Is A MicroBrew Installation Hazardous?

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AZJeff2013

Member
Location
Marion, Illinois
Occupation
Electrical Design / RCDD
I have been designing electrical systems for 15+ years and am about to start the design for my first microbrew pub. Question......Is the room where the brewing occurs considered a NEC 500 hazardous location? Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)
 

qcroanoke

Sometimes I don't know if I'm the boxer or the bag
Location
Roanoke, VA.
Occupation
Engineering
It is if I'm left in there alone!
Fox guarding the henhouse so to speak.....
Other than that, I don't know.
Welcome to the forum.
We have several hazardous location gurus here so you should get an answer soon.
Or ask the AHJ...... Risky move though. He may not know himself!
 
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Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Contractor
I have seen quite a few breweries but I don't think any of them were wired for hazardous location. The ones I have seen don't use flammable gases.

500.1 Scope ? Articles 500 Through 504.
Articles 500 through 504 cover the requirements for electrical and electronic equipment and wiring for all voltages in Class I, Divisions 1 and 2; Class II, Divisions 1 and 2; and Class III, Divisions 1 and 2 locations where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases, flammable
liquid?produced vapors, combustible liquid?produced vapors, combustible dusts, or ignitible fibers/flyings
 

GoldDigger

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Staff member
Location
Placerville, CA, USA
Occupation
Retired PV System Designer
We have several hazardous location gurus here so you should get an answer soon.
Or ask the AHJ...... Risky move though. He may not know himself!
In addition to the hazardous location question (flammable alcohol fumes? explosive concentrations of dust from the hops? probably not....) don't forget that there will be sanitation-specific issues (washdown, types of surfaces, etc.) which may have side effects on your electrical installation.
 

dereckbc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Plano, TX
Will they be milling their own grains, or using a malted liquid extract product?

If they use a malted product the brewery will be classified as a F2 manufacturing and not subject to article 500. However it will be classified as a WET location requiring NEMA 4, NEMA 4X enclosures and raceways to the best of my knowledge.
 

watasha

New member
Location
Iowa
if it's a gray area it might be best to leave it to the discretion of the AHJ or the brewery's insurance provider.
 
I have been designing electrical systems for 15+ years and am about to start the design for my first microbrew pub. Question......Is the room where the brewing occurs considered a NEC 500 hazardous location? Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

During the fermentation process the gases liberated are non-flammable carbon dioxide. The alcohol content is insufficient to liberate a flammable mixture. So indeed the process does not create a classified location as per NEC Article 500.
 

JES2727

Senior Member
Location
NJ
If they mill and crush their own grain you might make an argument that the area is a hazardous location. I've worked on some of this equipment and it's pretty dusty. That being said, I've visited a lot of breweries and never have I seen any chapter 5 wiring methods.
 
If they mill and crush their own grain you might make an argument that the area is a hazardous location. I've worked on some of this equipment and it's pretty dusty. That being said, I've visited a lot of breweries and never have I seen any chapter 5 wiring methods.

Except the atmosphere is always high humidity that is one of the preventive measures for dust explosion. Since the operation falls under FDA guidelines, housekeeping and regular wash-downs are part of SOP, therefore dust layer buildup is prevented. Two, separate and equally effective measures against Class II, Group G.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
I have been designing electrical systems for 15+ years and am about to start the design for my first microbrew pub. Question......Is the room where the brewing occurs considered a NEC 500 hazardous location? Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

Other than alcohol at relatively low concentrations in water the only other major by-product of fermentation is CO2. From an NEC perspective, kinda like an anti-hazardous location. Get the concentration in air above about 34% by volume and you couldn't start anything on fire with a plasma torch. Oh yeah, before you get there you'd be dead. Even if it doesn't kill you by displacement, around 1-2% it screws up your breathing response and blood pH levels.
 

StarCat

Industrial Engineering Tech
Location
Moab, UT USA
Occupation
Imdustrial Engineering Technician - HVACR Electrical and Mechanical Systems
Microbrewery Experience

Microbrewery Experience

AZ, I just so happen to be an HVACR-Electrical Tech working in an established microbrewery currently.
The main thing in my experience is it is a heavily " wet " location. Here are a few examples:
Washdown duty pump motors, VFDs, panel gear, boxes etc. Wet location power points.
There is usage of both strong caustic and acid for cleaning operations which sometimes gets spread around.
You need proper exhaust fan capabilities in various rooms.
We have mainly EMT and LT runs, but there may be a case for surface mounted PVC in extremely wet locations.
There are a lot of 24V control runs for ALL fermentation and brite vessels for temp sensing and glycol control.
Our steam servos are 115v.
Think of everything under the sun getting wet all the time.
Any questions contact me.
Hope this helps

Sincerely
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Other than alcohol at relatively low concentrations in water the only other major by-product of fermentation is CO2. From an NEC perspective, kinda like an anti-hazardous location. Get the concentration in air above about 34% by volume and you couldn't start anything on fire with a plasma torch. Oh yeah, before you get there you'd be dead. Even if it doesn't kill you by displacement, around 1-2% it screws up your breathing response and blood pH levels.
CO2 is used as a shield gas for welding, often is used as propellant in fire extinguishers also.

AZ, I just so happen to be an HVACR-Electrical Tech working in an established microbrewery currently.
The main thing in my experience is it is a heavily " wet " location. Here are a few examples:
Washdown duty pump motors, VFDs, panel gear, boxes etc. Wet location power points.
There is usage of both strong caustic and acid for cleaning operations which sometimes gets spread around.
You need proper exhaust fan capabilities in various rooms.
We have mainly EMT and LT runs, but there may be a case for surface mounted PVC in extremely wet locations.
There are a lot of 24V control runs for ALL fermentation and brite vessels for temp sensing and glycol control.
Our steam servos are 115v.
Think of everything under the sun getting wet all the time.
Any questions contact me.
Hope this helps

Sincerely
Sounds a lot like dairy plant I work in sometimes. They do dry fine powdered dairy products there also, but the place is constantly being washed minimizing the potential explosion effects from the dust, and yes a lot of caustic and acids used for cleaning so the environment is pretty corrosive at times also. EMT is not used in production areas - it will not last all that long, and if it is rusty and in production area, will create other problems with USDA or similar inspections.
 

StarCat

Industrial Engineering Tech
Location
Moab, UT USA
Occupation
Imdustrial Engineering Technician - HVACR Electrical and Mechanical Systems
Things Learned

Things Learned

10-4 to the not lasting part.
So many of these type of operations are thrown together in " heavy " cut corner " ways that would affront any quality oriented Electrician or Mechanic.
As always, people will get the doors open any way they can and you will find different levels of compromise no matter where you go.
The task is then in my case to improve on the reliability, redundancy, and safety of the whole thing.
I got into this plant after it had been in operation for 12 years and during a heavy expansion phase.
As in any place its a learning curve to see what works best while dealing with unreal time frames along the line.
If you have an owner who understands the need and benefit of doing things correctly this is a big plus.
You can also find a fair amount of good Tech and troubleshooting information with respect to Brewery Operations on:
http://www.probrewer.com/
Go to the discussion boards link for the forums.

Best of luck to all involved
 
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