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Anyone have any thoughts on using copper vs ABS for glycol piping?


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Andrew Logan from Pro Refrigeration, Inc.

Both ABS and Copper are good choices for brewery glycol piping.  What should be avoided is PVC, even Sch. 80, although PVC is likely the most commonly used material in the industry primarily due to its low cost and ease of use.  However, the biggest issue with PVC being used in a brewery or other low temp application is PVC is not rated for temperatures below 32F. Actually, most of the larger PVC manufactures in the US do not rate their materials to be used in applications under +40F. So in choosing piping if you would like to go plastic, I would recommend industrial ABS be used (be cautious to not get the ABS from local hardware stores which are just drainage piping and not rated to be under pressure), since ABS is rated down to -40F. The pre-insulated ABS options out there are typically similar in price to copper once you factor the cost to insulate the copper piping. The benefit is most of these preinsulated options will prevent any sort of condensation or sweating, so your efficiency and longevity of the system will be superior to insulating copper. Insulating copper can still allow the pipe to sweat under the insulation and is commonly seen to lead to mold.mildew issues after a few years. In a food processing application, this is obviously a huge "no-no". 

Aug 9, 2014

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Kinnek Knowledge Team

Both copper tubing and ABS piping are great ways to deliver glycol to a beverage chilling system, and are often preferred over the lower quality and less reliable PVC option. Copper is naturally more expensive, but tends to be more resilient over time. When used properly, it requires less maintenance than ABS. Standard ABS is a plastic, but is still effective and cheaper than copper. Interestingly enough, some brewers have utilized insulated ABS piping, which is pricey but far superior at insulation than standard ABS. What is most important with any piping is attention to insulation and ensuring that your system remains effective over time.

If nothing else, many people think copper looks cooler than plastic, and thus it is often used when units are part of a display.

Does anyone have a strong preference for either type of piping? Has anyone found PVC to be effective?

Dec 5, 2013

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Andrew Logan at Pro Refrigeration, Inc.

The biggest issue with PVC being used in a brewery or other low temp application is PVC is not rated for temperatures below 32F. Actually, most of the larger PVC manufactures in the US do not rate their materials to be used in applications under +40F. So in choosing piping if you would like to go plastic, we would recommend industrial ABS be used (be cautious to not get the ABS from local hardware stores which are just drainage piping and not rated to be under pressure), since ABS is rated down to -40F. The pre-insulated ABS options out there are typically similar in price to copper once you factor the cost to insulate the copper piping. The benefit is most of these preinsulated options will prevent any sort of condensation or sweating, so your efficiency and longevity of the system will be superior to insulating copper. Insulating copper can still allow the pipe to sweat under the insulation and is commonly seen to lead to mold.mildew issues after a few years. In a food processing application, this is obviously a huge "no-no".

Aug 9, 2014

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Mike Unknown from Spiralsystems.com

cant remember the name of the company but if you have a lot of pipe to run there is a company in Texas that sells preinsualated pipe with all the connectors we used them on a large job the savings were pretty large since pipe insulation is very expensive...

Oct 24, 2016

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John Seppamaki from Aqua Products Company, Inc

ABS is a great pipe and we recommend it also. We have seen a more and more Pex Pipe being used below 1". However you will need to insulated the Pex but it is and affordable option.

Aug 12, 2016

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