Throughout the course of your homebrewing career, you may find that you pass through several phases of brewing process, complexity, and equipment. Homebrewers generally begin with small 1-2 gallon batches brewed with malt extract in a stock pot on a kitchen stove. After a few brews, it is common to begin increasing batch sizes to 5 gallons, or to switch to all-grain brewing. As batch sizes and brewing process complexity increases, brewers need to purchase additional equipment. As that happens, it can become increasingly difficult to use a kitchen stove to achieve a boil, and the equipment needed can be difficult to use indoors. When it’s time to move your brewing operation outdoors, one of the first things you will need to procure is a heat source. Here’s how to choose a propane burner and our recommendations for the 8 best propane burners under $150 for homebrewing!
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Advantages of Propane
Before choosing a burner, you should decide if a propane system is right for you. There are some amazing all-electric setups, but they require a substantial upfront investment. If you’re committed to investing in an electric system in the future, you should consider doing so now. Otherwise, there are a lot of reasons why propane systems are a great solution for most homebrewers. They allow you to brew outside (or anywhere you can bring your gear!), boil much faster than a kitchen stove, and allow you to increase your batch size. Most of all, propane is a great solution because it is inexpensive to get started.
WARNING: Always place your propane tank upwind of your burner to prevent accidental ignition of the tank!
Choosing a Propane Burner
Before choosing a burner, you should determine what your needs are. The primary considerations you have while choosing a propane burner are the size of the burner and the British Thermal Units (BTUs). The size of the burner will dictate the size of the kettle you’ll be able to use with it, which determines the batch sizes you will be able to brew. The BTUs dictate the heat output of the burner, which will determine how fast you can heat water or bring your wort to a boil, which in turn dictates the maximum batch size you can brew. To determine your BTU needs, we’ll need to do a little bit of math. First we’ll calculate the BTUs needed for a batch size if we assume that the heat transfer is 100% efficient (it’s not!).
Calculating BTU Requirements
BTUs to Boil Water in One Hour = (8.3 * Number of Gallons) * (212 – Starting Temperature in Fahrenheit)
So, for example, let’s assume we’re brewing a 5 gallon batch of beer on an 80 degree day. We’re going to boil 6.5 gallons of wort to achieve a five-gallon batch, so our calculation is :
(8.3 * 6.5) * (212-80) = 7,121.4 BTUs
Assuming we get 100% efficiency, we can achieve a boil in one hour with 7,121.4 BTUs. Because we don’t get anywhere near 100% efficiency, and because we don’t want to wait an hour to boil, we’re going to make some adjustments. Let’s assume we get about 50% heat transfer and we want to get to a boil in 20 minutes. Based on that, we’ll double the BTUs needed based on the efficiency, then triple it to get us down to 20 minutes. Our new BTU requirement is 42,728. As you can see, it’s difficult to know exactly what we need. To make matters worse, you can’t completely trust the BTU ratings provided by manufacturers because they are calculated inconsistently and are based on ideal conditions.
In general, I recommend a burner between 55,000 and 100,000 BTUs for brewing five-gallon batches, and one over 100,000 BTUs for brewing ten gallon batches. If you’re brewing batches larger than 10 gallons, you may want to consider an electric system. If you’re committed to propane for your larger batch, You’ll need at least 150,000 BTUs, but the more the better.
The 8 Best Propane Burners Under $150.00
The Darkstar 2.0 is an awesome entry-level burner. At only $65.99, this burner fits most budgets and provides a lot of value for a low price. It provides 65,000 BTUs and supports 125lbs, so it is ideal for brewing five-gallon batches, and can support up to ten gallon batches, although it will take a little longer to achieve a boil. The Darkstar 2.0 has a 17” diameter and a 3.5” built-in windscreen, and comes with an adjustable regulator.
- Price – $65.99 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating – 4.3/5
- BTUs – 65,000 BTUs
- Burner size – 6”
- Low price and reliability make this a great entry-level burner.
- Ideal for five-gallon batches.
- The paint isn’t as heat resistant as it needs to be, so it peels and burns during the first few uses.
- Some people have noted that it’s easy to accidentally turn off the burner while adjusting the temperature.
- BTUs and weight limit prevent this from being a great burner for ten-gallon batches.
The cheapest entry on our list, the Bayou Classic SP10 – 14-in High Pressure Cooker comes in at under $50.00 and still packs a punch. The SP10 stands about 13″ high with a 14″ cooking surface, and includes a 10 PSI preset regulator with control valve, a 48″ stainless braided hose, and 360°windscreen protection. While it’s not powerful enough for large batches, it is a perfect solution for brewing 5-gallon batches at a very low price.
- Price: $48.21 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating: 4.3/5
- BTUs: 55,000
- It’s CHEAP!
- This burner is only good for 5-gallon batches and would need to be replaced for larger batches.
- The paint coating the burner cannot handle the heat. During the first use, the burner puts off an awful toxic smell. Once it burns off it works fine, but we recommend that you let it burn off the paint for at least an hour before using it to brew.
The King Kooker CS14 is another good option for a low-price burner capable of brewing 5-gallon batches. It is taller than the average burner, which is a problem if you’re using a large kettle, but it is great for a small kettle because you aren’t hunched over it for hours. It pumps out 54,000 BTUs from a small center burner, and is easily converted to natural gas with minimal tools.
- Price: $66.48 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating 4.1/5
- BTUs: 54,000
- It’s easy to convert to use with natural gas instead of propane.
- Taller than the average burner allowing you to brew at waist-height.
- Not recommended for 10-gallon batches.
- Leaves a lot of soot on kettles.
$75 – $100
The Bayou Classic KAB4 is a big, powerful burner at a surprisingly low price of $78.31. This burner cranks out up to 210,000 BTUs from a 10” cast iron banjo burner encased in a welded steel frame covered in heat resistant paint. It is designed for larger kettles, and it’s 16” diameter requires at least a 14” kettle diameter, making it perfect for larger batches. It comes with a stainless braided hose and a 30-PSI adjustable regulator, making this one of the most powerful burners you can get under $100.00.
- Price: $77.53 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating: 4.4 out of 5
- BTUs: 210,000
- Burner Size: 10”
- The oxygen inlet valve allows this burner to burn oxygen as well, producing a hotter, blue flame.
- The built-in windscreen keeps the flames enclosed which reduces heat loss.
- The flame is evenly spread across the bottom surface of the kettle, which reduces scorching and increases heat transfer.
- Achieves boil quickly, even with large batches.
- A few users have reported durability issues, specifically with the regulator failing within 2 years.
The GasOne B-5450 is a very powerful burner for under $100.00. This high-pressure propane burner has an output of up to 200,000 BTU and comes with a 0-20 psi regulator and stainless steel braided hose.
- Price: $91.15 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating: 4.4/5
- BTUs: 200,000
- Burner Size: 10”
- Lots of power for a low price.
- Easy to assemble.
- Sturdy and able to hold large batches.
- The regulator isn’t great and doesn’t allow for very precise heat control.
- The burner is coated in a paint that the manufacturer specifies will not handle the heat. During the first use, the burner puts off an awful toxic smell. Once burnt, it’ll be fine, but we recommend that you let it burn off the paint for at least an hour before using it to brew.
- The regulator knob is a bit flimsy and is easy to knock out of place.
The Concord Deluxe 16″ Banjo Single Square Burner is made from heavy duty cast iron with a weather-proof coating. The banjo burner can put out 200,000 BTU and comes with a high pressure, CSA Certified 20 PSI regulator, hose, and connector. The heavy-duty frame is capable of supporting up to 400 LB or 200 QT pot filled with liquid, making it great for larger batches.
- Price: $98.98 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating: 4.6/5
- BTUs: 200,000
- Lots of power for a low price.
- Better regulator than the GasOne model, allowing for better temperature control.
- Easy assembly and detachable legs for easy storage.
- It’s critical to first run it for about 15-20 minutes in order to burn off the paint that will not handle the heat before brewing.
$100 – $150
If you’re looking for something built to last forever and engineered with specifically brewing in mind, look no further than the Blichmann HellFire™. This monster burner features a dual-mode capability, which allows you to switch between a high-efficiency mode and a HellFire™ mode. This burner packs enough power to keep a rolling boil on a 20-gallon batch of beer, so the average homebrewer will never need to replace it. It has adjustable retaining bars for any sized kettle up to 19.75”, and comes with a clip-on heat shield to protect the valve and retain as much heat transfer to the wort as possible. It’s built from heavy-gauge stainless steel, and if cared for it can last a lifetime.
- Price: $149.99 on the Blichmann website, $174.99 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating: 5/5
- BTUs – 140,000 in HellFire™ mode, 80,000 in high-efficiency mode.
- Stainless Steel frame.
- Efficient fuel consumption, which reduces cost to brew over time.
- Can get a 5-gallon batch boiling in about 15 minutes.
- None. Literally everyone that buys this burner loves it.
Northern Brewer’s Edelmetall Brü Burner pumps out 72,000 BTUs of finely-tuned fire out of its 10” burner that brings 10 gallons of wort from cold to full boil quickly and efficiently. It has a precise needle valve, which helps avoid boil overs, and you can buy leg extensions for it to bring it up to a more erganomic height if desired. It’s stainless steel and copper finish hold up better than painted burners, and it can handle large kettles for bigger batches.
- Price: $149.99 on Amazon
- Amazon Rating: 4.1/5
- BTUs: 72,000
- Burner Size: 10”
- It is rock-solid, perfectly functional, and looks like it should cost far more than it does.
- The jets are spread out well, which avoids scorching and uneven heat.
- Northern Brewer is a trusted brand with exceptional customer service in the event of a problem with your order.
- A small number of people have experienced issues with the finish not holding up well to the heat.
- May require a small amount of assembly.
Thanks for Stopping By!
While these are the top 8 propane burners under $150 for homebrewing that users recommended, there are endless other propane burners available. Did we miss your favorite one, or do you have any feedback about the ones above? Leave a comment below, or post in the Brewing Equipment forums.
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