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Old 12-13-2010, 08:18 PM   #1
theschick
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Default Thinking about 120v BIAB setup

I've read through ScubaSteve's crazy nice electric BIAB setup. I'm not that ambitious, knowledgeable, etc. I really want this to be as simple as possible, although electric.

A little background:
I do a "traditional" all grain using an MLT, keggle, turkey fryer, etc. My initial plans was to build a simple electric HLT, but now I'm thinking about making it just a BIAB vessel.

My thoughts are to use 2 1500w elements. I know bigger is better, go 240, blah blah blah. I want something that I can plug into pretty much any circuit, travel to a buddy's house etc., hence limiting it to a total 3000w. I have some 20a circuits in the house, but want this to be more mobile. I understand this will probably limit me to 5 gallon batches, and I'm 100% okay with that. I can make 10 gallon batches in my current setup if I needed to. I've also read how long it will take to heat to temp, and I'm okay with that as well.

My initial thoughts (which could very well be incorrect):
Outfit my keggle with two 1500w heating elements. Not sure if the placement of two elements in proximity of each other is important. Was thinking about setting them about 45 degrees from each other. At first I was just going to run these into a junction box where I had two GFCI outlets that run to different circuits via an appropriately rated extension cord. Power would be controlled by a simple switch, so the elements are either on or off.

I'm now thinking about expanding this to using a PID and two SSR (which are terms I just learned yesterday). I believe one PID can control two SSRs, which then controls the elements being on or off.

I understand I'll need to come up with some way to keep the bag off the elements when mashing. Perhaps a steaming basket, wire rack, etc. Also need to insulate the keggle, etc.

Any issues with using a project box to hold a PID, two SSRs, and the two GFCI outlets? Elements plug into the GFCI, which is on or off from the SSRs? Please excuse me if I don't understand the concept of any of these electrical pieces.

This would be a no sparge, no recirculate setup. Just a simple 120v powered electrical BIAB.

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Old 12-13-2010, 08:47 PM   #2
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I am also looking to do this (2 1500W elements) or something similar (might stick with elements that are not mounted to the kettle - would make mashing easier). Eagerly awaiting responses as I have almost no experience/knowledge in this field.

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Old 12-13-2010, 09:00 PM   #3
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I just brewed a couple of days ago and was thinking the same thing. The hardest part of BIAB is keeping my mash temp consistant. I love BIAB, easy, great efficiency, and easy clean up. If I could solve the mash temp consistancy I would be so thrilled.

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Old 12-15-2010, 03:56 PM   #4
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For those following this thread, I found other users here that have done the same thing, example: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/show...ml#post1046004

It is pretty simple process to connect a single PID to two SSRs to control two heating elements. I'm going to start my build probably in January and document the process.

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Old 12-17-2010, 05:14 PM   #5
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Anyone see anything wrong with just using this switch/outlet combo: http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053 My elements will only be 1500w.

I am only planning on needing two outlets (one for each element). So, PID controls the two SSRs, that are each wired into one of the combo outlets above. Anything fundamentally wrong with this approach?

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Old 12-17-2010, 07:06 PM   #6
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why not use a GFCI outlet instead? you really need it since you'll be using electricity in and around liquid.

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Old 12-17-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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I already have GFCI outlets where I'll be plugging the control box into.

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Old 12-19-2010, 03:16 AM   #8
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I think your idea sounds good. I like that it could be both simple and versatile.

You can switch two SSRs using one PID. I do this in my rig, and it works very well.

As for the power, I think you have some options. If you build it so the elements plug into the control box and screw into the kettle, you open yourself up to more flexibility. For another $20 per element (including cords, plugs, and epoxy), you could get a pair of 2kW elements that you use at home on your 20A circuits, and then have the 1500W elements for when you travel. It really depends on how patient you are.

3000W will have you hitting mash in in about 40 minutes for a 5 gallon batch. Bumping that to 4000W will have you mashing in in about 30.

Also, I have a boiloff rate of 1 gallon per hour when I am using 2700W. Just useful information as you plan your build.

Joshua

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Old 12-29-2010, 03:14 AM   #9
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You can definitely build a little control box with two GFCI outlets, SSR, PID and heat sink, I did it with my CB20 system (see link in my sig).

Two 1500w elements will be fine for a 7-8 gallon pre boil volume. You only need to PID control if you want to maintain mash temps, otherwise 3000w will give you about 1-1.3 gallons boil off in an hour, which is fine.

If you are going to try to maintain mash temps, I would recommend a pump to recirculate with direct heat from the element, but you have to shield the grain from the element. Besides my CB20 system, I also built a single vessel BIAB system with a built in IC copper coil for chilling like you are contemplating with two 1500w elements. I use a small recirculation pump from a March AC-1 pump I got on ebay for $35. In this scenario, you only need 1 SSR because you can maintain mash temps with only one element. The other element only gets used to bring up to strike temp and for boil and in both cases can be plugged directly into the wall, no need to for an SSR or PID.

The one thing I would caution is that you will lose about 5-8 degrees during the mash in your keggle, even with good insulation. That is why I recirculate with direct heat during the mash and maintain mash temps with my PID. You have to be very careful not to contact the grain with the elements because you can scorch the grain and even fry the element. Trust me, I have done both and I use ultra low watt density elements.

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Old 12-29-2010, 08:49 PM   #10
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I think you're on the right track....can't remember which, but either the 40 or 60qt bayou classic basket will fit in your keggle...giving you something to hold onto and keeping the bag off the element if you build feet for it. You can go with Al if you want to save $$$, and forgo the screen if you'd prefer a bag. If you go the control box route...REALLY study these other builds and their parts lists....I can't tell you how much extra money I've spent on the wrong/not enough parts!

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