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Old 06-02-2009, 02:32 PM   #1
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Default Single Tier Electric brewing?

So I've been thinking over the past few weeks that I'd really like to build myself a single tier electric brewery. I have a spare room in my basement that would be perfectly sized for this.

My thoughts:

I will use a converted keg for my HLT and for my BK. I would like to continue using my converted 10 gal cooler for my mashtun.

Ideally, I would heat the HLT and the BK with electric elements. The mashtun shouldn't need any heating. I'll be batch sparging exclusively.

My questions:

What do you guys think of this? Does it make sense? I think a HERMS or RIMS is overkill for me right now...but I believe if I build this, it could be converted down the road to a HERMS if I wanted.

I'd like to have 2 pumps and solenoid valves, allowing me to run the contraption from a brewing control panel. The line for my outside water spigot runs through the ceiling of this room, so I figured I could install another valve and run a hose with a QD on it and attach the QD to my brewrig and have a ready water supply.

Ideally my control panel would show me the temps of the HLT and the MT, and I'd also like to devise a way for it to correctly show me the volume of liquid in each of the 3 vessels.

I don't know if this is possible or not, but i'd also like to be able to set a temp on my panel for the HLT and have the electric element automatically ramp it to that temp and then maintain.

Other than that, I would also need to install some type of chiller onto the rig so I could drain from my BK through a chiller, to my fermenter. I live in Maine and my ground water is cold cold cold, if this makes any difference.

As you can see these are very rough thoughts, I'm just in the exploration stages of this. I know a lot of you out there have a lot of experience, and a lot of great ideas, and I'd love to hear them.

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Old 06-02-2009, 02:43 PM   #2
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Check out BrewTroller | BrewTroller for your controls. It will do what you currently want to do (volume measurement, temp ramping, holding, element control, etc.), and in the future when you want to go Herms/RIms/whatever it can handle that too.

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Old 06-02-2009, 02:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabot View Post
What do you guys think of this? Does it make sense? I think a HERMS or RIMS is overkill for me right now...but I believe if I build this, it could be converted down the road to a HERMS if I wanted.
If you are going to go through all the trouble of building this with solenoid valves and 2 pumps with control panel and everything, it wouldn't be much to add a hex (copper coil) to your HLT to make a HERMS, why skimp out?

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Originally Posted by cabot View Post
Ideally my control panel would show me the temps of the HLT and the MT, and I'd also like to devise a way for it to correctly show me the volume of liquid in each of the 3 vessels.
I'm not sure about showing you liquid levels on your panel, I'm going to use sightglasses (from Bobby_M) on my HLT and BK for that. It'll work just as good and not require as much work (but obviously not as fancy)

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Originally Posted by cabot View Post
I don't know if this is possible or not, but i'd also like to be able to set a temp on my panel for the HLT and have the electric element automatically ramp it to that temp and then maintain.
A PID will do this, set the temp it will use the element to heat and maintain.

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Originally Posted by cabot View Post
Other than that, I would also need to install some type of chiller onto the rig so I could drain from my BK through a chiller, to my fermenter. I live in Maine and my ground water is cold cold cold, if this makes any difference.
Either an IC or Counter-Flow chiller will work, depends on which way you'd like to go. Both have equal followings. I'm going to keep my IC for now and use tap water to get to 140 or so than switch the water from a recirculating ice bath. Should work for me, although I may switch to a CFC later.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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Heading out to the gym so just posting a quick reply. Thanks for the input so far. I'll go through the rest when I get back, but right off the bat, I am skimping out on the HERMS because I'm not sure if thats a route I want to go. I'm not positive on the pros and cons of recirculating the mash. Maybe you folks can enlighten me on that as well? I've read you get a clearer brew, and more precise temp control?

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Old 06-02-2009, 05:30 PM   #5
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Clear wort, more 'absolute' control of temps, and just the coolness factor

Oh yeah, and repeatability.

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Old 06-02-2009, 05:31 PM   #6
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You need to take a look at The Pol's brewstand, I'm sure some of his ideas will help you.

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Old 06-02-2009, 05:45 PM   #7
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Yah I've gawked at Pol's setup a few times but didn't completely understand what I was looking at. I looked at the brewtroller website, and that is one awesome piece of electronics! I like the scalability of it. I see it allows for complete 100% automation. I think I'd like to keep manual control (by turn of a switch) for transferring from HLT to MLT to BK, etc...just for the sake of remaining involved in the brewing process. I like all the display outputs and the information it allows for. I am an electronics n00b, so I think that may be the direction I will take. Still not convinced on the hex, hopefully Pols comes by and sings its praises

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Old 06-02-2009, 06:30 PM   #8
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Here's a good POST with some good info on electric...

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Old 06-02-2009, 06:34 PM   #9
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well, since The Pol is off in never never land on a pilgrimage in search of the illusive Yogi, I'll chip in.

First, let me qualify that I am a multi certified geek, with a crapload of experience in electronics and computers.

I started down the Brewtroller path , before the Brewtroller was born ( BTW, HELLUVA job on that !!) as I was familiar with the Arduino. Frankly, I ran out of time and patience.

So I changed my control over to a simple PID controlling the SSR's. I do recommend a couple of changes from The Pol's setup, and maybe it will rain tomorrow and I can get some time to take pics.

The main thing that I really like is simplicity. The PID/HERMS setup does this. Typical brew day is like this
Add Water to HLT and set strike temp. Go grind your grain and prepare hop additions, water will be ready for you in about 40 min.

Mash in, set mash temp on PID. Turn on pump, come back in an hour.

Drink ONE beer
Boil as usual.

This gives a lot of time to get the honeydo list taken care of .

One key thing - Get 40a SSR's for BOTH HLT & Keggle. It's only about$20 more, and if one of them craps out, you got a spare!

KISS, although I am tempted to move to the Brewtroller

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Old 06-02-2009, 07:04 PM   #10
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More GREAT info, I knew you guys would all come through.

Another thought (aside from the electronics), I will have the brew-room in a spare room of my basement, used for storage now. It's not very large, probably 10'x10'. There are no windows, and of course there is a door leading into the rest of the basement. A concern I have is that when boiling, the humidity in that room will be out of control! I don't think a dehumidifier could keep up with it. Any suggestions on how to vent and try to keep the brew-room from turning into the mold room?

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