A: A sight glass is also known as an exterior level indicator. Once installed into the side wall of a tank or pot, it allows you to read the exact volume of liquid that is inside at a glance.
2. Can't I just _______ instead of installing a sight glass?
A: There are all kinds of alternatives to installing a sight glass. You can brew without them. When I first started all grain brewing, I simply measured all my liquid volumes in a spare bucket that had gallon markings printed on the side. That was fine for smaller batches at a time when I transfered everything with a bucket. After you start pumping from one vessel to the next, the use of a bucket is a waste of time.
A lot of brewers also create calibrated dip sticks (or story sticks) that you drop into the vessel to read the level. In the case of a boil kettle, you'll need the level to last for a minute so that you can remove it to read because a constant stream of steam makes it hard to see into the boil kettle. Also, if you use a tiered system where the hot liquor tank is up high, it's a pain to climb up a step stool to watch the level as you drain it. The basic story here is that a sight glass is a matter of convenience, not necessity. However, Now that I'm used to it, I don't think I could brew on my system without one.
3. Do you make kits for larger or smaller vessels?
The standard kit is tall enough for a 15.5 gallon Sanke keg based vessel at about 20" total. If you have a shorter pot, you can buy the standard kit and cut the tube shorter yourself with a hack saw or you can add a request during the paypal payment to cut it to a specific height. For taller vessels, you can visit the brewhardware.com/custom page to upgrade to 24" tubes (25" overall) which accomodates most large homebrew based vessels. Of course, I can also make longer kits but you should email me via the contact form with your requirements so I can quote you a price.
4. Can you sell me just the threaded tubing?
No, the process I use to thread the tubing without damage must also be used to connect it to the hardware. You would end up destroying the tubing in the process. If you have a custom project in mind, odds are pretty good that I have the parts to make it for you. Use the contact form.
5. Can you sell me a kit with pyrex tubing instead of polycarbonate? I'm worried about the poly melting.
Pyrex tubing (actual glass) is certainly an elegant solution but it is impractical for most homebrewers due to how delicate it is. I would only recommend something like that for a clean in place system and only if it is well protected from breakage. This kind of system is also cost prohibitive.
Overheating polycarbonate tubing is a valid concern but most burner setups do not overheat the tubing. For a full explanation of the overheating concerns and other handling concerns with polycarbonate, please view the article on the instructions page which also includes a brief video on the topic.
6. Do you make the sight glass that works on the same port as my ball valve drain?
No, this is not an advisable application. First, the sight glass liquid level will not be accurate while draining and in order for the drain bulkhead to maintain a siphon on a dip tube, the top of the sight glass would have to be plugged up. You can combine thermometers and sight glasses, but not drain bulkheads and sight glasses.
7. Can you help me select the appropriate sight glass kit for my pot?
I do my best to describe the application on each of the product detail pages but I understand that it's a pain to scan through all the pages. I've put together a quick video to highlight all the options.
If there is any question that hasn't been covered here, please use the contact form to ask me.