Plate Chiller Users

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Gotti311, Apr 19, 2013.

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  1. Gotti311

    Gotti311 Crusader (771) Mar 22, 2009 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    So my buddy and I have been brewing together for 18 months or so. We are always looking for ways to optimize, process improve, save time. We have been talking forever about getting a plate chiller. My understanding is that you need a nice March Pump and Plate Chiller to do this. I am expecting costs to be in the $300 range.

    What are your thoughts on this?
    -Is it worth the money?
    -I am off on my price
    -What plate chiller do you recommend
    -Options other than March Pumps
  2. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (343) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    I normally share this link when there is a chiller discussion. I always did immersion and found it adequate. I have since went to drill with paddle attachment and immersion chiller, and it is super fast and easy. I'm not poo pooing plate or counter flow, only providing desenting opinion.

    Its much easier to clean an immersion chiller also. You can see the crud and scrub it clean before putting it up. Its impossible to know if EVERYTHING has been cleaned out of a plate chiller. Not to say that it can't. I know that some can be disassembled, but I still don't think that is as easy as rinse, soap, rinse for the immersion chiller.

    What are your thoughts on this?
    -Is it worth the money? (Not really, not considering all that it entails compared to a homemade immersion chiller)
    -I am off on my price
    -What plate chiller do you recommend
    -Options other than March Pumps (immersion chillers do not require a pump)
  3. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (502) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado

    We use this plate chiller with no pumps, all gravity.

    What we do is set the boil kettle on a table, put the plate chiller about two feet across from the boil kettle, just slightly below the spigot on the BK, then run tubing from the plate chiller to the carboys on the ground. We do use an immersion chiller as a pre-chiller (hook up the garden hose to the IC, which is submerged in a bucket full of ice water, then run tubing from the IC to the plate chiller, again no pumps necessary). I can post a picture of this set up tomorrow while we're brewing if I'm not exactly painting a picture here.

    So, yes, I think it is well worth the money. No pumps required; you really don't need to have the plate chiller much lower than your spigot at all (I'm talking 2-3 inches on our setup) because by the time the liquid gets that low, there is a strong siphon going on.

    Clean up is a bit of a pain. I spray water through it for a few minutes, then give it an overnight soak in PBW solution, and rinse again. Hope this helps.

    EDIT: Oh, with our setup described above, we get 11 gallons of wort down to about 66*F in 15 minutes or less.
  4. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Hmmmm... I just hose my immersion chiller off before the crud dries.
  5. JUNCK

    JUNCK Initiate (0) Jan 7, 2011 Washington

    Me too.
  6. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (343) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    To be exact, as I'm soaping my kettle and mash rum, I rinse off the coils, squeeze soapy water over the coils, let it sit while I clean other stuff, then rinse it.
  7. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    dfess1 likes this.
  8. dfess1

    dfess1 Initiate (0) May 20, 2003 Pennsylvania

    I also use a therminator, but have two pumps in my single tier. They are LG pumps, and work just as well as the march. Only thing I wish they had were stainless heads. But cleaning it has not been an issue. Once i'm done cooling, a recirc of hot pbw gets pushed through it in both directions for 10 min each way. It is hooked up to the BK at the same time, so everything is getting cleaned at once.
  9. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (314) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    while you definitely don't need a pump with a plate chiller, it's definitely a time saver. I have a 30 plate chiller from duda diesel with a price tag in the $130 range. I also have a march pump, but you should check out chugger pumps as well for a good utility pump. I'm not really familiar with LG pumps so can't say either way.
    Your $300 estimate is good but you're probably putting a bare bones price tag on the setup because you will want a way to gauge wort temperature as it flows out of the chiller. A thrumometer can work or a stainless T with a thermometer in one port.
    Also you may want to include quick connects of some sort or triclover fittings. I like a counter flow chilling system because of the fact that it the most efficient use of water and time although using ice and recirculating ice water through an immersion at the end can help with the time aspect, but then you're spending something like an extra $5-$10 per brew session on ice and that adds up over time.
  10. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I'm not saying that this isn't true, but I'm not sure why that would be the case. Perhaps someone could shed some light on this?

    FWIW, I go from boil to pitching temp in about 10-15 minutes using straight tap water with my IC. Note that this is ten gallons. At 4 gal/min (I've never measured it, but I suspect I'm somewhere in that ballpark), that's about 40 to 60 gallons, or about 13 to 20 cents at my current water rate. And I use some of that water to wash equipment, so it's not all lost on chilling. (And in the summer, the hottest water goes into the swimming pool, offsetting some of the natural gas cost to heat the pool.
    If efficiency is a goal, this is crazy advice. This forces the ice to remove the heat you're removing from the wort, melting the ice and sending warmer water through the chiller than you would without recirculating. That just doesn't make sense from an efficiency standpoint (also, see my cost for water chilling, above).
    Since you're in New England, I assume your tap water is sufficiently cold year round. These extra steps are probably unnecessary.
  11. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (314) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    That's great timing. I've used an immersion chiller maybe half a dozen times on a friend's system and to get from 210F to 100F seemed to take no time at all and minimal water...but then to get from 100F down to pitching temp of 65F took forever! We had the tap running for what seemed like at least half an hour stirring every minute or so.
    I recently moved from nice cold well water to MUCH warmer town water system during the summer months. Longing for my old well water again (also tasted so much better too), iirc it would peak at just under 55F during July/August. Town water peaked at 71F this past summer.

    It's basically like the laws of diminishing returns, when the wort temp is high, the temp delta is high and the IC system is really efficient, but as the delta diminishes, so does your efficiency, unless you really want to geek it out and measure your effluent chilling water temp to make sure that it remains just below wort temperature and slowly choke the flow of your chilling water to keep it just below wort temp.
    So what my brew buddy did was switch to re-circing a bucket of ice water through the IC which required 2 bags of ice per brew session to bring down from ~100F to 60F in a fast time frame. He has now switched to a plate chiller as well although not positive he has even brewed with it yet.
    To be quite honest, I'm still possible more partial to my 50' homemade CFC of all of them but got a kink in the copper which slowed it to a crawl.
  12. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I use a whirlpool attachment on my chiller, effectively stirring it continuously. It makes a world of difference.
    For maximum speed, you want to keep the water running full bore. That will give you maximum delta. Regarding the kink in the copper, cut it out and join the cut ends with a coupler.
  13. olympuszymurgus

    olympuszymurgus Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Immersion folk love immersion chillers, plate folk love plate chillers. It's all a matter of opinion. I use both, they both work. Immersion chillers are cheap and speedy, bulky, awkward, ugly and don't fit we'll into a sexy brew sculpture. Plate chillers are sleek and efficient, super fast but hard to clean and pretty pricey. Think about your brew day, what fits best?

    My old brew buddy took the therminator plate chiller, my immersion chiller isn't big enough for my current batch size. I've used shirrons, chillzillas, Dudas, water baths and bags of ice. I'm buying a new chiller soon, probably a Duda.
  14. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    Plate is worth it if doing big batches. Chilling 30 gallon batches with an immersion chiller takes forever (I had the mister Malty type 50' immersion chiller with whirlpool attachment), since I switched to plate I can cool 30 gallons in 15-20 minutes down to pitching temp as opposed to 1.5 hr+ with the IC+Whirlpool arm. If using ice water and an IC it took about 15-20 minutes to cool a 5 gallon batch, but with the plate its about 3 min/5 gallons.

    The biggest downside I can find to the Therminator (What I ended up going with) is cleaning it. I have a submersible aquarium pump that I use to pump oxyclean, then water, then sanitzer through the chiller and pump system/tubing during the boil before use, and then again after the boil to clean out particulate. If doing what I do, quick connects are a requirement, as I can't imagine putting everything together on the fly during brew day.

    I had issues using a previous plate chiller with gravity and have not used my therminator with gravity, but as posts above indicate its totally do able. If going plate and want it to last longer, get a chiller that is 316 stainless, not 304, as 316 is much less susceptible to corrosion.
  15. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (314) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    This is where the inefficiency of the IC come into end up sending way more water than the IC can actually utilize efficiently and you can only gauge this by measuring your effluent chilling water temp.
    of course the kink occured at basically the 25' mark. I do still have it and am thinking of cutting it out and using compression fittings to rejoin...then I could easily do a 2-stage chilling for lagers.
  16. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (314) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    just re-read my posts in this, when did i become such a stickler-dweeb!!:grimacing:
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