I've mentioned this a few times, and I think I'm finally ready to write it up. Someone here on the forum pointed it out originally, so I don't claim credit for finding it, but I seem to be the only one who's given it a shot, so sharing would seem to be in order.
The background is that I have a 40 gallon tall tank which is the same footprint as a standard 29g, but it's 24" tall. That means I've got a fair amount of water, and not much space in the stand. Added to that, the tank is in the middle of the living room, and the wife for some bizarre reason doesn't want a big, honkin' CO2
tank sitting out for all to see, so the reality is that I don't have much space to work with, which pointed me toward a paintball setup. Complicating that, is that my stand is already pretty full, so if I was going to get a tank much above 9oz., I have to mount it horizontally ... hanging from the underside of a shelf.
Enter the "Beer Keg Stabilizer
". After the system was pointed out to me, I did some looking about in paintballer forums, which turned out to be a wealth of knowledge. I'm still not sure what exactly a stabilizer is, but for a working definition, it's a preset regulator that has an expansion/evaporation chamber built into it so that if liquid CO2
enters the device, it lets it turn to gas before passing on. Thus allowing me to mount the rascal horizontally.
Anyway, as you can see from the link, this arrangement comes with a stabilizer set to 100 PSI, and a low-pressure regulator. To that, I've added a solenoid (if all I have to work with is 24oz, I very much want to turn it off at night!), a Fabco NV-55-18 needle valve, then the usual bubble counter, CO2
tubing, diffuser and such. I'm using an Atomic diffuser, which gets my drop checker in the green at 2bps.
One thing I've done that I haven't seen anyone else do is to use the push-to-connect connectors
from Lowes/Home Depot. I had experience with them from my last job where we used them for 80PSI pneumatic control systems, and they're just dead easy to use (the line just presses in to lock and seal, pressing the ring releases the line). I figured out by direct testing that the quarter inch connectors fit the CO2
line nicely, and the fittings come in NPT sizes so they're convenient from that perspective. Is there some hidden pitfall to these which I'm not seeing? Or is it just that nobody else uses them?
I've been using this now for about a month and a half. The first filling only lasted about two weeks, but I wasted a lot
of it experimenting with the set up, blowing out my gauge by hooking the regulator up backwards, that sort of thing. Fortunately gauges are inexpensive and readily available.
This current filling is now on day thirty, and still going strong. I'm hoping to get about 45 days per fill, but we'll have to see. One of the practical upshots of the "beer keg" arrangement is that it's effectively dual stage, so I don't have to worry about end of tank dump.
A word about this particular set up: I know the pieces are available separately, and can prowly be had for cheaper by the bargain hunter, but being new at this I wanted to minimize complications. I am pleased with what I've gotten, but certainly am not pushing the particular vendor. Just sayin'. I did have to remove the plug from the unused port on the regulator and Teflon it, it was leaky.
The attached pix illustrate the particulars of the tank installation including my fancy horizontal suspension system, from the CO2
line on it's unremarkable, so I didn't include anything on that.