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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Prebuilt Control Panels?
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:24 PM   #1
weremichael
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Default Prebuilt Control Panels?

Greetings,

After lurking in the Electric Brewing Forum, I've discovered that there is no way I would build a control panel that I would feel safe using. I have degrees in archaeology/special education not electrical engineering. Because it's so cold here in Wyoming, I am itching to start up an electric brewery. I know I don't want a fully automatic setup (nor RIMS/HERMS). I'm just looking to heat water in a HLT to achieve my strike temperatures for dough-in/batch sparging, mash in my cooler and a separate element to boil in a boil kettle.

I've looked at Hot Liquor tank and Kettle Control (Medium heavy duty panel 9x9) from Brewmation and it looks like it comes with everything I would need to convert to an electrical setup. I can't find any reviews or impressions on it though. Is $749 a reasonable price for what it does? Does anyone have impressions of it? Can anyone recommend an individual or other company that makes a quality control panel?

Thanks,

Michael

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Old 12-31-2010, 01:28 AM   #2
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Seems way pricey, but for a commercial built option...maybe there's nothing else?

You might want to check out the BCS-460. Way cheaper, but I've never used one.

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Old 12-31-2010, 01:55 AM   #3
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I haven't seen any other comercial options, but I agree, that seems like way to much for what you get. Also, I think that you'd really want a PID for your HLT temp control.

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Old 12-31-2010, 05:19 AM   #4
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Doing a full wireless BCS-460 control panel would probably cost at least $700 to do right (at least that's what my components cost). If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, there is no price on peace of mind.

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Old 12-31-2010, 04:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAleMaster View Post
Doing a full wireless BCS-460 control panel would probably cost at least $700 to do right (at least that's what my components cost). If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, there is no price on peace of mind.
+ 1 on peace of mind = priceless but with that said I'm a software guy and hardware always intimidated me until I read enough here to get me going.

Read, read, read, and ask questions here. You can make it as simple or complex as you like. I bought the BCS-460 and it was easy to set up simple state machines to do what I need. The main control panel is the computer screen and I just needed to add and wire solid state relays and temperature probes to the unit. I control a kegerator, cold box and fermentation chamber using the 1 control unit. I have approx. $300 invested in electric components less the chest freezer and A/C window unit. This is not an ad for the BCS-460 per se, but I found it to be a versatile unit to control more than 1 process at the same time

I used this thread as a model and it doesn't show the temp probe wired to to the BCS unit for feedback but that is another 2 wires similar to the SSR. The BCS site has it's own forum with examples as well and plenty of people there with experience.
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Old 12-31-2010, 05:20 PM   #6
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+ 1 on peace of mind = priceless but with that said I'm a software guy and hardware always intimidated me until I read enough here to get me going.

Read, read, read, and ask questions here. You can make it as simple or complex as you like.
I too am a software/wireless guy and have no formal background and agree completely. I guess my point I was making was that saving a couple of bucks isn't worth it if you aren't comfortable - especially messing around with electricity.
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Old 12-31-2010, 07:18 PM   #7
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Brewmation stuff looks good and the system itself has been well received by those posting about it. The negative comments I've read are usually from people who've never used one.
http://www.highgravitybrew.com/produ...y-276p2810.htm also has some pre built stuff.

People tend to forget that these set ups are a bunch of parts, someones knowhow and labor to put them together and a reasonable profit. Based upon building my own control panel, most of these are a bargain. The time it takes to decide on the parts, order them, pay for shipping, countless driving to pick up the little things you forgot and then hours & hours assembling them, this all adds up.

I'd want to know from these vendors, what qualifications do they have to be building them and what safety features do they have?

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Old 12-31-2010, 08:11 PM   #8
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Not only do I think you should do it, I think you should spring for the extra $50 to get the MLT control. If you have zero confidence in your ability to build it, the $$$ will be worth it. It takes a lot if time, cash and patience, so what is your time worth? What is your frustration tolerance? Do you enjoy the process or do you simply want to brew?

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Old 12-31-2010, 08:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcinpdx View Post
Not only do I think you should do it, I think you should spring for the extra $50 to get the MLT control. If you have zero confidence in your ability to build it, the $$$ will be worth it. It takes a lot if time, cash and patience, so what is your time worth? What is your frustration tolerance? Do you enjoy the process or do you simply want to brew?
That is the trick isn't it? What is my time worth and how much frustration would the process garner? And in the end, I just want to brew good beer in my basement on a safe electric setup.

I'm gonna hold off on purchasing a brewmation one though, because I think that I've inspired Kal. He's looking for an American partner to build systems for sale in the US.

I appreciate everyone's input, though.
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Old 01-03-2011, 12:51 AM   #10
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you can build a simple setup to do what you wans\t and just go with the kiss(Keep it simple stupid) principale and dont get fancy, plus you can alwasy post pics and ideas in this forum and get some help, many people have documented there builds here and would be able to offer advise. i was in the same boat as you, tired of brewing in the cold, hel i would have been hapy just to electrify the HLT at the start, brewing at 0 degress outside is cold. there are lots of people on here that i am sure have no engineering background of anykind and built really awsome setup because they had a passion for it. peace of mind will cost you alot, or not so much, in my case it was a 50$ spa panel and 40$ fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires.

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