BCS460 electric build from square one
As the title says I am going to be starting a BCS build. For the impatient, this is probably going to take a while. I’ll post on occasion as I build/buy things or make improvements but I expect this project to take up to a year. My schedule has me finishing this summer but I am slated to have a few surgeries this year which could slow me down.
I’ve yet to decide on RIMS or HERMS….I know, I know…but I’ve been fully committed to doing each at one point or another. They both appeal to me—I don’t want to turn this into a RIMS vs. HERMS thread but the truth is I could be swayed either way. I was literally set to pop on the Brewer’s Hardware RIMS until this weekend. Watching my club’s low tech use of HERMS to hold mash temp on a 90-100gal mash convinced me that this is a very basic process.
I’ll probably have to decide in a few weeks. If I go RIMS, I am using the Brewer’s Hardware product; if HERMS it would likely be one that is not hard plumbed, over side if the keg and removable.
So…what’s the general project goals?
-Be able to handle 5-10 gallon batches
-Three 15.5 gallon Sanke vessels--2 untouched, one in use today
-Be able to fly sparge
-Keggles have to be removed from the setup for storage. (semi-permanent)
-Bottom drains on the MLT and BK. The HLT already has a diptube. I made a great 2x2000w/110v boil kettle a few months ago to get off the stovetop.
-I turned my old immersion chiller into a CFC and will use that to chill until I have the funds for a plate chiller.
My house is fed by a 100amp main panel in the basement with a 60amp subpanel upstairs
Main Panel (basement)
Sub panel (upstairs)
Not sure why they had two panels (house is small) but there are lots of spaces in the main panel. There’s not a 220 circuit in the house. I hope I am not heading to an overload situation but my plan is to drop a 50W spa panel right off the main panel and manually limit my amperage draw elsewhere in the house. I think it should fairly easy not to run high amperage while brewing. Being an early riser, I usually start brewing before daylight and finish by Noon. We plan on upgrading to 200 amp service with central air, but not for a while.
The panel is about 30 feet away from my brewing area. On brew day, pretty sure I will have to run an RV cord to the control panel. Basement is completely finished—no permanent installation will permit a finished setup without a high degree of wall cutting or conduit.
I grabbed this cart at Costco for around $129, I can use this for a two vessels or deploy it elsewhere.
I may hang the HLT on the wall with removable brackets. Still not 100% sure. Space is at a premium, so I would like the ability to remove all the keggles to my furnace room for storage when we have parties. Using the cart probably meets chopping a few inches off the legs and punching two 1” holes through the surface for the bottom drains. If done right, there is no reason these holes can’t be covered/capped and the table mostly repurposed for use during parties.
The game plan:
Move router, fish 50 ft of RJ45-DONE
Replace analog probes with sensors and run first brew with BCS monitoring/logging via iPhone-DONE
Cut kegs and plumb bottom drains/valves (ordered parts) (late Feb)
Rig up Spa Panel and build a 220v outlet into it. (late Feb)
Rough in design on cart and/or bracket system for HLT (if 2 tier) (March)
Commit to RIMS or HERMS (March)
Build control panel (April/May)
Program BCS (JMay/June)
Sit on fat ass and waste time (July)
Inaugural brew (August/September)
I am open to suggestions, input, and loud yelling--so please feel free to suggest anything!!!
I think I'm leaning towards BCS for my planned e-brewery.
I like your timeline. It's probably going to mirror my own timeline, except I'm going to sitting on my ass and wasting time much sooner than you are and much longer.
One reason why I'm leaning towards HERMS is that it's contained within a vessel and doesn't require an extra device that would need to be cleaned and taken apart for inspection once in a while. In order to use the HLT as a HERMs tank, the sparge water will have to be in there and up to temp pretty quickly. If you think about a 10 gallon batch with 25 pounds of grain, your strike volume is 9 gallons and sparge is 11 (assuming a batch sparge).
I can think of two ways to go about this.
1. Heat 14 gallons in the HLT, move 9 to the MLT, then top off the HLT back up to 11. The problem here is that the 11 gallons now in the HLT is down to near 100F if you use cold tap water. You'd have to wait for the recovery before starting the recirculation. If you topped off with hot tap water, you'd be closer to 145F and the ramp up to 155 or so would be faster.
2. Heat 11 gallons to sparge temps in the HLT and heat the 9 gallons of strike in the BK. Once you dough in, you can immediate start the HERMS loop.
How do other folks handle it? I never thought much about it because I'm not there yet.
Option #2 makes the most sense to me. I'm building a one-tier two pump all-electric HERMS system with heating elements in the HLT/HERMS and BK. I intentionally went with 220V 50AMP GFI as my input to my controller so I can simultaneously heat water in my BK and HLT. My plan is to heat BK to strike temp (175, or lower if I'm doing a protein rest), and HLT to ~ 152 mash temp. I'll pump strike from the BK for the mash infusion, and then use HLT/HERMS to regulate mash temp using recirculation.
Love to hear other opinions on this, but this is my conceptual plan. . .
I don't know either, but I would think #2 since that way you just need to get it close and can then immediately rely on the HERMS loop to get you to where you need to be.
On my system, I fill my MLT with the strike water, fill the HLT with my sparge water, start the HERMS and heat the whole thing to strike temp (corrected for full water volume so it equals out right). If I am doing back to back batches, I use my propane burner and extra kettle to heat up water for the next batch so I do not need to wait for everything to heat up.
Does that make sense?
Looks like that cart you might have room to put your HLT under you mash? Then you would need two pumps.
This weekend was my first brew with my BCS system, I had a 23# grain bill, and in dough in using 1.25qt/lb for a total of 7.2 gallons. I started by filling the HLT with 14 gallons heating to strike temp using a 5500w 240VAC elemint (166 for a strike temp of 151), transfered over 7.2gallons in to mash then filled the HLT back up to 14 gallons, which was around 115º then set the HLT to 160. It took about 10-15min to get above 151, so I started recalculating then through the HEX. After 40 min I cranked the HLT up to 175, and recalculated till my mash tem was 168 fro a mash out step. Then fly sparged 13.5 gallons into my kettle. I was really impressed the recovery was so short, when I first doughed in I thought, "Oh $hit! now I have to re heat the water in the HLT...how long is that going to take."
This was my first brew so i did it all in manual mode, but the 5500 watt element has a lot of power and recovered really quickly. I think though with a larger grain bill I might pre heat some water and transfer it to my kettle or heat my strike water in the kettle after I heat the water in the HLT.My system is set up to run on a 30A line, so I can only run one 5500watt element at once.
I tried doing option 1 and it's way more work. After you transfer from HLT to MLT, you need to top off the HLT to cover the coils, so you have to transfer water from BK, to HLT or top off the water from water hose/sink and bring to temp quickly. Two transfers vs. 1 with option 2.
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