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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: quest4watneys on January 16, 2011, 02:09:27 PM

Title: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: quest4watneys on January 16, 2011, 02:09:27 PM
Any thoughts on buying vs. making your own immersion chiller?
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: bluesman on January 16, 2011, 02:19:56 PM
Do you have a design in mind?

If so, generate a bill of materials and obtain quotes for the copper and fittings. Then compare that to some similiar products. Your savings will be your time.

I made an immersion chiller for a 15 gallon keggle a couple of years ago that utilized 50ft of 1/2" soft copper and the total project cost was a little over $86 which is about half of the cost of buying one premade. Keep in mind that the price of metals has sky-rocketed in the recent past so your quotes are going to show that.

edit: I went back to my notes and found that the actual cost = $86. ($73 in copper and $13 for fittings)
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 16, 2011, 02:42:15 PM
I made one about 2 years back, 1/2" 50 ft with fittings, and I think I had ~$60 in it.  The price for the copper was lower, due to the housing bust, and the $10 off card for Lowes did not hurt.  There was also one of the fittings in my stock of parts, from who knows when or how much.  So without those reducing factors it was still cheaper than what you could buy one for.

Making it does not take too much time or skill.  Wrapping the copper around a corny keg is just about perfect for a converted keg.  Put some downward bends on the in/out so that if you have any drips, they don't go into the wort.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: beerocd on January 16, 2011, 02:54:16 PM
There's a stainless 50' on ebay for  < $70 that I bought. I'm all for DIY but not unless I can make it better or cheaper,
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: quest4watneys on January 16, 2011, 02:54:29 PM
I've got a 30 qt. brew kettle and I've seen several designs on the web that'd work perfectly. What size would you recommend? I've read that with 1/4", you've got more surface area but slower water flow and with a larger diameter, less surface area with more water flow. Another question on the copper pipe subject: what are your thoughts on soldering shorter pieces of pipe to make a long one? Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue? Thanks again for your time and responses!
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: tumarkin on January 16, 2011, 03:08:53 PM
not sure on the soldering issue. making a chiller yourself is pretty easy. as pointed out, you may want to base your decision on the cost of diy versus purchase. though diy has its own rewards.

a couple of design considerations. I use a smaller chiller that was given to me as a pre-chiller in a bath of ice& water before the main chiller in the kettle. works very well. also consider your batch size. if you make a taller chiller to fit in a larger batch, part of it will be above the wort if you do a smaller batch occasionally. also, one problem with chillers is slinky distortion. you can easily prevent this if you wrap a copper wire around the coils, keeping them held together. or i've seen where a brewer soldered a copper bar vertically along the outside of the coil serving the same purpose. even if you buy your chiller, many of them don't have this important feature & you can add it yourself. also, the swan neck bend at the end of the tubes keeps them hooked over the kettle lip, keeping any possible leakage (at the fittings) out of your beer. you can do this easily using a cheap tube bender available where ever you buy your tubing & fittings.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 16, 2011, 03:23:32 PM
I've got a 30 qt. brew kettle and I've seen several designs on the web that'd work perfectly. What size would you recommend? I've read that with 1/4", you've got more surface area but slower water flow and with a larger diameter, less surface area with more water flow. Another question on the copper pipe subject: what are your thoughts on soldering shorter pieces of pipe to make a long one? Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue? Thanks again for your time and responses!
You have that backwards.  The 1/2 inch has more surface area, the velocity might be a little slower, but you want the surface area as that is where the heat is transfered.  You will have turbulant flow in either, at something more than a trickle.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: majorvices on January 16, 2011, 03:26:13 PM
It sure is easy to make 'em. I made my first one out of some copper I had laying around, whet out and bought a fancy B3 5/10 split IC and let it freeze and burst. Went back to my ugly homemade one and, even though it was less copper length I found it cooled just as fast.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: quest4watneys on January 16, 2011, 03:31:19 PM
I've got a 30 qt. brew kettle and I've seen several designs on the web that'd work perfectly. What size would you recommend? I've read that with 1/4", you've got more surface area but slower water flow and with a larger diameter, less surface area with more water flow. Another question on the copper pipe subject: what are your thoughts on soldering shorter pieces of pipe to make a long one? Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue? Thanks again for your time and responses!
You have that backwards.  The 1/2 inch has more surface area, the velocity might be a little slower, but you want the surface area as that is where the heat is transfered.  You will have turbulant flow in either, at something more than a trickle.
That makes perfect sense. More surface area = more heat transference.
Thanks again for the replies!
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: phil on January 16, 2011, 03:54:07 PM
I've made two.  One is for my 32 quart kettle.  It's simply 25' of 1/2" copper coil, some tubing, and garden hose fittings (one each male & female).  Total cost was about $40 at Home Depot about two years ago.  It typically takes me 15 minutes to cool down though more like 10 this time of year. 

 I also made a second one for a with 5/8" tubing that I use as with a 2 gallon kettle (nano batches for testing and competitions).  I've contemplated using this as a pre-chiller for really hot days.  The male and female fitting make it easy to daisy chain them together. 

All and all, its about the cost of copper and or shipping (if you need to order one). 

I've been very happy with my DIY chillers.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: hbrewer on January 16, 2011, 04:46:33 PM
On this same subject what is the recommended length of copper and diameter to cool a 10 gallon batch in a keggle?? 
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: tom on January 16, 2011, 04:54:53 PM
I've got a 30 qt. brew kettle and I've seen several designs on the web that'd work perfectly. What size would you recommend? I've read that with 1/4", you've got more surface area but slower water flow and with a larger diameter, less surface area with more water flow. Another question on the copper pipe subject: what are your thoughts on soldering shorter pieces of pipe to make a long one? Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue? Thanks again for your time and responses!
You have that backwards.  The 1/2 inch has more surface area, the velocity might be a little slower, but you want the surface area as that is where the heat is transfered.  You will have turbulant flow in either, at something more than a trickle.
But even more volume. The surface area increases proportional to the radius, but the volume by the square, so less surface area per volume.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: dano14041 on January 16, 2011, 05:32:26 PM
Comparing the cost of copper and fittings for DYI to the cost of purchasing one, I think for the 3/8 - 25 ft coil I would make it, but the 1/2 - 50 ft coil I would buy.
I built a 3/8 chiller last summer and I think I only saved about $10 - $15. YMMV.

Have a great day!
Dano
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 16, 2011, 07:22:36 PM
For what I built, the price to beat was $115+ shipping for 1/2" 50'.  It all depends on the price of the copper that you can get.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/deluxe-immersion-wort-chiller.html
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: euge on January 16, 2011, 07:41:20 PM
All good comments and observations. Now my 2 cents worth.

I made my second chiller pre-2008 bust...  :( Used 50' 1/2" copper coiled around a corny-keg. Goosenecked with soldered on garden hose fittings. I use common garden quick disconnects. Ran about $120 in total.

My only complaint is that I didn't take into consideration how much would stick out of the wort- even with my 12 gallon batches. So my advice would be to make a chiller squatter- more wide than a corny keg. Furthermore, leave some space between the coils for wort to travel over. Tight coils are pretty but a bit more inefficient.

To prevent the "slinky" effect I just used a hose clamp to hold the goosenecked inlet/outlet together. Makes a nice handle to lift it out of the wort.

I favor an ice-water recirc instead of a prechiller once I've got the wort below 100F with ground water.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 16, 2011, 09:07:15 PM
I just made one.
Here is a pic:
(http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5162/5360943403_fa8ea24026.jpg)
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: gimmeales on January 16, 2011, 11:44:35 PM
Someone above said you couldn't get one commercially for ~$100, but I just ordered the Super Chiller from MoreBeer (50' of 1/2 inch tubing with brass fittings) for $109.  I can't imagine I could make one cheaper that's as nice or fits my keggle as well.  When I get a pump down the road, I'll just be a small s-curve of copper away from adding a whirpool to the chiller - THAT will be cool.

Nice install Thirsty Monk!  How many feet of copper is that?

Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: hbrewer on January 17, 2011, 12:11:36 AM
http://www.nybrewsupply.com/products/wort-chiller-copper-immersion.php#c3850

Any thoughts on this 3/8'' OD X 50' immersion chiller??  They want $79 with shipping.  Will that cool quick enough for a 10 gallon batch or should the 1/2'' OD X 50' really be used.  Trying to save where I can and spend when needed.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: cheba420 on January 17, 2011, 12:34:38 AM
I made my own. All in, it cost me about as much as buying one but I like the satisfaction of building the simple things myself. Need to make a pre-chiller soon for this hot AZ ground water!!! This time of year is great but after April...it gets gnarly around here.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 17, 2011, 12:36:19 AM
http://www.nybrewsupply.com/products/wort-chiller-copper-immersion.php#c3850

Any thoughts on this 3/8'' OD X 50' immersion chiller??  They want $79 with shipping.  Will that cool quick enough for a 10 gallon batch or should the 1/2'' OD X 50' really be used.  Trying to save where I can and spend when needed.

I like the 1/2 inch due to the fact that when I brew in the summer to fall, the water is not so cold (75F).  Town water running not too far underground, with really big holding tanks on the hills.  So I finished a few batches off with a pond pump reciculating in an ice bath to get to 65F.  In the winter it is no problem for ales.  I use the pond pump then for lagers.  I am brewing a CAP tomorrow, so if I run out of ice, I have a nearly infinite supply of snow (for this application) to shovel into the pump water bucket.

The Delta-T is one of the very important factors in heat transfer.  If you had a well that alway supplied water around 50 to 55F, you could have good performance with the 3/8" chiller.

Whirlpooling while you chill will also speed things up.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 17, 2011, 03:23:59 AM
Nice install Thirsty Monk!  How many feet of copper is that?



It is about 50 ft of 1 inch soft tubing.
Not very practical for home use  ;D
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: myh3adhur7s on January 19, 2011, 07:38:41 AM
I say make it not hard and you can save some money. and if you want you can take it and make it a counterflow chill just by getting some more fittings and a garden hose. That is what i plan on doing
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: quest4watneys on January 20, 2011, 02:48:54 AM
I actually went ahead and made an immersion chiller with 25' of 3/8" copper. I used my hands and a copper bending tool to shape it and then soldered on 3/4" copper garden hose fittings. I used a spigot to run water through it and also threw the kettle in an ice bath as well. It took 16 mins. to cool about 4 gallons of wort (Russian Imperial Stout) to 65 degrees. From what I've read so far I think that's okay. However, I only saved about $15. Given the amount of time and effort it took to bend it without kinking it and the numerous trips to Lowe's to find just the right stuff, I would just buy one if I had to do it over again  :) I did gain valuable experience though and it works! Thanks for all the ideas!
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: euge on January 20, 2011, 02:58:34 AM
I actually went ahead and made an immersion chiller with 25' of 3/8" copper. I used my hands and a copper bending tool to shape it and then soldered on 3/4" copper garden hose fittings. I used a spigot to run water through it and also threw the kettle in an ice bath as well. It took 16 mins. to cool about 4 gallons of wort (Russian Imperial Stout) to 65 degrees. From what I've read so far I think that's okay. However, I only saved about $15. Given the amount of time and effort it took to bend it without kinking it and the numerous trips to Lowe's to find just the right stuff, I would just buy one if I had to do it over again  :) I did gain valuable experience though and it works! Thanks for all the ideas!

I think 16 minutes from boiling to 65 is pretty good even for 4 gallons. Congratulations! Got any pics? Here's one of mine... Some chiller porn.

(http://home.grandecom.net/~eugeart/goose_neck/000_0165.jpg)
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: quest4watneys on January 20, 2011, 03:16:21 AM
Nice curves euge ;) I'll throw up some pics of my newbie effort! I have to admit though, I was a little embarrassed to post pics because of my gratuitous use of fittings and couplers and whatnot but not so much now! I've tried to post pics using various methods and cannot figure it out. I've also used pic hosting sites RapidShare, Flickr, et al. and have had no luck! What am I doing wrong?
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: brenda.frason@yahoo.com on October 13, 2011, 11:15:36 AM
Any thoughts on buying vs. making your own immersion chiller?

I also thought about making my own chiller but I think I do not have enough know how in order to do it on my own. So I will buy one but I haven't found what I was looking for. In order to bypass the time until I have a new one I will check chiller rentals (http://www.aggreko.com/northamerica/) and probably rent one.  A friend of mine did this already and he was very satisfied.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: morticaixavier on October 13, 2011, 02:49:10 PM
I saved about 20 bucks making my own and it took about 1 hours to put it together. 50' of soft copper, which was one box worth so it was already coiled, and two compression fittings.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: Jimmy K on October 13, 2011, 05:37:16 PM
Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue?

Immersion chillers are usually heat sanitized by placing them in boiling wort for the last 15 minutes of the boil. Although soldering could create some crevices, sanitizing this way would definately kill them.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: gmac on October 13, 2011, 06:28:48 PM
what are your thoughts on soldering shorter pieces of pipe to make a long one? Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue? Thanks again for your time and responses!

I made mine out of hard copper pipe (think water pipes in your house) so mine's square with about 25 soldered corners and there's been absolutely no sanitation issues in over 30 batches.  Making a square spiral was sort of challenging but it worked.  It's only about 30 feet total but it cools the wort down well.  I put it in the wort for the last 15 mins and it's been fine.
Title: Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
Post by: jeffy on October 13, 2011, 06:43:58 PM
what are your thoughts on soldering shorter pieces of pipe to make a long one? Will the solder joint cause a sanitation issue? Thanks again for your time and responses!

I made mine out of hard copper pipe (think water pipes in your house) so mine's square with about 25 soldered corners and there's been absolutely no sanitation issues in over 30 batches.  Making a square spiral was sort of challenging but it worked.  It's only about 30 feet total but it cools the wort down well.  I put it in the wort for the last 15 mins and it's been fine.

I would like to see a picture of that if you would/could.