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Thread: Electric/Propane burners re: Indoor Brewing

  1. #1
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    Aug 2004
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    Question Electric/Propane burners re: Indoor Brewing

    I've been lurking for a few weeks, soaking up info, but I need to ask some Q's now... Has anyone used an electric turkey fryer for AG brewing? I think I've got the "go ahead" from my wife to set up in the basement, but I can't use a gas burner down there. Does anyone have their gear set up in the house? I'm trying to plan ahead, so any advice or warnings would be much appreciated. thanks in advance

  2. #2
    b3s Guest
    well, i used to brew on the stove until one too many boil overs...something to consider, even in the basement. my personal recommendation is to go propane and do it outside...preferably on the lawn if you can (nice feature of being on the ground floor now...can't wait to start brewing again), because then boil overs will be taken care of by critters and decomposition

  3. #3
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    welcome... Two places I can point you, first, I know several people on the hbd.org Brews and Views board use electric burners. another place to look, (and kill a LOT of time) is http://brewery.mvlan.net:8080/folder...s%20Directory/... I know there's another big list like this of a ton of all grain setups, but I can't find it...
    keep on truckin'...

  4. #4
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    Why couldn't you use propane in the basement if you had some sort of ventilation system?

  5. #5
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    you mean other than the whole death by CO asphyxiation, right? if you're planning on using a jet burner indoors, you seriously would need commercial level ventilation and makeup air...
    keep on truckin'...

  6. #6
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    I use a propane burner in the garage, but I know several people who use them in the basement. I know this is a HUGE debate with data posted on each side, but it is possible to use a propane cooker in your house with co2 sensors and some small (non-commercial) ventalation. Check with your local Certified HVAC Inspector. However, my suggestion would be to use natural gas. In most cases there is a natural gas line somewhere near your future brewery, and it is much safer than propane. Again, check with your local Certified HVAC Inspector. Otherwise there are quite a few brewers that use electric heat elements in their breweries. 220V is reccomended, but there are some 110V units that work just fine. Here are a few links:

    http://www.chromalox.com/appWizard/P...tProductID=261

    http://hbd.org/pcalinsk/HeatStk3.htm

    http://www.plumbingsupply.com/elements.html

    http://www.strangebrew.ca/Drew/electric/

    http://chattanooga.net/~cdp/boilold/boiler.htm

    http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/itm00375.htm

    http://homepage.tinet.ie/~blackwhite...theboiler.html

    http://www.geocities.com/eseymour/brewery.html

    http://www.masterbuilt.com/store/etft.html

    "Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure."
    --Ambrose Bierce

  7. #7
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    I have heard that natural gas provides much lower BTU's than propane. I have NO IDEA, just something I've heard, you may want to look into it.
    O2 Mash
    “Brewing beer is neither complicated nor expensive, however it is the responsibility of the brewer to make it as complicated and expensive as his wife will allow."

  8. #8
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    Originally posted by O2 Mash
    I have heard that natural gas provides much lower BTU's than propane. I have NO IDEA, just something I've heard, you may want to look into it.
    You are absolutely correct, on a per-unit-mass (or volume) basis, natural gas produces fewer BTUs than propane. This is why gas devices (stoves, burners, gas grills, water heaters, etc.) are labeled for either propane or natural gas use. The difference is the size of the oriface -- in the natural gas version, the oriface is larger, allowing more gas to flow to the burner. So, the BTU output of the device is not changed, but you are burning more gas to produce that output.

    In any case, I don't think natural gas is any more safe to use indoors than propane. The safety concern is the crude, inefficient design of the high-output burners on the "turkey fryer" type cookers. For example, my parents have a propane fireplace in their house that produces tens of thousands of BTUs but isn't vented -- because it's so efficient it doesn't produce any carbon monoxide.

    Of course, the risks of dealing with a high-pressure cylinder of propane indoors are a different matter entirely.

  9. #9
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    I don't think brewing with a propane burner in the basement is going to kill you, much less cause harmful levels of CO2. Maybe if it was a tiny whole in the ground but not an entire basement floor. People still use gas stoves and have all 4 burners going in the kitchen, hell my grandmother used to can in the basement, what is the difference.
    Thats just the way I roll.

  10. #10
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    the difference is efficiency and BTU's. A typical gas stove runs between 8k and 10k BTU's per burner, so even if you crank all four up to max, you're still at 25% of a typical jet burner output. Second, jet burners burn less efficiently and generate a LOT more carbon monoxide than a natural gas stove. So, they use up your room oxygen at least 4 times as fast, and generate a ton more carbon monoxide.

    if you still want to try this indoors, open up two windows, get a fan to blow in outdoor air in one window, another to suck out your exhaust, and get a couple of CO detectors, one for your cooking area, and another upstairs, so if your furnace circulates any CO, you won't be taking your family with you...

    tyesai, this is America, so I respect your right to do dumb things...
    keep on truckin'...

  11. #11
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    Yeastie Boy, sorry for the above semi-hijack of the thread, but there's one more practical issue you should consider before trying this indoors regardless of your heat source. When you mash and boil, you're most likely going to be boiling off a gallon or more of water, make sure your brew area is equipped for the vapor, I bet nothing would piss off SWMBO more than all your sheetrock falling off six months from now...
    keep on truckin'...

  12. #12
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    Jun 2004
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    Getting back to the original question: Electric Turkey Fryers.

    The electric turkey fryers i've seen on the web and at my local sams club are simply an insulated stainless steel or aluminum pot with an immersion heater. One model on the web specs the heating element at 1650 watts (which is about the max you can plug into a standard 15 amp household circuit). It is rated for indoor use, BUT doing some simple calculations and assuming an extremely well insulated container:

    It will take 90 minutes for the unit to bring 6 gallons of water from 10 C to 100 C (tap water temp to boiling point).

    It will take an additional 90 minutes to convert 1 gal of the 6 from water to steam.

    Again, this is assuming NO HEAT LOSSES. I'd guess that in actual use, as the 6 gallons of water got to 100 degrees, the heat losses would account for a significant portion of the 1650 watt heating capacity and it would take forever and a day to boil off a gallon.

  13. #13
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    Mar 2004
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    Originally posted by Steve16823
    inefficient design of the high-output burners on the "turkey fryer" type cookers.
    This is interesting. What makes a burner inefficient? Doesn't all of the gas get utilized when it comes out of the burner? I saw an article once in Zymurgy (I think) that showed you how to make your propane burner more efficient. It involved taking it apart and grinding down the rough bumps that resulted from the casting of the part with a dremmel type tool. I still don't understand how it could make it more efficient. Can anyone shed light on this?
    O2 Mash
    “Brewing beer is neither complicated nor expensive, however it is the responsibility of the brewer to make it as complicated and expensive as his wife will allow."

  14. #14
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    Aug 2004
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    This is what I love about you guys, I can sit back and take in all this info. I love the opposing points of view. Here's another question along the indoor burner lines... Are CO and CO2 heavier or lighter than air? Would a simple hood system (either above or below the burner) negate the asphyxiation factor?
    I keep running into dead ends on the natural gas burner topic. I can't seem to locate a source (economical or otherwise) for a higher btu natural gas burner. Any ideas?
    I was looking at the electric setups you all linked to (with the water heater elements) but most seem to be in plastic buckets, which makes me really uneast about the whole thing. I know they're doing it, but eeeeee, that seems like it just shouldn't work.
    "People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee alot."
    -Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI

  15. #15
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    Originally posted by Yeastie Boy
    This is what I love about you guys, I can sit back and take in all this info. I love the opposing points of view. Here's another question along the indoor burner lines... Are CO and CO2 heavier or lighter than air? Would a simple hood system (either above or below the burner) negate the asphyxiation factor?
    I keep running into dead ends on the natural gas burner topic. I can't seem to locate a source (economical or otherwise) for a higher btu natural gas burner. Any ideas?
    I was looking at the electric setups you all linked to (with the water heater elements) but most seem to be in plastic buckets, which makes me really uneast about the whole thing. I know they're doing it, but eeeeee, that seems like it just shouldn't work.
    I think CO2 is heavier than air.

    Regarding the heating elements, they can be purchased seperately in any home improvement store and added to your brew kettle. Of course it will cost you money to have it drilled out if you can't do it yourself, and if you add a coupler, it costs some bucks to have it welded on the kettle.
    O2 Mash
    “Brewing beer is neither complicated nor expensive, however it is the responsibility of the brewer to make it as complicated and expensive as his wife will allow."

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