Right now I am using the standard fermtech plastic auto siphon, but it already broke and it's a pretty flimsy and poorly designed way to siphon beer (the plastic piece in the tip broke and it can't force any pressure to start the siphon). Does anyone know of a better siphon that might actually last longer? I was trying to search google and forums for a metal auto siphon, but couldn't find anything. I like the ease of using an auto siphon, but I want one that won't break.
I just use a siphoning tube. I let it sit in either boiling water for a minute or a sanitizer solution for a few minutes, then fill it with said liquid. It's way easier with sanitizer than boiling water, since sanitizer doesn't boil your hands...
As long as the "from" container is higher than the "to" container - for example, kettle on the counter, carboy on the floor - it's pretty easy to start the siphon.
I pinch the "to" side of the siphon, get a cup ready to grab the water, and put the "from" part in the originating container. Once it's in, release the pinch, drain the siphoning liquid into the prepared cup, and then quickly put the "to" end of the tube in the receiving container.
Just keep an eye on the originating tube end to make sure it stays below the level of the liquid, without sticking it into the trub and clogging it / getting all the trub.
This solution is cheap. It's just the cost of the tubing. It can be messy, but after a few tries you get pretty good at it. Helps to have a friend too. Extra hands and you don't need a long wingspan.
I'd advise about 3-4' of tubing.
I don't know of any metal autosiphons, but there are stainless steel racking canes out there.
My racking cane has lasted a long long time and its plastic though. Maybe there are differences in plastic construction vendor to vendor.
I'm going to go with the combination of a stainless steel racking cane and a carboy cap. You can either use breath pressure or CO2 to get the siphon going. I'm going to try using CO2 pressure entirely, and no siphoning, so as to stop having to lug full carboys around.
I'll update here when I know how it goes.
Still using the auto-siphon and the lugging. Next to my Therminator, it's my favorite piece of equipment, and the most used, and I've never had issues with flimsiness.