I am often asked which pump is good for CIP applications, for example when cleaning a fermenter or brew kettle with a rotating spray ball. Is a standard homebrew pump enough? Short answer is yes, they kind of are, but don’t expect an amazing spray force with them. In this article I’ll show you a few demonstration videos to give you an idea of the cleaning action of various pumps and a few different spray balls.
Certainly the best option is to use a high pressure / high flow pump that matches the design specifications of your spray ball, but finding one that is rated for food applications will get very expensive. An alternative is to use the MP-15 or Blichmann Riptide pump that you might already have in your brewery. These pumps won’t give you very hard spray action, so the mechanical cleaning function will be reduced, but you can run them with hot cleaning water to help make up for this mechanical deficiency.
Below I filmed some CIP action with the MP-15 and Riptide homebrew pumps, using two different spray balls – one stock Craft Hardware spray ball, and one Blichmann version sold specifically for their Riptide pump. I installed the spray ball via the Craft Hardware sparge arm with a special extension adapter to place the spray ball low in the kettle so that I could film it with an open lid and not get everything wet.
Unfortunately I can’t really to give any quantitative results here, but hopefully these videos will give you a better idea of what you get when planning a potential CIP setup. I found the difference between the two pumps was noticeable but fairly small, with the Riptide performing just a bit better than the MP-15, as one might expect. I didn’t really see a big difference between the Craft Hardware spray ball and the version sold by Blichmann that is matched to their Riptide pump.
Hint: if you right click on the videos you can set them to loop
Below are a few individual videos so you can get an audible indication of the differences between them. The last video shows just how much more powerful a high pressure pump will be with these spray balls. I could only run the video for a few seconds because water was spraying out the top of the kettle!
The MP15 pump with Craft Hardware spray ball:
The Blichmann Riptide pump with Craft Hardware rotating spray ball:
And finally the Gardena 4700 pump with Craft Hardware rotating spray ball. Please note I am not recommending this pump because it is not made of food grade materials and is not rated for circulating warm water.