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Old 06-04-2012, 11:59 AM   #1
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Default Was gonna go propane, but...

the more I read, the more I think electric might be a better set up. $h!t....

My plan was to build a single tier, two pump, propane set-up with keggles. I was going to go pretty low tech with very little, if any type of automation. However, the more I read and think about what I want, electric brewing keeps coming to the forefront.

At this point, I have my stand welded together and it's sitting on casters. I have the burners, but I haven't built a rack for them, so they are just sitting on the floor. I have 3 kegs (obtained legally) with the tops cut off, but I haven't modified them in any other way. I also have most of the hardware that I was planning on using: thermometers, sight glasses, valves, false bottom, pump, etc.

I guess what I'm looking for is some help to decide what route to go. I know that this decision is mostly personal, but maybe some of you guys hit this same road block and would be willing to walk me through it.

Here is what I'm thinking:

Propane is easy to set up, portable, and the build is cheaper, but is loud, dangerous to do in the garage(debatable for some, but I'm not comfortable with it), and more expensive to operate. It also seems that it would be more difficult to maintain proper temps in MLT and HLT - I could be wrong here, correct me if so.

Electric is quiet, just as fast as propane (possibly faster), can be done safely inside when it's cold, cheap to operate, and seems to be better for maintaining temps. The downsides for me seem to be cost to build and level of expertise to build. I can deal with the cost, but it might take a little longer to complete as I piece the system together.

I have a new house that I just built a year ago, and a nice spot in my garage next to my breaker panel where this rig would fit nicely. I would still use my steel frame because it's already built, even though I know it's overkill for an electric set up. I guess my main worry here is that I won't be able to build (wire) the d@mn thing. I would like something that is as simple as possible, but still able to hold temps well as I'm brewing.

I'm relatively handy, I can weld and wire very basic household electrical, but I'm not sure about the electrical for this project.... Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions would be much appreciated. I'm not looking for someone to make this decision for me, just some ideas about things I might be missing.....

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Old 06-04-2012, 12:12 PM   #2
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It sounds to me like you've already convinced yourself to go electric.

I did a propane to electric conversion and I have to say that I was glad to start out with propane. The cost to enter the hobby is less by starting out with propane and no control panel. I learned a lot during those years. It was a slow build up to electric, and like you I was convinced electric was the way to go. Electric pretty much requires a control panel. That is a pricey step into the hobby, but if you can afford it go for it.

Another thing to look out for is I would occasionally take my propane set up somewhere to brew with others. I can't do that with my eRig.

Good luck with your decision. Either way you'll end up with home brew!

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Old 06-04-2012, 12:23 PM   #3
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If you are fairly hany the electrics are pretty straight forward. You can do it without automation by paying close attention to the temps, but that will become tiring soon and you will want some automation to relieve you of the constant monitoring of your temps. Once you decide what you wish to automate and what devices you would like to use to accomplish that you will find them available pretty cheap and readilly in most hardware stors. The PID's are pretty cheap on Ebay and the other misc parts can be had from radio shack, and Walmart for the most part. I am usig LPG because we are jind of off the grid and E-brewing would mean I have to depend on our unreliable country electricity. Not willing to waste that much grain if I get messed up with the power co. Just some thoughts, hope this helps you decide one way or the other, just remember to have fun while you are doing it...
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:01 PM   #4
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Well one option if you can handle the cost but not the build is to buy Kal's pre-made control box. I think he charges $2100 for it? The website doesn't seem to be working right now. I spent $700 on mine, but a lot of man-hours.

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Old 06-04-2012, 08:47 PM   #5
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You can do it without automation by paying close attention to the temps, but that will become tiring soon and you will want some automation to relieve you of the constant monitoring of your temps.
Thanks for the input.

I have to say that this is a fear of mine. After putting the time and effort into building a rig, whether it be propane or electric, I am pretty sure I don't want to sit by the thermometer all day.

I'm thinking the automation is more precise with electric, but possibly a little harder to build. Can someone confirm or deny that?
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:50 PM   #6
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Well one option if you can handle the cost but not the build is to buy Kal's pre-made control box. I think he charges $2100 for it? The website doesn't seem to be working right now. I spent $700 on mine, but a lot of man-hours.
I hadn't spent enough time on Kai's site, so I didn't realize he pre-made them. I'll check it, but $2100 is not within my budget at this point. Not that what he is offering isn't worth it. $700 and lots of man hours sounds a little more doable. I am just afraid I'm going to get started and then get stuck and not know what the he!! to do.

I guess I'm trying to think into the future and build a rig I can grow into.....
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:58 PM   #7
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I hadn't spent enough time on Kai's site, so I didn't realize he pre-made them. I'll check it, but $2100 is not within my budget at this point. Not that what he is offering isn't worth it. $700 and lots of man hours sounds a little more doable. I am just afraid I'm going to get started and then get stuck and not know what the he!! to do.

I guess I'm trying to think into the future and build a rig I can grow into.....
Kal's website is detailed enough for pretty much anyone to be able to put together a control panel. I wouldn't worry about getting stuck. Plus, there's plenty of knowledge available on this board.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:51 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by g-love View Post
...
After putting the time and effort into building a rig, whether it be propane or electric, I am pretty sure I don't want to sit by the thermometer all day.

I'm thinking the automation is more precise with electric, but possibly a little harder to build. Can someone confirm or deny that?
Electric is very precise and not hard to build at all. You just need the right plan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by g-love View Post
...
$700 and lots of man hours sounds a little more doable. I am just afraid I'm going to get started and then get stuck and not know what the he!! to do.

I guess I'm trying to think into the future and build a rig I can grow into.....
Depending on the system you are shooting for (single batches or back to back batches) it does not have to be all that complex or expensive. I believe you can build a nice electric system for about $400 complete. And that is with excellent components from Auber Instruments and the brewery protected with a GFCI Spa Panel.

For single batches you only need a 240V-30A feed to power your system. Building the system and wiring it should be a piece of cake for you to accomplish.

Please think about what it is that you want to do and I'd be happy to make a wiring plan for you to accomplish your build. I'll also setup an Excel sheet for the parts involved (most of 'em anyway).

Think about it and let me know.

Wishing you the best.

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Old 06-04-2012, 11:00 PM   #9
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I just completed a electric setup, PJ is spot on with his comments, the controller was not prohibitively expensive, and pretty simple to wire up it you have basic skills so don't be afraid.

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Old 06-05-2012, 12:06 AM   #10
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I have to agree with everyone in regards to wiring the control panel.
There is plenty of info buried here in the forums as well as Kal's site.
I just completed mine and spent around $500 to build.
I still have the LT and kettle from my propane setup so I can travel.

As for which is better, I cannot give you an answer for that as it is personal preference.
I went electric due to the weather, did not care for brewing in the snow and did not like the idea of brewing in the garage.

If the kegs are configured correctly from the start you can migrate from propane to electric by adding the thermocouple and heating element.

Either way you go, at least you will be doing all grain batches which is your primary goal.

Just enjoy the endeavor of the experiences you will learn.

Andrew

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