What Is a Glycol Power Pack and How Does It Work?
Whether you’re serving kegged beer, wine, cocktails, or a nitro brew coffee, maintaining the proper temperature is critical for delivering the perfect pour. Unfortunately, keeping the product chilled as it makes its way from keg cooler to tower faucet can be challenging. Often, the beverage will sit in draft lines, increasing in temperature over time; this results in foamy pours and promotes the growth of bacteria in the lines. One way bars, restaurants, and stadiums ensure their beverages stay at the right temperature is through a secondary refrigeration unit such as a power pack, also known as a glycol chiller or glycol beer chiller.
What is a Power Pack?
Before the arrival of glycol systems, establishments using a walk-in cooler with a long draw draft system would often use an air-cooled beer cooling system. These work by using a blower to force cold air from the cooler through insulated piping, containing the beer lines, all the way to the dispensing tower. Unfortunately, air-cooled systems are notorious for creating foam since they have difficulty maintaining temperature the entire distance.
Glycol power packs offer a better alternative for establishments that pride themselves on always delivering a perfect pour. Power packs are a refrigeration unit that uses propylene glycol, a non-toxic, food-grade antifreeze (mixed with water) that's been used for years in the food industry, successfully maintaining the perfect product temperature from keg to glass. They are ideal for bars, restaurants, and stadiums with endless beverage possibilities since the glycol mixture can be routed virtually anywhere, maintaining temperatures for various products.
How Does a Glycol Power Pack Work?
The power pack refrigeration unit keeps beverage lines at the perfect temperature by pumping chilled glycol mixture through glycol lines within a trunkline, an insulated beverage line that houses 2-24 other product lines. The power pack houses a reservoir for the glycol/water mix, a submerged evaporator, a compressor, condenser, and a pump to circulate glycol 24/7 from the bath through the trunkline. An adjustable thermostat allows the operator to choose the ideal product temperature for the beverage from keg to glass (for example, kegged wine should be dispensed at a higher temperature than beer).
The size of the power pack, the number of pumps, and the number of British Thermal Units (BTUs, the international measure of energy) will vary based on the needs of the establishment. A small tavern with a handful of beers on tap, for example, may only need a single, small one-pump unit with 1,700 BTUs. In contrast, a large stadium offering dozens of beverages on tap may need multiple large, multi-pump unit with 11,500 BTUs. As an example, when Micro Matic installed the beverage dispense system at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a total of 83 power packs were needed).
A redundancy strategy that may apply for multiple tower locations and trunklines would be to choose a power pack with multiple pumps. Or, even better, multiple power packs. This offers peace of mind knowing that you can dispense at another location if one is out of service.
Factors to Consider When Specifying a Micro Matic Power Pack
When purchasing a Micro Matic glycol power pack, several considerations must be considered before placing your order. By acknowledging these factors, you can ensure that you have the right power pack for your establishment.
- Location. This is critical for the long term performance of the power pack. Avoid the top of the cooler where access for maintenance is limited, and temperatures are often extreme in the hot summer months. Preferably, use a table or shelf for easy accessibility.
- Power Pack Sizing. Calculate the number of faucets or towers and the trunkline's length that resides outside of the cooler to determine BTUs. A multiplier of 1.4 will be applied to the BTUs to determine the correct power pack needed. This gives the power pack greater longevity since it won’t constantly be running. Again, consider multiple pumps or power packs for redundancy. Use our BTU calculator to find out which power pack(s) you need.
- Dispensing environment. Are you installing a system in an older, pre-existing property or building a new venue from scratch? How many beers, wines, or cocktails will you have on tap at any given time? How much space is dedicated to keg storage? All of these can affect the type of power pack you choose.
- Stand-alone versus remote. Stand-alone power packs are perfect for some bars and breweries; however, when food is being served, walk-in coolers and power packs are often located in the kitchen, becoming very hot and putting a strain on a glycol power pack. In these situations, you may consider choosing a remote or split-deck power pack. This allows you to place the compressor in a cooler location either inside or outside the building for proper ventilation. The glycol bath is then located near the walk-in cooler.
Maintaining Your Micro Matic Power Pack
If you’ve already purchased a Micro Matic power pack, you’re probably aware of what you need to do to ensure it remains functional. And, if you’re considering a Micro Matic power pack, we make maintenance easy:
- Inspect the unit monthly to ensure that the glycol level is maintained at the full level.
- If the level is low, replace it with a Micro Matic PolarFlo® glycol solution (the mix of water and glycol will vary based on the unit).
- If there is evidence of ice build-up on the evaporator coils in the bath, allow the ice to melt and replace the water/glycol solution with a fresh solution
- Change the glycol/water solution every 18 months. In regions of high humidity, consider replacing the solution annually.
- Check and clean the condenser fins every 60 days, or sooner if clogged with debris.
- Check that there is adequate airflow through the unit, ensuring enough space all around and no obstructions in front of the airflow vents.
- Assure the thermostat controller is adjusted properly. Check the condition and effectiveness of the trunkline insulation.
- At regular intervals, check the unit for electrical safety.
For specific glycol/water mixes based on unit, and for information about changing your pump, replacing your motor or thermostat, and more, including troubleshooting tips, download our Micro Matic power pack manual.
Why Choose Micro Matic Pro-Line Glycol Power Packs?
Micro Matic has been a beverage dispense system industry leader for over 60 years, delivering quality products without compromise. Our power packs are no exception. We have the largest portfolio of glycol power packs in the industry, with benefits that include:
- Largest BTU range of power packs in the industry
- Engineered by beer-industry experts for performance and value
- Digital thermostat for accurate glycol bath temperature
- Expanded urethane foam insulates cabinet to maintain glycol temperature and minimize condensation
- Exterior sight glass to verify glycol bath level
- Anti-vibration pads to reduce motor noise
- Rugged stainless steel cabinet
- Optional water-cooled condenser for extreme environments.
- Split deck options
Want to learn more about power packs, or ready to purchase? You can view our full line of Micro Matic Pro-Line Glycol Power Packs here. If you need help determining which Micro Matic Power Pack unit you need, use our online BTU calculator or contact one of our beverage dispense specialists at 866-327-4159 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Raise a Glass to Draft Beer Sales!
For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beer equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting your draft beer equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for draft beer installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.