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Old 03-21-2019, 01:11 PM
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Randy Kaltenbach Randy Kaltenbach is offline
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Experience running torch on low pressure NG?

I'm considering running either a Bethlehem Bravo or a Nortel RedMax torch. I'd like to run the torch on house metered natural gas (about 7"wc pressure). I have easy access to the natural gas run in my garage, and a few plumber friends who can do the branch to my bench.

My rationale is that I usually won't need a monster flame, and that I can always pick up a 25lb propane tank for the relatively rare times that I would need to bust out a lot of heat.

(I'd also like to run an oxygen concentrator, possibly with a HomeFill type of rig to store up in a K or half size tank. Mulling this one over...)

Does anyone have experience running one of these torches on the relatively low pressure of house metered natural gas?
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Old 03-21-2019, 01:55 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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You're going to want to order a custom torch from Bethlehem or Nortel to run NG, you'll need a different orifice that what is the standard for propane for the optimum flame. That being said, you're not going to have enough pressure from your house line to run either of those torches at near their capacity, unless you get a NG booster $$$. You usually end up using twice the amount of NG to propane for the same btu output as well.

If you think that you're going to using this set up a lot I'd suggest going with the 100lb tanks. You barely use any propane in relationship to the O2, and it will take you a while to run through that much.

Back in grad school I tried running my old PM2D (step up from Bravo) off a 4" line coming into the studio, don't remember the water column. It was barely enough to run the inner flame well. If I turned on the outer at all, the inner would completely go out.

O2 wise oxycon's will require a fair bit of regular maintenance, and I'm not sure that a homefill is going to give you enough pressure to get any kind of a fill out of a K tank. They're designed to fill type R or smaller for low pressure. There are larger rigs that can give you several K tanks filled at close to optimal pressure, but you'd be looking at a 3+ daisy chain of oxy cons (~$1000), plus an O2 compressor (>$2000), plus storage($?), plus all the connections (~$200). I just did budgeting for this as an option for our studio.

If you put a few oxycons together they should run the torch fairly efficiently, but it'll never be the same as a bottle. I have heard of people adding a custom pedal to their set up so they can run cons for most of their work, then get a bottle boost when they need it. The rule to follow is to make sure your psi AND your lpm match what you need.

In summery, general rule is to stick with propane, oxycons have a few more options if you're blowing through O2.
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:20 PM
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Assuming Shawn's numbers on OxyCon are correct, it would take years to break even vs. getting welding O2 from PraxAir, Air Liquide, or Linde.

Annual bottle lease varies, but I just paid $135 to Linde and $101 to Praxair. My last O2 fill (Jan 2018) was $71.45. All "T" cylinder size, all $CDN, all taxes included.

I buy O2 for diving, and use the remnant that I can't boost (below 500psi in the bottle) for torches and welders.
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:42 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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For what I found available to the general glass community, those numbers should be fairly accurate. There may be industrial options that are available that we don't know about, but oxygen frog and high volume oxygen are the only O2 compatible compressors I've come across. I was looking at ~$7-10k to outfit our building.

HVO actually has a calculator on their site that will tell you how long it would take to break even based on your usage, mine estimated at just over 6 years with heavy use based on our programming.

I know the new route for heavy users is liquid O2, but that takes a hefty foot print and will scare the bejezus out of your neighbors when it off gasses.
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Old 03-21-2019, 06:03 PM
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the downside of Nat gas is that they keep taking BTU's out of it and putting it back in the other commercial gasses. It just isn't what it once was and you have to make up BTU's with more volume.

It's big plus is it isn't heavier than air. The people who really screw us are the folks leasing bottles. That's really expensive.
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:32 PM
George Tessman George Tessman is offline
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I run a Beth water cooled Pm2 torch on natural gas and it works great. I also have a O2 concentrator that fills my K tank. It is the best set up. I use mostly soft glass but have done boro on this. It just take a little more time. One of the best benefits is the flame is a lot cleaner and will not dirty your glass as much as other gasses.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:04 PM
George Tessman George Tessman is offline
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Here is my torch running and also this is the oxygen concentrator I got with an adapter hose fills my tank to 2000 PSI
20190321_195805-1214x1806-485x722.jpg

20190321_195715-938x1451-375x580.jpg
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:38 PM
George Tessman George Tessman is offline
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Okay so I'm gonna comment on this with my experience. I run this torch on natural gas 7 inches of water column which is the standard . Been running it like this 10 years . I purchased a used oxygen concentrator for $600 . I have 2 k tanks. that I fill. it takes roughly 2 days to completely fill an empty tank tp 2000 PSI. my Bethlehem torch is a standard torch that you purchase, you do not need a special orifice . The benefits like I said in my earlier post constant pressure on the gas , which is nice for premixed torches last chance of flashback , Natural gas is lighter than air so you do not have to be ass concerned If there is a small leak it'll rise instead of like propane which will settle down into the lowest part of your workshop . It's a lot cleaner especially if you work soft glass last scumming . The oxygen concentrator is fantastic since I purchased it save me the hassle of running back-and-forth to get my tanks refilled . The only time I get them refilled which is actually exchanged is when I'm getting close to test date on the tank . This will work with soft glass and Boro. The downside it will take you a little longer . I also have a Propane tank hooked up that I can easily switch over to when I wanna work larger Boro Pieces
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:59 PM
Larry Cazes Larry Cazes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Kaltenbach View Post
I'm considering running either a Bethlehem Bravo or a Nortel RedMax torch. I'd like to run the torch on house metered natural gas (about 7"wc pressure). I have easy access to the natural gas run in my garage, and a few plumber friends who can do the branch to my bench.

My rationale is that I usually won't need a monster flame, and that I can always pick up a 25lb propane tank for the relatively rare times that I would need to bust out a lot of heat.

(I'd also like to run an oxygen concentrator, possibly with a HomeFill type of rig to store up in a K or half size tank. Mulling this one over...)

Does anyone have experience running one of these torches on the relatively low pressure of house metered natural gas?
These are all decisions that may be effected by what you intend to make. What are your plans? Im a huge GTT triple mix fan and have been using their Mirage two stage for 5 years to make large, up to 3.5", solid weights as well as thin goblets and blown vases. Their versatility cant be beat and the used resale on them is damn near retail so they are a good investment. As far as oxygen is concerned I have been on rented liquid dewers for years now and its saved me a ton of cash and prevented all of the headaches of being undersupplied by concentrators. I dont have NG plumbed in at my shop so I work out of 4.5 gallon BBQ propane tanks. if I'm working large solid work my dewers last 7-8 weeks per fill and these propane tanks last 3-4 weeks. My gas costs are not really significant compared to electric and material costs.

Last edited by Larry Cazes; 03-21-2019 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 03-22-2019, 09:05 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I'm amazed that you're able to get any kind of a boro flame with 7wc. Or that the pump on that home system is able to handle 2000psi. Why wouldn't everyone be doing that? I'm actually serious, it's something I've been looking at, and all that I've found on the other boards, and supplier sites, are the massive units. Also, you got a steal on that oxycon compressor pair.

If flash backs are of major concern, you have other issues. Yes, propane does sink, but if you have a leak to the point that it's becoming a shop hazard, you're not doing proper upkeep of your equipment. That or you're not shutting off you gas at the end of your session, and propane or ng it's just bad juju. True on the cleaner for soft glass, but I'll take btu boost over that any day.

It all depends on what you are wanting to make. I'm playing with heavy hollow boro, and a multi torch set up so I'm going to stick with what is optimal, which pressure and heat wise is propane. The last thing I want to do is wait for (or not have) the heat when I need it, not patient when it comes to things like that. Realistically, you are using so little gas by comparison to a hot shop it has never been a justification to use natural cost wise. I own 2 100lb tanks so, a refill 3+ months is an easy burden to bear to get me what I want. YMMV.
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:13 AM
George Tessman George Tessman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Everette View Post
I'm amazed that you're able to get any kind of a boro flame with 7wc. Or that the pump on that home system is able to handle 2000psi. Why wouldn't everyone be doing that? I'm actually serious, it's something I've been looking at, and all that I've found on the other boards, and supplier sites, are the massive units. Also, you got a steal on that oxycon compressor pair.

If flash backs are of major concern, you have other issues. Yes, propane does sink, but if you have a leak to the point that it's becoming a shop hazard, you're not doing proper upkeep of your equipment. That or you're not shutting off you gas at the end of your session, and propane or ng it's just bad juju. True on the cleaner for soft glass, but I'll take btu boost over that any day.

It all depends on what you are wanting to make. I'm playing with heavy hollow boro, and a multi torch set up so I'm going to stick with what is optimal, which pressure and heat wise is propane. The last thing I want to do is wait for (or not have) the heat when I need it, not patient when it comes to things like that. Realistically, you are using so little gas by comparison to a hot shop it has never been a justification to use natural cost wise. I own 2 100lb tanks so, a refill 3+ months is an easy burden to bear to get me what I want. YMMV.
To be totally honest I got the oxygen concentrator compressor for $300 . But if you shop around and look around on Craigslist you can find them for around 600 . They are designed to compress oxygen in those small bottles for people who need oxygen to 2000 PSI that's what they're built for . the only addition you need is a special hose with an adapter that connects to the quick connect on the compressor . I ended up with natural gas because I worked in my basement and had everything right there . natural gas will work with most torches the only torch you need a specific design for it is the Herbert Arnold . I had one for a while and liked it but I never could get it dialed in correctly mostly because I was never taught. my friend hooked up his GTT torch I forget which model but it's a big one . He work with me for years in the hot shop . SmartGlass . His torch worked great but was just not hot enough for the large pieces he does . . Most torches have needle valves for their on off knobs .
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:47 PM
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Geez, I knew that I should start 2 threads...

Torch:
I'm glad to hear this, George. This meshes with what I've been reading about newer torch designs. Apparently some Bethlehem and some Nortel torches will run well on the low pressure NG. I received an email from Kate (VP Bethlehem) who says, in part,

Quote:
Thank you very much for your interest in our Bravo Bench Burner. 7/” WC translates to about ¼” PSI, which means your house hold natural gas pressure should be able to provide you with enough gas flow and pressure to fully fuel a Bravo torch.
She also promised to take a video of the flame produced using low p NG. When she posts that video, I'll put the link up here.

Having said all of this, I'll probably start out with a small propane tank (30 lb tank $70CDN at Costco), but plan to put in the natural gas line when I've gotten settled in.
Oxygen:
From what I've read, a K cylinder of oxygen will last about a full day of blowing (20 lpm for a large flame). Even conservatively (as a newbie probably limiting myself to a couple of hours low flame and an hour of hot flame), I could burn through a tank a week. This is where your numbers come in, Richard. At a $100 bucks a fill (driving around, etc.), this will cost me $2000 in 5 months! (and to top it off, I don't have a truck )

On the other hand, I found a local source for used concentrators at about $500CDN. One of those plus a "Homefill" or similar compressor for about $500 (guessing), plus a "stinger" connection ($80US ebay), plus a K tank (hopefully used) for $200 (guessing) = about $1300CDN. So, "free" oxygen after 13 weeks. I can fill overnight.

Clearly, I have to do more serious sourcing and pricing, but this sounds very promising.
I look forward to continuing this discussion!
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Kaltenbach View Post
Geez, I knew that I should start 2 threads...
...
Oxygen:
From what I've read, a K cylinder of oxygen will last about a full day of blowing (20 lpm for a large flame). Even conservatively (as a newbie probably limiting myself to a couple of hours low flame and an hour of hot flame), I could burn through a tank a week. This is where your numbers come in, Richard. At a $100 bucks a fill (driving around, etc.), this will cost me $2000 in 5 months! (and to top it off, I don't have a truck )
From my numbers on file, a K tank is 249cu.ft @2250psi, or 7051L. At 20Lpm, that's roughly 6 hours. My numbers were for a T cylinder, which is 337cu.ft @2250psi, or 9543L, or about 8 hours.

Quote:

On the other hand, I found a local source for used concentrators at about $500CDN. One of those plus a "Homefill" or similar compressor for about $500 (guessing), plus a "stinger" connection ($80US ebay), plus a K tank (hopefully used) for $200 (guessing) = about $1300CDN. So, "free" oxygen after 13 weeks. I can fill overnight.

Clearly, I have to do more serious sourcing and pricing, but this sounds very promising.
...
I'd definitely be interested in your final numbers and sources, as my research didn't turn up anything nearly as cheap. When I looked, there was a big difference between Oxygen concentrator designed to deliver breathing gas to a cannula (i.e. used immediately by patient) and anything designed to boost O2 up to 2000 PSI. The price jumped a lot when you wanted to fill a tank.

If you can find something inexpensive (under a few thousand, total cost) that will actually fill a K tank to 2000 psi in any reasonable time (even overnight) I'd be definitely interested.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:08 PM
Larry Cazes Larry Cazes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Huntrods View Post
I'd definitely be interested in your final numbers and sources, as my research didn't turn up anything nearly as cheap. When I looked, there was a big difference between Oxygen concentrator designed to deliver breathing gas to a cannula (i.e. used immediately by patient) and anything designed to boost O2 up to 2000 PSI. The price jumped a lot when you wanted to fill a tank.

If you can find something inexpensive (under a few thousand, total cost) that will actually fill a K tank to 2000 psi in any reasonable time (even overnight) I'd be definitely interested.
A Homefill system will do that. You can get them from multiple suppliers with low use numbers. You can do it with a concentrator and a Whip assembly which is a high pressure hose and valve combo for about $1000 total. Through friends my understanding is they will fill a K tank in 10-12 hours. In contrast for liquid I pay $250 every two months for a dewer delivered.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:11 PM
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Torch:

Here's a video link I just received from Kate at Bethlehem:

Quote:
I posted it to my FB account, Kate Burners.

It’s a video of a Bravo on Natural gas, ¼” psi and Tanked O2, 7 psi. And that’s a 30mm boro rod. Have a great weekend!

https://www.facebook.com/bethlehem.b...8417686636038/
That's a nice flame for low pressure!
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:14 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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Kate is an excellent resource from Bethlehem, but I'm surprised by the response. Bravo's are supposed to be run at 2psi(off their website), so at a 1/4 psi you'd only be at 1/8th max capacity. I know Bethys tout themselves as one of the lower gas pressure torches, but that seems way low.

Is that $70 price for the 30lb include buying the tank? If so that's a great deal, that's usually what 20lbs goes for. You're probably going to be surprised how long it last compared to the O2. If the natural doesn't work out the 100 pounders are the way to go. What you pay for in delivery is quickly made up for in bulk pricing. Also, you can get gouged in how much certain vendors fill smaller tanks, shorting by up to 25% is not uncommon.

$100 ($70 murican) seems high for 02, I'd shop around, avoid Air Gas like the plague. Given because we order as an organization I buy somewhat in volume, but I only pay about $26 a tank, plus $25 for delivery. It's still expensive enough that I'd be interested in what others are building. Buy your tanks no matter what, recoup is usually about 9 months.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:34 PM
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this thread justifies moving to antiques and classics eventually. I don't want to lose it.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Cazes View Post
A Homefill system will do that. You can get them from multiple suppliers with low use numbers. You can do it with a concentrator and a Whip assembly which is a high pressure hose and valve combo for about $1000 total. Through friends my understanding is they will fill a K tank in 10-12 hours. In contrast for liquid I pay $250 every two months for a dewer delivered.
Larry, I would be interested in getting info on some of those suppliers you mention. I've been looking and haven't found any for under $1200USD (Salt City Glass).
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:50 PM
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I found an interesting "starter kit" at Mountain Glass. Bravo torch plus gauges, hoses, and some basic tools for $1479 USD + shipping, duties (Canada), etc.

https://www.mountainglass.com/Bethle...-Starter-Kit-4
(I have a good assortment of hot glass hand tools, so some would be useful in this new environment)

I will still source Canadian and other suppliers, but does anyone have thoughts as to the "value" of this "starter kit"?
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:59 PM
Larry Cazes Larry Cazes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Kaltenbach View Post
Larry, I would be interested in getting info on some of those suppliers you mention. I've been looking and haven't found any for under $1200USD (Salt City Glass).
Sure. Ill drop you a line with the info when I get home and can dig them up. Keep in mind that ALL of these units, home fills and concentrators, are used medical. Some are refurbed and some are not. They were intended to fill very small low pressure tanks so they tend to wear out quickly for this duty. A long time ago I decided I was willing to pay a little more for higher purity and to avoid the hassle of swapping out hardware instead of blowing glass so I dont touch this kind of thing. The smarter systems like the HVO and Oxygen frog also use medical concentrators and their initial cost for a system that would run my Mirage are way too high for me. It would take 6-8 years for any of them to just break even and that doesn't take into account maintenance like Sieve Bed fails etc. Im paying about $1500 a year for a rented liquid dewer delivered within 24 hours when I need a swap and thats been the best for me.
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Old 03-24-2019, 01:06 PM
Larry Cazes Larry Cazes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Kaltenbach View Post
I found an interesting "starter kit" at Mountain Glass. Bravo torch plus gauges, hoses, and some basic tools for $1479 USD + shipping, duties (Canada), etc.

https://www.mountainglass.com/Bethle...-Starter-Kit-4
(I have a good assortment of hot glass hand tools, so some would be useful in this new environment)

I will still source Canadian and other suppliers, but does anyone have thoughts as to the "value" of this "starter kit"?
A new bravo is $1000 direct. A lot of these tools are not what I use but with a decent set of regulators and hoses it seems just about retail for everything. I mostly use my hotshop tools at the bench as well. I have a local supplier here in richmond for supplies but Mountain Glass is my next go to supplier online. If you are gonna be making large goblets you might want to consider other torches as well.
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:26 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I agree with Larry, you're looking fairly close to retail on the kit if you parted it out. Not to mention if you wait til Mountain has a tool sale(rarely) you can get some things for cheaper. Those National regulators are excellent, but you can find some cheap cutting torch kits that'll have the regs and hose, don't forget the flashbacks.

Tool wise it all depends on what you want to do. Several items on that kit are either redundant, or not as robust as you'll probably end up needing. Better grabbers, nudge nudge, wink wink. The glasses are also something that people have pretty strong feelings about, personally I prefer clip ons. I'd take a look at this kit on ebay has a few things I'd find more useful, but leaves out stuff you can source cheaper or may want to invest more in.

Also, take Larry's advise about torch consideration. I started with a Tiger Shark, basically the Bravo, and quickly out grew it. The Bethys won't have the same resale value as a GTT, as a result I got my pm2d for a song and that's all the torch I really need.

Consider running a two hose set up with a foot pedal, it's expensive to buy(can be built cheaper), but can be an amazing upgrade.
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:23 AM
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I've found used oxygen concentrators on some of the big supplier's websites, eBay, etc. Does anyone have contacts for smaller suppliers who have them for significantly cheaper than about $400CDN?

One particularly interesting system is on Amazon for $480CDN new from a Chinese manufacturer, flow rate at up to 9 lpm (I need to research this a little better to determine whether that is is actual performance). 2 would come close to required oxygen for hot flame (20 lpm). ... I just read that this unit oxygen concentration drops to 30% at max flow rate ...

Last edited by Randy Kaltenbach; 04-01-2019 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:28 AM
George Tessman George Tessman is offline
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I found my complete home fil system in Craigslist . I was lucky enough to purchase it for $300 but $600 is probably the norm . This included the oxygen concentrator and the compressor system . The system with a hose and adapter I think I spent $120 on I can still my large bottles up to 2000 PSI . if I need to run my small torch the oxygen concentrator strong enough but I prefer to to fill my two tanks and use them as accordingly but if you keep an eye on Craigslist sad truth keep one oxygen concentration usually passed away and people want to get rid of that equipment
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:01 PM
Jordan Kube Jordan Kube is offline
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Randy, be very careful about oxygen concentrator ratings. The one you describe is most likely a 5 lpm concentrator. Sure it will do more but there's no point if it can't maintain purity. Most of them will have flow vs purity graphs in their literature.

This guy has a silly website but great reviews from the community. I have used his concentrators to power a Redmax hand torch and a Mirage(not full blast but certainly workable). I think a 10 lpm concetrator will set you back $650 before you get it to Canada. You would need two.

I didn't do it enough to justify liquid and I hated lugging tanks around so it was worth it for me to just be able to flip a switch and have oxygen. Whatever you do don't get 5 lpm concentrators. Same power draw, half the oxygen.

https://www.availableoxygen02.com/
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