Thoughts on best glycol chiller: SS Brewtech vs. Penguin vs. Any others? (Not diy)

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Nate R

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Hello all. Looking for a glycol chiller.
Decided to spend the $ and not go diy.

As far as i can tell, there are 3 basic models under a grand: ss brewtech 1/5 hp, penguim 1/3 hp, and the icemaster 100 brewbuilt brand available here in the us at morebeer.

Other than prices, what are some pros and cons? I am not really considering the icemaster as the reviews are pretty bad, and i am hoping for low noise.

This is my first glycol chiller. I will be running a cf5 off of it. Want to be able to lager and cold crash.

What are some pitfalls/ issues/ concerns with a glycol chiller? I can see some issues being: drainimg the tank, size of tank, tank overfill, weight, what else?

Thanks all for any input!
 
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Nate R

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All, my bad. First search didnt yield any reults. Searched again and found this:

Penquin Glycol Chiller vs MoreBeer's Icemaster 100 Glycol Chiller with Stainless Bulkheads
 

mongoose33

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I have the 1/2 hp Penguin. I looked at the Icemaster, and its form factor, believe it or not, didn't fit my space. I'm fairly tight in excess room, so the key for me has been that I could snug a glycol chiller under a workbench.

Get the dimensions of the various chillers you're considering and make sure you have space for them.

Here's a pic showing where I snuggled the Penguin into:

penguin.jpg
 
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Nate R

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I have the 1/2 hp Penguin. I looked at the Icemaster, and its form factor, believe it or not, didn't fit my space. I'm fairly tight in excess room, so the key for me has been that I could snug a glycol chiller under a workbench.

Get the dimensions of the various chillers you're considering and make sure you have space for them.

Here's a pic showing where I snuggled the Penguin into:

View attachment 637639
Is the penguin on wheels? I think i will be moving this unit in amd out of the house.
How much does it weigh?
How loud is it?
Did you look at the SS models at all?

Thanks.
 

mongoose33

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Is the penguin on wheels? I think i will be moving this unit in amd out of the house.
No. If you want, you can buy a furniture dolly from a home store, and put it on that. Something like this:

dolly.jpg

How much does it weigh?
From the Penguin site:

Additional information
Technical Specs
• 1/3 Horsepower
• 1.25 gallon reservoir
• Lowest recommended operation 5F (achieving these temperatures is highly dependent on application)
• 115V / 3.7A / 420W
• 6' power cord
• 54lbs
• 56 dBA (Quiet)
• 16"L x 18"W x13.25"H
• 1 year warranty
• Proudly Built in USA

How loud is it?
Not bad. I don't know how to describe it. It has a fan that is noticeable, but then again, if you're going to have a fast-recovery chiller, then you need to move some air. The above says 54 dBA (Quiet).

Did you look at the SS models at all?
No, they weren't out at the time.
 
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Nate R

Nate R

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No. If you want, you can buy a furniture dolly from a home store, and put it on that. Something like this:

View attachment 637643



From the Penguin site:

Additional information
Technical Specs
• 1/3 Horsepower
• 1.25 gallon reservoir
• Lowest recommended operation 5F (achieving these temperatures is highly dependent on application)
• 115V / 3.7A / 420W
• 6' power cord
• 54lbs
• 56 dBA (Quiet)
• 16"L x 18"W x13.25"H
• 1 year warranty
• Proudly Built in USA



Not bad. I don't know how to describe it. It has a fan that is noticeable, but then again, if you're going to have a fast-recovery chiller, then you need to move some air. The above says 54 dBA (Quiet).



No, they weren't out at the time.
Thanks.
I read the specs on all of them. Sometimes the "real world" experience is different. Appreciate the feedback!
 

Jag75

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OP, is it the diy part that scares you? I'm not really mechanically inclined and I was shocked how easy it was. I wish I would have built it years ago . I've seen and worked the ss and it's nice.
 
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Nate R

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OP, is it the diy part that scares you? I'm not really mechanically inclined and I was shocked how easy it was. I wish I would have built it years ago . I've seen and worked the ss and it's nice.
Not really... ive built a keezer myself.
Mostly worried about screwing it up.
Also the noise. Plan is to have this inside my house, one room away from the bedroom. Really worried about noise. Other option is in garage... temp is like 100+ in there.
 

TallDan

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I also have the 1/2 hp penguin. It's really a small window air conditioner with a differently shaped coil, so that's exactly what it sounds like. BTW, 1/2hp is WAY overkill for my needs (i have two ssbt 7g conicals, and haven't yet had beer in both of them at the same time) but I got a deal on it from a small brewery that was selling a few of them because they upgraded.

This seems hard to beat if you're willing to be patient for something crowdfunded:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/craftabrew/the-stasis-craft-brewing-technology-for-homebrewers
 
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Nate R

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I also have the 1/2 hp penguin. It's really a small window air conditioner with a differently shaped coil, so that's exactly what it sounds like. BTW, 1/2hp is WAY overkill for my needs (i have two ssbt 7g conicals, and haven't yet had beer in both of them at the same time) but I got a deal on it from a small brewery that was selling a few of them because they upgraded.

This seems hard to beat if you're willing to be patient for something crowdfunded:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/craftabrew/the-stasis-craft-brewing-technology-for-homebrewers
Yeah saw that here... but it looks like they set the coldest temo to 36? So that means lowest i could crash too would be what.... 40? 41? I can get to about 42 with ice chest and a lot of work.
For 600 why not spend like 200 more?
 

Jag75

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Not really... ive built a keezer myself.
Mostly worried about screwing it up.
Also the noise. Plan is to have this inside my house, one room away from the bedroom. Really worried about noise. Other option is in garage... temp is like 100+ in there.
Cool deal. Mine is in a room not far from my bedroom. It's pretty quite and I've been surprised that it really doesnt run a lot . Yeah in the Garage that thing would never shut off lol. Best wishes on finding one that suits your needs.
 
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Nate R

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Cool deal. Mine is in a room not far from my bedroom. It's pretty quite and I've been surprised that it really doesnt run a lot . Yeah in the Garage that thing would never shut off lol. Best wishes on finding one that suits your needs.
Thanks. I really dont need this thing. This danm hobby. Just want it to crash fast.
I like the idea of not swapping out frozen bottles.
I think i will re-read the diy forum... any particular one you think is best?
Thanks!
 

Jag75

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20190728_000217.jpg I'm with you man lol. I think they're all pretty much the same . The one I followed is pretty cool. He framed it and put casters on it. I think I spent no more the 300 for everything Including the gylcol. Mine is on a piece of plywood with casters. I'm planning on making a frame out of angle iron then spot welding sheet metal but I may just let it ride like it is . One thing I'd do different is put the housing back on the ac.
I use this with a Cf5 .
 
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Beholder

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Not really... ive built a keezer myself.
Mostly worried about screwing it up.
Also the noise. Plan is to have this inside my house, one room away from the bedroom. Really worried about noise. Other option is in garage... temp is like 100+ in there.
I have mine in my garage and I live in Florida, so peak temps are ~120. I currently have a brew conditioning at 35 with penguin set at 28 (I adjust that temp based on fermenter temp to avoid undershoots on temp from thermal lag.) For the coldest temps, it usually cycles every hour or so, though the major function of that is the insulation on the fermenter and lines, and I have an insulated, jacketed conical with foam insulation on the glycol lines. For the ale fermentation temps, it cycles a few times a day. All in all, it works like a champ.

When all is silent, I can typically just barely hear it when sitting in the next room. In my case, the walls are studs with foam insulation, so a step above hollow stud walls.
 
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Nate R

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Thanks all for the input.
I was browsing other threads and thought i would throw this out:
Icemaster is 8 gallons
Ss brewtech is 4.75
Penguin is 1.25
Most diy are what- 3 to 6 gallons? More?

I assume on all models you need close to the full amount for the coils to work.

At $40 or so a gallon, i need to factor in the cost of glycol.
I have read that with a sealed system glycol will last a year? With these semi-open systems what is average expectation of life?
I could make the penguin last for two batches of one glycol.

I think i am leaning towards the penguin now... if only i can win the free giveaway contest!! Lol.

Any thoughts?
 

TallDan

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I’d say most DIY that I’ve seen are much more than that. Maybe 10 gallons? Don’t forget, you usually want something in the range of 33-50% glycol, the rest distilled water. I did 40%.
 

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I just did a DIY, it was not hard at all. Mine takes 7 gallons, I used 2 glycol and 5 water. It works great, first batch in yesterday and just getting it balanced.

I came very close to buying one though, and read a lot of reviews. Digging around, you'll see some of the people who bought icemaster reported a lot of quality control issues. I was leaning toward the penguin, which seems to be better made. Once I realized it was based on a AC, I decided to make my own, as I had a few spare window units kicking around.
 
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mongoose33

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Thanks all for the input.
I was browsing other threads and thought i would throw this out:
Icemaster is 8 gallons
Ss brewtech is 4.75
Penguin is 1.25
Most diy are what- 3 to 6 gallons? More?

I assume on all models you need close to the full amount for the coils to work.

At $40 or so a gallon, i need to factor in the cost of glycol.
I have read that with a sealed system glycol will last a year? With these semi-open systems what is average expectation of life?
I could make the penguin last for two batches of one glycol.

I think i am leaning towards the penguin now... if only i can win the free giveaway contest!! Lol.

Any thoughts?
I don't know where you're paying $40 for glycol, but I just bought this from Amazon for $26.99:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MS8F1UW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

CodeSection

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The best glycol:water ratio depends on your desired temperatures:
https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/propylene-glycol-d_363.html
Upon further review, I don't think i did 40%, I remember targeting a freezing temp of 0F. That's more like 33-35%
Thanks for the link. If I'm reading the Freezing Points of Propylene Glycol based Water Solutions chart correctly, many members that have posted their recommended mix are using way too much glycol in their glycol/water mix. I'm guessing their units do not go as low as -14C/7F or even -8C/18F.
 

TallDan

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Thanks for the link. If I'm reading the Freezing Points of Propylene Glycol based Water Solutions chart correctly, many members that have posted their recommended mix are using way too much glycol in their glycol/water mix. I'm guessing their units do not go as low as -14C/7F or even -8C/18F.
It's going to depend a lot on your given system and needs, but I'd agree, at the homebrew level a lot of us are using a lot more glycol than is needed. I could have went down to a 10-20% solution and easily covered my temperature range. I'm not sure if going that much lower on PG might put you at more risk for mold growth or not, that may be another consideration.
 
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Nate R

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So quick update if anybody cares:
Got a FedEx tracker code in 24 hours- so a 1 day turn-around time (they say 3 on website).
Also, submitted a question on their website today about what type of Glycol (see below). That response was under 2 hours... so all in all- very happy so far!

Here it is as FYI:
I asked if I need to use inhibited glycol or can just use "regular" glycol.

"Inhibited glycol is the stuff you are talking about, and it's not necessary for cold applications. It's used in systems for building heating/cooling, and it's the heating part that can break glycol down into glycolic acid if it's not inhibited. Your average brewing setup will not run into any problems using standard polypropylene glycol." That's direct from Penguin, so I feel safe with just regular glycol.
 

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Just curious about the reaction to skin. I just got a small wave maker for my chiller. Is it ok to put my arm into the reservoir or should I drain it . It is propylene glycol
 
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Just curious about the reaction to skin. I just got a small wave maker for my chiller. Is it ok to put my arm into the reservoir or should I drain it . It is propylene glycol
I have NO expertise here... but i confidentially say you will be fine. The uses for this are cosmetic, perfurme, etc. I bet you are fine. Wash up right afterward?
I bet you *could* drink it and be fine... but don't!!! Lol. It is food grade.
 

mongoose33

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Just curious about the reaction to skin. I just got a small wave maker for my chiller. Is it ok to put my arm into the reservoir or should I drain it . It is propylene glycol
It doesn't react on my skin...1:1 glycol to water mix.

They use this stuff in fogmakers. People breathe that in.
 

Vale71

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People who use electronic cigarettes breathe the stuff in all the time. I think if it's safe for inhalation it must be totally harmless for your skin as well.
 
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Nate R

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Im in the same boat, really wanted the ss because i have all ss gear. I think im going to back the stasis by craft a brew. I like that the pumps are intergrated rather than another line running from my fermenters to the chiller. And $600 is not terrible. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/craftabrew/the-stasis-craft-brewing-technology-for-homebrewers
Yeah saw that... i dunno... i would do it for like 400. To me 600 is so close to 880... especially for what you get- ability to lower glycol bath below 36 for example.

Also i know morebeer is desigining their own, but who knows how long.

If you have all ss gear go ss!! Their stuff is sexy
 

augiedoggy

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Thanks all for the input.
I was browsing other threads and thought i would throw this out:
Icemaster is 8 gallons
Ss brewtech is 4.75
Penguin is 1.25
Most diy are what- 3 to 6 gallons? More?

I assume on all models you need close to the full amount for the coils to work.

At $40 or so a gallon, i need to factor in the cost of glycol.
I have read that with a sealed system glycol will last a year? With these semi-open systems what is average expectation of life?
I could make the penguin last for two batches of one glycol.

I think i am leaning towards the penguin now... if only i can win the free giveaway contest!! Lol.

Any thoughts?
you only need a gallon or 2 of glycol at $30 a gallon on ebay a 25% glcol to 75% water works fine for 28 degrees... I have a small 3 gallon reservoir on my 1/3hp home brewing chiller and a larger (7-10 gallon I believe reservoir on the 1/3hp micromatic at work which controls temps on (4) 110gallon conicals

the glycol on my home system is 3 years old and not discoloration or performance issues..

btw they use the food grade glycol on farms and its also the main ingredient in the Vap juice but that stuff hasnt been evaluated by the fda either so time will tell what kind of long term effects it will have on those that choose to use it.
 

augiedoggy

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@augiedoggy - in the 3 years all you had to do was top off the distilled water ?
I didnt even use distilled water... I used regular tap water. otherwise yes. dont forget my cooling coils are blue discharge hose and vinyl.. I no longer use the stainless coil/ss brewtech conical setup. I had expected it to turn milky or nasty looking but it hasnt.
at the brewpub we use coils and I had sprung a leak which pumped all my glycol mix onto the floor one night so I have replaced all my coolant there about 4 month ago. we will be going to stainless unitanks in the near future so ill be replacing it again.

The antifreeze properties last longer than a year... I have coolant in my corvette thats been in there for about 6 years now since installing my new radiator and engine and still looks and works fine... no need to change it. (I did use RO water in it)
 
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Nate R

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Well the 1/3 hp Penguin Chiller made it here today! It's decent size and just about the max amount of weight. I suggest 2 people moving it or maybe get it on wheels if you have to move it.

Gonna let it set still overnight in its spot before i plug it in.

So far here are my thoughts:
-looks nice- compact and all contained.
-lid has 12 holes i think. Comes with 8 plastic hose (bibs? Whadda call thoose? Nipple? Dont wanna get #me2 here)
-resovoir is VERY small. I am using the small Spike submersible pump... i think maybe i could get two in there? Of course if you are going to run more than two fermenters probably should get the 1/2 horsepower

I will update once i get it up and running.

Pics:
 

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Bigs166

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My Icemaster 100 just **** the bed after 6 months of use (7 brews) What are your thoughts?:
Process was typicaly the same for every batch:

When in use:
Fermentation: Set glycol to 32 degrees to keep tank at ferm temps (62-72) for 10-15 days

Cold crashing: Set glycol to 25 degrees to keep tank at 36 degrees (3-4 days)

When not in use:
Turn system off completely. Glycol would rise to room temp (60 degrees). When I would turn the system on the day before a brew day it would take about 2 hours to get the glycol from room temp to 32 degrees.

What happened:
Turned the chiller on and after 2 hours the temp dropped maybe 1/2 a degree. I knew something was wrong. I took the lid off and everything looked normal. The lead going into the glycol was cold to the touch but the coil itself was not getting cold (strange). I removed 1/2 the glycol and only about 8 inches of the top part of the coil was frosting and getting cold (20 degrees with my therm pen) The rest of the coil was not (60 degrees with my therm pen).

Thoughts???
 
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