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Old 10-30-2009, 06:00 PM   #1
Prodigalx2
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Default HLT Stirrer

Probably a noob question... But can anyone tell me the advantages to setting up an automated HLT Stirrer in a HERMS system? I keep seeing people using them but couldn't figure out why. Just having the HLT heating should create a cycle between hot water rising and cold water falling. I'm about to build an electric HERMS rig and I'm just trying to do my research before I waste money or have to spend more money down the line because of something overlooked...

Thanks in Advance!

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Old 10-30-2009, 06:59 PM   #2
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I have no idea why would you have a stirrer in the HLT of a HERMS system.

maybe to avoid some sort of gradation in the HLT... but... either with or without heat being applied, I can't imagine it would be worth the effort.

As soon as the water in the HLT starts to change temps, it'll citculate itself enough to make a stirrer unnecessary.

Now... in the MLT... that's a different story.

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Old 10-30-2009, 07:05 PM   #3
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Automated stirring is supposed to keep the grain in suspension and even out the temperature of the grain bed. I don't use one, so I can't say whether or not it's worth the trouble. I prefer to do a continuous recirculation with a pump.

"Just having the HLT heating should create a cycle between hot water rising and cold water falling."

I can tell you from experience that this doesn't work as the thickness of the mash inhibits convection currents in the mash. There is surely some convection circulation going on, but it's nowhere near enough to keep up with the heat applied. The result is uneven heating with the lower portions typically overheating while the upper levels cool excessively. IIRC, at least some of the commercial breweries stir the mash continuously, but I don't know if they all do it that way. The common home brewing HERMS and RIMS systems circulate the wort through the mash primarily to even out the temperatures. A lot of the mechanics of brewing seem like they would be no problem until you try to actually implement them. You would think that something like a false bottom would be virtually fool proof, but they are not. Same with heating up the mash. It's not as easy and straightforward as you might think. This is also why you see so few identical systems. There's no single perfect way to brew and that goes double for home brewing.

My off the wall and eccentric concept would be to have the mash in something like a small rotating drum similar to what a concrete mixer uses. At the end of the mash it would go through a spin cycle like a washing machine and extract the wort by centrifugal force. The problem is that this would be unnecessarily complex, expensive to build and difficult to heat. The mind is a playground. I go there a lot!

Oops. Never mind. I thought he was talking about the MT, not the HLT. Actually though, a stirrer is useful in the HLT with a HERMS. The heated water will cool immediately adjacent to the HERMS coil and the heat transfer will slow dramatically. It needs to be stirred to work efficiently. Heating alone won't do it very well at all.

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Old 10-30-2009, 07:26 PM   #4
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I guess my question is... when would you have such a huge temperature difference that the heated water would cool immediately adjacent to the heat exchanger?

Maybe folks use their systems different then how I'm using mine... but my heat exchanger isn't used for "heating" anything. It's used to maintain temp, and that's it.... except for POSSIBLY slightly bumping one way or another and in those instances, I can make those adjustments in a few minutes.

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Old 10-30-2009, 08:08 PM   #5
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Yeah, it would depend on how you use the heat exchanger. Some use them to ramp up temps and that would be different where you might want to circulate the water to improve the heat transfer rate. I don't use a hex, so my opinion on the subject doesn't hold much hot water.

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Old 10-30-2009, 08:11 PM   #6
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I suspect that it is a off shoot of the whirlpool concept of an immersion chiller. Continuously agitating the water improves the temperature differential in direct contact with the coil thus improving thermal transfer.

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Old 10-30-2009, 08:16 PM   #7
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So essentially it's best if using a multi-temperature rest technique? if I'm going to be using a single temp mash it shouldn't really be necessary?

I am planning on using the HLT as a chiller by recirculating after the boil but a stirrer seems like a lot of hardware for something that a LOT of ice could accomplish...

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Old 10-30-2009, 08:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I suspect that it is a off shoot of the whirlpool concept of an immersion chiller. Continuously agitating the water improves the temperature differential in direct contact with the coil thus improving thermal transfer.
Yes, it's the same principle. I found out real fast the first time I used an immersion chiller without moving it around or doing the whirlpool thing. Took forever to chill the wort that way. Moving the chiller around made a huge difference.
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Old 10-30-2009, 08:46 PM   #9
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Okay... So having the agitation in the chamber would increase the efficiency of the heat exchange... Not essential but more effective. And it would work out well for when I chilled with the HLT as well. Thank you very much for all of your input!

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Old 10-30-2009, 09:41 PM   #10
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...gotcha...

I use a plate chiiler to chill and only sure my HLT for maintaining temps and a sparge water supply

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