How do I use a CO2 Gas Regulator for Beverage Dispensing?
What is the difference between a soda regulator and a regulator?
Typically beer is carbonated at a much lower pressure (6-20 psi) than most commercially produced sodas and will fluctuate depending upon beer style. Usually an operating range of 0-60 psi, with some exceptions. In contrast, a soda regulator is designed to operate at higher levels (0-160 psi).
When carbonating with a regulator, pressure for a soda can vary greatly depending upon personal preference. (3.0-5.5 volumes) Try 25-40 p.s.i. (to see what you enjoy best) and avoid generating carbonic acid. CO2 absorption will occur faster when liquid is at refrigeration temperatures. (34-38*f.) The longer you have your liquid under pressure, the greater the saturation. In beer, we believe you achieve better results using lower pressure for an extended period. (That is you will have a smaller bubble, slowly rising to the top rather than large bubbles escaping too quickly and tasting flat. We suggest seven days) For many craft-brewed beers, a warmer temperature for consumption is advised. We’ve always promoted the concept of dispensing at matching volumes of CO2, at that cooler temperature range and then let the beer warm in the glass.
With my Kegerator
With a Jockey Box
Commercial or Custom Installation
The Parts of a CO2 Regulator
- High pressure gauge (indicates existing pressure in the CO2 cylinder)
- Low pressure gauge (reads the amount of internal keg pressure)
- Pressure adjustment (before tapping the keg, screw clockwise until low pressure gauge indicates the desired pressure)
- CO2 inlet nipple
- CO2 inlet nut
- Pressure relief valve
- Optional shut-off valve
- Outlet fittings
What is a regulator?
it is any device to control the flow rate of liquids, solids, and various gases.
When using Carbon Dioxide for beverages, it needs to be at a much lower pressure and in a gaseous state. For storage Carbon Dioxide is best in a high pressure liquid form, the regulator allows for safe, reliable depressurization of the high pressure CO2 in the tank to be used to carbonate and dispense your beverage.
CO2 storage and safety?
At room temperature CO2 generally will be at 700-900 p.s.i. CO2 tanks have built-in pressure safety valve. If the pressure gets to be at unsafe levels, it will rupture! While CO2 tanks do not explode when punctured, like some other flammable gases. Once burst the mass evacuation of CO2 can be quite startling and hazardous if contained in a small space. The tank will frost over as gas escapes and tend to spin rapidly and possibly cause personal injury. ( WARNING: Death through asphyxiation can occur, if in a contained area, without proper ventilation.)
The pressure inside a tank is affected by temperature; in other words, the hotter the outside temperature, the higher the pressure. CO2 cylinder safeties may vary from different manufacturers but generally are set to release at approximately 1800 p.s.i. Unsafe storage temperatures start around 130 degrees f and higher.
CO2 regulators are specifically designed for CO2 gas. Do not use a regulator for a gas it is not intended to regulate. Component material compatibility and design pressure vary based on the gas.
Standard CO2 thread (CGA-320 thread) is not tapered. Using sealants or Teflon tape will not prevent leakage. Tension against the tank valve is what will make a proper seal on a CO2 tank. In the industry, while less torque may work, 20-30 ft/lbs of torque should ensure that no leaking occurs between the connection of tank to regulator. A plastic washer, fiber washer, or built-in O-ring is needed to make the seal. Without them leaking is almost certainly going to occur. It’s astonishing how fast a full tank can leak out, even with a small leak which cannot be heard. We recommend turning the gas cylinder gate valve “Off” when not in use.
What should my pressure be for my beer?
For dark heavy beers generally, low pressure is advised. 7-10 p.s.i. For many lighter lagers, a regulator setting of 10- 14 psi is recommended. Continental and light pilsners require higher CO2 pressure from 11-15 psi. Belgian beers, wheat beers, and sours are generally at the highest range from 15-20 p.s.i.
What is the difference between a primary regulator and a secondary regulator?
Primary regulators are designed to handle cylinder pressure and generally thread straight on to a CO2 cylinder, or in conjunction with high-pressure hoses to mount remotely from CO2 bottle if desired. Secondary regulators are primarily designed to be connected after a primary through the low-pressure outlet. Your primary will always be the higher of the two or more in any system.
For example, you cannot achieve a primary setting of 15 psi and a secondary setting of 16 or higher p.s.i.
Many secondary regulators can handle Maximum inlet pressure of 900 psi. However, this is not always true. Some may only handle 300 psi Maximum inlet pressure should be shown, stamped, or otherwise labeled somewhere on the regulator bonnet. That is also where you’ll find information upon the types of gases your regulator can handle. For example, some CO2 regulators may not be rated to handle Nitrogen or Argon.
What grade is the CO2 you have for sale?
We sell pre-filtered industrial-grade, which has long been used in the industry. There are various grades, such as medical and food-grade CO2. Those grades may be quite expensive. We check to make sure all the cylinders we fill are appropriately certified and have no foreign substances accidentally backfilled inside the cylinder. If we see liquid coming out of the cylinder, we consider it contaminated and won’t refill them. They should be taken to a proper gas facility for draining/ removal and rusting steel tanks should be sandblasted and re-certified. We consider each cylinder brought to us as an individual’s property, so we will refill on the spot in our store, and will not exchange cylinders. (I.e., If you purchase a tank from us, bring it to us exclusively for refilling, that way, the exact same one will always remain your tank.)
How do I know if my CO2 tank is empty?
Many tanks will have a T.W. ( Ter weight) stamped on the shoulder. The tank may also be marked with M.T with a weight in pounds (lbs) following. The most accurate way to know is to weigh it on a scale. The average aluminum 5 lb capacity CO2 cylinder weighs about 7.5 lbs when empty & 10 lb capacity aluminum tanks may weigh 15 lbs empty. However, they are not always accurate, and steel cylinders can vary widely or be much heavier.
Once you have a starting weight recorded, you can use that to measure how much liquid in pounds remain in your cylinder ( Each tank contains that amount of liquid CO2.). As a rule of thumb consider a 5lb tank can dispense approximately 6-10 kegs, and a 10 lb tank can dispense about 10-18 kegs.
Can I use a welding regulator for my draft beer system?
We have seen people using them, stating that it functions just fine. While we understand why people might want to utilize them, we cannot recommend them, for the following reasons. First, they may not contain a proper filter. Second, they may not be very accurate. While CO2 is a gas sometimes used in that industry, other gases such as are argon and helium which may be inappropriate. We’d always suggest a beverage regulator, with adequate filtration and un-contaminated aluminum cylinder be used.
How can I tell if there is a leak in my draft system.?
If the leak is great enough, you may be able to hear it. We’ve seen where an empty tank at room temperature can leak and then re-seal once filled. Without a scientific explanation, we can presume that the expansion/contraction of the type of metal may cause this strange anomaly. In any event, caution should be used to ensure that the cylinder doesn’t begin leaking again. By checking your regulator readings frequently, and by closing the cylinder gate vale, at least you won’t lose all of your CO2 overnight without your knowledge. Detecting and isolating CO2 leaks can be very frustrating. If your regulator has a shut-off valve, you can use it to trap CO2 in the regulator. Overnight your readings should remain true. (i.e., If you have no leaks, the needles will not have moved. Assuming the temperature has not significantly changed. Inside your refrigerator that tank pressure gauge typically will read around 400-500 p.s.i. At room temperature 750-900 p.s.i.) By utilizing a mixture of the leak detector and water, or soapy solution, in a spray bottle, sometimes that is your ultimate tool. Spay all surfaces, starting with the regulator then work your way down to keg coupler, or other connection used on alternate keg (Corny kegs). Many leaks occur at the connection between the cylinder and inlet nut of the regulator. ( It may be that the regulator was not tightened enough.) During the lifetime of a standard regulator, leaks can develop. In this case, repair may become necessary. Most commonly the ports of regulators are ¼ f.n.p.t. L.H. or R.H. It’s a tapered thread, so re-seating/ re-sealing the pressure gauges, or outlet aircock may fix the problem. If leaking is detected out from the bleed valve ( The little hole in the bonnet), a re-build may be required. Often the diaphragm is blamed for it, but it’s almost always the poppet valve behind the diaphragm that is the real culprit. Replacing the poppet fixes 99% of those types of problems.