Home brewing requires equal amounts of skill, knowledge, and patience, but having the right equipment is also important for a successful brew. Choosing the right type of fittings for your setup can make things a lot easier (and picking the wrong ones can be a nightmare). One of the major questions many home brewers have is what type of homebrew fittings to use – welded or weldless. There are advantages to each, and here we’ll take a quick look at a few of the reasons you might want to choose one way or the other.
Why Welded Fittings?
Welded homebrew fittings are generally more expensive than their weldless counterparts, and tend to be less readily available. However, welded fittings are widely regarded to be of superior quality, with one caveat – good welding will produce a solid fitting, but a shoddy weld job can mean a poor or unreliable fitting. Part of the reason welded fittings are less available than you might think is that they require knowledge and training in sanitary welding, which is a method designed specifically for culinary, brewing, and pharmaceutical or medical purposes. This niche skill set tends to not only make labor harder to find, but also drives up the price of that labor. The materials used in welded homebrew fittings can vary, but the most popular choice tends to be stainless steel.
The bottom line for many homebrewers is whether the extra money for welded fittings is really worth it. Welded homebrew fittings are almost always more expensive after factoring in labor and materials – where a typical weldless sight kit will run about thirty bucks, a weld-in version runs about twenty. After factoring in labor, however, you’re looking at closer to forty or fifty dollars for equivalent equipment. The justification for this price increase is that static components, if installed correctly, will basically never need to be replace barring some sort of catastrophic failure (again, assuming a good welding job). Another important note is that parts that require regular handling, such as drain valves, tend to be more prone to leaking due to the tendency to misalign during handling – a good welding job means that these homebrew fittings are less likely to leak.
If you can have the welding work completed in a reasonable time frame and for a reasonable price, especially from a welder you trust to handle the work, then welded fittings are absolutely worth it. It is worth mentioning silver soldering, which is a sort of compromise between the two that has been gaining popularity among some homebrewers. Silver soldering is another matter altogether, but those that still can’t decide between welded or weldless fittings might want to look into it as an alternative.
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