Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: Hydro on December 12, 2010, 10:53:29 PM

Title: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Hydro on December 12, 2010, 10:53:29 PM
There has been two threads talking about how to use a refractometer although I have not seen any reference as to which refractometer works best and consistency.  I used one when I was assisting another brewer and it seemed to be a bit difficult to work with since I wear glasses.  The price range is broad 14 - 95 dollars.  What are you thoughts?

Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Mikey on December 12, 2010, 11:22:49 PM
Get one with ATC ( automatic temperature control). Good ones can be found on Ebay for the $30 - $40 range,
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: tygo on December 13, 2010, 12:31:25 AM
Agreed on the ATC feature.  Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.  I wear glasses and it's no problem.  I just set my glasses on top of my head when using the hydrometer and it's clear as a bell.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: a10t2 on December 13, 2010, 12:45:39 AM
Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.

Unfortunately, they're also wrong. The manufacturer didn't convert from Brix to SG correctly.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: tschmidlin on December 13, 2010, 12:48:03 AM
Agreed on the ATC feature.  Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.  I wear glasses and it's no problem.  I just set my glasses on top of my head when using the hydrometer and it's clear as a bell.
Yeah, I push my glasses up and look through it.  No problem.  It's the same with looking through any eyepiece, like for telescope, binoculars, microsopes, etc - the glass are just in the way.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: tygo on December 13, 2010, 01:14:29 AM
Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.

Unfortunately, they're also wrong. The manufacturer didn't convert from Brix to SG correctly.

That would explain why mine usually reads about 2-4 points above my hydrometer.  I kind of just correct for that in my calculations.  But maybe I'll start just reading the brix and doing the conversion myself.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Kaiser on December 13, 2010, 02:08:58 AM
I have one of those cheap ones with ATC and the ATC is not working correctly. I have to calibrate mine before most uses.

Kai
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Mikey on December 13, 2010, 02:57:31 AM
Mine works perfectly every time and it has since I bought it some 5 years ago off of Ebay. I do let mine stabilize about 20 seconds before I consider it a final reading. One of the best brewing investments I ever made.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: donosborn on December 14, 2010, 04:51:44 PM
I got one on Ebay that was more like $20-25.  They are still out there.  Look for something like:

New Brix Refractometer 0-32% ATC Fruit Juice Wine

or

Wine Grape Alcohol Refractometer 0-40% Brix 0-25% VOL

Great tool, especially for all grain brewing. 
cheers
don
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Slowbrew on December 14, 2010, 08:47:19 PM
Agreed on the ATC feature.  Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.  I wear glasses and it's no problem.  I just set my glasses on top of my head when using the hydrometer and it's clear as a bell.
Yeah, I push my glasses up and look through it.  No problem.  It's the same with looking through any eyepiece, like for telescope, binoculars, microsopes, etc - the glass are just in the way.

Same here. 

It's fun to have the kids, who actually can see, try to read it when the lens is adjusted for Dad.  "Dad!!! It's all blurry!"    ;D

Paul
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: cheba420 on December 23, 2010, 05:15:38 PM
Good stuff. I've been in the market for one of these for a while now and didnt really know where to start. I've broken my share of hydrometers over the years and just hate to keep buying more. Also, I like the idea of taking a reading at any temp and only needing a few drops for the sample as opposed to a few ounces! Might have to dial one of these up over the weekend!
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: alikocho on December 23, 2010, 05:22:22 PM
Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.

Unfortunately, they're also wrong. The manufacturer didn't convert from Brix to SG correctly.

That would explain why mine usually reads about 2-4 points above my hydrometer.  I kind of just correct for that in my calculations.  But maybe I'll start just reading the brix and doing the conversion myself.

Mine has this too, and the SG gets more out of step as the gravity increases. I tend to use the SG scale as a ballpark measurement and then convert the Brix to be more precise.

Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: kgs on December 25, 2010, 07:15:32 PM
Anyone have experience with this one? One friend gave me a $25 Amazon gift card which would make this cheap to buy:

http://www.amazon.com/Refractometer-Measuring-Sugar-Content-Beer/dp/B000FBL2G0/
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: richardt on December 25, 2010, 07:36:55 PM
http://cgi.ebay.com/Brix-Refractometer-0-32-Fruit-Juice-Wine-Sugar-Beer-/260710348388?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb38c3664 (http://cgi.ebay.com/Brix-Refractometer-0-32-Fruit-Juice-Wine-Sugar-Beer-/260710348388?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb38c3664)
I got mine on eBay -- yours looks similar.  I don't worry about extreme accuracy, though. 
I mainly use it during the mash, lautering, and sparging process.
It is great--take a quick sample, put a drop or two on the refractometer, cover quickly, give it about 20 seconds to cool down to ambient temps, and take the reading.  I use it to make sure "I'm in the ballpark" with my SG readings (confirmed with a hydrometer, later).  I also use it to make sure my runnings don't get under 1.012.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: mabrungard on December 26, 2010, 01:17:19 AM
I also have one of the inexpensive Ebay sourced units.  I have to disagree with letting the unit and sample cool off for only 20 seconds.  I find that it actually takes about 1 to 2 minutes for the reading to stabilize even though the unit says it has ATC. 

I don't have a problem waiting, but I just want to caution folks about registering the reading too early.  Give it a little more time.  I also find that the interface line between the white and blue zone sharpens with more time.  It starts out very fuzzy and sharpens in a few minutes.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: richardt on December 26, 2010, 02:15:12 AM
Any ideas why that would be, Martin?
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Kaiser on December 26, 2010, 02:15:40 AM
I also find that the interface line between the white and blue zone sharpens with more time.  It starts out very fuzzy and sharpens in a few minutes.

If you let the refractometer rest upside-down the particulate in the same will settle away from the prism and you get a crisper line. I read this on a different forum and it actually works.

Kai
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on December 26, 2010, 03:55:10 AM
I also find that the interface line between the white and blue zone sharpens with more time.  It starts out very fuzzy and sharpens in a few minutes.

If you let the refractometer rest upside-down the particulate in the same will settle away from the prism and you get a crisper line. I read this on a different forum and it actually works.

Kai

Interesting.
I have to try it next time.
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: mabrungard on December 26, 2010, 03:36:12 PM
Optics are way out of my field.  I have no idea why the interface sharpens with time.  I'll have to test what Kai is saying, maybe it does sharpen faster upside down?
Title: Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
Post by: Mikey on December 26, 2010, 03:59:25 PM
I tap and press on the lens cover.  That seems to clear it up a little, as well.