Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

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Wazza
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Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Wazza » Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:32 pm

I recently bought myself the kit needed to start all grain brewing. I got it from a guy who had all the intentions of brewing but never did. Luckily for me it's all brand new and still in its original wrapping !!
Included in the kit is an immersion cooler and a 16 plate chiller. Being a newbie to brewing I am asking advice as to the advantages and disadvantages to using these.
Obviously the first issue would be sanitation and I understand cleaning a plate chiller is a bit of a nightmare against dropping an IC in the boiling wort.
I don't have any pumps etc so it would have to be gravity fed at this point.

Any help from you experts would be greatly appreciated

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by lord groan » Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:55 pm

I use an immersion chiller, and I've never used a plate chiller so I can only comment on the first. For me it works very well but it does really need me to stay with it to keep stirring the wort so I avoid hot and cold spots. When the wort is cool cleaning it is easy, a quick blast from the garden hose and it's done.
I believe the plate chiller can be left unattended, and they are very efficient indeed, but the drawback you've already mentioned is the cleaning but you'll need someone who's used one to comment on that.
I use the immersion chiller and have no plans to change if that helps?
Cheers lg

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Jocky
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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Jocky » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:14 pm

I've used both, starting with an expensive plate chiller which I then ditched for a cheap immersion.

The immersion is so easy to use and clean, whereas I never could get on with the ridiculous cleaning/sanitisation regime for the plate chiller before and after each brew.

I'd only go back to a plate chiller if I expanded my brew lengths to 100 Litres or more.
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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Matt in Birdham » Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:39 pm

I too have only used an IC. They work extremely well, with the only drawback being the stirring requirement that groan mentioned. The thought of having to clean and sanitise yet another piece of equipment really put me off the idea of a plate chiller, plus the extra requirements in terms of filtering. There is also a debate to he had about the different nature of the cooling; with an IC, you are bringing the whole volume of wort down in temperature at the same time, whereas with a plate chiller you are normally chilling just a small amount at a time (but extremely quickly). What this does is leave the rest of the wort at warmer temperatures for longer, although of course it is possible to recirculate whilst plate chilling to mitigate that effect somewhat (but more hassle as well, and a pump is needed). Potentially this difference in cooling regime could have an impact on the finished beer (good or bad), especially when a lot of late hops are used.
Given that ICs are also somewhat cheaper, have extremely basic cleaning requirements (spray off the gunk at the end) and require no filtering, it was a no brainer for me.

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Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Secla » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:07 pm

I had a plate chiller on my old setup and I'd only use one again on larger batches !
Ic is hassle free so use one where you can get away with it

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Kyle_T » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:18 pm

I have my IC mounted inside my boiler and is of a suitable dimension to avoid any cold spots, I can also recirculate with a pump to keep the wort moving over the coils.
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Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by f00b4r » Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:42 pm

I moved from a copper to stainless steel immersion cooler when I bought a Braumeister, expecting a drop in efficiency, but it appears to not be much different, is much easier to clean and I don't have to worry about potential toxic deposits. If you go for an immersion cooler consider stainless steel.

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by vacant » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:07 am

Apart from a few no-chill brews I use an immersion chiller. As Matt said, ICs perform better with attention. I find gently lifting the IC up and down seems to maximise the "out" pipe temperature.

20 minutes plus doing that is pretty boring for a 23 ltr brew length and of course it takes longer in the summer with warmer water or larger brews.

Without agitation they are less efficient but if you're using waste water who cares? ...

I aim for 41 ltr into the fermenter (two corny kegs) and mix 10-20% very hard tap water with Reverse Osmosis water from my filter. Producing 40 ltr RO results in around 160 ltr waste water which I use for cooling using a cheap slow submersible aquarium pump. Last Tuesday's brew took an hour to cool without stirring/agitation. Warm waste water from the IC was collected for cleaning the gear while I managed a lot of tidying away.

Cleaning the IC? Dunk it in the pot of warm waste water.
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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Aleman » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:45 am

I use a big plate chiller for my big batches, as I can't get a IC into the kettle. It works really well chilling 100L down to pitching temp in around 15 minutes . . . but does require pumps and a 'Skip No Step' cleaning and sanitising process, but with pumps it's not that hard.

With the BM I use the stainless IC coil, and it is incredibly efficient. I do however use a small plate chiller to chill the coolant when the wort gets to around 35C . . . I just hook it up to the Python of my Maxi chiller.

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by timbowden » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:53 am

I have both and always use my plate chiller as it does the job with little intervention from me and much quicker than an IC. I sanitise it at the same time that i sanitise my fermentation vessels so no hassle there. The only plus i can see with the IC is that the cold break gets left in the boiler whereas with the plate chiller it gets passed into the fv. Never had any issues though as i tend to rack off after a week or so. I have a Blichman Thrueometer attached the exit pipe from the plate chiller so i can easily manage the temperature of the wort going into the FV , this makes it soooo easy!
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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by guypettigrew » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:00 pm

Kyle_T wrote:I have my IC mounted inside my boiler and is of a suitable dimension to avoid any cold spots, I can also recirculate with a pump to keep the wort moving over the coils.
Absolute genius!!! Why didn't I think of this? Instead of stirring for 20 minutes I can get the pump to do all the work. Astoundingly simple, like all the best ideas.

Thanks, Kyle_T

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Wazza » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:27 pm

Wow thanks guys, so much information. As I am a novice I think I'll start by using the IC. Maybe later when I've got my processes tuned in I'll try the PC

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by f00b4r » Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:36 am

guypettigrew wrote:
Kyle_T wrote:I have my IC mounted inside my boiler and is of a suitable dimension to avoid any cold spots, I can also recirculate with a pump to keep the wort moving over the coils.
Absolute genius!!! Why didn't I think of this? Instead of stirring for 20 minutes I can get the pump to do all the work. Astoundingly simple, like all the best ideas.

Thanks, Kyle_T

Guy
Pumps do make it really easy, the BM one also works fantastically to save sore arms (just remember to turn it off if you want to whirlpool).

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by donnyo » Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:06 am

I used both a homemade IC and plate chiller and just use PC now.
In my opinion IC's are cheap and easy to make and use/ clean but I did wonder about why my copper 10mm IC went in one colour and came out shiny. That oxidised copper was now in my beer so I looked at stainless IC and that's a serious lot of money. If you have a pump then so long as you have a decent hopstopper and or hop spider and a filter before the pump then a PC will be massively quicker. By throttling back on output side of a magnetically coupled pump I can reduce flow to maximise cooling in my PC so I can literally pump out 50l of boiling wort straight out of kettle into my fermenter at precisely 20°C in 15 mins which speeds up my brew day hugely and crucially reduces the time that nasties could try and get at my beer. Well i say that but i do it in 2 steps now. First drop from 100 to 80° so my aroma hops can be added for 20 mins then drop from 80 to 20.
So a PC is much faster than an IC for me. You ought to have a filter in front of a pump anyway so my PC is sort of protected.
I always heat up more than I need in my HLT so I can flush through pump and PC immediately after use with hot water but agree it's trickier to clean a PC than an IC.
You have kindly reminded me to put my old IC up for sale though!

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Re: Immersion chiller or plate chiller?

Post by Jocky » Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:11 am

Wazza wrote:Wow thanks guys, so much information. As I am a novice I think I'll start by using the IC. Maybe later when I've got my processes tuned in I'll try the PC
You mention in your original post you don't have a pump. I'm not sure about others but I found that a pump was essential for the sanitisation/cleaning of the plate chiller.
Ingredients: Water, Barley, Hops, Yeast, Seaweed, Blood, Sweat, The swim bladder of a sturgeon, My enemies tears, Scenes of mild peril, An otter's handbag and Riboflavin.

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