View Full Version : Modular vs Integrated Chiller and Glycol Tank Sizing

06-15-2015, 07:06 AM
My brewhouse manufacturer is selling me on an integrated chiller. Its a 2 stage 10ton chiller with an internal 41 gallon glycol tank. 120k btu/hr cooling capacity. $16k

My brewhouse installation/buildout contractor is trying to sell me on another unit. Its a 2 stage 16hp(8hpx2) chiller with an external 300 gallon insulated glycol tank and 190k btu/hr cooling capacity. $31k

Does anyone have experience with either/both of the integrated/modular chiller? I am getting the hard sell on the modular as it would support future expansion and be a better investment long term. My biggest concern in opening is the starting cash and cash flow - so having another 15k in the bank by going with option 1 is also initially attractive.

Anyone want to school me on which option they went with and if they have any regrets?



06-15-2015, 07:37 AM
Hi Brian,

A modular vs. a packaged chiller decision should be based upon current and future needs. Do you plan to expand your brewery beyond the needs of a 10 ton chiller? If so, when? Will your existing glycol supply header be utilized during the expansion or will you need to plumb a new supply/return line?

If you are planning to expand within 2-3 years that will increase your BTU loading beyond 10 tons, I would consider using a modular system. That being said, you can just purchase a single 10 ton chiller as opposed to two 8 ton chillers. It does not make sense to have multiple chillers do the work that a single modular chiller can do. This increases your opportunities for mechanical failures and increase your maintenance cost. PM me if you would like to talk further on the phone.

I may have been unclear (not an HVAC guy by any means) but both are 2 stage units for redundancy. Our goal is to run our glycol header to support 10 tanks as opposed to our initial 5. Ideally when we add a tank in the future all we will have to do is drop it in place and run a short line off the header. By the time we have 10 tanks, I imagine we would be running out of steam on the integrated 10 ton.

I guess the question becomes - how do you determine the ideal or minimum size of a glycol reserve tank. Contractor is saying that 41 gallons is incredibly undersized and we will be burning out our integrated unit.

06-15-2015, 08:05 AM
A modular chiller has an auxillary inlet and outlet to allow you to daisy chain chillers. This is why I would lean towards getting a single 10 ton modular unit so that when you reach your capacity, you can drop in another chiller and tie it into your glycol supply. No HVAC contractor wants a single chiller or a single boiler just for their own comfort. Redundancy is a great luxury but not extremely critical. We are making beer, not running a hospital. I really don't mean that in a condescending manner. Find a solid HVAC service tech who can make themselves available at any hour on any day for the sake of beer. Integrate your chiller into your security alarm system so that you know when your glycol temperature is out of range.

41 gallons for reservoir does seem small. Speak with the chiller manufacturer about what size they recommend, but I would think you want a tank that is 150+ gallons in size. You don't want your compressor always cycling on and off. This will shorten the unit's lifespan.

What is your current and future tank size/type breakdown? Will you have a Cold Liquor Tank?

Day 1 tanks(240bbl total volume of liquid needing chilling):

1 40bbl cold liq
4 40bbl fermenters
1 40bbl brite

We are hoping to setup header piping to double the count above (besides the CLT) without having to touch the header. This would put our total size at 440 bbl of liquid needing to be chilled.

06-16-2015, 05:21 AM
When you say integrated, I'd like to know where the condenser is and what media is it using?
For 10 tons, that is dirt cheap, so I'd be curious the make of various components and if its european.
The glycol tank is small for that capacity, but if the machine is solid you could always port to a larger external well.
If I could see photographs both machines side by side and had specs more insight could be offered.
If the integrated machine is solid then there are things that can be done with any of its shortcomings with " outboard " modifications later on.

Multiple chiilers in the plant are always an advantage. Especially if you can dedicate a smaller system strictly to the brewhouse and CLT.

With this arrangement your knockout never affects glycol loop temp on fermentation with wide swings. I'd rather have 2, 2stage 10 HP units than one 20. It gives you way more options to manage any single downed system. Redundancy in a super critical system always pays off in spades.
Valve arrangements to the main loop are key.