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Old 03-08-2011, 03:45 PM   #11
nyer
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I'm nowhere near a final design yet but I don't think you can have too much power. The key is making sure you can energize the vessel/elements that are most important to moving the brew day along but without overloading. Some thoughts I've had were running two 4500w elements in the HLT where they didn't necessarily have to be energized together at the same time. It's just that the controls are the most expensive part of the solution.

Faster Strike Heating - Run 2 x 4500w and heat about 5 gallons of strike water in 8 minutes.

or...

Run 1 x 5500w in the HLT but also recirc. that water through a 1500w RIMS to heat 5 gallons of strike in about 11 minutes. The benefit is that the RIMS will already be under control so no extra control needed. This would also be the state during mashing and sparge heating.

During a long fly sparge, you have to maintain sparge water temp and then also speed things along by energizing the BK once the element is wet. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the HLT/BK elements have to do the work. If you're running a 1500w RIMS tube, you can probably use that to bump the sparge temp up a couple degrees if the temp slipped a bit.

4500 is more than enough in a BK because you're going from 170 to 212 and once you're there, it takes much less to keep it going.

In any case, ended up installing a 50amp spa panel.
I was looking at the 50 amp panel but I may go with the 60 just in case. Trying to keep track everything that needs to be done is hard, I am in the process of making a list of what I need for each part of this build. Theres so much it makes me think it's not worth the conversion from propane.

I know I will need another sight glass from you at some point, I don't know how I got by without one. Do you know of a thermocouple that will thread into the tee on yours?
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:49 PM   #12
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but, I guess it might be nice to have a LOT of power in the HLT so that you could have your second batch's mash actually done around the time you were finished chilling the 1st batch.
Yes. You need to have a beastly element in the HLT because that is where most of the energy gets transferred. It's a bottleneck any way you look at it. Starting your first brew, doing a concurrent batch, etc. The wort coming out of the MLT is already 150F....so you need a less powerful element in the BK....you just need to maintain a boil. 5500W is overkill unless you're doing huge batches....mine is only energized 35-40% of the time in manual mode. Insulation is also important....your times decrease and so do your power requirements.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:55 PM   #13
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I would like the ability to heat water fast for 2 reasons, my well water is between 40-55 degrees year round and I have no patience. I'm working on the patience problem.
working on the same "issue" ... so I have the hlt (a rubbermaid cooler) on a timer, so when I come down in the AM, I can start the mash right away (I try to grind grains night before .. so much waiting...try to split up the chores ...want the process to be fun and reasonably free of tedium..
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:12 PM   #14
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I started reading up on a herms system and I'm still a little confused on how one works. It looks to me like I could get rid of the rims element and electronics and basically have just two tanks each with a 220 element. If I understand this correctly you would use your boil kettle to heat the strike water while heating your sparge water in the hlt. You transfer the strike water to the mash tun and mash in. Then you would recirculate your mash through the herms coil in the hlt while keeping your sparge water in the hlt at your target mash temp, lets say 152. Now after one hour you would turn up the hlt to your mash out temp to around 170. Once your mash hits your temp you start fly sparging with the hlt and drain into your boil kettle. Is this correct?

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Old 03-09-2011, 04:04 PM   #15
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I started reading up on a herms system and I'm still a little confused on how one works. It looks to me like I could get rid of the rims element and electronics and basically have just two tanks each with a 220 element. If I understand this correctly you would use your boil kettle to heat the strike water while heating your sparge water in the hlt. You transfer the strike water to the mash tun and mash in. Then you would recirculate your mash through the herms coil in the hlt while keeping your sparge water in the hlt at your target mash temp, lets say 152. Now after one hour you would turn up the hlt to your mash out temp to around 170. Once your mash hits your temp you start fly sparging with the hlt and drain into your boil kettle. Is this correct?
There's a ton of ways to get things done, but that's one perfectly good way of doing it right there.

I use just a single electric kettle for mine, but you wouldn't want to do that since you have a desire for back to back batches. I can't do that on mine unless I completely serialize the two batches.

You mentioned earlier that back-to-back batches would probably be a 10 followed by a 5, you could still pull this off easily. Your second batch becomes like my system; one available e-kettle and a MLT.

You put all of the water for the second batch into the MLT and start heating it up, targetting about 8*F over the mash temp. When it's hot, drop the PID setting down to mash temp and immediately pump the over-heated mash water into the MLT with the grain and start circulating through the coil. The grain will absorb heat from both the stike water as well as the remaining water in the HLT and will stabilize at the target mash temp.

In fact, now that I think about it, you could do the second batch as a 10 gallon, too. The only issue is that all of the water for a 10 gallon batch might not fit in the kettle at the same time. In that case, just put the excess water in the mash tun and overheat the HLT water a couple extra degrees (+10*F over instead of +8*F like I said above). When you mash, then you add the hot water to the cold in the MLT and do the whole recirculation thing and let it even out.
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:19 PM   #16
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I went with a 60A spa panel from HD for $69, only $10 more than the 50A. 60A gives a little more head room for running (2) 5500W elements plus 2 pumps and various controls, plus a little extra for future improvements.

From the spa panel, running 6/3 romex to the brew rig panel and using some DIN rail mounted finger safe power distribution blocks from automation direct to split off (2) 220V 30A circuits for the heaters and a 110V 10A for everything else.

One 5500W element can take 13 gallons of my 60 deg ground water to boil in about 55 minutes in a 20 gallon pot. That an ave temp rise of about 2.5-3 degrees/minute. Thats pretty fast.

Also, I figured that electricity cost me about $0.55 vs about $10 in propane!

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Old 03-09-2011, 04:31 PM   #17
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I went with a 60A spa panel from HD for $69, only $10 more than the 50A. 60A gives a little more head room for running (2) 5500W elements plus 2 pumps and various controls, plus a little extra for future improvements.

From the spa panel, running 6/3 romex to the brew rig panel and using some DIN rail mounted finger safe power distribution blocks from automation direct to split off (2) 220V 30A circuits for the heaters and a 110V 10A for everything else.
So... your brewery panel is hard-wired to the spa panel? No plugs/receptacles?
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:42 PM   #18
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There's a ton of ways to get things done, but that's one perfectly good way of doing it right there.

I use just a single electric kettle for mine, but you wouldn't want to do that since you have a desire for back to back batches. I can't do that on mine unless I completely serialize the two batches.

You mentioned earlier that back-to-back batches would probably be a 10 followed by a 5, you could still pull this off easily. Your second batch becomes like my system; one available e-kettle and a MLT.

You put all of the water for the second batch into the MLT and start heating it up, targetting about 8*F over the mash temp. When it's hot, drop the PID setting down to mash temp and immediately pump the over-heated mash water into the MLT with the grain and start circulating through the coil. The grain will absorb heat from both the stike water as well as the remaining water in the HLT and will stabilize at the target mash temp.

In fact, now that I think about it, you could do the second batch as a 10 gallon, too. The only issue is that all of the water for a 10 gallon batch might not fit in the kettle at the same time. In that case, just put the excess water in the mash tun and overheat the HLT water a couple extra degrees (+10*F over instead of +8*F like I said above). When you mash, then you add the hot water to the cold in the MLT and do the whole recirculation thing and let it even out.
I'm leaning hard towards the herms now, if I can eliminate the cost of the rims and use less amps it seems like a no brainer. The rims and electronics to run it seem like a large part of the cost of going electric. A 60 amp spa panel should run 2 5500 watt (or 5500 and 4500) elements and 2 pumps and electronics shouldn't it?
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:27 PM   #19
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I'm leaning hard towards the herms now, if I can eliminate the cost of the rims and use less amps it seems like a no brainer. The rims and electronics to run it seem like a large part of the cost of going electric. A 60 amp spa panel should run 2 5500 watt (or 5500 and 4500) elements and 2 pumps and electronics shouldn't it?
The amp needs of the electronics are almost negligible, so you really just need to be concerned about the elements and pumps. Just count the electronics as 1 amp all combined.

I think pumps are (roughly) 1.5A, so if you have 2 running at the same time, there's 3 amps gone.

A 5500W needs (5500 divided by 240) = 22.9 amps. Call it 23.

So, if you had two of those and two pumps and the electronics, you'd be at 50A.

You are under the load limit, but it's often suggested to not continuously run things at 80% or more of your load limit, so the 60A breaker (following that 80% rule) gives you 48A of continuous draw.

Honestly, I think you would be just fine with the 60A continuously pulling 50A. If you're worried about it, you could back off from 5500W in the HLT and still not cause yourself any issues. Dropping to 4500W in the HLT gives you a total load of about 46 amps.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:46 PM   #20
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Walker:

Yes, the brew panel will be hardwired for incoming power. The reason is that 60A plugs/recepticles/power cord is limited or non existant. The power distribution blocks are rated to 175A allow me to split of the power into up to 4 more managable amounts and protect them with circuit breakers.

Once I'm down to 30A circuits, I can use NEMA 30A plugs/recepticles and 10 guage power cord to run the power to individual heating elements.

Obviously, mobility was not a design consideration.

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