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Air-cooled Condenser

These are various style condensers for many different applications.

Air-cooled Condenser

Postby Raketemensch » Tue Sep 08, 2015 4:24 pm

This is definitely not my idea, I got it from a user by the name of Mason Jar, but I haven't seen it discussed over here much, so I thought I would throw it out there.

In colder climates hot water baseboard radiators are very popular. They're basically 3/4 inch copper pipe with aluminum fins attached, so that as the hot water passes through them they transmit that heat through the fins out into the air. They look like this:

radiator.png
radiator.png (12.07 KiB) Viewed 8746 times


You can usually buy them in 3 foot or 5 foot lengths, from Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

Basically, instead of building a Liebig I just used a 5-foot length that a friend had and aimed a big box fan at it, like so:

thumb_IMG_5811_1024.jpg

No, that isn't vapor at the end of the tube, it's a ball under the stairs in the background :D The condensate steadily comes out at a little below air temperature.

As it turned out, the 5 feet is major overkill. I'm seeing temperature drops as high as 20 degrees over a 6 inch span, tested with one of those laser pointer heat guns. I'm waiting until I finish building my full column and electric keg (in process now) before I cut it shorter, but as of now I'm fairly certain it'll be possible.

I've seen some designs that attach CPU fans to the fins, and a design that attaches the finned tubes directly to a box fan, but I think that having that large channel of air between the fan and the fins in the above photo goes a long way toward getting more cooling out of less pipe -- the fan has more cool air to push over the fins.

No pumps, no hoses, no water to deal with, etc.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby sugarcreek » Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:21 pm

Any idea the specs on that -- for example, what the maximum amount of heat in BTU/hr, it can output. The concern of course is how you scale something like that up. Gotta remember you every kw of power or BTU worth of heat you put into your mash you eventually have to take out. OK, not all of it but about 90%.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby Raketemensch » Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:57 pm

sugarcreek wrote:Any idea the specs on that -- for example, what the maximum amount of heat in BTU/hr, it can output. The concern of course is how you scale something like that up. Gotta remember you every kw of power or BTU worth of heat you put into your mash you eventually have to take out. OK, not all of it but about 90%.


Noone has maxed out a 5-foot length yet, but they've knocked down at least 3.5Kw. Those tests were also with a fan smack up against the fins.

I've got a 5500 watt Camco here that I'll hopefully be installing in the keg this weekend, but I don't have copper for my column yet. I'm only pumping ~1800 watts into my stockpot so far.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby skow69 » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:23 pm

I've been following that discussion also. So far, it looks like 1kw per foot is entirely possible. Rak, I'll be interested to see if your setup can knock down the whole 5500. Good luck!
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby Raketemensch » Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:00 pm

skow69 wrote:I've been following that discussion also. So far, it looks like 1kw per foot is entirely possible. Rak, I'll be interested to see if your setup can knock down the whole 5500. Good luck!


Thanks. You, me and Meatwad need to get tore up.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby stilln n chilln » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:07 pm

Hey Raketemensch - just wondering if you ever finished up this project?
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby zedzedtop » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:44 pm

Anchor distilling has a nice air-cooled condenser I think. Just a coil sans worm tub....

I think you'd want to direct the airflow more directly across those fins with the radiator pipe above.... maybe not though if your electricity is cheap and water expensive...
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby Swedish Pride » Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:08 am

stilln n chilln wrote:Hey Raketemensch - just wondering if you ever finished up this project?


he did, and it worked a treat.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby stilln n chilln » Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:53 pm

Swedish Pride wrote:
stilln n chilln wrote:he did, and it worked a treat.


Just curious if he posted the results anywhere? I couldn't find them. What did he settle in with for the cooling length, and how much power was he using?

Sounds like a good route. I had been thinking of mounting two on the outside wall of my garage, and pumping water through them when I run. In the winter there should be plenty of cooling capacity....I hope.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby Swedish Pride » Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:07 pm

hmm, from the top of my head, it' was about a 1/3 more lenght than needed, it's somewhere on Hd
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby LokiBrew » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:55 pm

zedzedtop wrote:Anchor distilling has a nice air-cooled condenser I think. Just a coil sans worm tub....

I think you'd want to direct the airflow more directly across those fins with the radiator pipe above.... maybe not though if your electricity is cheap and water expensive...


Anchors open spiral condenser is actually a tube in tube spiral leibig condenser, about 120' is my guess. Great bunch of guys over there when you can schedule a tour and tasting.
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby zedzedtop » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:35 am

Good to know. Last time I was at Anchor was many years back before they were doing distillery tours. Had a great time on the beer tour. I liked how they kept things sort of old-fashioned.

What do you think of the grain spirits they make?
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Re: Air-cooled Condenser

Postby LokiBrew » Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:03 pm

zedzedtop wrote:What do you think of the grain spirits they make?



I'm glad they are making spirits, but they tend to come across fairly young and harsh. Definitely not my go to, or something to emulate. Their Junipero gin on the other hand is fantastic in a martini..

For a local whiskey, it rather have Sonoma County Distilling, Low Gap, or Diablo's Shadow. All small craft distillers that are knocking it out of the park. And when I can find st George single malt.

I just saw an Old Tom Gin from Anchor at the store the other day that I'm curious to try!!
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