To insulate or not?

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buffalobob
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To insulate or not?

Post by buffalobob » Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:33 pm

I've swapped my copper mesh packing for scrubbies. The copper mesh had good thermal mass so I didn't bother with any insulation on either my boiler or column. Would it be better for me to insulate my column now? It's cold in what passes for my distillery so I'll be insulating my boiler anyway, but I seem to remember reading on another site about someone who removed his column insulation and had better efficiency. Thinking back tho it might have been someone extolling the virtues of marbles v scrubbies :confused: and in all probability it was somewhere a bit warmer than N.Yorks in November :D
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Northern Stiller
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by Northern Stiller » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:32 pm

Hi bob

Personally I've never bothered with insulation before but must admit I insulated my boiler today for the first time not sure if it helped.

But in regards to your coloum I think the cold air helps with the reflux and efficiency but if you're in a draft I'm pretty sure that can mess with your equilibrium in the coloum.

Have you still got some copper in the vapour path?

From a fellow cold northerner :snowman:
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buffalobob
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by buffalobob » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:31 am

Eyup northern stiller, my column is 2" X 40" copper with a 6"" copper mesh plug just above the boiler, so yes, plenty of copper :D. I'm positive insulating the boiler will shorten my heat up time now it's getting colder. What did you use for insulation mate?
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Mash
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by Mash » Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:30 am

Insulation for boilers does work. It will shorten boil times, increase stability & use less electricity.

The stability point should also effect the column too, which should only be a good thing? You might find the sweet spot is different and isn't stable until the insulation is fully warmed up.
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myles
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by myles » Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:40 am

Yes to insulation on both the boiler and the column.
It is not as important with a stainless column as that leaks less energy into the air.

Copper however looses a LOT of energy into the air, and ideally you want that energy inside the column. You do not want the column acting as a radiator.

Easiest way is to use preformed foam pipe insulation that is available in any size. I just get mine from an air conditioning seller on ebay or amazon. Don't insulate the reflux condenser though.

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buffalobob
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by buffalobob » Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:37 am

Thanks for the advice everyone:thumbsup: I'll get my lovely still, Urnestine a nice warm winter outfit- she deserves it. My column is being a radiator at the moment Myles :oops: I read somewhere that copper is twenty times better than ss at conducting heat. It makes sense to get my rig sorted before my next run especially as it's in an unheated draughty room. Cheers everyone, Bob.
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Northern Stiller
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by Northern Stiller » Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:08 pm

Alrite our kid

I'm from tother side of Pennines. I got a neoprene style jacket with the boiler but I have another which I was thinking of using the bubble silver wrap.

Must admit I didn't notice much difference with the insulation on the boiler but that's maybe because mine is stainless and so is my coloum .
Thanks for all the great advice everyone.
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Easydrinker
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by Easydrinker » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:39 pm

Siver bubble wrap seems Ok
I don't believe the lagging/thermal loss claims of the seller.
But for sure it keeps some heat in.
Depending upon where you distll, this may save you time and money.

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myles
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by myles » Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:00 pm

My LM still is fairly low power. Just a 3 kW element in a small keg boiler that I run with a 3 inch copper column.
LM 1.png
I use a double layer of aluminium bubble wrap on most the keg to keep in the heat. I find it does reduce the warm up time, my still room is unheated and not insulated - basically a converted garage/store room, so it is definitely on the cool side. :lol:

I also insulate the column for stability. This rig is not fast but it is steady. I have tried running packed columns at the maximum power level and I really did not like it. You are constantly seconds away from disaster. I prefer to cruise along at a lower power level with a bigger safety margin. Slower but steady.

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Easydrinker
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Re: To insulate or not?

Post by Easydrinker » Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:11 pm

I have viewed many videos of home stills running "on the edge".
Slower and steady makes sense to me!

Robert.
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