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Old 12-30-2011, 12:09 PM   #1
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Default Wanting to go electric starting out simple with the ability to expand

I want to start brewing indoors(I see that is a popular revelation this time of year). I don't have the funds to build a fancy system right away but would like to be able to have an electric BK and HLT gravity system with a cooler MLT to start with and the ability to expand to E-HERMS down the road. I have a newly built house with 200amp service and lots of space in my breaker box. Just trying to figure the best direction to go in.

Should I go ahead and install 30 amp breaker with the spa panel GFCI and start out with 2 5500w elements? Or would it be cheaper to install 2 1500 or 2000w elements per kettle?

Should I go ahead and install a PID for each one or a PWM or can I have one to control both?

I have looked at a lot of the E-BIAB threads and like the simplicity of some of those but think I would like to have a three vessel system using a cooler MLT for now. I'm am trying to use as much equipment I already have as possible. I have read a lot of threads on the subject but am still gathering ideas if anyone has any suggestions or other threads I should look into it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 12-30-2011, 12:11 PM   #2
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I have a 5500w keggle I use for both the HLT and Boil Kettle. I use a PWM with an SSR. For sparging I just use a pail and let it drain into the MLT with that draining into the kettle as I sparge. It works quite well.

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Old 12-30-2011, 01:39 PM   #3
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In order to not do a lot of replacement of equipment I would plan out a finished system and do a modular build.

1) Size - 5, 10 or more gallons.
2) Type of build - RIMS, HERMS, 3 kettle single tier, gravity fed, BIAB, 2 kettle etc.
3) Power requirements for finished system - 1 x 5500, 2 x 5500, 1 pump, 2 pump, etc.
4) Control options - 1 pwm + 1 PID, 2 PID, BCS or brewtroller or other
5) Modularity of build.

For example, I started using two coolers and a propane fired boil kettle using a 2 tier arrangement with manual lifting. I had a kettle large enough for 10 gallons, but limited myself to 5 to begin with. My process with propane was to heat strike water in the boil kettle and use a bucket to transfer it to my cooler mash tun. While the mash was converting I heated sparge water and transferred it to the cooler hlt which was higher than the mash tun. Fly sparged into a bucket on the ground and poured it into the now empty boil kettle. After the boil I drained it through a CFC into the fermenter.

In switching to electric, I envisioned a system similar to this 2 vessel RIMS system. I bought a 50 amp. spa panel and installed it in my brewing area powering a 4 wire range outlet. I fed it from a 30 amp breaker in the main panel with wiring sufficient for a 50 amp circuit. I decided on a BCS-460 for control and purchased an electric cabinet large enough for breakers, SSR's and contactors.

I first built a simple pwm control and put a 5500 watt element in the brew kettle. With this I was able to use the exact same method but could now work indoors while waiting for the finance committee to approve continuing work.

Next step was to get the BCS and all other SSR's and necessary breakers and other items for the control cabinet. After wiring this up I switched the 30 amp breaker in the main panel to a 50 amp breaker as I now had a 30 amp breaker in the control cabinet to handle the boil element. I continued brewing with my first electric method but switched from a pwm circuit to the BCS for control.

Finally I built a single tier stand, finished the 5500 watt RIMS tube and installed the pumps and piping. That left me with a pwm circuit, an extra cooler that had been the hlt and a 30 amp breaker all re-purposed by now. This took me almost 2 years to complete, but I didn't interrupt the brewing cycle at all.

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Old 12-30-2011, 01:55 PM   #4
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ChuckO,
I am looking to do something similar to what you did, I guess I could get away with one element and invest in a cooler HLT to store the sparge water while I am mashing. My goal is to eventually have a single tier E-HERMS 3 vessel system capable of 10 gallon batches. There is no way the "finance committee" will allow that to happen all at once though.

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:38 PM   #5
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You should go ahead and install the breaker and cable to support the full amperage that the spa panel can provide. Two 5500w heaters would be over the limit for a 50a system, but a 5500w and 4500w set of elements would be right at the limit. The good thing is that you may not typically run both elements at the same time (say the HLT and kettle, so it may not be a problem). But, the bottom line is that you will likely benefit from being able to run more than one element at a time.

Kal configured his system to make it impossible to run more than one element at a time and his panel is running off of 30a. If that is suitable for you, then the smaller cabling and breaker could be suitable. I have gone with a full 50a power supply to make it possible to run my RIMS and HLT at the same time. This is so that I can heat my sparging water while the mash is in progress.

Food for thought.

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Old 12-30-2011, 03:18 PM   #6
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So a 50 amp breaker would be suitable for a 4500w and a 5500w? I would think to heat sparge water I wouldn't need the same amount of power as needed to boil. I was just using 2 5500w elements because I had read of others doing the same. I guess I could even use 2 4500w elements.

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Old 12-30-2011, 04:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
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So a 50 amp breaker would be suitable for a 4500w and a 5500w? I would think to heat sparge water I wouldn't need the same amount of power as needed to boil. I was just using 2 5500w elements because I had read of others doing the same. I guess I could even use 2 4500w elements.
I really don't need 5500 watt in the boil kettle. After it comes to a boil I use the BCS as a pwm to cut to 55-70 percent for a 10 gal. boil. I could drop it to 4000 watt, the only difference would be the time to get to boiling.

I need 5500 watt to keep a flow of 170 deg. sparge water at 1 qt. per minute from my 55 deg. water supply.
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Old 12-30-2011, 09:25 PM   #8
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So I guess it would be better to use a 2 4500w. I think I would still batch sparge since that is what I am used to doing. How long does it take to heat up your strike water with a 4500w element? I can run hot water from my tap at 125 degrees so I wouldn't think that would be a problem.

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Old 12-30-2011, 11:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWN View Post
I want to start brewing indoors(I see that is a popular revelation this time of year). I don't have the funds to build a fancy system right away but would like to be able to have an electric BK and HLT gravity system with a cooler MLT to start with and the ability to expand to E-HERMS down the road. I have a newly built house with 200amp service and lots of space in my breaker box. Just trying to figure the best direction to go in.

Should I go ahead and install 30 amp breaker with the spa panel GFCI and start out with 2 5500w elements? Or would it be cheaper to install 2 1500 or 2000w elements per kettle?

Should I go ahead and install a PID for each one or a PWM or can I have one to control both?

I have looked at a lot of the E-BIAB threads and like the simplicity of some of those but think I would like to have a three vessel system using a cooler MLT for now. I'm am trying to use as much equipment I already have as possible. I have read a lot of threads on the subject but am still gathering ideas if anyone has any suggestions or other threads I should look into it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
I would figure out what and how you want the final system to be and then plan backwards from there. Contact PJ on here and he can help you with the wiring diagram. As soon as I find a control box I am going to start my build I will call you when I do. I am going with the SPA Panel, and will have to tie into my electric with a new box as well since there are no blank spots
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Old 12-31-2011, 05:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by WAORGANY View Post
I would figure out what and how you want the final system to be and then plan backwards from there. Contact PJ on here and he can help you with the wiring diagram. As soon as I find a control box I am going to start my build I will call you when I do. I am going with the SPA Panel, and will have to tie into my electric with a new box as well since there are no blank spots
Call me when you do, that way I can learn from your mistakes

After working the Graveyard shift all night with nothing better to do but look at HBT, I have done a lot more reading and research. My plan is to have a 50a breaker installed into my circuit breaker box and running wire to the 50a GFCI spa panel(seems cheaper than buying a GFCI breaker but GE won't fit into my box). From there I would connect to a 25a breaker then to the ssr, 240v-40a 120v coil, and PID with a 5500w element in a keggle. I would have 1 switch for the pid and 1 for the BK. I would use the SYL-2352 pid. I would heat everything in the BK and manually transfer to the HLT and MLT as needed. My goal is to eventually upgrade to a 3 vessel single tier E-HERMS with 2 pumps and a 5500w element in the HLT and a 4500w in the BK along with another pid controller, appropriate switches etc.

Does this seem doable? Am I at least on the right path? This is not something I am starting tomorrow but I am going to try and get it built before the end of winter and want to start collecting materials.
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