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General Category => Going Pro => Topic started by: In The Sand on February 05, 2014, 08:42:40 PM

Title: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: In The Sand on February 05, 2014, 08:42:40 PM
This may get moved by the forum police*, but I thought I'd put it here anyway.  If you had to use direct-fire rather than steam, and say your system is no bigger than 2-3 bbls, which would you rather use: propane or natural gas?  I suppose it depends on what is available and what the rates are, but I would think they're generally consistent throughout the US.

*EDIT:  Forum "pruner"  ;D
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: majorvices on February 05, 2014, 08:52:05 PM
I can't imagine anyone with a 3 bbl brewhouse being able to afford to go steam, and I imagine you would go with city gas, which I would think would be nat gas.

When I ran the 3 bbls set up I actually used electric.

I also don't really like being called "forum police" but I'll try to get over that....
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 05, 2014, 08:55:53 PM
Natural gas. Doesn't run out.

The brewpub We did a couple of 7 barrel batches of at had a direct fired NG kettle.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Jeff M on February 05, 2014, 09:01:00 PM
IF i remember my reading correctly, Propane has serious efficiency issues.  The only real reasons i can think of to use propane at the homebrew level are low startup costs and easy access.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: morticaixavier on February 05, 2014, 09:08:14 PM
There is significant variance in the price of natural gas from region to region and month to month all over the US. The northeast is experiencing huge price spikes right now because so many people changed over to NG over the last few years and now with the bitter cold they can't get the gas there fast enough. So many of the pipelines are busy moving shale oil from Canada south for processing.

I am half seriously looking at building a 1-3 bbl wood fired brewhouse although I suspect I'll end up going electric. I've heard 15 bbl is sort of the entry point for steam. not to say you can't have a smaller steam system but as major says the price:output ratio is bad at those levels.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Alewyfe on February 05, 2014, 10:38:13 PM
Where I am I have no choice but to use propane, so it's a moot point. However, NG provides just over 1m btu's per cu. ft for approx. $.01 and propane around 2500 btu at around $.03 cents. Prices vary a lot by time of year
and region of country.  Both sort of track up and down with crude prices. NG is lot cleaner burning than propane.

Propane pricing is not controlled. Propane cos like to lease you a tank, you are then a captive customer and they bind you to a contract or price gouge you. We made the mistake of leasing a tank when we first moved rural, but quickly learned the game, purchased our own tank, convinced the neighbors to do likewise and now collectively bargain for the best rates. We actually get better rates by having an independent Eugene distributor (who is 60 miles away) supply us than large companies in our own town. And I'm talking dollars per gallon cost differential, not pennies. We were mad as hell when we first discovered this.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 05, 2014, 11:06:54 PM
There is significant variance in the price of natural gas from region to region and month to month all over the US. The northeast is experiencing huge price spikes right now because so many people changed over to NG over the last few years and now with the bitter cold they can't get the gas there fast enough. So many of the pipelines are busy moving shale oil from Canada south for processing.

I am half seriously looking at building a 1-3 bbl wood fired brewhouse although I suspect I'll end up going electric. I've heard 15 bbl is sort of the entry point for steam. not to say you can't have a smaller steam system but as major says the price:output ratio is bad at those levels.
Jonathan, different companies and pipelines are used for NG and crude oil. Stations that pump liquids, or compress gas require different equipment.

The tar sand oil comes through a pipeline to Detroit and Sarnia, Ontario around here. They managed to spill 1 Million gallons a couple years back into the Kalamazoo river. The Canadian company is fighting the cleanup costs with the EPA.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on February 05, 2014, 11:10:08 PM
There is significant variance in the price of natural gas from region to region and month to month all over the US. The northeast is experiencing huge price spikes right now because so many people changed over to NG over the last few years and now with the bitter cold they can't get the gas there fast enough. So many of the pipelines are busy moving shale oil from Canada south for processing.

I am half seriously looking at building a 1-3 bbl wood fired brewhouse although I suspect I'll end up going electric. I've heard 15 bbl is sort of the entry point for steam. not to say you can't have a smaller steam system but as major says the price:output ratio is bad at those levels.
You go man with the wood burning BK.

Well I actually saw it in Europe and they did decoction with it. You just need to have a fair amount of wood.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: morticaixavier on February 05, 2014, 11:51:59 PM
There is significant variance in the price of natural gas from region to region and month to month all over the US. The northeast is experiencing huge price spikes right now because so many people changed over to NG over the last few years and now with the bitter cold they can't get the gas there fast enough. So many of the pipelines are busy moving shale oil from Canada south for processing.

I am half seriously looking at building a 1-3 bbl wood fired brewhouse although I suspect I'll end up going electric. I've heard 15 bbl is sort of the entry point for steam. not to say you can't have a smaller steam system but as major says the price:output ratio is bad at those levels.
Jonathan, different companies and pipelines are used for NG and crude oil. Stations that pump liquids, or compress gas require different equipment.

The tar sand oil comes through a pipeline to Detroit and Sarnia, Ontario around here. They managed to spill 1 Million gallons a couple years back into the Kalamazoo river. The Canadian company is fighting the cleanup costs with the EPA.

that's interesting. they've been talking on NPR about it a lot and that is what they have been saying is the cause. Perhaps I misunderstood and they were talking about a simple lack of pipes heading to the Northeast and no focus on building new ones. The end result is that in order to get NG to parts of the northeast it has to go by train or truck which is not super efficient.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 06, 2014, 12:02:59 AM
There is significant variance in the price of natural gas from region to region and month to month all over the US. The northeast is experiencing huge price spikes right now because so many people changed over to NG over the last few years and now with the bitter cold they can't get the gas there fast enough. So many of the pipelines are busy moving shale oil from Canada south for processing.

I am half seriously looking at building a 1-3 bbl wood fired brewhouse although I suspect I'll end up going electric. I've heard 15 bbl is sort of the entry point for steam. not to say you can't have a smaller steam system but as major says the price:output ratio is bad at those levels.
Jonathan, different companies and pipelines are used for NG and crude oil. Stations that pump liquids, or compress gas require different equipment.

The tar sand oil comes through a pipeline to Detroit and Sarnia, Ontario around here. They managed to spill 1 Million gallons a couple years back into the Kalamazoo river. The Canadian company is fighting the cleanup costs with the EPA.

that's interesting. they've been talking on NPR about it a lot and that is what they have been saying is the cause. Perhaps I misunderstood and they were talking about a simple lack of pipes heading to the Northeast and no focus on building new ones. The end result is that in order to get NG to parts of the northeast it has to go by train or truck which is not super efficient.

There are not many gas or oil pipelines that go to the NE. They do get some from overseas via ship.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: In The Sand on February 06, 2014, 12:28:28 AM
So. Survey says..........electric!
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: majorvices on February 06, 2014, 12:49:02 AM
For a system that small, and up to 7 bbls, electric is probably the best way to go. Just be sure to keep that element clean, and clean it before every brew. I had some smoky beers in my electrical brewing days that weren't supposed to be smoky and tasted smoky like an ashtray.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: gmac on February 06, 2014, 02:16:17 AM
Go nuclear.
At over a buck a liger right now for propane, I'm actually wondering if I can even afford to home brew on propane right now.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Stevie on February 06, 2014, 02:31:06 AM

Go nuclear.
At over a buck a liger right now for propane...

Liter?
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Jeff M on February 06, 2014, 02:51:16 AM

Go nuclear.
At over a buck a liger right now for propane...

Liter?
Lion-Tiger, Duh;)
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: klickitat jim on February 06, 2014, 03:35:24 AM
Pretty much the coolest animal ever, duh. Dang, now my lips hurt really bad. Kip! Bring me my chapstick
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Stevie on February 06, 2014, 03:49:45 AM
What is the unit conversion? Is it a measure of volume? Mass? Power? Awesomeness?
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: gmac on February 06, 2014, 04:17:42 AM
Litre. Fat fingers, small keyboard.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: In The Sand on February 06, 2014, 12:36:47 PM
Thread derailed. It's only matter of time.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: singletrack brewer on February 06, 2014, 12:40:25 PM
Our 7 bbl system uses natural gas in the BK but our HLT is heated with an electric element.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: boulderbrewer on February 06, 2014, 06:47:38 PM
Our 7 bbl system uses Natural gas. I don't think I would go with propane unless I had to. It all depends on the building your in, costs of installing NG line to the building vs. the cost of buying a couple 1000 gallon propane tanks. I know at my home when NG came through they wanted $1800 to run a gas line to my house.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: micsager on February 06, 2014, 06:58:19 PM
We use propane for our 1bbl system.  But, profit is not our major concern.  No NG is available.  WE are a small hobby brewery.  It's fun, I get to brew a lot and the bars pay for my enjoyment. 
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: speed on February 06, 2014, 09:39:24 PM
The brewery we are looking to open up will be a 7 bbl. system and the city has natural gas so we are thinking going that way rather then steam jacket.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on February 07, 2014, 01:28:55 AM
The brewery we are looking to open up will be a 7 bbl. system and the city has natural gas so we are thinking going that way rather then steam jacket.
Price of steam boiler and installation is astronomical.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: crazyirishman34 on February 21, 2014, 02:59:26 PM
I would place a vote for electric.  But if that isn't a possibility NG would be my second choice.
Title: Re: Pros (or wannabes) - Propane or NG
Post by: bigchicken on February 22, 2014, 12:55:49 AM
Our 7 bbl system uses Natural gas. I don't think I would go with propane unless I had to. It all depends on the building your in, costs of installing NG line to the building vs. the cost of buying a couple 1000 gallon propane tanks. I know at my home when NG came through they wanted $1800 to run a gas line to my house.

Depending on how aggressive the NG company is, they may eat the install costs...if they know you'll be a big user. I've worked in the utility industry and have seen this happen. They'll often do it if you'll switch from propane too. Of course this varies by region, company, town, local management....