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Old 03-13-2013, 02:44 PM   #1
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Default Automated MLT w/ Plug-n-Play Auber TC, ASCO Solenoid, Honeywell Pilot Valve HELP!

OK, let me say first that I have ZERO electrical know how. I don't understand all the terms, but I'm trying to learn (and I've got friends who can offer assistance). Plus I have all my fellow HBTers! So, in light of my own electrical ineptitude, I'm looking for a "plug-n-play" design to control my mash temps.

My system is a HERMS system that is currently manually controlled. I pump it through the coil in the HLT and watch the temps on the return port via a thermometer with high & low setpoint alarm. When the thermometer alarm goes off telling me my temps have dropped, I kick the burner on and ramp the temps back up. When it goes off again once the temp has been reached, I turn the burner off. It works, but it's not ideal. Here's what I'm looking at to allow me to "set it and forget it." Help me understand if I'm not looking at this correctly.

First, the controller: Auber Precision Plug-n-Play Controller. The accuracy on this system is perfect and right in the range of a typical mash and it seems to have the features I'm looking for.

Second, the solenoid valve: ASCO Model 8261. This is the same solenoid valve as used in the Blichmann Tower of Power. I'd use the same 120V DIN power cable too (ZA34A). This would plug into the back of the Auber Controller's 120V power plug.

Third, the pilot valve, pilot light, and thermocouple:Honeywell Pilot Valve with Honeywell Pilot Burner, and Honeywell Thermocouple.

All this is going to be installed on one Blichmann Burner. I'm assuming the order I would install this in is:

Pilot Valve (w/ connected Pilot Burner & Thermocouple)-->Solenoid Valve (Plugged into the Auber Controller)-->Burner

Is this correct? Like I said, I'm a total noob so don't know much about this stuff. I'm looking for input on whether this will work. If it won't, give me a bit of input if you could. The Auber Plug-n-Play is a nice option for me. See if you can't build a system around that. I'm not interested in a Love controller or PIDs or any of that at this time. I'm looking for a controller that is pre-wired, ready to roll (like the Tower of Power modules, but maybe not as expensive). Thanks in advance.

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Old 03-18-2013, 06:36 AM   #2
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Well, first of all, let's look at the logic of where you're measuring temps.

Think of your HLT as a big thermal battery/buffer. Whatever temp it's at, is the temp that anything you pump through it will come out at (give or take a degree or so). Therefore you want to monitor the temp of the HLT fluid - not the Heat Exchanger Out (or HEX-O) to figure out when to fire the HLT Burner. You do monitor the temp of the HEX-O just to make sure something doesn't go wrong or screwy.

As for the electrics.

The Auber puts out 120v so whatever you wish to control needs to be that as well.

The asco can be 120v, so check.

You don't need the Honeywell as it fulfills the same function as the asco valve, also it's 24v, so.. no bueno. Additionally, once you eliminate the Honeywell the rest of it (burner and thermo couple) go out the window as well.

Instead get something like this:
http://www.tejassmokers.com/castironburners.htm#Pilot_Light

The asco solenoid would go where the ball valve goes in the shown assemblies.

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Old 03-18-2013, 02:22 PM   #3
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luhrks is right that the ASCO and honeywell valves are redundant.

The method he suggests (using just the asco valve) is along the lines of lonnie's original brutus 10. It has the advantage of being 120v and it'll do the job, but be warned that it's lacking from a safety perspective. If a gust of wind blows out the pilot and you don't notice, there's nothing preventing the valve from sending gas to the burner, which could lead to a large boom.

The honeywell valve is a huge safety improvement, since it uses a thermocouple to prevent gas from flowing if the pilot goes out. It has a few drawbacks, though. 1) You'd need a transformer to step down the voltage. 2) It's intended to be used with natural gas or low pressure propane. So, assuming you're currently using high pressure propane, you'd need a new regulator and either a low pressure burner (or a new orifice for your existing burner).

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Old 03-18-2013, 07:10 PM   #4
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Is there such a thing as a 120v valve that also has the thermocouple for safety? Kind of best of both without the redundancy?

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Old 03-18-2013, 08:30 PM   #5
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Not really but step down transformers are cheap. HVAC valves use 24v so the installer can run the wires to the thermostats with out needing an electrician's licence

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Old 03-27-2013, 03:22 AM   #6
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I have a hybrid system (propane burner and electric RIMS). I've been using one of those Auber plug-n-play controllers for 3 years to control my electric RIMS tube. My stainless steel element has recently gone out on me and I can either buy another one and keep using the RIMS tube or go with a pilot and valve system and eliminate the RIMS. Since the element went out, I have just manually lit the burner if my mash temp got too low and I think my beer has been better. The Auber would work just the same to open a propane valve. I suppose the RIMS tube is probably safer since it is plugged into a GFCI outlet.

I think the only problem with that particular Auber controller is it is constantly pulsing on and off which is fine for an electric system, but I'm not sure about a propane valve.

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Old 03-27-2013, 03:25 AM   #7
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What is better about your beer?

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Old 03-27-2013, 03:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyirishman34 View Post
What is better about your beer?
I have a solid stainless steel RIMS tube that was made by a now extinct homebrew supplier. It can't be taken apart for cleaning and I may I have a build up of crap in there or there was some scorching. It may just be that I have really been on my game lately and have been spot on OG. Quite honestly, I used propane to bring temps up for mashing and then I turned on the recirc pump and then the RIMS heat. It only had to pulse on and off to maintain temp. So maybe it's just me thinking the beer is better because I want some more cool gizmos. It is definitely less expensive for me to just screw in another element than buy a pilot and valve.

My Auber controller is a Sous Vide controller and I don't think it can be set with a 1-degree differential. It is a PID/SSR combo and constantly pulses on and off so I just don't see how it could work with an electric valve.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:47 PM   #9
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I don't think you can make that controller work with a gas set up. I have one of the triclover style rims tubes so pretty much I take it apart after each brew day.

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Old 03-27-2013, 02:06 PM   #10
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The more I think about all the stuff (expensive stuff!) required to have an automated pilot valve/temp control system, the less interested I become. Maybe it's just me, but I don't mind using the method limulus is currently using.

Quote:
Originally Posted by limulus View Post
Since the element went out, I have just manually lit the burner if my mash temp got too low...
It's definitely a "lower tech" option that means I have to babysit the mash a bit, but that doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Limulus, how often do you have to turn on the heat to the MLT to keep temps? I realize I'm using a HERMS coil, but I suspect I'd turn the heat on to the HLT where the HERMS coil is only a few times.
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