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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: wingnut on October 14, 2010, 06:54:59 PM

Title: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: wingnut on October 14, 2010, 06:54:59 PM
So I am helping my brother replace his 20 year old water heater this week-end.  (His old one has developed a leak in the tank)

Being a homebrewer, I have become fixated on possibly detaching the burner unit from the tank and useing for brewing purposes.  I figure if it can heat up 30 gallons of water to 140F, it should be able to heat 5 or 10 gallons to 212F!!. 

My primary goal is to be able to use the house Natural Gas instead of going through propane tanks. Knowing that it has safetys for pilots not being lit....etc adds a layer of safety as well.

As a secondary benifit, I can probably connect some controls in place of the present thermostat to make my kettle a direct fire mash tun and have more control over mash temps than my present infusion/cooler setup.

Anyone have any experiance with useing a hot water tank heater as a burner? Anyone have advice on extrating the burner intact? (Since the tank is still in service, I have not seen how easy or hard it may be?)

Thanks for any advice!
Title: Re: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: weithman5 on October 14, 2010, 07:10:56 PM
i just replaced my water heater and thought of this very idea.  i decided it would probably still be easier to spend the 30 bucks on a good natural gas burner from a restraunt supply store.  of course i have been too lazy to do this as well. ???
Title: Re: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: Kit B on October 14, 2010, 07:19:56 PM
Many people use them & they work.
Just be sure that you are either outside or have some form of venting (water heaters typically have a chimney).
I'd recommend electric heater elements, over gas.
Title: Re: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: BrewArk on October 14, 2010, 08:10:19 PM
Years ago Bill Owens put out a small "how to build a home brewery" book that included using an old water heater.  I used much of stuff in the book. When my water heater leaked, I started to disassemble the burner from the heater & realized that it was rather cheaply made.  That combined with it having to be hard plumbed to the house kept me sticking with my propane burner.

edit: looks like the "book" is still available on Amazon
Title: Re: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: wingnut on October 15, 2010, 12:32:48 AM
Years ago Bill Owens put out a small "how to build a home brewery" book that included using an old water heater.

edit: looks like the "book" is still available on Amazon

Hmm... looks like another book to add to my christmas list!!
Title: Re: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: KellerBrauer on December 06, 2018, 01:11:54 PM
My advise as a union pipefitter with over 35 years experience in the HVAC industry specializing in burners and controls:  “Spend the money and buy a burner made for your intended purpose”.  Anything other than that is a foolhardy risk NOT worth taking.  Just my opinion.
Title: Re: Hot Water Heater Burner?
Post by: BrewBama on December 06, 2018, 07:49:01 PM
I use a PID controller and an SS element to maintain mash steps (https://www.amazon.com/Tri-Clamp-Sanitary-Still-Heating-Element/dp/B078M7SD3B)


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