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Old 10-01-2011, 02:15 AM   #1
Pete762
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Default HERMS I think?

I've been toying with the idea of getting a little more automated with my brewing. After completing the 8 hour process of sitting around and watching my 20% barley wine mash, i think i need to take the next step. Here is my plan. Please lend me your feedback and thoughs.

I plan to build a HERMS system with basically a HLT with a copper chiller in it. I will then pump my mash from my mash tun through the chiller submerged in heated water to maintain an exact temp. Love (or Ranco) controllers will monitor this for me. This means i will be essentially using indirect heat on my liquid without having to run my propane burners to maintain the heat.

Here are the questions i have. What will i need in regards to heating element, and what would make a good vessel for this setup? I hope to mount it on the back of my brew rack kind of out of the way. Also, in regards to wiring. How would this look schematically?

Thanks all in advance for your help.

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Old 10-01-2011, 06:25 AM   #2
benbradford
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You can run any source of heat on your bk, to elevate the temperature of the water in the bk above the mash temp, and circulate through the bk. If you are already running propane, this makes the most sense. A controller could control the pump, and decide when to pump the mash wort through the bk. This is essentially a herms unit in a nutshell.

If you want an extra vessel to add to your system, that would be electric, you have a bunch of options. I guess you need to decide how big your hlt would be, and really, decide whether you need an extra vessel. You can do what you are saying by using the bk, which would already have the boiled wort in it, and therefore use the same vessel for chilling, with a built in chiller.

You need to decide what you would like first. Schematically, it is pretty simple any way you go. Electric is simple with an element and a plug. Maybe a switch thrown in if you want. The element could be plugged into the ranco, or the pump could. It makes more sense for the pump, however.

A problem with the automation, is the even temps across the entire mash bed, because I have found that they can vary 3 degrees, without consistent stirring. You also have to be careful with the mash thickness, because if there is not enough liquid in the mash, there can be problems getting enough of the wort through the coil in the other vessel.

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Old 10-01-2011, 08:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benbradford View Post
A problem with the automation, is the even temps across the entire mash bed, because I have found that they can vary 3 degrees, without consistent stirring. You also have to be careful with the mash thickness, because if there is not enough liquid in the mash, there can be problems getting enough of the wort through the coil in the other vessel.
If you recirculate during the mash that this fixes that issue. I have mashed at 1 to 1 and you are right that is a little low and can run into pump cavitation issues. The lowest mash I will go is 1.25:1.

I use a 10 gal cooler for HTL And MASH tun.
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input. I don't think my water to grain ratio will be too bad. I'm planning on converting a 15 gallon keg into a keggle for my mash tun. I also have 2 7 gallon aluminum pots and one 5 gallon steel. I don't have a shortage of vessels so i was thinking of installing the copper coiled pipe in one of the 7 gallon containers and then allowing that to double as my HLT. I will then use my other 7 gallon pot for the boil.

How would the Ranco / Love be wired within my 7 gallon pot? I know i'd have an electric heating element installed at the bottom of it. Does the controller just get installed in line on the hot pole? Just as a switch would?

Thanks again.

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Old 10-04-2011, 08:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Does the controller just get installed in line on the hot pole? Just as a switch would?
if the controller can handle switching the full load of the element- yes. if it cant, then you need a SSR or contactor to handle the switching of the load, with the controller activating the SSR/contactor.

Quote:
A problem with the automation, is the even temps across the entire mash bed, because I have found that they can vary 3 degrees, without consistent stirring. .
ive never seen mine vary by more than one degree among various locations in the mash tun. if you are constantly recirculating, like you would be with a HERMS, you shouldnt have much of any variation at all. 3 degrees means you are not fully recirculating the whole mash (you have stagnant zones that arent getting circulated). that shouldnt be a problem with a properly setup sparge arm and false bottom.

and i dont really understand:
Quote:
because if there is not enough liquid in the mash, there can be problems getting enough of the wort through the coil in the other vessel.
unless your grain:liquid ratio is way under 1.0 (which it really should never be), that would never be a problem. ive never not had enough liquid to circulate.
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:06 AM   #6
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I usually am around the 1.1 water to grain ratio and i may even bump that up a little since now i have 15 gallons of room in my mash tun. I was also thinking of braising some 1/2" copper tubing around the top inside of the keggle which would act as a water disperser. I would drill a hole in the top part of the keg (in the remaining top of the keg) and attach a clamp on hose from the heating tank directly to that. Then i was thinking of drilling small (maybe 1/16th) holes each inch around the copper piping. Then it would spray the water in evenly eliminating the possibility of hot spots and water columns. I think the only problem with this idea is i would lose heat through the water dispersion.

Any 110v heating elements anyone recommends? 6 gallons of water needs to be heated to near boiling (ideally).

Thanks

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Old 10-08-2011, 12:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete762 View Post
Here are the questions i have. What will i need in regards to heating element, and what would make a good vessel for this setup?

Thanks all in advance for your help.

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Old 11-06-2011, 02:56 PM   #8
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day one for the build went well. I have about 25% of the brew stand welded together. I"m planning on putting a 2' backing on it so that i can braise the copper piping up and over the lip of the keggles. I've ordered all the electric components minus the wiring and terminal forks. I have yet to find an enclosure that would work. Does anyone have any ideas? I've been looking at "project boxes" on amazon, however, i'm afraid these might be too small. Housing up to 2 two gang outlet boxes and two control units would be pushing it in an 8x10 enclosure.

Also, it has become apparent that i need to have a garage sale. this brew stand is way bigger than i originally anticipated, an i'm not too sure where i'll put it.

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Old 11-07-2011, 03:37 PM   #9
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a lot of people use metal or plastic tool boxes for enclosures.

i use a $20 plastic tool box from home depot for everything. even the pump fits nicely coming out of the top.

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