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Plate Chillers

This question keeps coming up and nobody seems to have a good answer. The problem is, unlike all of you midwesterners and northerners, in the southern parts of the country, our hosewater is not low to mid 50s, it is more like mid to high 60s. I currently run a gravity fed Shirron with the water out running through 2 ICs in the BK before watering my garden and filling the washing machine. At 40 minutes, which it takes, i have used about 150 gallons of water and got my temp down to the high seventies/low 80s. I now have a March pump and am looking to upgrade my chiller as I will be doing 10 gallon batches.

Here’s the question. Obviously, Blichmann’s design is the most sensible but it doesn’t say how many plates it is. Wouldn’t you assume, that if you can get a long 60 plate chiller from dudadiesel that it would have more than twice the cooling power for a little bit more money? Therminator looks like the short 30 plate. I emailed Blichmann, and John responded with a standard non-response: we test our products, plate count is only one factor, read our reviews yadda yadda yadda.

The last thing I want to do is buy a product that I have to return. Is there something I am missing? Can I really believe that assuming 68 degree groundwater that Therminator can take 10gal from boiling to pitching temp in 10-20 minutes as the website suggests? Not that I think dudadiesel’s big boy can deliever the 4 minutes it promises either.

What’s your pick?

Wow, I wish my tap water was only in the mid to high 60’s. Once June comes, my tap water is 79 to 80. With a chiller, 80’s the best I can do so I use a swamp cooler. But, I just ordered a BrewVint Pre-Chiller (somewhere else) that was on sale to give it a try. But, it looks like you’re a much bigger brewer than I am.

I know it’s got to help but just using a chiller with an ice bath takes me almost 45 minutes to get to 80 degrees then another hour in the swamp cooler with ice to get it to 73-75 to pitch.

I know this won’t answer your specific questions but could you run the water line that supplies the plate chiller through a cold water bath before it get to the chiller? Colder water in = faster chilling?

According to DudaDiesel’s site
http://www.dudadiesel.com/search.php?query=%2Bbeer+%2Bwort+%2Bchiller&i=beerchillers
, it sounds like it’s more complicated than that:

(emphasis mine)

Sounds like with DudaDiesel you would get more out of keeping the plate count the same and getting one of their longer models instead. I’m wondering what other factors might come in to play if you’re comparing across brands - how the plates are corrugated, what material they’re made of, spacing between them, stuff I can’t even think of 'cuz I’m not an engineer. . . Makes me inclined to think that it’s a crap shoot trying to guess which one is better without doing a side-by-side comparison.

If you happen to have two chillers… and one is a copper coil, try submerging that one in a big bucket of ice water. The output of that chiller can go to the coil or plate chiller that is actually chilling your beer. Works…

I have two coil chillers connected in series… one “in ice” the other in hot beer. Won’t take as much water as you’ve been using… but it will take ice. Fortunately, we have an ice maker in the fridge

[quote=“JusPlainBill”]If you happen to have two chillers… and one is a copper coil, try submerging that one in a big bucket of ice water. The output of that chiller can go to the coil or plate chiller that is actually chilling your beer. Works…

I have two coil chillers connected in series… one “in ice” the other in hot beer. Won’t take as much water as you’ve been using… but it will take ice. Fortunately, we have an ice maker in the fridge[/quote]
That is the configuration I’ve always heard of working in locations where the ground water is so warm. May be downsides to living in the North but efficient beer cooling is not one of them. I’m using a Therminator with just a gravity feed and run wort through it with the valve wide open, actually have to reduce flow on my cooling water to keep the wort from chilling too much. :cheers:

[quote=“Flip”][quote=“JusPlainBill”]If you happen to have two chillers… and one is a copper coil, try submerging that one in a big bucket of ice water. The output of that chiller can go to the coil or plate chiller that is actually chilling your beer. Works…

I have two coil chillers connected in series… one “in ice” the other in hot beer. Won’t take as much water as you’ve been using… but it will take ice. Fortunately, we have an ice maker in the fridge[/quote]
That is the configuration I’ve always heard of working in locations where the ground water is so warm. May be downsides to living in the North but efficient beer cooling is not one of them. I’m using a Therminator with just a gravity feed and run wort through it with the valve wide open, actually have to reduce flow on my cooling water to keep the wort from chilling too much. :cheers: [/quote]
Same situation here. The first time I used my Therminator I accidentally chilled my wort to 40F is about 5 minutes. When you have tap water that is too warm, the pre-chiller (IC in an ice bath which feeds into the plate chiller) is the way to go. Also, have to comment that as an engineer who specialized in thermal control, the answer that the OP got from Blichmann is accurate - it does depend. Frustrating for those who want a simple answer, but sometimes there is no simple answer to complex issues. And the closer you look at any issue, the more complex it becomes.

When I need to get the wort below ground temp I use a second plate chiller in series. the first gets ground water and the second gets ice water pumped with a sump pump. works like a charm.
I have a thermometer on the output and valves to control the wort and water flow so I can dial it in.
Cheers

That’s interesting actually. I have 2 DIY copper coil ICs because I was trying to use one of them as a prechiller for the other when that was all I was using and I had very little success with it. I wonder why it would work better as a prechiller for a plate setup than the IC… flow rate maybe? I have about enough space for 1 bucket worth of ice in the freezer that I can make, and am unwilling to buy ice for this purpose. Do you think the ice would be better served as a prechiller or would it be more effective to run the hose water to all 3 chillers in sequence and recirc the wort back into the kettle until it comes down a bit and then take off the hose and use a submersible pump to pump icewater through all three chillers?

Also, my reason for asking the question is which plate chiller to buy. I hate the Shirron’s design and it seems less effective than others. Duda, Therminator or stick with the Shirron?

When I use the ice, the wort is already partially chilled. More of a post-chiller I guess. I use about one bag of ice for 5 gallons to get to 50F.

You can get 2 Shirrons for the price of 1 Therminator. And the Dudas are even cheaper. At Duda you can also choose the connectors. One of the vendors today mentioned that longer is better vs more plates. If I had a choice today I would probably get two Duda 20-30 plate chillers.

Start golfing, less complicated…

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