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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Bambari eBIAB Build
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Old 05-04-2013, 05:48 PM   #1
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Default Bambari eBIAB Build

After several months of planning and building, I just completed my eBIAB build. Last night I was able to bring 7 gallons of water to a boil and experienced no faults or leaks, so I am considering the build portion complete!

Much-deserved thanks go out to Kal, P-J, and the countless others who have shared their experiences on this site. It is your selfless sharing that benefits the community and makes it what it is. Thank you!

Phase 1: Power

My home already had a 50amp breaker in the panel which ran to a 50amp GFCI installed on my deck for a spa --- this is going to be too easy. I re-purposed a panel from a recent barn renovation for my power. Running 6awg solid core cable from GFCI to panel, where I split into 3 breakers - a 30amp 240V for kettle, a 20amp 120V for auxiliary needs (lights, radio), and a spare 15amp 120V for future needs.

Existing Spa GFCI Before


Installing additional panel to add plugs


Panel wiring final


Running 6awg cable in conduit -- what a pain... I was right up against the minimum bend radius on this cable, and it was NOT an easy feat to run this..



Phase 2: Control Panel

I knew I wanted to do a single element BIAB with pump capability, so I scoured HBT and found P-J's diagram titled "Auberin-wiring1-a4-5500w-BIAB-30d6". I modified this to include a master key switch and contactor, a buzzer, and removed the PID push-button. I still need to add a SPST switch for a buzzer disable -- whoops. I worked off the PBOX16 from Auber. For those who are wondering how long this takes, I probably did the panel in 20 hours including part procurement (2 hours), drilling (3 hours), installing (1 hour), and wiring and testing (10 hours) with the remainder of the time spent on miscellaneous tasks (trips to Lowes, marveling at my progress, reading on HBT).

Taped off layout for drilling


[]i]All components installed - Inside[/i]


All components installed - Front


All components installed - Side


All components installed - Back


Wiring done


First "EUREKA!" moment


Unexpected Phase 3: Brew Kettle

I was planning to use a 20 gallon Blichmann as my kettle, but I was planning to wait a few weeks/months to curb the wave of spending. That idea went out the window when I was at my LHBS and casually asked if they had any SD1 kettles. Sure enough, they had one in stock, so I took her home for $380. This purchase expedited my build for sure -- I was hoping to be brewing by 4th of July, and I am now on track to brew for Memorial Day!

New kettle
Golden retriever included as a size reference...


Phase 4: Heating Element

Nothing much to contribute here. I followed Kal's instructions line-by-line. My one "lesson learned" here is the importance of a drill press--- drilling the hole in the 2 gang box is near impossible without a press.. Easily the most frustrating part of the build.

Otherwise, I used the Greenlee punch to do the hole in the kettle and the cover, and it cut through like pudding. Very easy. The rest of the heating element build and installation was quite straight-forward.

Key design flaw discovered

I bought a 20 gallon kettle to enable 5 and 10 gallon BIAB batches. I discovered a critical design flaw during my initial heating test --- with 7 gallons of water in the kettle, there is only 1.5-2" of space above the element. This is not enough space to hang a bag without it sitting on the element. My new plan is to employ a "Brew in a Basket" technique -- I am looking to procure a 8" diameter stainless basket that can hang in the space between the element and kettle wall during the mash. An unplanned change, but I don't think I would have done anything different had I realize this ahead of time.

Question: Does anyone recommend a certain mesh size to do this? People seem to use 300-400 for hops, so maybe 200? Any advise in this area is appreciated

Full unit


No room for bag


At least we are boiling!


What's Left? Mainly accessories...
- Grain basket
- Greenlee 9/16" punch to install temperature probe
- CFC (planning to gravity feed at first), tubing, fittings
- Planning to add pump for recirc and cooling later on

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Old 05-04-2013, 07:24 PM   #2
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Looks great. You may want consider some type of steamer rack rather than a basket. Also, check out http://biabbags.webs.com/. Wilserbrewer makes custom fit bags at a very reasonable price.

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Old 05-06-2013, 02:47 AM   #3
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http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/mash...system-399490/

I believe they are 300 microns.
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Old 05-06-2013, 02:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkeye11
The iPad app has a lot to be desired.

The rest of the post was Skidsmint recommended www.arborfab.com for custom stainless buckets. Mine has not arrived, but believe it is 300 microns.
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:13 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, Hawkeye. I am very familiar with the Arbor spiders and baskets; I just wasn't sure what mesh size people used for grain steeping and the success they had with this system. I am concerned about the grain capacity of a 6 or 7" basket, which is the max diameter that will fit in the area between my element and the kettle wall.

I am thinking about utilizing a stainless steel sheet metal "heat shield" to cover the heating element and allow me to use a grain bag.. the idea is that water is still free to flow around the element, but the shield will maintain a minimum distance between the element and the grain bag.. I am thinking something like the link below, but bent into a semi-circle and placed over the element..

http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant...1002&top_cat=0

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Old 05-07-2013, 04:22 AM   #6
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Change the dip tube so it draws water next to the element. I use a silicon sheet over the element to prevent from burning the bag.

Or you could insulate the kettle so you don't add heat during the mash.

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Old 05-09-2013, 02:54 AM   #7
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Bambari, thank you for your OP. I am starting a build that is pretty much exactly like your's (20 gal. recirc eBiab). I totally didn't think about how the element height would affect the available water space in a 5 gal batch, so I appreciate you mentioning it. Here are my thoughts/suggestions/questions:
1. I agree, the grain capacity on a 6"-7" basket could be a problem. After all, you went with a 20 gal kettle because you wanted to do the occasional big mash, so you don't want to be constrained by the basket.
2. As an alternative, I wonder if Arbor could build you a basket that fits around both sides of the element? It would sit on the bottom of the kettle with an internal structure that fit around the element. So, two half moons at the bottom that join together about 3.5" from the bottom to form a regular basket. Does that make sense? Might be expensive.
3. I like your thoughts about the heat shield. I think letting the bag flow around the heat shield/element is the most economical solution.
4. Since I haven't built my kettle yet... do you think it is possible to modify Kal's design for the element so that it sits closer to the table? I was thinking this maybe could be done by putting the element off-center in the double gang box (i.e. near one side of the box), or using a smaller gang box. My hope would be to get the element down to about 2" off the bottom of the pot. Thoughts?

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Old 05-09-2013, 04:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwartzr33
Bambari, thank you for your OP. I am starting a build that is pretty much exactly like your's (20 gal. recirc eBiab). I totally didn't think about how the element height would affect the available water space in a 5 gal batch, so I appreciate you mentioning it. Here are my thoughts/suggestions/questions:
1. I agree, the grain capacity on a 6"-7" basket could be a problem. After all, you went with a 20 gal kettle because you wanted to do the occasional big mash, so you don't want to be constrained by the basket.
2. As an alternative, I wonder if Arbor could build you a basket that fits around both sides of the element? It would sit on the bottom of the kettle with an internal structure that fit around the element. So, two half moons at the bottom that join together about 3.5" from the bottom to form a regular basket. Does that make sense? Might be expensive.
3. I like your thoughts about the heat shield. I think letting the bag flow around the heat shield/element is the most economical solution.
4. Since I haven't built my kettle yet... do you think it is possible to modify Kal's design for the element so that it sits closer to the table? I was thinking this maybe could be done by putting the element off-center in the double gang box (i.e. near one side of the box), or using a smaller gang box. My hope would be to get the element down to about 2" off the bottom of the pot. Thoughts?
Hi Schwartz,

After further reading, I am not too concerned about the bag. Nylon and polyester seem to have a melting point > 300degF. The water should cool the element as it fires such that the temp never exceeds 220degF or so. As an added layer of protection, I am ordering a 14" x 16" perforated stainless steel sheet metal that I will form into a heat shield, but the bag is going to drape all over that heat shield.. If I end up melting it, I am out $20 for the bag and I will try-try again..

I purposely did not modify Kal's design. I built my rig with "scale-ability" in mind, such that all components in the build can be repurposed if I move to a 3 kettle system in 10 years.. Depending on the hop screen you are using, I see no reason you could not lower the element.. Instead of installing it 4" from bottom, install it 2" or 3" from bottom --- just make sure your element enclosure is off the ground when installed.. The 2 gang box is ~ 4" wide, so 2" seems achievable even with the element mounted in the center..

Let me know if I can be of assistance -- good luck!

Ryan
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:57 PM   #9
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Completed my first brew day with the newly completed eBIAB. The first batch is Dude's world famous Lake Walk Pale Ale.

Gear


Command Center!


Mashing In

I ended up aborting all heat shield plans and just let the bag rest on the heating element. I heated the water up to 164deg, then turned off my heating element enable switch. I pulled the lid and stirred every 15 minutes, at which point I cycled on the heating element for 30 seconds or so. In the end, I see absolutely no scorching/melting/burning/discoloring.



Not Pictured: Sparge

I lifted the bag and rested it on a grill grate as others have done. I then sparged up to my pre-boil volume of 8.2 gallons (5.5 gal batch + 1.5hour boil * 1.9 gal/hr boil off). By the end of the sparge, the water seemed to be running pretty clear.

Boil

So nice being out of the 3 gallon kettle on my stovetop! Controlling the boil was a breeze, and it had a nice rolling boil for the full 90 minutes. I skimmed the hot break off and it never threatened to boil over.



Chilling

I built my immersion chiller pretty small (~8 in) so that it would rest between the kettle wall and heating element. I used my paddle to gently circulate the wort throughout cooling, which only took about 20 minutes.



Lessons Learned:
- Overall process is much easier than stovetop brewing. BIAB process + thermistor and PID make it such a breeze due to streamlined process and idiot-proof temperature control. I had so much extra time to relax, read, clean up, help with dinner, etc.
- Overall process was still one hour longer --- took about 5 hours from pulling equipment out to putting it away.
- Windex bottle with starsan mixture was very handy for sanitizing on the fly.
- Don't drop hydrometer in wine thief. Broke it during boil, so did not get to measure FG (but OG and pre-boil gravity were right on the money)
- I need a better solution for cleaning the big equipment (kettle lid, grill grate) than the kitchen sink.

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Old 05-22-2013, 04:15 PM   #10
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Nice eBIAB setup and congrats on a successful brew day.

Adding a small pump will help with cleaning and allow you to recirculate.
Small immersion chiller wont be adequate for 10+ gallon batches.
Use the first few batches to dial in your brewhouse efficiency, a refractometer helps for quick gravity measurements.
Many people do no sparge w/ BIAB and get good efficiency numbers (70-80%).

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