Do I have the power for a 6" or 8" Column?

edited June 2014 in General

Hey guys,

Long time reader and first time poster, so thanks for all the amazing info you guys have provided.

I am now in the position to upgrade my old keg pot still and venture into the world of plate columns. First of all I have just come across a 230lt (60gallon) old copper hotwater tank in great condition which I bought. It just needs a clean:


So now my question is this - I can build either

  1. a 8" stainless steel column with copper perforated plates, or
  2. a 6" copper or stainless column with copper perforated plates


Both will be 8 individual sections with sight glasses.

I have access to both copper and stainless and can tig weld both.

I know what a lot of you are saying that the clamps and ferrules will cost a lot more for 8" however I have a plan to join the individual sections another way.

I usual make rums and whiskeys so will usually only use 4 plates at a time but 8 for clearer spirit runs.

I would like to go to 8" however will I be able to power it and how much kW elements would I require?

My house has a spa (so I'm guessing 5500kw on that one and run a few extension cords to 3 other circuits 2800kw each) that would make a total of 13,900 kW. Is that enough?

If people don't think it's enough power for 8" is it because it won't make to plates bubble and work or is it because there will be long heat up times?

558 x 476 - 45K


  • Standard household power points are rated for 2400W and you need to make sure the plug is on a different circuit if you are drawing from different points

    You might need to work out how many amps the spa plug can handle

  • My 8" takes about 22,000-35,000 watts to run on a 350 gallon boiler. But I am using Perforated Plates. Bubble Caps use less power but I think you would not be happy with it. Also on a 60 gallon boiler you run time on a 8" would be very fast. To give you an idea. 50gallons of wash at 10% is only going to yield about 6 gallons of high spirits. With my 8" my takeoff time would be only a little over 1 hour to collect 6 gallons.

    I would go with a 6". And your collection would run you around 2.5 hrs or so for the same 6 gallons. An 8" column is bit much for a hobby distiller.

  • I think 13kW is good for distilling, but slow for heatup. My bubble plates flood above 13kW on 8".

    @RedDoorDistillery is probably correct in the recommendation of 6" for a 60 gallon boiler with a max of ~14kW.

  • I think a 4" CD with 8 sections would look good on it...

  • Ok thanks for the advice.

    I will go for the 6" column as I thought the only reason people didn't go 8" was the set up costs but I wasn't sure about the power requirements. So now you have made that clear.

    I was also surprised that 6" column can also produce 6 gallons of high spirits in 2.5 hours. I was thinking it would take 8+ hours. So that is definitely fast enough for me.

    I'll also work out what wattage my spa is and how many independent circuits I can use. Pretty sure I can get the spa and 3 other normal 10A circuits. Fingers crossed.

  • Good luck on your build and please keep us updated.

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