Beer-line motorised valves

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Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Mon Jul 18, 2016 19:34

What's available to electrically open and close beer-lines (3/8" pipe)?

All I'm getting hunting about is the central heating motorised valves. No good (and expensive). I know of the "solar project" motorised valves but still on the expensive side (and for 15mm plumbing, not 3/8" or 10mm). The CO2 is turned on by power (aquarium regulator) and I'd rather like the beer-lines to be too to avoid the hand-pump dragging beer out of an unpressured keg - it's happened before and results in the beer going off ("corny" kegs, when there's no pressure a hand-pump will cause air to be sucked past the lid seal).
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Mon Jul 18, 2016 20:00

Change search to "solenoid water valve". Now got more than I can shake a stick at, but mainly from China it seems.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby Kyle_T » Mon Jul 18, 2016 20:45

Check valve and john guest on/off valve.

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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Mon Jul 18, 2016 23:56

"Check valves" already in place and won't help for intended purpose. I wish they weren't called "check valves" because it grates with the plumber in me and when I started out actually tried to use check valves, with some success too (although historically they may well have been check valves). JG valves have also been used but are of course manual; its just so very simple to forget them and leave them open.

The regulator now has to be switched on (as part of my purge of crappy "welders'" kit), the intention is for the same power switch to open the beer lines so no beer can be accessed without the CO2 backup. That should foil any hand-pump misuse? Added advantage is that any leaks that may otherwise have gone un-noticed have limited effect (my first CO2 cylinder was empty in 9 months; that's very quick when I hardly use the stuff). The Chinese "solenoid valves" are very cheap (£2-3) and look like the solution, but I have had "disappointments" buying from China.

Anyway, I know where this is leading Kyle: You're going to rub it in again that I collected "Corny" kegs instead of going for real kegs/casks. Well I've "made my bed" so that's what I've got to "sleep in".
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby Kyle_T » Tue Jul 19, 2016 06:36

Mate, I honestly couldn't give a toss what you use to store your beer. It doesn't affect my life. You asked about valves.

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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby Goulders » Tue Jul 19, 2016 09:07

When Kyle says check valve I think he means a demand valve (same thing? I don't know). But pubs use them and I bought one recently.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby Kev888 » Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:59

Check valves are different to demand valves; the former are usually intended to ensure flow only goes one way, whilst demand valves are intended to allow the beer past only when the hand pump calls for it (to prevent keg pressure pushing it through at other times). In this case though, it seems neither are the ticket; what is wanted is an on/off electrical valve.

Unfortunately the only cheap ones I know of are the appliance solenoid valves (like washing machines); most are inlet valves but a few are in-line barbed types. However many have quite small orifice diameters, and I'm a bit concerned the restriction could cause foaming. Some do have larger orifices, though suppliers tend not to use specs (rather replacement part numbers) so its hard to tell before purchase. I believe some can overheat if used for longish periods, too - generally they hold open just whilst the machine fills and that kind of thing. So they may work but some would be better than others.

EDIT: Would an alternative be some sort of lock-out or cover on the beer engine, so that removing it to use the engine switches on the gas? I doubt you'd actually need a properly secure one, just something that will be bleeding obvious if you go to use the tap.

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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Tue Jul 19, 2016 17:05

Goulders wrote:When Kyle says check valve I think he means a demand valve (same thing? I don't know). But pubs use them and I bought one recently.

Yeah, a demand valve, and "kev888" gives a good description of the difference. But like I said I did try to use a real check valve (a JG one) with some success: I was relying on its "cracking pressure" to hold back what little pressure there was in the keg (fitted with a 37mbar LPG regulator - a poor mans' "breather"). It worked with 37mbar LPG regulators but not the variable (50-150mbar) ones I use now. A check valve used like this prevents beer being sucked back out of the glass (wouldn't happen with a well kept hand-pump anyway).

Last edited by PeeBee on Thu Jul 28, 2016 07:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Tue Jul 19, 2016 17:38

Kev888 wrote:Check valves are different to demand valves; the former are usually intended to ensure flow only goes one way, whilst demand valves are intended to allow the beer past only when the hand pump calls for it (to prevent keg pressure pushing it through at other times). In this case though, it seems neither are the ticket; what is wanted is an on/off electrical valve.

Unfortunately the only cheap ones I know of are the appliance solenoid valves (like washing machines); most are inlet valves but a few are in-line barbed types. However many have quite small orifice diameters, and I'm a bit concerned the restriction could cause foaming. Some do have larger orifices, though suppliers tend not to use specs (rather replacement part numbers) so its hard to tell before purchase. I believe some can overheat if used for longish periods, too - generally they hold open just whilst the machine fills and that kind of thing. So they may work but some would be better than others.

EDIT: Would an alternative be some sort of lock-out or cover on the beer engine, so that removing it to use the engine switches on the gas? I doubt you'd actually need a properly secure one, just something that will be bleeding obvious if you go to use the tap.

Humm.... your "edit" certainly sounds like a viable alternative. After all its not for "security" it's for daft sods like me who operate the hand pump without switching on the CO2 (and sucking air into the keg, etc.). Thanks for that.

This is a typical Chinese one I found: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Electric-Solenoid-Valve-Magnetic-DC-12V-N-C-Water-Air-Inlet-Flow-Switch-1-2-New-/251966771532?hash=item3aaa63d14c:g:H90AAOSwI-BWOcN6.

I also found a UK based source that would give 3/8" pushfit options: http://www.solenoid-valve.world/by-material/plastic-nylon-pvc-ptfe-delrin-pp/rpe-push-fit-valve. Very helpful, but distanced themselves from the idea when they figured it was for beer, not water. But the same bunch also did cheap low-pressure regulators which was handy to know.

Both options had the suspicious pressure requirement of a minimum 3PSI flowing liquid, apparently it needs the pressure to properly close. Bit of a problem as my beer is only at 1-2PSI. But I'm thinking the (negative) pressure (suction) created by the pump if there is an attempt to use it might do the job. Another one of those "suck it and see" jobs.

Odd, I didn't think I was asking for anything unusual. I get the impression I come under the heading of "crack-pot" (actually surviving a severe TBI probably automatically puts me in the "crack-pot" category?). :P
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Thu Jul 21, 2016 16:21

Went for these: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/221717168845.

Claim to operate at 0psi (although I concluded the hand-pumps would provide the otherwise required pressure to seal the valves), I'll be looking out for overheating when holding the valve open as "Kev888" warned.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PhatFil » Thu Jul 21, 2016 21:17

I think you may want to look at motorised ball valves, and allow them to fully open prior to starting the pour, (can take 10 seconds ..)

the solanoid valves even those that work without back pressure will open a narrow path for the beer and will risk you fobbing considerably.


dont you flush the pump out post session as to not leave it with beer stood in it? if so you would need to isolate the beer manually anyway?

ps im not an engine user so just assumed it would be best practice not to leave it stood with beer inside for a few days or longer between a session? if it gets left a few days that is :)
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Fri Jul 22, 2016 00:31

PhatFil wrote:...
the solanoid valves even those that work without back pressure will open a narrow path for the beer and will risk you fobbing considerably.
...

I see what you mean (I've been Googling the inner workings of these things). I might get away with it because of the very low carbonation levels of hand-pumped beer. But I can forget about using these things on free-flow taps. But some hand-pumped ale seems to have a hell of a lot of "residual" carbonation even after 36 hours of "venting". I'll have to wait and see (it'll be a couple of weeks before they turn up).

PhatFil wrote:...
dont you flush the pump out post session as to not leave it with beer stood in it? if so you would need to isolate the beer manually anyway?
...

Pump flushing is minimal (it is near impossible to dry out the pumps after flushing, so the first pint is "watered down" and that's worse than the occasional very light acetic taint). But "manual" valves are out because it won't be long before I open the valve and operate the pump while forgetting to turn on the CO2 (only lost a pint last time I did it, next time...). That's the point of having a single switch to enable the hand-pumps (one single act to remember, or no beer!).

Leave beer stood in the pump? Is that what I'm supposed to do? Hum... perhaps I don't do what's good for me.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PhatFil » Fri Jul 22, 2016 17:45

Ha, im sure your system works well for you, I know nothing, just shooting the breeze..


while not a one button solution, how about a simple low tech mechanical approach, employ a strong spring to compress or pinch closed a short length of more flexible tube in the feed line and a foot pedel/lever to open the 'pinch' it may need beefy springs and levers to operate to compress some silicone tube with a thick enough wall not to collapse with the pumps suction.
closed by default needing foot down on the lever to open up and pour?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-2-Way-1-2 ... ThU21AOzCQ
[IMG]http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/C1wAAOSwBLlVVWX3/s-l1600.jpg{/IMG]
is the sort of thing a few folk have used on the hot side of brewery automation?
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Mon Jul 25, 2016 21:21

A piccie of what this is all about:
20160724_132903.jpg
20160724_132903.jpg (103.48 KiB) Viewed 1748 times

But along the way they modified the design of those regulators a bit and now regulate at 5bar not 3-3.5 which is why the gauges are all over the place (the safety valve has gone off). But the relevant bit is the black box under the regulator, it's a solenoid switch, and as the gas-lines have got one, why not the beer-lines?

The regulator is modified slightly from "as purchased" - the "needle valve" was carefully removed and the pressure gauge, manifold and safety valve assembly attached directly in its place.

Note the 6mm gas pipes, another import from the aquarium world and a lot less faff than that rigid 3/8" stuff. And the price of all this classy stuff is no more than the Neanderthal welding regulators we home-brewers seem to have become so attached to.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:40

PhatFil wrote:Ha, im sure your system works well for you, I know nothing, just shooting the breeze..


while not a one button solution, how about a simple low tech mechanical approach, employ a strong spring to compress or pinch closed a short length of more flexible tube in the feed line and a foot pedel/lever to open the 'pinch' it may need beefy springs and levers to operate to compress some silicone tube with a thick enough wall not to collapse with the pumps suction.
closed by default needing foot down on the lever to open up and pour?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-2-Way-1-2 ... ThU21AOzCQ
[IMG]http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/C1wAAOSwBLlVVWX3/s-l1600.jpg{/IMG]
is the sort of thing a few folk have used on the hot side of brewery automation?

Thanks!

The "foot pedal" idea is interesting, but doesn't stop me stomping on it without turning on the gas (although the pedal could have a micro-switch that turns on the gas too... humm...).

I ordered a pair of solenoid valves to see if they'll work. But the SS motorised ball vales look like a good fall back, especially for free-flow taps. I use one like it in my brewery, but haven't seen them that cheap (but there's no stock :( ).
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PhatFil » Wed Jul 27, 2016 15:37

sorry about the out of stock link, ss versions seem thin on the ground on ebay atm, lots of brass tho..

if the problem your trying to avoid is a pull on the pump without co2 pressure how about fitting an inline flow meter on the beerline, and use that to trigger on flow the opening of the gas valve?? you could also then employ the flow meter to measure the volume of beer pulled and indicate the volume left in the cask ;) Im assuming the co2 on/off is via a needle valve and therfore almost instantly on/off??
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Thu Jul 28, 2016 16:30

PhatFil wrote:sorry about the out of stock link, ss versions seem thin on the ground on ebay atm, lots of brass tho..

if the problem your trying to avoid is a pull on the pump without co2 pressure how about fitting an inline flow meter on the beerline, and use that to trigger on flow the opening of the gas valve?? you could also then employ the flow meter to measure the volume of beer pulled and indicate the volume left in the cask ;) Im assuming the co2 on/off is via a needle valve and therfore almost instantly on/off??

Thanks for the suggestion. :thumb:

I had looked into "flow sensors" but your post got me looking again and I found some much cheaper devices this time round. But it seems to be quite an involved DIY job; I think I'll wait now for the solenoid valves to turn up and see if they'll do the job, but I won't lose sight of this (and the other) suggestion in case solenoid valves fail to meet expectation (and I might turn my attention to the free flow taps which I now doubt solenoid valves will handle because you hinted at foaming problems; but they're a minor consideration just now because for them if the pressure drops to 0psi the beer stops coming out!).

Yes, the gas solenoid is instantly off (it creates some "burping" switching on, but instantly on for all practical purposes).
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Fri Jul 29, 2016 19:33

An updated picture with the pressure gauges reading what they are supposed to (courtesy of a new 115psi safety valve). There's also the "portable" version in shot using an older version of the regulator by CO2Art (only 3-3.5 bar output) and no solenoid switch on this one.
20160729_182249_WEB.jpg
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PhatFil » Fri Jul 29, 2016 20:44

search Jims and thbf for 'brewshark' you should find stevela's arduino hlt filler which uses a flow meter and a solanoid valve to fill a hlt with a specific volume +/- 5%. That should act as a roadmap for using flowmeters, with a lil modification you could also have a measure of pints pulled too ;)
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Mon Aug 08, 2016 16:00

Valves tested: They work great with the hand-pumps, as I expected they would, after all the small restriction they create is nothing compared to a "sparkler".

There was no obvious detriment when used with free-flow taps and a beer pressured at 7-8psi (at room temperature). But a beer at 15-20psi fobbed like mad before I fitted the valve so I wasn't inclined to try the valves on those beer lines! I'll test the valve here when that beer has quietened down a bit.

And the valves are wired in with the CO2 solenoid so I have my "one switch" solution. Of course, if I was confident of no leaks (even hard to detect ones) I could just leave the CO2 on all the time. But I've been bitten once, so I remain not so confident, hence searching for this solution.

These are the solenoid valves I'm using, they are ready to fit on to 3/8" beer lines (various Chinese suppliers on Ebay). They are a fraction of the price for motorised ball-valves:

water_valve.jpg
water_valve.jpg (93.96 KiB) Viewed 1616 times


My next step is to try installing one after the pump cylinder (i.e. modify the hand-pump directly). This will have the added advantage of sealing the hand-pump when not in use, and avoiding beer in the pump cylinder spoiling after a day or so. And the switch wants to be one of those time lag switches so I can hit a button, serve the beer, and go away in the knowledge that the pumps will automatically shutdown.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PhatFil » Tue Aug 09, 2016 17:35

Good news, the post pump valve sounds like a winner too then. Lots of dc delay circuit boards on ebay http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Multifunction ... 1997576845.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:32

All put into practice. I haven't got the permanent home for the pumps yet so this is a bit cobbled together ("proof of concept"). My intenton of fitting the valve downstream of the hand-pump cylinder will have to wait: I have an Angram CO and CQ pump, and for CO is just too tight on space. Better luck with the CQ (when I get round to it)?

20160812_111610_WEB.jpg
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20160812_112243_WEB.jpg
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The "delay off" switch is very good looking but a pain to wire up and change the delay, but it's cheap (a tenner). It switches on the 24V power supply to energise the valves, and also the socket to energise the CO2 solenoid (however, CO2Art have just changed all their regulators to using 12V solenoids rather than 230V ones - a bit inconvenient if using 24V beer valves).

With the beer valves off the CO pump still operates but no beer comes out, it's obviously sucking air in somewhere and scuppers the idea of upstream valves sealing the pump between sessions. The CQ pump resists attempts to pull the pump handle, so is sealed as expected. How well beer keeps in the sealed CQ cylinder awaits to be seen (if I can fit the valve upstream of the pump cylinder).

(EDIT: The timer switch pictured is utter rubbish; I got a completely different one).

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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby cyclops » Fri Aug 12, 2016 15:25

Still not sure the benefits of this?

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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Fri Aug 12, 2016 16:18

cyclops wrote:Still not sure the benefits of this?

You'd have to dig in the thread a bit deeper...

If you don't use hand-pumps and Corny kegs it won't mean much.

I have a habit of turning off the gas supply. It's a bit of an ask that everything is absolutely gas tight and minute leaks (that you can't hear) go un-noticed ... until the tank unexpectedly goes empty! But using low pressures (<4psi) and forgetting to turn the gas on can be a disaster. If using hand-pumps and Corny kegs the pump doesn't stop pumping when pressure in the keg drops below 0psi, it just sucks air past the lid seal. A week later the beer probably goes off. Only lost a pint to date, but this needed sorting.

Moving on and I'm replacing the arcane "Welder's" regulator with a much more classy (no more expensive) "aquarium" regulator. These regulators typically have solenoids to turn them on as you would be wasting CO2 using it in the dark. So putting it all together is the subject of this thread.

I can now hit a switch and the CO2 is switched on along with the beer lines... it's supping time :cheers1: ! When a certain time elapses the CO2 is switched off and beer can't flow from the kegs because the beer lines are closed. Sorted.
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Re: Beer-line motorised valves

Postby PeeBee » Sat Oct 22, 2016 19:53

Eventually got around to fitting a valve to the outlet of a CQ pump (there is more room than in a Angram CO pump).

20161022_182229_WEB.jpg
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Cut 60mm off the end of the hose coming out the cylinder. Fitted a 1/4" hosetail to 3/8" stem elbow (JG) in its place and fit the valve (which has 3/8" pushfit fittings) to the stem. To the other end of the valve fit a 3/8" stem to 3/8" pushfit elbow (cut it off the end of the hose just decapitated from the cylinder). It's a tight fit but all goes back together (not forgetting the 24V control leads).

The arrangement seems fine. With no power to the valve the pump can't pump beer. And I have the bonus of the beer in the cylinder not being exposed to the atmosphere. So far I've left the pump standing for two days and the beer subsequently coming out of the pump is perfectly sound (it was dodgy before). Time will tell just how long I can leave beer standing in the pump cylinder.

The CO2 lines (primary regulator) already has a valve on a timer, the beer line valves just operate off the same circuit. So after an automatic delay the beer lines close when the CO2 is cut off. A while later (days later) I can come back, hit the "master" switch, and pour beer from the hand pumps as if I've never been away. No forgetting to turn on the CO2 and subsequent bad beer. No endless flushing the handpumps and wastage of beer. Seems I've achieved the desired end result?

(BTW. The timer switch pictured earlier in the thread is utter rubbish; I got a completely different one).

I'm sure the approach can be modified to suit other handpumps.
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