Poll

Which method do you use for your big-batch brewing?

Steam
Electric
Gas
Bacon
No pants

Author Topic: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?  (Read 2185 times)

Offline euge

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #45 on: November 10, 2011, 11:48:22 PM »
Back in 08 when my NG water heater crapped out (I'd been in the house maybe 4 months) I never thought to check my house warranty, but went Lowes and immediately bought the Bosch NG tankless for about $400. Got it home and realized it was an entirely inappropriate purchase. I have a 3" flue. Would have had to install a 5" flue and the closet doesn't have enough air-flow. Would have to remove the door probably. So I think what about the electric version? Oh that's gonna take four 220v lines? Not with my old wiring and 60 amp service- the type with the round glass fuses.

So got my money back and purchased a Whirlpool for about $280. So far it has given flawless service despite some of the poor reviews it got online. I tend to disregard people's reviews if they only give one or no stars.

I keep the WH in the upper "warm" range for regular use, but if turned all the way up I bet it could heat water up enough to fill a HLT.

But my plans are to get a tankless heater eventually.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline majorvices

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #46 on: November 11, 2011, 06:19:30 AM »
Well, admittedly I didn;t bother to look at your calculations but it certainly doesn't make sense that keeping 60-80 gallons of water hot constantly is more efficient that only heating a small amount of water when you need it. Liek I said, if you don't have gas my understanding is the savings are not as great and the water takes longer to heat, which may be what Tom is looking at.

Being on Nat. Gas and living out in the county I have easily seem the saving. Mine has paid for itself already. I won;t even go do down the road about having unlimited hot water - like I said you can run a bath and a shower and still get hot water from the kitchen sink. Wife being able to take a hot shower for as long as she wants scores a big bonus on the happy meter.  ;)

regardless, for brewery usage having one is amazing in so many ways. Having 185 degree water on tap almost instantly (it does take a few moments for it to get that hot, probably 3 gallons or so worth, maybe 5 - I've never measured it. But 5 gallons of water in a brewery is a drop). You save so much time over having to heat the entire volume, it's not even a question whether it was worth it or not. Also, you can crank it down to 140-160 for pasteurization - I flush all my hoses and lines with 150 degree water for a minute or two and rinse my fermenters with 140 degree water via spray ball.

Phil, my understanding is that the Rinnai HWH are all the rage in Europe so you might look into it for your brewery application.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 06:28:30 AM by majorvices »
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #47 on: November 11, 2011, 10:16:14 AM »
Well, admittedly I didn;t bother to look at your calculations but it certainly doesn't make sense that keeping 60-80 gallons of water hot constantly is more efficient that only heating a small amount of water when you need it. Liek I said, if you don't have gas my understanding is the savings are not as great and the water takes longer to heat, which may be what Tom is looking at.
I just used their calculator, it's not complicated.  I don't know what assumptions they make to simplify things, maybe it's a crap app. ;)  I'm on natural gas by the way.
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Offline thirsty

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #48 on: November 11, 2011, 11:10:55 AM »
In other parts of the country, natural gas might be the way to go.  Some people on car forums have said that electricity is so high  in the NYC area, that electric cars make no sense on a kilowatt per mile basis, let alone the depreciation to buy one.

Which is crazy since there's a nuclear power plant 38 miles north of NYC.

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #49 on: November 11, 2011, 11:14:07 AM »
In other parts of the country, natural gas might be the way to go.  Some people on car forums have said that electricity is so high  in the NYC area, that electric cars make no sense on a kilowatt per mile basis, let alone the depreciation to buy one.

Which is crazy since there's a nuclear power plant 38 miles north of NYC.

owning a car in NYC is crazy. That's one of the best reasons to live there. you don't need a car!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #50 on: November 11, 2011, 01:48:41 PM »
Well, admittedly I didn;t bother to look at your calculations but it certainly doesn't make sense that keeping 60-80 gallons of water hot constantly is more efficient that only heating a small amount of water when you need it.
I thought about this some more, and the only thing I can come up with is the efficiency of the heat transfer from the burner to the water.  It must be more efficient in a tank than a tankless, so even though you save energy by not keeping water heated, you waste energy by not transferring as much heat of combustion to the water.  My best guess.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #51 on: November 11, 2011, 01:57:44 PM »
In other parts of the country, natural gas might be the way to go.  Some people on car forums have said that electricity is so high  in the NYC area, that electric cars make no sense on a kilowatt per mile basis, let alone the depreciation to buy one.

Which is crazy since there's a nuclear power plant 38 miles north of NYC.
It would provide a fraction of what the NY metro area uses. 

Crazy, but true:
http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/fig7p5.html
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Offline bo

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #52 on: November 11, 2011, 03:21:37 PM »
Well, admittedly I didn;t bother to look at your calculations but it certainly doesn't make sense that keeping 60-80 gallons of water hot constantly is more efficient that only heating a small amount of water when you need it.
I thought about this some more, and the only thing I can come up with is the efficiency of the heat transfer from the burner to the water.  It must be more efficient in a tank than a tankless, so even though you save energy by not keeping water heated, you waste energy by not transferring as much heat of combustion to the water.  My best guess.

With with an electric tankless, it's almost 100%.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #53 on: November 12, 2011, 03:16:16 PM »
Well, admittedly I didn;t bother to look at your calculations but it certainly doesn't make sense that keeping 60-80 gallons of water hot constantly is more efficient that only heating a small amount of water when you need it.
I thought about this some more, and the only thing I can come up with is the efficiency of the heat transfer from the burner to the water.  It must be more efficient in a tank than a tankless, so even though you save energy by not keeping water heated, you waste energy by not transferring as much heat of combustion to the water.  My best guess.

All I know is that I went from ordering gas nearly 4 times a year to 2. Huge savings. Another thing that hasn't been mentioned, the THWH have a much, much longer life. The guy who installed mine said that as long as you do an acid flush one every couple of years it can last indefinitely. Don't be surprised in another 5-10 years to see one being forced down your throat. They've switched them almost exclusively in large parts of Europe due to the massive energy conservation (up to 50% from what I have read) and they are going to start pushing them here very soon.
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Offline euge

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #54 on: November 12, 2011, 08:43:46 PM »
The plumbers I've talked to locally have a dim opinion of the tankless heaters. Say they crap out after a few years. Well, we have very hard water and this seems reasonable if steps aren't taken to keep the unit clean of buildup.

BTW I have a whole house softener so no worries here if a TH were to be installed. I get practically no buildup at all.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline toddster

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #55 on: November 13, 2011, 08:22:24 AM »
I'm a plumber who installs tankless and they aren't crapping out after a few years. Plumbers make more money selling you a tank every 10 years or less. I've put in Rinnai, Bosch and Navien all of which I'm certified to repair. I have a Navien in my basement just wanting for my brewery someday. I like it because it's the commercial model, all stainless heater exchanger and piping and will go to 185 F.  You will need to have good water for any tankless if you don't then don't buy one. Every manufacturer will list in the manual what they would like to see. I know many plumbers that won't read a manual so find one that does, and if your a cheap home brewer then you won't spend the dough anyway.

Gas direct fire up to 7bbl and then steam. Thats what I will use. Cheers Todd


Offline phillamb168

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #56 on: November 23, 2011, 05:27:37 AM »
Visited a brewery the other day whilst researching contract brewing. Of course the guys with decent equipment (not thrown together out of scrap {nothing wrong with that of course}) have no room to spare and can't fulfill their own level of demand so that's not going to work... Anyway, one thing to keep in mind with steam is that in addition to a steam boiler, you're gonna have to have an osmotificateur (??? sp?) to create RO water on-demand. That's an additional cost.

FWIW I've decided to go with electric, 1 barrel for now.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #57 on: November 23, 2011, 06:19:03 AM »
I think electric is the best choice for that size system. Just be careful you don't leave the element on when you are running off like I did last Monday! Talk about a b**** to clean!
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #58 on: November 23, 2011, 06:01:24 PM »
I think electric is the best choice for that size system. Just be careful you don't leave the element on when you are running off like I did last Monday! Talk about a b**** to clean!
Happened to me a few times.
Have some spare elements on hand.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #59 on: November 24, 2011, 01:47:07 AM »
Going with The Electric Brewery setup, which has temp alarms and such, as well as low-watt-density elements, so hopefully it won't be as much of a problem. NO DRINKING during brewing with this setup, that's for sure.
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