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Gas or Electricity?

So I've decided on a 4" Dash column.
It'll be mounted on a 50 L Sanke.

I need to make a call on how I'm going to power the still now.
I've a 9kw propane burner, also considering 2 x 2.4kw elements with a controller on one.

I already have the burner, but am leaning towards the electric elements as I reckon they may be easier to control the power and as a result the still.

Would love to hear people's thoughts on this, pros, cons, over or underpowered?

Comments

  • Either way will work well. If you're a process guy then the electric repeatability may excite you more. If you are creative based then the gas will probably be fine, like cooking it's quite repeatable but has some variations and judging by eye on the flame and then measuring the output by time and fine tuning the flame will get you to the same point.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • With electric, there's the added benefit of being able to run in closed spaces

  • Do both. With a small shield to protect the element power input lead from hot gasses from the burner. Heat using both then go to electric. I have a 50 keg and have 9000w heaters and it only takes 30 min heating up and your away. Nice and quick.

  • edited November 11

    With electric elements you need to keep enough volume in your boiler to keep the elements covered. With gas that is not necessary.

    I run a half barrel sanke keg (58.6L) boiler. I also have a SD GB4 infusion machine that I do small batch gin infusion runs with. Total charge for an infusion run is 5.2L, from which I collect 2.4L of bottle strength gin (I like my gin undiluted at 100 proof). Small batch runs like this would not possible if my boiler was electric-fired.

    A banjo burner and a brass needle valve will give you plenty of repeatable fine tuning for a gas-fired burner.

    “Do I have to explain everything? Can’t you just be amazed and move on?”

  • I just have electric and I like it. But my issue is I am doing it in my garage area and I can really only pull about 7 amps or about 6kw and I am heating up 200l washes. It takes a bit longer but I am not in a hurry most of the time.

  • Its been a long time since posting, but I lean towards electric. Seems more efficient but will depend on how much capacity you can use at a time. Most houses or sheds may only have access to a single 10amp power point. It's not 10 amps for each socket or power points, but separate circuits.

    I'm lucky to have plenty of power, 3 phase and 3 x 15 amp curcits. With 2 x 3600w (15 amp) elements, never bothered adding a third as I doubt I'd use use it much at all. eg 50lt keg I heat in 30mins, can strip fast and be done in an hour, 2nd run is slower as my water tank warms up.

    Normal full runs we never use that much with 4" setups, 2400w will do the job, but having 2 x 2400w will allow you to tweak and push harder/faster outputs when needed, my sweet spot is around 3000w or a tad more.

    With electric the whole setup can be self contained, just a little breathing room around the boiler and still is handy, not forgetting to move buckets and hoses out of the way is handy. Just adjusting a control box, with a display is so easy anyone can do it.

    Another member in my town was all gas until he had a fire one day and caused some damage just while ducking out of the shed for 5 mins, was bad but could have been a lot worse on the day. He went electric after that.

    I personally don't feel comfortable with chucking a gas bottle near the still and lighting it to use while sitting there for hours at a time.

    Mind you lighting a barbie and standing right in front of it with ya tackle only inches away while the thing fails to spark and then goes "woosh" in a big flame up is almost a daily task, does not make sense but that how it is I guess.

    Fadge

  • Fired up the little rig yesterday to run a few test batches of quinoa.

    Electric is so far superior to propane for these little stills it's not even fair to make a comparison. Almost forgot how easy it was to run.

    Just a little twist of the dial, even the finest movement, up 1/4 amp, down 1/2 amp, and the thing is like cruise control.

    I have a ~16kw propane burner, and a 5kw element. Heating on element is half the time.

    The other thing, soot on the bottom of your still, gets all over you hands, pants, makes a mess.

  • Thanks folks, pretty sold on electric alright, more comfortable with it anyhow.

    Now to figure are the pro caps going to be worth the extra cost over the regular bubble caps?

  • They will allow you to run more power and run faster. Assuming you have enough power available and you want to run faster.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited November 14

    If I go electric, I'll have up to 4.8kw at 13 amps

    Is that enough power to get the ProCaps doing their thing?

  • With my 58l keg-based 2: potstill, I strip with the flame on my Cajun Classing burner turned way down, so I've got gobs of power left to over-run my CC-Dimroth condenser, which is way more capable than a Liebig.

    No way it's thermally efficient, but the shit I distill would scorch terribly on an immersion element. Someone recently described the wash going into a Scotch still as "cat's vomit", and that's not a bad description of my single-malt wash.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • edited November 14

    @Username said: If I go electric, I'll have up to 4.8kw at 13 amps

    Is that enough power to get the ProCaps doing their thing?

    Plenty for a 4" column on a 50l boiler.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited November 14

    @grim said: The other thing, soot on the bottom of your still, gets all over you hands, pants, makes a mess.

    You need to adjust your air/gas mixture. When properly tuned there will be no soot.

    “Do I have to explain everything? Can’t you just be amazed and move on?”

  • edited November 14

    @Kapea said: When properly tuned there will be no soot.

    I sometimes distill in a white polyester leisure suit, I'm very sensitive.

  • I would work my still wearing nothing but the neighbours can see into where I do it. I dont mind that either but my wife does.

  • And i thought it was bad splashing hot dunder on my feet!

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @punkin said: And i thought it was bad splashing hot dunder on my feet!

    You have dinosaur scales on your feet. That couldn't possibly have hurt?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @grim said: I sometimes distill in a white polyester leisure suit,

    Leisure Suit Larry!!!! lol

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