Propane burner advise: about to buy

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by TastyAdventure, Apr 22, 2014.

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  1. TastyAdventure

    TastyAdventure Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2012 Kentucky

    I have been doing Stove top All Grain for a while, 5 gallon batches split between two 5 gal brew kettles... My stove hates me!!
    Anyways, I just got the ok to buy a propane burner and bigger brew bucket from SWMBO.
    Cost is very important.
    I've seen several great deals for turkey fryer and 7.5 gal kettle sets with everything you need, minus the actual propane tank, for $50. I think I saw a propane tank for $30 at WalMart.
    So that's $80. I'm ok with sending that, however I want to make sure I get the best bang for my buck, AND now that I'm already upgrading, a 10 gal brew kettle sounds awesome! I'd love to be able to do 8 gallon batches... Same work load, more beer.
    BUT the difference between 7.5 gal and 10 gal kettles is waaay higher. I found a 10 gal aluminum kettle for $55... just the kttle... Not a cost jump I can justify.
    Also, what's the diff between Aluminum and Stainless Steel in regards to brewing? Will aluminum work just fine?

    Any advise welcome. Cheers!

    P.S. Of course I'm constantly on Craiglist...
  2. rundownhouse

    rundownhouse Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2005 Tennessee

    $30 sounds a touch on the cheap side for a 20# tank including a gas fill. Exchange locations I think will run you closer to $40 for the tank plus gas, while on CL you can often get tanks for $10-20. A tip: find a place that will fill your tank instead of using the Blue Rhino/Branded Exchange outside of hardware store, Walgreens, etc. You'll get more gas for the same price or even less. Look for propane shops or welding shops.

    On a similar note, restaurant supply shops often have big pots of both varieties for good prices.

    There are care and maintenance considerations for deciding on an aluminum or stainless kettle, but for how they do producing wort, there aren't really practical differences. If you're budget-conscious I would definitely choose aluminum simply because it's the cheapest and will make good beer.
  3. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (328) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Do you have Natural Gas service at your home? If you're looking for bang for your buck, this is a no-brainer. While the price varies from year to year and region to region, the difference can be staggering. In my part of the country, Natural Gas has been selling for 80% to 90% less than propane for the past few years. Even at its peak seven years ago, it was still about half the price. I'm comparing the price per BTU. Today, the NG equivalent of a 20 lb propane refill (not the 15 lb swap you get at WalMart) costs under $2 around here. If you heat with propane and use a big tank, then the numbers are obviously different (but, in that case, you probably don't have NG, so the point is moot). You'll also save the $30 up front cost on a tank (actually, $60, since you'll likely buy two). Then there's the convenience. You will never have to make a trip for gas on brew day because you just discovered you don't have enough for a batch, nor will you ever run out in the middle of a boil.

    Since you're in the market for a new burner, now is definitely the time to consider this option.

    If, on the other hand, this is not an option for you, then nevermind.

    Regarding a kettle, I use a converted keg.
    #3 mikehartigan, Apr 22, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
  4. wspscott

    wspscott Champion (855) May 25, 2006 Kentucky

    There is no obvious reason to favor a 10 gallon pot vs. a 7. gallon pot. You get a little more insurance for boilovers but you can manage with a 7.5 if you need to. If you really want to think about the future, you need to consider 15 gallon pots so you can do 10 gallon batches. Otherwise, I would go with the cheap turkey fryer/pot combo. With that said, definitely check out restaurant supply stores for a used pot.

    Aluminum is fine if you are careful with cleaning.

    If you are in Lexington or want to drive, I have 4 propane tanks that I am not using since I switched to NG. I would happily sell one or all for a reasonable price, let me know.
  5. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,260) May 30, 2005 Michigan

  6. spartan1979

    spartan1979 Aspirant (278) Dec 29, 2005 Missouri

  7. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Devotee (456) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Aluminum is totally fine but needs some more attentive care. Before you use it for beer, boil water in it to build up an oxide layer that will keep the aluminum metal off the beer (preventing an aluminum taste). After you've built the oxide layer, be careful to only scrub it gently when cleaning. If you're too rough while cleaning, you can scrape off the oxide layer.
  8. Soneast

    Soneast Crusader (799) May 9, 2008 Wisconsin

    I like my SQ14 too.

    Regarding NG, obviously you need a NG burner, but what does it take to set up for using natural gas?
  9. Fordzilla

    Fordzilla Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2013 New York

  10. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (328) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    NG burners are widely available and shouldn't cost any more than the 'same' burner configured for propane. In my case, I already had NG at the patio for my grill, so it didn't cost anything to 'upgrade' my house. If you're reasonably handy with plumbing, it's pretty simple to do it yourself. But even if you pay a pro to run a gas line out to the patio/garage/etc., the money you save on fuel will pay for it fairly quickly.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  11. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Champion (863) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    Get an SP-10. Skip the cheaper burners that come with turkey kits. Some are good, others not powerful enough. I have one that is shit and sucks for frying a turkey. I use my SP-10 to fry with and it gets the oil hot fast.

    Wind protection is good too on it, but it's not all the windy where I live.

    Pot wise, shop around.. Keep in mind that a 10g pot would be about as small as you'd want to go for all grain. I do 5.5 gal batches and I normally for a 90min boil have to collect close to 8 gallons pre boil to hit my mark, so you'd be straining your pot with much more.
  12. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

  13. Soneast

    Soneast Crusader (799) May 9, 2008 Wisconsin

    Thanks, been considering this option, my brew space is about 5 feet away from where my NG line comes in for the furnace. It would be nice to a.) not have to worry about running out of propane and b.) not have tanks sitting around taking up space.
  14. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (328) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Hard to believe, but the $18 I save on every $20 refill is one of the less important features for me. I'd use it even if it cost the same as propane.
    FWIW, I have a propane burner that I take on the road for group brew sessions and the like.
  15. TastyAdventure

    TastyAdventure Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2012 Kentucky

    I'm ignorant to anything NG. Can you get it in tanks or does it have to come through a line? I live in a condo (I'll be moving brewing to the garage) so adding lines to get NG is not an option.

    And thanks FATCITY. I'm just gonna camp on CL until I find a used keg for sale. It seems the only NECESSARY mod to make to make it a boil kettle is to cut the top off.

    I'll probably get the SQ14
  16. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (328) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Compressed NG is available to fuel cars, but the distribution network is not geared toward mass consumption, so you might have a hard time finding it in your area. You would also eliminate the convenience factor and I suspect it would cost more than the traditional source - delivered directly to your home via pipeline, though it would still probably be cheaper than propane.
    That's a task that is beyond the skill level and equipment of the typical DIYer. Not saying don't do it, only that you need to know what is required before planning out that route.
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