Originally Posted by IPAAAA
Anyone have a basic how-to explanation on how this all works. It is kinda confusing to look at this all and figure out what all everything does.
Hopefully this isn't too dumb of a question.
I'll be your Huckleberry: Basically you have a mash tun with a valve at the bottom. That MT can be a keggle or a cooler. A pump recirculates wort from the bottom and that passes through a heating tube (RIMS tube like the copper one a few posts up) and gently back to the top of the grain bed. Most people use a PID of some sort with a K-type probe inserted into the wort or into the RIMS tube. That tells the heater when to cycle on and off for maintaining the mash temp. The pump recirculates the wort for the entire mash. Never allow the heating element to run dry or you'll be replacing it.
A lot of guys build their own PID but you can buy a ready made one like I did from Auber Instruments. Also, the RIMS tube parts are not available at your local Home Depot or Lowes. The weldless parts are what most guys have used and you will spend around $100 for those in stainless. However, there is a vendor on this forum who is manufacturing a ready to use welded tube for $75! http://brewersequipment.com/SSRimsTube.html
You will also need the electric element that screws into the tube and hose barbs for your tubing. The elements are typically water heater elements and they can be bought at HD or Lowes. Everyone recommends a low watt density element so your wort will not scorch. There are some threads here about which ones to use and how to wire them.
You could also do this:http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/introducing-lazy-mans-rims-195790/