Which is more efficient? Plate Chiller or Counterflow?

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Which is more efficient? 40 plate chiller, or counterflow copper chiller?


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Erik Rodriguez

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I currently have a pretty good counterflow chiller made of copper. It seems to do the job fairly well and quickly. But it does seem to use a lot of water in the process. So, before I invest in a plate chiller, I must ask: will a 40 plate chiller be more efficient than what I have?

Has anyone done any tests with this?
 

day_trippr

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"Size Matters" (no matter what you've heard ;))
So how long is the PC?

Cheers!
 

postalbunny

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You'll find a longer chiller more effective than a shorter one with more plates. The reason to get more plates is to have less restriction... you want length for more effective cooling. Unless your pumping at a high rate, or have extremely high water pressure then the 20 plate should be fine. I got a 30 plate because the price was the same (sale price)... but the B3-36A is 18" and i see egress wort temp close to ingress water temp.

I wouldn't bother with a 40 plate unless you are using a bigger pump than a chugger, or your hose water pressure is above 50-60psi.

More plates allow water and wort to flow through faster but longer length allows the wort to get closer to the water temp due to more contact time. Always take length over width/depth if you're trying to select a size unless you're seeing restriction.
 

RPh_Guy

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Would you guys familiar with chillers please take a look at my article to make sure it's accurate and complete?
I see that it needs more information about plate chillers regarding the length and numbers of plates.

https://***************.com/wiki/Wort_chilling
If you're feeling it, it's open to you for editing.

Plate Chiller.

Keep in mind that "efficient" doesn't necessarily mean faster.
 
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Efficient most certainly means faster, and the plate chiller is indeed faster.

Pedantic Time: plate chiller IS a counterflow, but yeah I know what you mean. Better to say co-axial vs co-planer, that's pretty sweet terminology.

I use a counterflow. Just less headaches with cleaning and flow restrictions. I've had both types. More here if anybody has read this far: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/...-therminator-vs-jaded-brewing-cyclone.597732/
 

OleBrewing

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I have cooled 10gals wort down with 6 gallons of "winter water". With blichmann chiller. But pain to clean.
 

Jtvann

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How are you defining "efficient"?
I'm with passedpawn on this one. Efficiency when talking about chillers really means speed. The only other argument could be less water, but that should also mean speed I'd think?

To the original question, do you see large scale brewerys using counter flow chillers? Plate chillers are hands down the best way to cool wort fast. They are also a pain in the rear to clean and sanitize. A clogged plate chiller isn't going to do much for you.
 

RPh_Guy

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Speed is the time it takes to chill the wort.

Efficiency is about how well heat is transferred to the chilling water (how effectively the water is utilized). In other words, 100% efficiency would mean that the water exiting the chiller is the same as the wort temperature, and 0% efficiency would mean that the water exiting is the same temp as it went in.

Higher efficiency reduces water usage.
Faster speed does not necessarily reduce water usage.

You can reduce the flow of water through the chiller to arbitrarily increase efficiency, but it will increase the time it takes to chill the batch. Therefore we can see these parameters are not directly correlated in all cases.

Speed is a function of efficiency AND water flow rate AND wort flow rate. Efficiency is largely dependent on surface area where heat exchange occurs, flow turbulence/homogenization, the type of metal and thickness separating the water and wort, and flow rate (but flow rate has the opposite effect on efficiency vs speed).
 
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FrostyBeach

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Would you guys familiar with chillers please take a look at my article to make sure it's accurate and complete?
Are the stainless plate chillers listed under copper because they're brazed with copper? Seems like you need some sort of hybrid category maybe.

I use a plate chiller from Duda Diesel B3-36A 18" long and 20 plates and I've never clogged it or had any problems. We have very cold ground water 4 to 10C or so and i have to slow the water flow down a lot while chilling directly to the FV.
 

RPh_Guy

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Are the stainless plate chillers listed under copper because they're brazed with copper? Seems like you need some sort of hybrid category maybe.
Yes, there is copper in contact with the wort even for "stainless steel" plate chillers brazed with copper.

I don't think a hybrid category is needed because brewers looking for stainless steel chillers specifically (mainly low oxygen brewers) generally want to eliminate 100% of copper.

Thanks for your comments; I'll try to make this more clear in the article. :)
I use a plate chiller from Duda Diesel B3-36A 18" long and 20 plates and I've never clogged it or had any problems.
  1. Do you make hoppy beers?
  2. Do you add loose pellet hops to your kettle (i.e. not contained in a bag, spider, or other kind of screen)?
  3. Do you circulate your mash?
 

FrostyBeach

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Yes, there is copper in contact with the wort even for "stainless steel" plate chillers brazed with copper.
Right I understand that but seems a bit different than 100% copper chiller. Good to make a note that a stainless plate chiller has "some" contact with copper for those affected.

1) Yes
2) No (screen now, used to use a spider)
3) Yes (just recently)
 
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Hwk-I-St8

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I'm with passedpawn on this one. Efficiency when talking about chillers really means speed. The only other argument could be less water, but that should also mean speed I'd think?

To the original question, do you see large scale brewerys using counter flow chillers? Plate chillers are hands down the best way to cool wort fast. They are also a pain in the rear to clean and sanitize. A clogged plate chiller isn't going to do much for you.


I would add a caveat to this and that is "....for large batch sizes." Just because a large scale brewery does something one way doesn't mean it's the best option for home brewers brewing on a much smaller scale. I see no reason to emulate the pros' equipment unless there's an advantage to it.

For the standard home brew 5 gallon batch, immersion chillers are a really good option. With a jaded hydra, you can chill 5.5 gallons to pitch temps in less than 10 mins. They're easy to clean, easy to maintain, and effective.

I can't fathom the reason for using counter flow or plate if you're doing 5 gallon batches. JMHO....
 

Spartan1979

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I can't fathom the reason for using counter flow or plate if you're doing 5 gallon batches. JMHO....
When I went electric I wanted to keep using my IC but ended up with a CFC. I decided to use a steam condenser rather that set up a vented hood system so having the lid on made it harder to use an IC. Combine that with a hop spider and a Blichmann BoilCoil and I just didn't see any way to make the IC work.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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When I went electric I wanted to keep using my IC but ended up with a CFC. I decided to use a steam condenser rather that set up a vented hood system so having the lid on made it harder to use an IC. Combine that with a hop spider and a Blichmann BoilCoil and I just didn't see any way to make the IC work.
Fair enough. I have a Brewbuilt kettle that has a notch in the lid...perfect for an immersion chiller. The Brewbuilt was an amazingly lucky find in my early brewing days. My hops all swim free in the kettle and fermenter, so I don't have that issue. I also use an induction burner so there's no heating element concerns either. I think most heating elements are not an issue for an immersion chiller.

I plan to set up for a steamslayer and I'll just put a towel around where the immersion chiller exits through the lid. I can't see myself ever using anything other than an immersion chiller unless I switch to huge batches, which would only happen if I opened a nano.
 

mschoeffler

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You'll find a longer chiller more effective than a shorter one with more plates. The reason to get more plates is to have less restriction... you want length for more effective cooling. Unless your pumping at a high rate, or have extremely high water pressure then the 20 plate should be fine. I got a 30 plate because the price was the same (sale price)... but the B3-36A is 18" and i see egress wort temp close to ingress water temp.

I wouldn't bother with a 40 plate unless you are using a bigger pump than a chugger, or your hose water pressure is above 50-60psi.

More plates allow water and wort to flow through faster but longer length allows the wort to get closer to the water temp due to more contact time. Always take length over width/depth if you're trying to select a size unless you're seeing restriction.
50 plates by gravity!
 

RPh_Guy

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I'd rather the article not be "biased" at all. Is it overstating certain facts or missing important information? :)
 

FrostyBeach

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So instead of bias you imply it? Here, I'll make this up 99.8/% is 304 SS and the time constant is 0.0000001 so that is the same as 100% copper in LODO?
 

augiedoggy

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You'll find a longer chiller more effective than a shorter one with more plates. The reason to get more plates is to have less restriction... you want length for more effective cooling. Unless your pumping at a high rate, or have extremely high water pressure then the 20 plate should be fine. I got a 30 plate because the price was the same (sale price)... but the B3-36A is 18" and i see egress wort temp close to ingress water temp.

I wouldn't bother with a 40 plate unless you are using a bigger pump than a chugger, or your hose water pressure is above 50-60psi.

More plates allow water and wort to flow through faster but longer length allows the wort to get closer to the water temp due to more contact time. Always take length over width/depth if you're trying to select a size unless you're seeing restriction.
and this is why the cheaper longer 20 plate duda chiller works better than the 40? plate blichmann therminator which is also much more likely to clog up.
 

augiedoggy

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50 plates by gravity!
same here at the brewpub... gravity and a small 5gpm pump. but thats a pro type plate chiller that has no copper and comes apart to clean (they get very nasty inside) 100 gallon at a time..one pass at 5gpm or so to fermenter... not something I would try with a counterflow.
 

mongoose33

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same here at the brewpub... gravity and a small 5gpm pump. but thats a pro type plate chiller that has no copper and comes apart to clean (they get very nasty inside) 100 gallon at a time..one pass at 5gpm or so to fermenter... not something I would try with a counterflow.
I run from my counterflow directly to the fermenter....BUT I recirculate back into the kettle until the temp of the wort exiting the CF chiller is what i want going into the fermenter. I swap the hose from the return to the kettle and to the fermenter.

I have a thermometer on the output side of the CF chiller so I can easily monitor what temp I'm getting out.
 

augiedoggy

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I run from my counterflow directly to the fermenter....BUT I recirculate back into the kettle until the temp of the wort exiting the CF chiller is what i want going into the fermenter. I swap the hose from the return to the kettle and to the fermenter.

I have a thermometer on the output side of the CF chiller so I can easily monitor what temp I'm getting out.
There There are many good ways to accomplish this . I do sometimes recirculate back to the boil kettle until the word reaches close to 170 and then chill and one pass to the fermentor
 

RPh_Guy

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that is the same as 100% copper in LODO?
Copper is a catalyst, so it increases the rate of oxidation reactions without being consumed in the process. Therefore even small amounts of copper are undesirable.

Fortunately we have BrewTan B to mitigate the damage from copper and similar metals. Hops are also known to chelate copper, which theoretically may (or may not) be helpful. Thus copper chillers are still a viable option even for low oxygen brewers, just not preferred.

I've tried to present all the different chillers as viable options as well as facts to help make an informed decision.
:mug:
 

Ironedge

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I have used an IC and switched over to a PC last year. I brew all types, never use a screen, whirlpool every time and have never had an issue with clogging. My cleaning consists of running the water, extracted from the PC to cool my wort, one way until clear and then the other way until clear. I then run PBW each way, then rinse each way until clear. Can I see what is left behind? If any, NO, but with my process I am confident that there isn't much in the way of particles left over...I get them out before they dry. I run a sanitizer loop on brew day.

I can go from BK to fermenter pitching temps in less than 10 minutes. Once I whirlpool, I let the gunk settle and I don't see much going into the PC.

cheers
 

RPh_Guy

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I have used an IC and switched over to a PC last year. I brew all types, never use a screen, whirlpool every time and have never had an issue with clogging. My cleaning consists of running the water, extracted from the PC to cool my wort, one way until clear and then the other way until clear. I then run PBW each way, then rinse each way until clear. Can I see what is left behind? If any, NO, but with my process I am confident that there isn't much in the way of particles left over...I get them out before they dry. I run a sanitizer loop on brew day.

I can go from BK to fermenter pitching temps in less than 10 minutes. Once I whirlpool, I let the gunk settle and I don't see much going into the PC.

cheers
You let loose pellet hops run through your plate chiller? Which one are you using?
 

Ironedge

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You let loose pellet hops run through your plate chiller? Which one are you using?
I bought the 30 plate Duda from brew hardware (see attached). From the description:

"This is an EXTRA LONG, 30-plate 304 stainless heat exchanger made by Duda Diesel (this is their B3-36A). Actual dimensions, 18.5" long with 3" wide plates. This particular model has 1/2" male NPT ports on both the wort In/Out and the Water/coolant In/Out."

it is a beast! I whirlpool for a few minutes and then let it settle for a few minutes. I always have a pretty hefty cone of hops in the center of the BK. Not sure how much actually gets into, and stays in, the PC. I flush immediately after transfer and there are particles and wort that is being pushed out, but it isn't that much. The back and forth flushing seems to get it out.

Cheers
 

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OleBrewing

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I would add a caveat to this and that is "....for large batch sizes." Just because a large scale brewery does something one way doesn't mean it's the best option for home brewers brewing on a much smaller scale. I see no reason to emulate the pros' equipment unless there's an advantage to it.

For the standard home brew 5 gallon batch, immersion chillers are a really good option. With a jaded hydra, you can chill 5.5 gallons to pitch temps in less than 10 mins. They're easy to clean, easy to maintain, and effective.

I can't fathom the reason for using counter flow or plate if you're doing 5 gallon batches. JMHO....
This is very true. I have done a couple stove top batches using therminator. Not worth the hassle. Made a copper immersion chiller and is much much easier for small batch applications.
 

augiedoggy

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Everyone's process varies. I had a very good working process with my duda PC at home ... it was very easy to use and worked well for any size batch.. I was not brewing in my kitchen on the stove though either and I dont own a $160 hydra... I started with an immersion chiller and went to the PC because for me and my setup, due to using small 24v pumps and recirculating it was a solid upgrade in performance and ease of use. I uded hop spiders so no real hops in my wort to worry about and I had to pump it to my conicals anyway. This way I just put the chiller inline at I filled the conical on a pwm speed controlled pump, if the temp was too high I would turn the pump speed down till it was the pitching temp I wanted going into the fermenter.

My brewing friend used a gas burner in the driveway with no hop filtration... brewing with him and watching him fight with clogging on his therminator was an exercise in futility to me..
 
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