Author Topic: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making  (Read 6098 times)

Offline quest4watneys

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Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« on: January 16, 2011, 07:09:27 AM »
Any thoughts on buying vs. making your own immersion chiller?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 07:19:56 AM »
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)
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 07:12:32 PM by bluesman »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 07:42:15 AM »
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.
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Offline beerocd

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 07:54:16 AM »
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,
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 07:54:29 AM »
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!
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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 08:08:53 AM »
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.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2011, 08:23:32 AM »
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.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 08:26:13 AM »
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.
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 08:31:19 AM »
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!
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Offline phil

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2011, 08:54:07 AM »
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.

Offline hbrewer

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2011, 09:46:33 AM »
On this same subject what is the recommended length of copper and diameter to cool a 10 gallon batch in a keggle?? 

Offline tom

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2011, 09:54:53 AM »
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.
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Offline dano14041

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2011, 10:32:26 AM »
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.

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2011, 12:22:36 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
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Offline euge

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Re: Immersion chiller: buying vs. making
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2011, 12:41:20 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.
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