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Old 06-10-2009, 11:36 PM   #1
kcinpdx
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Default non-automated HERMS

I am considering doing a recirculating system but do not want to deal with the complexity of electric or gas automation (i.e controlling the mash temp). I am wondering if others out there simply do a recirculation and manually turn on and off the burner to keep the temp in the HLT (assuming you are using the HLT as the heat exchange) stable. On the other hand, I don't want it to be an abyssmal failure and big PITA. Any thoughts?

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Old 06-11-2009, 02:17 AM   #2
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I'm using a manual direct fired RIMS instead of a HERMS, but I see no reason why a manual HERMS wouldn't work. Might be a littler trickier to operate as you must monitor and adjust both the HLT and the mash temperatures. I only have to keep an eye on the mash and it's very easy to do this manually. IMO, they key to success is having accurate thermometers and the right kind of burners. I've never been able to convince myself that a HERMS was a better way to go for the small scale brewing of 6 or 12 gallon batches that I typically make.

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Old 06-11-2009, 02:31 AM   #3
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so you are recirculating the wort in the MLT while it is on a burner, and adjusting the flame as needed?

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Old 06-11-2009, 05:35 AM   #4
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Yes, continuously recirculating the wort through the mash and heating with a burner. I have a 10 gallon Polarware kettle with a full false bottom for my mash tun and a converted keg for the boil kettle. The burner is a low pressure Camp Chef which allows precise control at very low flame levels. I monitor the wort temperature as it returns to the MT with a digital thermocouple thermometer. My pump is a Little Giant which is very similar to the popular March pumps.

I mash in and start the pump right away. It's easy to ramp up the mash temps quickly and precisely and once I hit my target temperature I turn the burner down very, very low to maintain the mash temp. It needs very little attention unless I'm ramping up the temperature for a step mash or for the mash out. I mostly just sit back and check the thermometer occasionally. It doesn't require constant adjustment of the burner and the mash temperature is quite stable. IMO, a low pressure ring type burner is ideal for mashing with this method.

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Old 06-11-2009, 12:49 PM   #5
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I run HERMS without automation on my 3 tier. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/gallery/...ragon_90_1.JPG I have plans on hooking up an asco valve and intermittant pilot controller but non-automation has not been that much of a pain in the ass to be rushed to upgrade just yet. Most of the time I have to re-light the burner about 4 times through an hour long mash and once I had the burner just right for about 40 minutes of steady 154 degrees.

When I get a few hundred bucks and the motivation to build again I will add but for now I am ok with what I got.

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Old 06-11-2009, 02:50 PM   #6
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I really don't see the benefit of constant recirculation if you don't automate the heat source. I have a manual direct fired RIMS also. I just find it a lot easier to set my mash temp and insulate the keg. When ambient temps are a bit low, I'll go back at the 30 minute mark and fire up and recirculate to add the heat back. The constant recirculation will pull a lot more heat out.

Now, in the HERMS situation, you have a lot of heat mass in the water so it might make more sense. You'd probably only have to fire it up a couple times over 60 minutes. I'd just monitor the temp of the wort leaving the HERMS coil and fire when it drops a degree below your desired mash temp. Shut the burner off when the output is 3 degrees over your desired mash temp.

I think the easiest possible constant recirculation is a RIMS tube on a controller. It lets you walk away for an hour.

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Old 06-11-2009, 03:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
I really don't see the benefit of constant recirculation if you don't automate the heat source. I have a manual direct fired RIMS also. I just find it a lot easier to set my mash temp and insulate the keg. When ambient temps are a bit low, I'll go back at the 30 minute mark and fire up and recirculate to add the heat back. The constant recirculation will pull a lot more heat out.

Now, in the HERMS situation, you have a lot of heat mass in the water so it might make more sense. You'd probably only have to fire it up a couple times over 60 minutes. I'd just monitor the temp of the wort leaving the HERMS coil and fire when it drops a degree below your desired mash temp. Shut the burner off when the output is 3 degrees over your desired mash temp.

I think the easiest possible constant recirculation is a RIMS tube on a controller. It lets you walk away for an hour.
I am not going to advocate one way or another.... but I do think there is some merit to what BobbyM is saying. If you are using a HERMS, there is a lot of thermal mass, thusly your HEX temp will not fluctuatte much during the recirc, requiring less attention.

Direct fired RIMS with no automation would require the most intervention. Typically since it is direct fired, there isnt much insulation, if any, on the MLT because it can burn. Also, you arent really dealing with any thermal mass or capability of a heating medium like you are in a HERMS.

That being said, I used to be ALL propane ALL of the time. When I decided to go HERMS, automation made sense. I mean I wanted it so that I could nail temperatures and better my repeatability. The more intervention it takes from me, the worse my repeatability becomes. That being said, electricity is much easier, IMHO, to automate since it is plug and play. No pilots, no gas valves etc. Thus the reason for the electric HERMS with automation.

We all have different goals when it comes to brewing, we all have different variables that we are willing to accept. No brew rig is the ULTIMATE, because we all have different opinions of what WE need and/or want. All that we can offer is the reasoning behind certain designs, and perhaps you will see something that you did not see before.
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:25 PM   #8
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POL, come to think of it, since your tun is really well insulated, it makes even less sense for a full time recirculation. Yes, wort clarity and all that... However, I get immaculate clear wort after only recirculating for 3 minutes.

For the most part, cooler based tuns lose like 2F over 60 minutes. Is it worth running the pump and element for an hour to fix 2F? If anything, I'd run it once at the 30 minute mark, and then at the end for vorlauf.

I'm having a hard time deciding whether to keep my direct fire and use a RIMS tube for temp maintenance or use the RIMS on a cooler based tun. I'm finding less and less utility in the direct fire these days due to the heat loss.

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Old 06-11-2009, 04:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
POL, come to think of it, since your tun is really well insulated, it makes even less sense for a full time recirculation. Yes, wort clarity and all that... However, I get immaculate clear wort after only recirculating for 3 minutes.

For the most part, cooler based tuns lose like 2F over 60 minutes. Is it worth running the pump and element for an hour to fix 2F? If anything, I'd run it once at the 30 minute mark, and then at the end for vorlauf.

I'm having a hard time deciding whether to keep my direct fire and use a RIMS tube for temp maintenance or use the RIMS on a cooler based tun. I'm finding less and less utility in the direct fire these days due to the heat loss.
Dude, that is too much work. I like to turn it on and never check it. I do use a couple pennies worth of electricity. You are right, coolers are VERY efficient, they dont NEED HERMS, but it works and I leave it on because I dont want to mess with turning it on or off.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:59 PM   #10
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If nothing else, being able to tell people I've got enough thermal mass is good enough. I think I will try the HERMS without automation and see how it goes. I've already got a ll the equipment, I just have to put it is order.

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