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Old 09-30-2010, 02:58 PM   #1
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Default HERMS vs. RIMS (electric) Pros and Cons

HBTers, I think it would be a good idea to put together a list of brainstormed pros and cons related to selecting either a HERMS or a RIMS system. Let's start with brainstorming for a while BEFORE posting any disagreement with previously posted pros and cons. Let the list grow a bit before knocking anything down.

The basic purpose of a HERMS and RIMS is for accurate temp control throughout the mash whether it's for a single rest or low to moderate stepping.
Let's try to ignore pros and cons to recirculation in general and talk about the contrast between the two methods. In other words, both help with wort clarity due to the long "vorlauf". No need to list that.

To normalize on what we're talking about assume these basic definitions:
HERMS - Thin mash is circulated through a coil immersed in the HLT and returned to the top of the mash. The HLT is filled with future sparge water held at a temperature that will impart desired heat into the mash wort. This is often controlled by monitoring the coil's output temp and applying heat to the HLT water as necessary.

RIMS - Thin mash is circulated through a tube in which an electrical heating element is installed and then returned to the top of the mash. Temp is controlled by monitoring the tube output and regulating the heating element based on that temp.

I'll start:
HERMS
Pro:
Guaranteed gently heating of mash.
Coil may be integrated as a chilling path later.
Compact, stays within vessel.
Can be employed with manual control (turn HLT heat on).

Con:
Benefits from (if not requires) HLT water agitation/stirring (can use second pump for this).
Requires sparge water to be heated earlier in the process (heat efficiency loss)


RIMS
pro:
Can be made portable.
Can be employed immediately without heating sparge water first.
con:
Can scorch wort if oversized element or poorly controlled.

Discuss, I'll update this list ongoing.

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Old 09-30-2010, 03:46 PM   #2
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RIMS Pro- sparge and strike water can be pumped through the RIMS tube to reduce time taken to reach temperatures (in addition to burner or element).
Also reduces time taken to get the finished wort boiling by pumping the sparge through the RIMS on the way to BK (and stops conversion).

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Old 09-30-2010, 04:02 PM   #3
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HERMS:
Pros
•maintain exact mash temp without heat stratification through heating circuit
•once calibrated it is extremely easy to maintain desired temps (e.g., 4º offset for losses)

Cons
•mostly useless for step mashes or adjusting mash temp, unless you use a vessel other than HLT or overshoot sparge temps

RIMS
Pros
•Great for step mashes so long as the element is sized properly

Cons
•requires extra equipment (if you have a immersion coil, you already have a HERMS you just aren't using it)
•temp stratification within heating circuit

BRu that is a really good idea that I never thought of.

I really prefer to have both RIMS and HERMS. I use an immersion chiller that doubles for a HERMS coil. I find that I use the RIMS when doing a step mash and the HERMS for single infusion or any rest that is long enough to warrant it.
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Old 09-30-2010, 04:23 PM   #4
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Any room for steam injection RIMS in this discussion?, or plate heat exchange HERMS.

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Old 09-30-2010, 04:40 PM   #5
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How much longer before arguing?. I'll delete if necessary. Why is a herms useless for step mashes? From what i've seen (limited use), my element would easily raise temps in hlt quick enough to step mash with. Does it take to long to raise temps with recirculating?

And one more pro for herms, it can double as a chiller.

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Old 09-30-2010, 04:52 PM   #6
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I think steam is its own category...

Wild, it depends how you use it. If you overshoot the sparge temps in the HERMS or calculate a temperature equilibrium, maybe a step can be realistic. But both of those are a hassle IMO. If you set a HLT to your next step temp + offset, and expect it to come to temp, the step is going to be very slow. That is because as the wort approaches the setpoint temp, the temp differential becomes smaller and smaller, slowing down heat exchange.

It can work, it just isn't the best way IMO. RIMS is much more straight forward and effective for stepping. That has been my experience anyway.

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Old 09-30-2010, 05:19 PM   #7
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RIMS Tube is cool.

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Old 09-30-2010, 05:22 PM   #8
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It's no secret that I am a RIMS brewer. I just wanted to make a few comments on some misconceptions of RIMS Breweries. Some brewers view RIMS brewing as risky due to the damage that could result from a "Stuck Mash". This can however, be prevented by adding an appropriate flow switch or utilizing the "Alarm Relay" in the PID Temperature Controller to protect the apparatus. I also think that the danger brewers percieve in scortching the Mash in a RIMS setup may be over stated. I think that there have been some alleged claims on how easily the wort can be scortched but I think the reality of it is that there is very little hard evidence. I know there have been a couple brewers who have even tried using lower watt (~1500 watts), high density elements in their RIMS with success. As innovative homebrewers push the envelope the mystique over alleged mash scortching will be lifted.

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Old 09-30-2010, 05:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boerderij_Kabouter View Post
Wild, it depends how you use it. If you overshoot the sparge temps in the HERMS or calculate a temperature equilibrium, maybe a step can be realistic. But both of those are a hassle IMO. If you set a HLT to your next step temp + offset, and expect it to come to temp, the step is going to be very slow. That is because as the wort approaches the setpoint temp, the temp differential becomes smaller and smaller, slowing down heat exchange.

It can work, it just isn't the best way IMO. RIMS is much more straight forward and effective for stepping. That has been my experience anyway.
The thin mash passing through the HERMS coil reaches the temp of the HLT by the time it outputs, so the time to perform a step would be how long it takes to bump up the heat in the HLT plus however long it takes to recirculate the entire mash volume through the coil.

I haven't tested stepping in my system, but based on how quickly it raises temp, and my recirculation flow rate, I think a 30 degree step could be achieved in about 15 minutes.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:33 PM   #10
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From what I understand, the limit of how fast you can step in HERMS has to do with the total volume of sparge water in the HLT and the volume of mash. While a RIMS applies direct heat to only the mash mass, it's usually a lower wattage (for good reason). On the other hand, while HERMS adds another ~5-10 gallons of thermal mass, it also tends to have 3x the heating power.

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