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Thread: Large chiller units vs. Oversized glycol reservoir

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Statesboro, GA

    Large chiller units vs. Oversized glycol reservoir

    I am in the process of planning our glycol.
    This is for a 10bbl system with 20bbl CLT, 6 20bbl fermenters, and 2 20bbl brites (and possibly a glycol cooled walk in)
    The Chinese quote we've gotten includes two very small glycol chillers (5hp) and a huge glycol reservoir (20bbl).
    The prorefrigeration quote I got clocks us in at needing 32,000 BTU/HR for just the fermentation side.
    My question is, although the Chinese chillers are quite small, the reservoir seems exceedingly large, could this increased thermal mass make up for the lack of power in the chillers themselves?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Mazomanie, WI
    You say they are offering two 5 hp chillers and the ProRefrigeration guy is saying you need 32,000 just for fermentation. There are 12,000 btu/hr in 1 ton of refrigeration, meaning the ProRef guy said you needed just under 3 tons. On the other hand, in the HVAC world, 1 hp is about 1 ton but as you get colder, 1 hp gives you less capacity. So a 5 hp glycol chiller could give you anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 tons, depending on the temperature range you are talking. So they may not be far off.

    Give yourself an apples-to-apples comparison and ask for capacity in btu/hr at a specified glycol temperature and flowrate. Then you know whether its a good deal or not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Statesboro, GA
    Thanks for the clarity, I had looked at this thread before:
    but got my BTU per HP mixed up somewhere along the way. (I guess I was thinking 2,500btu per hp)
    So 28*f glycol would be about 70,000 btu for 10 HP. Should be plenty of power.

    20bbl glycol tank still seems massive to me though. Guess going too big and partially filling cant hurt.
    Last edited by DecoctionMash; 11-09-2016 at 10:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004


    We have a 10 HP Aqua Products Chiller, with a 10 bbl reservoir, running 2 30 bbl Fermenters, 2 30 bbl Brites and 8 10 bbl fermenters, and have room for more capacity. Plenty of cooling capacity but we don't use glycol to knock out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    I would be looking at this from a different perspective. First you want expansion capability. Second do you really want to purchase enough glycol to properly fill a 20bbl tank? Third, its from China vs buying an American made unit with only maybe a 15gallon reservoir and the ability to get good customer service. I wouldn't want to tie up 20bbls worth of space that I could use for fermentation with a grossly oversized glycol tank.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Moab, Utah


    There is no way I would plan a glycol cooled walkin unless I was installing 100% redundancy of chiller capacity out of the gate. What has been stated about tonnage vs. horsepower is in essence correct, but there is more to it than what can be stated in layman's terms and its not ever a 1 to 1 match. As thus BTU/hr is critical.
    One of the major blind spots is failing to take into account what happens when you encounter peak load swings with all your eggs in one basket. This will bring your return temperature into unsatisfactory ranges especially for your brites. If you are canning, your beer leaving brites had better be MAX. 35F or you will have problems.
    You are better off with a DX walkin cooler unless you have definite over capacity and redundancy on your glycol chiller. If you chiller system goes down, then everything is DOWN with your proposed arrangement. You will not gain from having all your critical loads on glycol but will in essence be painting yourself into a corner. If you have multiple chillers which can be brought on the line, different story.
    Dedicated brite chiller systems are far better. Attempting to control diversification of load with software can work up to a point but is not effective to scale in my view. There are FAR better ways to insure stability. Too many people are attempting to use software glitz to do what should be done with HARDWARE.
    Glycol is not an efficient heat transfer fluid compared to water. Its used to keep the media from freezing. You lose heat transfer capability and pumping capibility with it.
    Having a massive glycol well on an undersized system will not help, but actually make matters worse. You need a correctly sized system for the load.
    I would RUN not walk away from the China system.
    We need to start by our actions moving GDP back into this country that the Politicians have moved out.
    THE USA cannot continue on the GDP deficit the banksters have created.
    The current state and system cannot be sustained and we have to stop the undermining tendency whenever we possibly can for large equipment matters.
    While some components from China are just ok in some cases, they approach materialism in a very different way and make some of the shoddiest, most poorly engineered and assembled systems on the Planet. China bearings almost without any exception are the worst in the known universe.
    If you buy China on major equipment, you will often times end up with gear that is very difficult to get parts, proper readable documentation, Tech support, and service for.
    While you may be able to get a Mechanic to work on it, it will be difficult and he will not care for it.
    Warren Turner
    Industrial Engineering Technician
    HVACR-Electrical Systems Specialist
    Moab Brewery
    " No Cell Phone Zone."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    I have to say, one of the lessons I've learned over the years is, pay good money for your chillers, air compressors, and boilers. Have someone you can reach quickly on the phone, and someone locally who can help you too. Before we upgraded and bought a Pro Refrigeration system, we had all kinds of problems with the two chillers we had before, and no-one either from the companies or locally could be much help.

    Also, chillers are pieces of equipment that you hopefully outgrow - a chiller made by a reputable company is easy to resell.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Northern CA
    the size of the glycol tank on that chiller is crazy. I've got a chiller with 2 7 HP compressors in parallel and the glycol tank only holds about 30 gallons. I've never had a problem with that tank being too small.
    And to echo what others have said I would make sure that your critical systems (including glycol) are made much closer to home where you know you can get service, have someone on the phone if/when something goes wrong. Otherwise what happens when the glycol system goes out and replacement parts need to shipped over from china before you can be running again?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    AN tech?

    Are you talking with An technologies? I´ve seen some of their systems. They seem to be everywhere in Norway. I would stay away. Not the greatest build quality and the electronics are a complete disaster. Also the giant glycol reservoir is plain stupid as pointed out in this thread and they take up a lot of floorspace.
    Marius Graff,
    Head Brewer, Graff Brygghus
    Tromsø, Norway

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Ocean, NJ
    just to echo what others have said, do not skimp on your chiller. You do not want to have it go down with tanks full of beer and then find out there's no support and repair/parts etc are hard to come by. Just give Pro your setup and buy what they recommend. Then have them put you in touch with a local factory trained installer to get it up and running. You'll thank yourself later. Try to save money elsewhere.

    Our first Pro 10hp unit ran trouble free for 5 years... we barely ever even had to think about until we outgrew it - at 120% of the btu capacity we were supposed to be able to get out of it. Our new 40hp unit is from Pro too, they are great!

    **Edit** don't forget Glycol is expensive! Filling a 20bbl reservoir is going to cost you plenty!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Statesboro, GA
    This is my second brewery, I've gone through glycol nightmares, lost drums to leaks, retooled and rebuilt an entire system after a botched install. I understand building for growth.
    We are running two units in tandem, so the thought is if one goes down we should be able to limp by until parts come in.

    I'd hardly consider this cheap, unjacketed, stainless flat bottomed 20bbl reservior fermentation space, but definitely floor space was an issue I have with design. Chiller brand is Kansa. I'd love Domestic, I can't afford Domestic. I'm not getting it from this link, but the info is the same as what my supplier is giving me

    The numbers they hit me with regarding BTU - 1HP=2200Kcal. 1Kcal=4BTU. 5HP=5X2200X4=44000BTU

    We've decided to go with a separate walk-in condenser/evaporater setup rather than try a complicated combination of the system.

    My primary concern is the volume of glycol. I suppose I will have to do rough calculations on total jacket and pipe volume, then I can extrapolate roughly how much I need. I have no intention of filling the glycol tank fully if I can help it.
    Last edited by DecoctionMash; 12-03-2016 at 06:53 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003

    What they said....

    Made in China means you will be sorry. Can't afford to do it right the first time? You'll find the money the second time. What sort of unenforceable warranty did you get? The size of your reservoir should not be directly dependent on your tank glycol volume. Once it's loaded, your glycol should stay there. Your reservoir is like a thermal flywheel and must be sized according to chiller. BTW, your link shows a 50hz system. And it doesn't show a 5hp unit. One more headache from 12 time zones away. Also looks like R22. Not what I'd choose. Also not mentioned above but very important: your rating for any chiller depends on the ambient temperature in which it operates. Here you look good as they specify 35C=95F. The setpoint of your glycol, which they specify as -5C and returning at 0C also look like fairly standard operating conditions. Apparently these units have on-board glycol reservoirs that look normal WRT capacities. Why even use this other tank? Sounds like it may be superfluous. If you want your brewery chiller to work ALL the time and not shut down because of quality issues, then build redundancy into it. We have TWO chillers, EACH one with dual compressors rated at 100% running one at a time. Switch them from A to B compressor every month. We will not have the tail wag our dog. And I sleep well. Best of luck!
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Enterprise, Oregon
    We started with a Frankenchiller, built up by several different parties. It leaked constantly, was very unreliable, and no professional refrigeration company would even consider working on it.

    We then bought a 7 1/2 hp unit from Pro, with which we kept the frankenchiller as back-up. The franken finally died completely, leaving us with only the Pro system, which promptly suffered a burned-out compressor (power problems). It was Friday afternoon when the Pro gave up the ghost, and I called Jim at Pro with our problem. He was at the brewery Saturday morning, after an 8-hour drive, with a new compressor and had it installed and running before noon.

    Who's gonna fix your Chinese chiller?

    We now have a dual-compressor staged Pro chiller and use the original Pro as back-up.

    We use our glycol system to cool a big walk-in, and it's a very bad idea. Walk-in temps and fermenter temps are very different, which means lots of frost on the HX coils in the walk-ion, with long and frequent defrost cycles.
    Timm Turrentine

    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Statesboro, GA
    Very true. I'll look into service technicians to be sure I have someone before I pull the trigger.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Newcastle NSW Australia
    You would be way better of to look for a decent reconditioned local chiller. If the Chinese unit is R22 like Gitchegumee mentioned it wont even clear customs. You will need to supply a freon spec sheet when you book the shipping and once that is revealed they will just say no to entry into the USA and most any other country who is up ozone gases.

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