Thanks for the pic's! Great idea! :rockin:
 

ikc46118

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But how much does the fan cost? I can't get a 4w fan for less than $7, let alone the project box, etc. Copper tubing is MUCH cheaper than that.

Have you considered that having two open tubes go into the tower creates a convection effect?
 

Sir Humpsalot

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FSR402 said:
Are you all painting the PVC black or is there black pipe that I don't know about?
A little tip from my pending conversion...

www.tubesandmore.com

A vintage radio and amplifier shop. They sell tolex by the yard. What, you ask, is tolex? It's that fake leather stuff that covers guitar amplifiers. It's tough enough to stand up to cigarette burns and other abuse. To apply it, just use a spray adhesive such as Scotch 77. Wrap it around the tubes.
 

FSR402

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Sir Humpsalot said:
A little tip from my pending conversion...

www.tubesandmore.com

A vintage radio and amplifier shop. They sell tolex by the yard. What, you ask, is tolex? It's that fake leather stuff that covers guitar amplifiers. It's tough enough to stand up to cigarette burns and other abuse. To apply it, just use a spray adhesive such as Scotch 77. Wrap it around the tubes.
Good idea. I think I just found my new bar top. :D
 

CatchinZs

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At a minimum of $20 a yard...that stuff had better be tough. :eek: :)

Nice and simple fix Bradsul....excellent idea.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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ikc46118 said:
...Have you considered that having two open tubes go into the tower creates a convection effect?
While I'm sure there is a small amount of air movement, the tubes are basically completely filled when you run the beer line through so I doubt it has much affect.
 

paranode

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Just thought I'd bump this thread since I decided to take this route to cool my tower lines.

Here is the top of the tower. Copper goes almost all the way to the top and then I used polyethylene insulation (1-1/4" I think) to go around the tubes. It runs the length of the tower and then stops since we want the bottom part to be exposed to the cold air and absorb and transfer the temp.



Here it is through the bottom. Mine goes quite a bit further into the fridge than the OP since this was the pre-cut length they sold (2') and it seems fine (will transfer better probably).



Final view of inside the fridge:



Total cost was $10 even for two 2', 1/2"-diameter copper tubes and a 6' length of the insulation.

I just rigged it up so I'll have to report later on effectiveness but I think it will work well.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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Great job! I too would have liked to run my copper farther into the fridge but with my fridge it just wasn't possible unfortunately. Even after all this time I still only have the 1C temperature differential between the top of the copper and the bottom so I'm not at all concerned.
 

paranode

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Yeah I like it, didn't want to have to mess with the fan stuff. Thanks for the idea! :mug:
 

lspr_mtu

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That is an awesome solution - I like it. If you wanted to boost insulation a bit more, you might even thinking about a shot or two of that spray-on insulation for the upper beer line / shank area. You could probably construct a thin cardboard barrier to give you a clean volume for the additional insulation such that you could slide it out of the top whenever you need to mess with the line/shank interface.

bradsul said:
While I'm sure there is a small amount of air movement, the tubes are basically completely filled when you run the beer line through so I doubt it has much affect.
I was thinking about that too as I was reading the post - but if you think about it there is probably very little-to-no convection potential. Given that the tower area will be warmer thant the refrigerator area, there would be a higher density in the cold refrigerator than the tower. The cold dense air is more than happy staying down in the refrigerator; thus no convection. Now, if you had a wall-mounted fridge and the tower came down from the bottom - now we're talking! :rockin:
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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lspr_mtu said:
That is an awesome solution - I like it. If you wanted to boost insulation a bit more, you might even thinking about a shot or two of that spray-on insulation for the upper beer line / shank area. You could probably construct a thin cardboard barrier to give you a clean volume for the additional insulation such that you could slide it out of the top whenever you need to mess with the line/shank interface...
I did something similar with the cap of the tower, though not to quite that extent. Just a circular piece of extruded foam insulation (leftover from my son of fermentation chiller build). It comes down right to the top of the shanks, so it doesn't leave too much of an airspace in there.

tower_cap.jpg
 

physast

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I just finished doing this exact thing with the copper tubes. I replaced the insulation in the tower with some stuff from ACE hardware and wrapped the copper tubes with another insulating layer. So far everything seems to be good. I can't comment on the effectiveness as of yet, because I don't have any beer in the kegs.:(

Cost: $17.25 !:)
 

Jonnio

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I did this same method and its easy to add additional copper. Put a T (facing like this -| )at the end, run the beer line out the bottom and another pipe out the side...pics available if anyone needs.
 

BrewBeemer

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Leave those 1/2" copper lines extended into the frige an inch or more, solder a 6"x6"x1/8" piece of copper plate to both pipe lines. Using 1/4" hardware store nylon washers and screws stand off the copper plate away from the frige top allowing for more cold air contact to the copper plate minus the two 1/2" holes area leaves over 38.61 sq/inches of 1/8" copper plate not counting the 1/2" copper stubs, that should pull heat from those 1/2" copper lines.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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I did this same method and its easy to add additional copper. Put a T (facing like this -| )at the end, run the beer line out the bottom and another pipe out the side...pics available if anyone needs.
That's a great idea. I tried to do it on mine last night and I couldn't get the rear keg out without having to take the T off. Not a huge deal so I'm going to try it out and see what the temperature differential is like compared to not having it (which for me is only 1C between the top and the bottom).
 

Jonnio

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That's a great idea. I tried to do it on mine last night and I couldn't get the rear keg out without having to take the T off. Not a huge deal so I'm going to try it out and see what the temperature differential is like compared to not having it (which for me is only 1C between the top and the bottom).
I have my "cross" bar up against the lid of the kegerator so that it is flush when I open the top (chest freezer) you might be able to tweak it somehow....I am not sure how much it helps, since I did it on construction. I just figured the extra mass of copper can't hurt.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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I have my "cross" bar up against the lid of the kegerator so that it is flush when I open the top (chest freezer) you might be able to tweak it somehow....I am not sure how much it helps, since I did it on construction. I just figured the extra mass of copper can't hurt.
That's my problem really, I can't cut down the copper since it's now an integral part of the tower. Having to take the T off the fixed pipe to remove the keg isn't a big deal though.
 

MikeG

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I'm building my kegerator with the Oster now and am not impressed with running a fan 24/7 to push cold air up the tower. I've got it running but I think my tube (1/2" OD) isn't large enough or the air isn't getting directed very well. I have one of those strip thermometers in there now and it's showing about 55F.

I think I'll try the copper pipe approach but I already have my hole cut. I'm not sure what I should use to keep the pipe in place and not fall down, any recommendations?

Thanks - :mug:
 

Brew-ta-sauraus

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Don't mean to hi-jack a thread here, (great stuff) but read this entire thread and have some ideas to add. I recently replaced my factory single faucet tower with a home made triple faucet tower see below.


Just ordered the 3rd faucet and Elbow shank today from Whole Sale Draft Shank was $16.25 & Faucet $12.95 Keg Beer Faucet Taps | Wholesale Draft - Your Online Alternative Since 1999 & Soldered Elbow Beer Shanks | Wholesale Draft - Your Online Alternative Since 1999

Used 3" black PVC for the tower, and a Sioux Chief brand toilet flange (Home depot). With this brand of flange it has a knock out that really comes out clean. That's what I used for the top. I originally was going to use a 3" PVC end cap ( actually bought one), but they are $5 bucks each, and they are huge. So I cut off a bunch of the PVC on the end cap to give it slimmer look. Still didn't look great, then I dug the knock out, out of the trash and tried it, and it worked great. A little dremmel work and some sand paper and paint and it was done. I didn't glue any of it. Just screwed down the flange and sanded the rest to fit. Oh, I did cut a bunch off the outer edge of the flange with a jig saw. Again dremmel and sand paper from there. I screwed my flange down to the top of the kegerator as the original tower was screwed down and I wanted to cover those holes.



I like the idea of putting the flange under the top as well, as reflected previously in this thread. Lastly I insulated the tower with foam sleeping mat (thats the blue stuff you see). Works great, is easly removable, and the beer pours well.


My original design was only 3 faucets, but I have found I need a 4th, so I will be remaking another tower out of the same materials, but with 4 faucets in the near future. Kegerator hold 4 corneys. I will take pics of that build and post when I am done.

Cheers!
 

bendavanza

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Maybe I'm missing the point, but don't you want the faucets to be cold as well? In a commercial kegerator the fan blows cold air up and back down the tube, keeping the faucets cold as well. When your cold beer hits a warm faucet, you get foam until the faucet cools off. I insulated the outside of my towers, with some shiny windshield reflector material, making a jacket for the tower since my keg box is outside. It helped a lot with those first beer foams. Not as pretty but like I said, my box is on the back porch. my $0.02
-Ben
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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Maybe I'm missing the point, but don't you want the faucets to be cold as well? In a commercial kegerator the fan blows cold air up and back down the tube, keeping the faucets cold as well. When your cold beer hits a warm faucet, you get foam until the faucet cools off. I insulated the outside of my towers, with some shiny windshield reflector material, making a jacket for the tower since my keg box is outside. It helped a lot with those first beer foams. Not as pretty but like I said, my box is on the back porch. my $0.02
-Ben
I've never had a problem like that, but I don't super chill my beer either, maybe that has something to do with it? My beer is served at 55F so the faucet temperature equalizes pretty much immediately. My first and fifth beers have the same head on them, foaming hasn't been a problem for me with this setup.
 
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bradsul

bradsul

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Why not use the fan but hook it up to the thermostat, that way it's not running all the time.
The thermostat isn't reading the temperature of the tower is the biggest issue I see with that. The tower will always be warmer than the fridge so you I doubt you'd solve the foaming issue. And you can't move the thermostat into the tower or your fridge would then be bar too cold.
 

FxdGrMind

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I used the Copper tube cooling method. To hold it up in the tower, I just wedged in pipe foam cut to lenght (not large enough to go arround the 1"Dia Coper pipe) and added a wedge to fill the gap nice and tight.
No issues with the pipe falling down as it's snug as a bug in a rug.

The outer shell of the tower is Room temp and yet I can feel the cold on the taps. So I know it works and nicely at that.

Cheers
 

Reverend JC

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I did virtualy the same thing only I used the expandable foam to seat my copper tubing in. It works like a champ, room temp tower, nice cold beer.
 
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