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Old 01-16-2011, 08:28 PM   #1
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Default What do I need to make a super simple control box.

I know this is going to be some what redundat, but after reading all day, I am still 100% confused.

I am reconfiguring my brewery. It will be 3 tier, gravity fed, electric HLT and BK. No pumps to run, no thermocouples. I will used kettle mounted thermometers for temp readings. I just need to be able to dial up and down the 2 heating elements.

I have no idea what a SSR, a PID, or a PWM really are other than ways and means to modify the power going to the element. With the right info, guidance and patience I can get there.

If need be I can use the controller by HighGravity, but I would rather build, or even pay someone here to build it for me.

Simple is better.
Thanks for reading

Tim

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Old 01-17-2011, 04:44 PM   #2
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It’s not as hard as you might think. Read some of the builds by some of the experts here, such as KAL, Tiber Bier, and others. I think that you need some type of controller to be able to turn your heating element on and off as needed to maintain the correct temps. All the best!

Solid State Relay
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_state_relay

Proportional–Integral–Derivative Controller
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PID_controller

Pulse-width modulation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-width_modulation

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Old 01-17-2011, 05:06 PM   #3
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If you have no experience with electricity I would suggest you have someone do it for you. As the poster above mentioned it is not difficult but electricity can kill you and I would not recommend anybody trying it without experience. I am not being a hardass, just don't want to see you get hurt.

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Old 01-18-2011, 12:19 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advice, I know just enuff to hurt me. I did put together a heat stick, and it works pretty well. I think I will just buy one retail, save the headache.

Now! who is any good with google sketch-up

Tim

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Old 01-19-2011, 12:55 AM   #5
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Wishing you luck, but want you to be aware that electric elements cannot get you much consistency of temperature without some type of recirculation. You mentioned no pump. A pump will help a great deal with avoiding having to stir your kettle constantly to take a temp reading. PID's cannot function without accurate temp readings.

PWM is useful for boiling and keeping the element firing at a consistent specified rate, regardless of temperature

PID will require recirculation and/or accurate temp readings with a probe, and will fire the element as needed to maintain a temp, or to adjust to a temp intelligently without overshooting.

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Old 01-19-2011, 05:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Wishing you luck, but want you to be aware that electric elements cannot get you much consistency of temperature without some type of recirculation.
I understand what you are saying here, but as I see it, and I may be wrong, the only temp I really need to be consistant on is the strike and sparke water, right?

The boil kettle just need to roll on...

As it stands now, I huse a 240v 2500w heat stick for all my temp needs. Heating strike and sparge work fine, I usually over shoot by about 5 degrees then let it level out. The Boil however, in my current pot, is too strong, and ilose too much wort to the floor. That should be fixed now too, as I just picked up 2 kegs to convert. When I build the electric set up in the next few weeks, I will be using 3500w elements, and want an easy way to hold the strike and sparge water at or near the correct temp, the boil will be plug and play....

Tim
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:29 AM   #7
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Tim, while your strike and sparge temperatures need to be accurate, it's just as important to maintain correct temperatures throughout the mash. The purpose of a recirculating system is to maintain mash temperatures with a great deal of accuracy and precision.

The other method (and the one many of us started on) is to mash in an insulated vessel and adjust the temperature once or twice by adding hot water or some other method.

Solid state relays are simply a way to switch high current on an off with a low voltage signal. The SSR is controlled by a computer via the low voltage signal thereby controlling the temperature of the liquid - but it needs a thermocouple of some sort to do this.

Trying to lower the voltage to the element is much too costly, potentially dangerous, and energy inefficient than simply switching the element on and off. You could manually switch the element, but at some point you would probably get tired and spend a few bucks on a PID and SSR.

And controlling the boil will keep more of the beer in the pot rather than on the floor, and save you money. Not to mention being able to control boil off rates.

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:12 AM   #8
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I use an Igloo ColdMax for mashing, not real issues with loosing heat.
I will order the controller from High Gravity, and be done with it.

Thanks so much for all the input, but I am tired of dealing with this issue and now can move on to builiding my brew sculpture.

Tim

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Old 01-20-2011, 12:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MX1 View Post
I use an Igloo ColdMax for mashing, not real issues with loosing heat.
I will order the controller from High Gravity, and be done with it.

Thanks so much for all the input, but I am tired of dealing with this issue and now can move on to builiding my brew sculpture.

Tim
I don't know why, but this post made me laugh. Maybe because I understand your frustration brother.
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Old 01-21-2011, 01:23 AM   #10
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$295 is a lot of money for an outlet box. It's not even gfci protected. So Your breaker needs to be. I don't think they sell 30amp gfci outlets, or else you might need an electrical supply store. While the infinite power control is interesting, a PID, SSR, and thermocouple are much more convenient. Set the temp and forget it (once it's configured).

The best thing to do is to add a 2000w heat stick or elements mounted in your keggle to the heat stick you already have. Turn two on to heat strike and sparge water. Turn the 2000w (or 1500) on to boil. You already have one heat stick, no?

I have a RIMS tube, but to heat strike, sparge, and to boil in my BK I have been using heat sticks on switched gfci outlets. One of my heat sticks popped the gfci last time I brewed. So now I'm mounting one in the keggle and will use the other heat stick to supplement.

This might be a good option for your needs. Otherwise you are dropping quite a lot of money just for that little box. It's essentially just a portable outlet with a few switches. The infinite switch doesn't add much in my opinion.

Safety wise, this box isn't the issue. I assume you already have an outlet to plug into. Add a switch to it. Then just add a 2000w element to your setup as a heat stick, which you've already made, or mounted in the keggle.

Obviously, the decision is yours. But this could save you a fare amount of cash and be equally effective and safe.

Good luck.

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