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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > e-Herms for My First Setup?
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:54 AM   #1
wdk
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Default e-Herms for My First Setup?

Hi Everyone,

I've been a long time reader and finally decided to create an account and see if I could get some of your opinions. After hours upon hours of reading through threads I think I decided on doing an 3 vessel, 1 PID, 1 pump HERMS setup to try and minimize costs right now and still provide the ability to upgrade more later (ie, more pumps, a CFC, etc). I have an electrician friend that is going to be wiring me a 50A 240 GFCI outlet in my basement and I am planning to work from that. This is what I'm planning on so far:
- Currently I already have 3 kegs I am going to convert. Nice clean micro stars.
- 5500W ULD elements in both the HLT and the BK
- 50' SS IC in to use both in HLT and then as the chiller as well
- One of those cheap ebay pumps that are referrenced HERE here is the eBay listing
- Doing 10 gallon batches

Here is what I am not so sure about and would love input.
- Is that one pump going to be sufficient as the only pump in the system?
- Are camlocks the best way to go for all the hoses?
- Is the 50' SS IC going to be good enough for doing 10 gallon batches?
- Is a sight glass absolutley necessary? If so in which kettles?
- How important is it to filter the water before hand? I'm in Parker, CO and have very good tasting water but hard water. Do I need somthing extreme or simply the RV style water filters or nothing at all?
- It seems like I can get 1/6 sanke kegs pretty cheap, how much of a PITA is it to use them for home brew use? All the cornies around here are pretty expensive.

Is there anything vital that I'm missing and should include? I'm trying to put together a parts list but am running into trouble figuring out exactly which PID is need, how big of SSR and then even simple things like where to get tubing, wedless fittings, and camlocks for a decent price. Do you think that a HERMS setup is the right way for me to go? It seemed like the most budget friendly starting off and still has really good feedback. When I'm using only 1 PID to control temps I am essentially going to be unpluging the temp sensor and element that is not in use right? Sorry if all this sounds fairly elementary. I have spent so much time reading over threads that I feel like I'm starting to confuse myself and make things more complicated than need be.

Thanks so much for any and all input! -Kevin

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Old 04-03-2013, 02:06 AM   #2
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Auber Inst PID-SYL-2325

Brewers Hardware, Stainless Brewing, Bargin Fittings, Weldless Fittings for your fittings

EbrewSupply for control panel stuff

I am building pretty much the same thing you are, look up my threads, see if they offer any help

Tim

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Ferm 1: Colorado Common Cream Ale
Ferm 2:

On Deck: Pin Cushin IPA

Keg 1: House Amber Ale
Keg 2: Switchback Stout

Total Gallons brewed (2014) - 40

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Old 04-03-2013, 02:15 AM   #3
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Thanks, I'll definitley read through your threads. Do you happen to already have a wiring diagram that you are using? I really like the simplicity of the control panel HERE. What pump are you going with for your setup?

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Old 04-03-2013, 03:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdk View Post
Hi Everyone,
Here is what I am not so sure about and would love input.
- Is that one pump going to be sufficient as the only pump in the system?
- Are camlocks the best way to go for all the hoses?
- Is the 50' SS IC going to be good enough for doing 10 gallon batches?
- Is a sight glass absolutley necessary? If so in which kettles?
- How important is it to filter the water before hand? I'm in Parker, CO and have very good tasting water but hard water. Do I need somthing extreme or simply the RV style water filters or nothing at all?
- It seems like I can get 1/6 sanke kegs pretty cheap, how much of a PITA is it to use them for home brew use? All the cornies around here are pretty expensive.
One pump is good, but 2 are better. For example, how are you going to sparge? If you only have 1 pump, you're either batch sparging or using gravity, and batch may be hard unless you have a big mash tun given that you're doing 10 gallon batches. A second pump will allow you to pump sparge water while you pump wort into the BK.

I use Camlocks. They're pricey, and I suggest using a hose clamp to prevent leaking. They get hot, but they go on easy, the secure well, and they hold without leaking at the fitting. I like them.

50' of SS is good, assuming you're going with 1/2"? Make sure you put it in very cold water if you're trying to cool - the cooling abilities of the IC have more to do with the temperature of the water (and the difference between that and the temp of the wort).

If you want to make sure you transfer the right volumes (for example - 5 gallons mash water, 4.5 gallons sparge water, or whatever your volumes are) then you need a sight glass. Otherwise you're guessing. I have one on my BK and my HLT - BK tells me when I've pulled enough volume out of the MLT preboil, and the one on the HLT tells me when I've transferred enough volume over to the MLT for mashing. You can use a stick that you've calibrated with lines on it and you stick it in the pot if a sight glass is too pricey...

If you want to know how important it is to filter your water, take a sample of it and send it off to Ward Labs and have them give you a full analysis. Then ask the folks over in the Brew Science board to give you their input. I filter all my water because I want to and because I can, but my water report still shows I'm doing fine without it. The report will also let you know what additions you might want to make to help the water profile (PH buffer, gypsum, salts, etc)

The 1/6 keg is fine as long as you have the means to remove the stem (for filling), the means for tapping it, and you have some way to clean it. The corny has a large opening so you can easily clean it out - might be harder working with a small opening in a 1/6 sanke.

Best of luck to you,
-Kevin
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2014:
5gal Scottish Wee Heavy
5gal Saison
15gal American Pale Ale
20gal Belgian Wit
10gal Oktoberfest
10gal Southern Pecan Ale
5gal Winter Spice Ale

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Old 04-03-2013, 04:21 PM   #5
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Auber for the PID
I use eBrewsupply for the DIY Kit the have, with drawing
Bargin Fittings, Weldless Fittings, Stainless Brewing, and Brewers Hardware for fittings and such.

As you google the sites listed, make you a Bookmark Folder, you will be goingback to then often.

Bad News gives great advice, and has been an valuable resource for me and others.
I am sure by ow, most that read this board are tired of my endless question, but my hope is that as I go through this from plan to pint...the questions I ask, are questions others have, so the knowldge base just grows....

Tim

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Ferm 1: Colorado Common Cream Ale
Ferm 2:

On Deck: Pin Cushin IPA

Keg 1: House Amber Ale
Keg 2: Switchback Stout

Total Gallons brewed (2014) - 40

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Old 04-03-2013, 05:07 PM   #6
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Here is what I am not so sure about and would love input.
- Is that one pump going to be sufficient as the only pump in the system?

I use the topsflow solar pump. This and the ebay model you list are probably undersized for a 3 vessel system. Save for a march or chugger pump.

- Are camlocks the best way to go for all the hoses?

AL camlocks are cheep and effective. I use a street elbow with these and force the silicon hose over the male threads.

- Is the 50' SS IC going to be good enough for doing 10 gallon batches?

Should be fine, I use a plate chiller. You shouldn't have a problem with water temp in Parker.

- Is a sight glass absolutley necessary? If so in which kettles?

Make marks on your mash paddle in half gallon increments to check volume in the HLT or the kettle.

- How important is it to filter the water before hand? I'm in Parker, CO and have very good tasting water but hard water. Do I need somthing extreme or simply the RV style water filters or nothing at all?

Check your water report. I am in COS and use the RV carbon filter and RV (food grade) hose for my water.

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Old 04-03-2013, 05:20 PM   #7
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I have a similar plan in mind, although I am using a cooler for the MLT.

I just bought a second pump myself. (Same as the one you linked to, but from BuyInCoins.com, 5% discount code 5FeBay2013, $18.88). It's a lot of convenience for not much extra cost, plus it will be a back up if the other pump fails. I have a solarproject.co.uk SP20/20 14W version which is similar to the ebay pump you link to but about $50 with flow rate and head about double the ebay one, similar to a chugger. I'll probably use the BIC pump for the water and keep the solarproject.co.uk pump for the wort.

I will use a small copper coil in an electric tea kettle for a heat exchanger, at least at first. That happens to be handy for me because it is 120V so I can use my smoker controller PID box while I am completing the brewery controller panel.

I also have a bunch of sixtels which I plan to use for both fermenting and serving. Don't know quite how I will be cleaning them, but the answer is probably "laboriously". I have been stocking up on couplers. Beverage factory has them new for $26, which I probably should take advantage of, but so far I have been picking up second hand ones on the cheap which may prove to be a false economy if the nickel plating proves to be in bad shape.

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Old 04-04-2013, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdk View Post

Here is what I am not so sure about and would love input.
- Is that one pump going to be sufficient as the only pump in the system?

In theory, it can be done, but you'll need to keep something in mind. When you sparge, you'll really want two pumps if all of your kettles are going to be on the same level. One pump for the sparge water to go into the mash tun, and one pump to get the wort from the wash tun into the boil kettle.
The secondary reason is when using the herms system, most find it beneficial to get the HLT moving to help stabilize the temp.

- Are camlocks the best way to go for all the hoses?

I just use normal barbed valves.

- Is the 50' SS IC going to be good enough for doing 10 gallon batches?

That's more than enough.

- Is a sight glass absolutley necessary? If so in which kettles?

Nope, but you'll need to use buckets to make sure that you know how much water you're mashing/sparging with. If you HAD to choose one, I'd to the HLT.

- How important is it to filter the water before hand? I'm in Parker, CO and have very good tasting water but hard water. Do I need somthing extreme or simply the RV style water filters or nothing at all?

This can be added later. I live in a big crappy city and I just won three medals without treating the water in any way.


Is there anything vital that I'm missing and should include? I'm trying to put together a parts list but am running into trouble figuring out exactly which PID is need, how big of SSR and then even simple things like where to get tubing, wedless fittings, and camlocks for a decent price. Do you think that a HERMS setup is the right way for me to go? It seemed like the most budget friendly starting off and still has really good feedback. When I'm using only 1 PID to control temps I am essentially going to be unpluging the temp sensor and element that is not in use right? Sorry if all this sounds fairly elementary. I have spent so much time reading over threads that I feel like I'm starting to confuse myself and make things more complicated than need be.

Thanks so much for any and all input! -Kevin
I've got a setup that is pretty much exactly what you're looking to do. I've bolded some answers up top.

Here's a couple of things to keep in mind. Whatever you think it's going to cost to build this, double it. It will nickel and dime you until you think you're going to explode. I don't say this to be discouraging, but you should know that it won't be cheap. With that said, it will definitely be worth it.

Also, when you use 1 PID, you can't set the temperature using two different temp probes. For example, you'll have a temp probe for your HLT to determine what temp you are mashing at. But you'll also want the PID to control your boil kettle. Since you can only configer 1 PID with 1 temp probe, you'll have to use the PID in manual mode for the boil kettle. Personally, I have no problem with that, but others might.
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