The system is complete aside from a few aesthetic and convenience modifications! This thread is fairly long so I'll summarize the key points here.
This is an all electric fly-sparge based two-vessel system utilizing a MLT & kettle. A high wattage 5500w electric element is used as a dual purpose external heater. The first role of the heater is for heating the recirculated mash. The 2nd role is to directly heat sparge water from ground temps to mash out temps.
Key advantages of the system:
Smaller footprint since there's only 2 vessels.
Quick mash stepping.
Energy efficient, since water is heated directly as needed.
Drain is on bottom of vessels. No dead space and easy to clean.
First, I'd like to thank everyone here on hbt. Nearly all of my info has come from you guys and I don't think I would have attempted this build without reading about everyone else's.
My original plan was to go with an all electric HERMS system, which used a RIMS style heating element in a pipe and a plate style counterflow heat exchanger(hex). I decided to try RIMS first, mostly because it's more simple and I wouldn't have to change a lot of tubing around during the brew session. I plan on testing the HERMS config in the future. The benefit of the larger surface area for heating the mash is too appealing to pass up.
I'll be using a BCS-460 controller. It's basically a microcontroller box which is accessed via a web-based interface. The BCS will PID control the heater elements via solid state relays. More info about the controller can be found at embeddedcontrolconcepts.com
. The BCS will monitor three temperature probes and control two heater elements (rims & kettle), plus the two pumps.
Here's my plan for the mash, sparge, and cooling setup. As you can see in the diagrams, I do not plan on using an HLT. The 5500w heater will serve as an inline tankless water heater during the fly sparge. The benefits of only having two vessels is very appealing to me. I do have provisions to add a HLT later if it doesn't work out.
Parts List (Slightly outdated):