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Is 20' of tubing enough for an Immersion Wort Chiller?

I want to build an Immersion Wort Chiller out of copper tubing for as little cash as possible. The cheapest place to buy copper tubing (Home Depot) only sells it in coils of 20’ or 50’. I’d prefer not to spring for the 50’, and all the Chillers I have seen are made from 25’ or more. I’m wondering if 20’ will cut it. I boil 3 gals of wort and add it to another 2 gals of water in the fermenter.

I can chill 5 gallon batches with my 20’ chiller with 16 gallons of water. I have pretty cold ground water though, YMMV.

just keep an eye on how fast you run the cold water through the chiller. Remember that faster isn’t always better. You need to give the water time to absorb the heat from the wort as it passes through the coils. As the wort cools, you will need to slow the flow of cold water through the chiller.

20’ should be fine. just run the chill water slower through it.

CMD - did you start the project? I’m about to take the immersion chiller plunge as well. I have found the same situation with copper. Where I am, it’s about $40 for 20 ft of 3/8 soft copper.

Is there a website for cheaper copper?

[quote=“Sooner49er”]CMD - did you start the project? I’m about to take the immersion chiller plunge as well. I have found the same situation with copper. Where I am, it’s about $40 for 20 ft of 3/8 soft copper.

Is there a website for cheaper copper?[/quote]

not sure, but you can get pre-made chillers for roughly what you plan on paying for just your copper tubing…I’d do some research online…amazon, etc. I bought a stainless chiller, and mine works fantasticly…cheaper than copper too.

I run a homemade 20’ 3/8" OD tubing chiller. It cools my 3.5-4gal in about 15 minutes from boil down to 80-85F. I then top off with COLD water and get my final temp in the mid-upper 60s.

If I ever upgrade to a larger boil kettle (I really want an 8 gallon to do full boils) I will build a 50’ 3/8" OD chiller and use my current chiller as a pre-chiller in the summer, so I only have to use a small amount of water and a HUGE chunk of ice!

I definitely agree, the slower the water (once initial cooling is in place) the faster it actually cools. You can have just a trickle after 5 minutes.

Many tests have shown that faster IS better.

[quote=“Denny”]
Many tests have shown that faster IS better.[/quote]

Agreed. A smattering of engineering courses tells me that faster flow = faster cooling.

People may be confused because slower flow can equal more efficient water usage (more heat removed per volume of water). This is only true to a point, though. If the water is moving too slowly and warms up to the temperature of the wort by the time it’s halfway through the tubing, it won’t remove any heat as it travels the rest of the length.

thats only going to be true to a point. with only 20’ of tubing, you will never have the issue of going to slow and leaving the water in the chiller longer than it can pull out heat.

I always adjust my water pressure so the outlet temp is as warm as I can get it. be it slow or fast.

If you just boil 3 gallons chill it in your sink, it takes only minutes to get it down to close to water temperature. See my description here
http://gnipsel.com/beer/procedures/Stovetop_Session.htm
on minimal equipment stove top all grain.

And faster is better…

John

Better yet, you can freeze the top-off water and get to pitching temperature more or less instantly.

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