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The Great Debate: Venturi vs Ribbon Burners


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I’m working on building my first forge. I am building it out of 1/16” plate steel with 2” of kawool and 1” of Kast-O-Lite 30 Refractory. Inside diameter of the forge will be 8”x12”x6”(WxLxH). I have done a lot of research on burners and am thinking of going with a ribbon burner. 

With that being said, I think one of the Greatest debates I seen is Venturi or Ribbon burners? Can someone help me with the pros and cons of both other than fuel efficiency?

Is one better than the other for heat treating? Do you get better temps with one versus the other? What is the downside to them other than the power connections?

I have the means and methods to build either one but want to make sure I’m building what is the best for my needs as I will be making knifes and tools as a hobby on weekends. 


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GREAT debate? That's almost like asking, Electric lights or wood stove? There's nothing in your question, as asked to debate, they're two different things.

Perhaps you should do a little more reading in the Burners 101 sub forum to familiarize yourself with the different types of propane burners and the terminology. That way you can ask good questions and have a good chance of understanding the answers without us having to interrogate you to find out what you're asking or spend lots of time writing to explain the answers.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I’m not asking to actually debate it Frosty. All I’ve seen is people debating the two based off of fuel efficiency and power requirements.  I’m asking what is the other pros and cons of the two.  But I’ll read it again to see if there is something I missed. Thanks

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Okay, got it, gun(blown) vs. Naturally aspirated AKA venturi. 

Now, that I can maybe help with. 

There are two basic differences other than how combustion air is supplied to the fire.

A gun burner is easy to build, connect a blower to an air duct with a propane jet which then is directed into the forge. The ducting is usually plumbing pipe and fittings. Having at least one 90* turn in the duct after the propane is introduced really improves mixing. The downside is a gun burner's fuel air ratio MUST be adjusted for each change in output. Turn the heat up, re-tune the fuel air ratio.

A Naturally Aspirated NA burner uses the propane jet to entrain the combustion air. These require more shop skills and tools, the position of the jet needs to be as precise as reasonably possible and fine tuning is always a concern. That's the downside. The upside is they operate on a relatively flat curve so adjusting the heat output is just a matter of increasing psi at the regulator. Lots of guys put a needle valve in the circuit but if properly built and tuned it's not necessary. 

Fuel economy is strictly a matter of how much fuel you burn per second. How efficient it is depends on how closely to neutral you tune the flame. How effective it is depends on how completely the fuel burns INSIDE the forge. A good term coined by Mike is "Hang Time."

The mistake you see being made by many people making blown ribbon burners has to do with how darned too powerful a blower they use. An OLD plan calls for a difusion plate to distribute the fuel air mixture evenly in the plenum so each outlet in the ribbon is equal. Unfortunately the the design places if almost blocking the inlet to the plenum so  it REQUIRES a lot of pressure to overcome the blockage. 

That design flaw in the plans is what lead me to experiment with and develop NARB. (Naturally Aspirated Ribbon Burner) The T burner has a very low static pressure but balanced with enough outlets to stay within it's operating range without using so many the flame burns back into the plenum it turned out to be a surprisingly stable burner. 

A ribbon burner is one type of multiple outlet burner and they are in common every day use from a kitchen gas range to glass blower's glory holes, heat treat ovens, commercial ovens, etc. There are many examples online and I leaned on them heavily. Heck were they not available I probably wouldn't have given it a try but you  know how it is when you know something is possible and you like to tinker. eh?

I don't know if that'll tell you what you want to know, if not give a shout I'll see what I can do.

Frosty The Lucky.

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There is no debate; only personal preferences. Either kind of burner can be built hot and efficient,' Either kind of burner can be messed up. The bottom line. design wise. is multiple flame burners have more potential to save energy, because multiple flame orifices are going to decelerate faster than single flames. Whether or not results live up to theory is totally up to the builder--for either kind of burner.

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