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Dry Point Distillers

Air or electric agitator?

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I decided that agitating my mashes during the cook is necessary for heating and cooling reasons, among others, but can't decide which is better: air or electric driven agitators.  Air is cheaper, but needing an air compressor would require another piece of equipment to research, buy, maintain and listen to when its running.  For those of you with air compressors, is this a problem?  We share some walls with other professional businesses and noise (plus smells, truck traffic, and people making booze!) has made us want tp tip toe around a little.   Ive been looking at a few that will be easily mounted on the sides of my 55 gal stainless tanks.  Air driven agitators are inherently explosion proof too, right?  Maybe they have to be grounded to discharge static?  BUT, explosion proof electric agitators, while costing drastically more, have more versatility as I can use it on my still for on grain runs if I purchase one with a sanitary fitting, and I can agitate mash.  We have the budget for a few air driven agitators but will have to save up for more than one electric.  They are coming up fairly equal in the pros and cons, can you folks weigh in and maybe tip me one way or another? Thanks!

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Keep in mind that low RPMs with high torque and large paddles is best for grain in mashes. Variable speed 25 to 45 rpms max with about 1hp per hundred gallons is my rule of thumb. High RPM direct drive agitators do not work well with thick corn mashes. I suggest that you go with Explosion Proof, electric, geared agitators with VFD drives for thick mash and direct drive higher rpm pneumatic agitators with impellers for blending spirits and for  liquid washes. 

You can use low hp or even fractional hp high rpm pneumatic agitators for liquids, it just means that the turn over time will be longer if you use lower hp in liquid washes.   A $280.00 4hp gast air motor can use 128 cfm of air which means that you will need a $15,000.00 compressor to run it.  We sell agitators with custom shafts and paddles designed to fit your tanks.  Paul 417-778-6100 paul@distillery-equipment.com

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Dry point,

I have used air in a previous life.  It works great as long as you can keep it dry, and are not in the same room with the compressor.  I had major issues in the winter when I did not properly maintain my air dryer.  I had outside lines that would freeze, preventing the air from doing its job.  If all lines are inside this should not pose a problem (or if you are not in a climate that has freezing weather), but I still think you need some type of dryer system.  As far as the noise, my system was fairly large and had its own room.  On our farm our smaller system is noisy, but you can put up with it (I think it is only 21 CFM and has a 60 gallon tank).  As Southern alluded to, make sure you size the air compressor properly and have a large reservoir to draw from so your compressor is not constantly running if you go with air.

Adam

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