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CO2 regulators... recommendations?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by tngolfer, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. tngolfer

    tngolfer Aficionado (225) Tennessee Feb 16, 2012

    I'm looking to buy my first regulator and would like some input - which are good, which aren't, single/double/triple gauge, etc.? There appear to be a lot of options online.

    At the present time I only plan on having one keg hooked up. In the future, who knows. Is it better to have one primary reg and buy secondaries as needed in the future or buy a multi gauge now.

    Somewhat on topic - is a steel or aluminum CO2 tank preferred?
  2. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Chad Jan 8, 2012

    I have a two keg setup and a single regulator body with two gauges (tank pressure and serving pressure) and two outputs (each with a shutoff) has worked for me.

    For CO2 tanks I'd just buy what you can find for the cheapest unless you have a place that will refill your own tank for cheap. There aren't any around here that will do it for cheap and if you're doing a tank exchange you'll likely be turning in your nice shiny one for something looking pretty battle-worn.
  3. You won't regret buying MicroMatic. No more needs to be said about brands. ;)

    Single/double/triple gauge? It depends on what you want to do with it. Minimally, you can get by with a single gauge primary. The high pressure gauge is of limited value (it tells you if you have liquid CO2 in the tank; it does not tell you how much), but it doesn't seem to add much to the price, so flip a coin. The low pressure gauge is what you use to set the serving pressure. If all your beers will be served at the same pressure, you can use Tees or a manifold to split the single output line. A manifold will typically have individual valves for each keg. A Tee typically does not. A dual primary is two primaries mounted together, each with its own low pressure gauge. A triple primary is three, etc. Multiple primaries are used if you need different pressures for different kegs. Alternatively, you could buy multiple secondary regulators that you can mount together, much like multiple primaries. You would typically feed these with a primary set to a pressure higher than serving pressure, then set each secondary to the pressure you want to deliver to the individual kegs. The advantage of secondaries over multiple primaries is that they can be mounted anywhere - inside the kegerator, for example - while primaries are typically mounted on the CO2 tank. You could mount primaries remotely using a high pressure hose, but I wouldn't recommend it (personal preference - it just seems dangerous).

    The only advantages of aluminum over steel are that it's relatively lightweight and it's real purrrty! Unless you're buying a big tank (50 lbs or bigger) where the extra weight might create issues, get steel. My full 20# steel tank weighs just over 45 lbs. My aluminum tank, about 7 lbs lighter. The difference in a 5 lb tank would be much less - not enough to worry about. If space is not an issue, don't waste your money on a 5 lb tank. A 20 lb tank can usually be filled for only a few dollars more than a 5 or 10 lb tank. Some dealers charge the same price regardless of the size.
  4. PortLargo

    PortLargo Advocate (550) Florida Oct 19, 2012 Verified

    I am a fan of the dual-gauge primary (single output) with secondaries for different keg pressures. If you get a dual body reg (sometimes called a double reg), you skip the secondary, but are limited to two output pressures. Price is about the same, but with secondaries you can keep adding. Also, I recommend you spend the few extra bucks and get a regulator with a decent control knob instead of having to use a screwdriver to set pressure. For me I use a wye fitting on the primary output to have an aux CO2 line. This is useful if you have a Beergun or want to rack from carboy to keg under pressure.

    I would only use a steel tank if someone gave it to me. They are heavier, they rust, and if they were to explode the shrapnel is much more deadly (just kidding about the shrapnel;) ). Operationally they are identical, but alum is the way to go.
  5. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

  6. telejunkie

    telejunkie Savant (400) Vermont Sep 14, 2007

    I recommend Homebrewstuff.com gauge...I find it to be pro-quality at minimal price. Agree with Mike that dual gauge is of limited value...a barely ever actually use the hi-pressure gauge.
    My set-up has a 2-body primary regulator...one body is set at 32psi, split three ways, one for creating seltzer water, second for first day of pressurizing new beer kegs and third runs to a secondary regulator. The secondary regulator is set at 12psi and runs to my manifold which can distribute out to 4 different kegs.. The second body of the primary regulator is set for specialty beers...say 8psi for a barleywine or 16psi for a hefe. It is also split and is used to purge kegs or other vessels from O2
  7. I would also add that a bright, shiny aluminum tank will break your heart the first time you have to swap it. I decided to do a swap because the CO2 guy was on his lunch break. He had an Aluminum tank that was just as purrrty as mine, so I took it. With steel, it would have been a no-brainer. (unless you're storing it outside, why would your steel tank rust?)