Thursday, February 23, 2017

Replace broken Beverage Chiller with Chest Freezer

The refurbished chiller that I have been using to cool the water and seltzer (carbonated water) for the soda tower finally gave out on me.I got it from I think the compressor failed. It was rather noisy and inefficient anyway so I don't feel bad.
This is the guts of the chiller, There is a compressor, evaporator, and coils where the refrigerant runs to cool the water below.

The problem is that replacement would be rather expensive, > $1000. My carbonator still works and there are no other problems with the system.
I decided to DIY a chiller from a chest freezer.
I found a GE chest freezer on craigslist. 5.0 cubic feet. $75.

 I picked it up and went to work.
I drilled two holes at the top of the left side to pass the lines.
I then placed the coils from the chiller inside the freezer.

Next I filled the freezer with 4 cases of bottled water to maintain the temperature.
I bought a temperature controller to turn the freezer into a refrigerator. The controller is set to keep the temp between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius. It converts the freezer to a refrigerator. If it were to freeze, the pipes would burst and I would have a flood on my hands.

Hooked it all up. Put the temp probe toward the bottom of the freezer to get the coldest reading. Put some putty to fill the holes.

Plugged it in and turned it on.
For under $100 I replaced my chiller with a much nicer looking, quieter, and more energy efficient solution.

Monday, May 2, 2016

DIY home Soda (Seltzer) and Cold water

The other two spouts on the soda tower are for cold water and seltzer.
Items needed to make this happen:
Remote chiller - 2 flavor
McCann's Big Mac Carbonator (or similar item)
Carbon dioxide CO2 tank with regulator
water pressure regulator
connectors, tubing, and fittings, 1/4" and 3/8"

Simplified explanation:
Water is carbonated by pressurizing it with carbon dioxide and then chilling it. The best way to pressurize water in a soda fountain application is with a carbonator. The carbonator forces (pumps) water into a pressurized cylinder containing CO2 and keeps it there until the valve is opened on the draft arm which allows the carbonated water to flow out. Periodically a the water pump is restarted when a float valve senses low water level in the pressurized cylinder. Water can dissolve ore CO2 when the pressure of the CO2 is high and the temperature is low (but not freezing). The chiller is a water bath that is cooled by a refrigeration system and there are tubes running through the water bath to cool the fluids running through the tubes. The chiller can support one or multiple flavors or types of fluid that is cooled depending on how it is designed. My set-up uses two flavors - plain cold water and carbonated cold water.

Instant Hot Water with custom wall mount faucet - open vent

I found a way to install an open vent instant hot water heater with a custom faucet in a wall mount application. This was a little tricky to pull off and may not be safe or suitable for residential use.

The problem:
Instant hot water faucets do not come in the wall mount variety. Standard faucets can not be used because instant hot water heaters are designed to be open vent.

What is open vent?
Here is my understanding. Hot water heaters must have an emergency release valve if they are pressurized. This is expensive and messy. The instant hot water designers decided to design their heaters without an emergency release and instead keep the tank un-pressurized. This is done by having the open/close valve on the intake side of the heater and not having a valve at the faucet side. This way if the water boils in the tank it simply spurts out of the open faucet. There is never any pressure build up in the tank. So that is good, but there is a downside. The valve arrangement is not typical and only faucets designed with this complicated arrangement can be used. The cold water supply line goes to the faucet, hits the valve and then travels to the hot water heater and then back to the faucet out the spout with no further restriction.

How to design a DIY open vent faucet?
There are different ways of implementing this. I chose a solenoid actuated valve with a push button actuator operating with a low voltage transformer. The push button is normally open (NO) type and is mounted next to the spout.

Quick & Hot AH-1300
center is 3/8" outlet side is 1/4" inlet
Silicone tubing 3/8" with barbed 3/8" to 1/4" reducer to 1/4" silicone tubing used for outlet.
Inlet is standard 1/4" quick connect and plastic tubing
hot water heater

This shows the quick connect male adapters connected to the 1/4" female threads of the solenoid valve. The wires (electrical connection) can be seen behind it.

solenoid valve (1/4")

Silicone tubing for the hot water line from the hot water heater

Custom wall mount faucet with stainless steel push button and drip tray
The faucet has no valve on it, it is a curved section of 3/8" pipe. The stainless steel hot/cold/seltzer tower was designed and created by Craig at Willtec

I used 12 volt transformer and the push button and some wire to make the connections to actuate the solenoid valve.