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Old 07-09-2010, 09:02 PM   #1
OEHokie
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Default Single Vessel Electric Build: 1.5 to 5 gallon batches

ScubaSteve's build was definitely an inspiration: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/single-vessel-all-electric-ns-nc-brewery-158608/ Mine is basically going to be the bastardized mini-version of his that won't look as good.

My brew process is going to be basically the same. I've ordered a 36 quart stainless steel stockpot w/steamer basket. I'm going to line the steamer basket with SS mesh and use this as my first all-grain setup.

At the bottom of the pot I'm going to have two 1500W Extra low density heating elements running off of two separate 120V/20A breakers in my kitchen (I live in an apartment). Also at the bottom will be the SS dip tube and temperature probe.

I've ordered the BCS-460 to control my heating elements and pump. I picked it over the brewtroller because of the better integration with the internet.

Since I want to brew very small... ~1.5 gallon batches... there's an issue with the deadspace at the bottom. The pot diameter is 13.5" which means that every inch takes 2.5 quarts. I'm going to put something in the bottom (don't know what yet, open to suggestions) that will displace enough water, so more of it overlaps the basket.

What else... the control box. Not sure what I'm going to do with this yet. I did like the toolbox version done here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/simple-brewing-est-2009-build-147021/ So, I may give that a shot. The march pump won't be in the box. One of the 120V connections is going to power one of the heating elements, while the other is going to power the second heating element, march pump and bcs-460. When I do the micro-batches I might not need both elements. I'm going to have covered toggle switches for both heating elements that can cut the power (overriding the BCS). The outlets in my kitchen aren't GFCI, so I'll have that inside the box too. I will also have 3+ SSRs (one for each heating element and one for the march pump, and for the solenoid valves if I get those).

Question: Is that how most people (in the automated setups) control their march-pump (100% on or off)... or is there a better solution to provide variable power, using the BCS?

Question: When recirculating, how do I get all the fluid back into the kettle? The march pump won't be able to push it out once it gets past the pump, correct?

I'm going to have a CFC to cool down the wort (I really liked ScubaSteve's all copper one, so I might look into making one of those too).

It's not going to have a permanent stand... though I do have a kitchen cart that I will be using most of the time.

Equipment list:

  • Six 2 gallon jugs for mini-fermenters (in possession)
  • 36 Quart Stockpot (ordered, ~$100 (amazon))
  • BCS-460 w/temperature probe (4") and SS fittings (ordered, $~225)
  • March Pump (ordered ~$110 (ebay))
  • 2x 1500W Extra Low Density Heating Elements ($50, plumbing supply. Thanks Harkin)
  • 10x 120V 25A SSRs ($30, ebay... have extra if anyone is interested)
  • Valves (waiting)
  • SS Mesh (ordered, mcmaster)
  • chillzilla (ordered, $110, eBay!)

Next, I'm going to reserve some spots on here for pictures later.

I'm a little weak on electrical knowledge, so any pointers are welcome.
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Sub Brewery (old, going to start a new thread with the 3rd revision): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sing...atches-185796/

Last edited by OEHokie; 07-14-2010 at 02:01 AM.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:02 PM   #2
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+1 reserved

Pictures will be stored on my flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/martz/sets/72157624363961825/

I'll post some good ones in these first two posts, nothing yet though... just equipment.

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Sub Brewery (old, going to start a new thread with the 3rd revision): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sing...atches-185796/

Last edited by OEHokie; 07-13-2010 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:04 PM   #3
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+2 reserved

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Previous Kegged: Imperial Brown, Smoked Porter, IPA (x3), Coffee Stout (x2), Octoberfest (x2), American Honey Ale (x2)

Sub Brewery (old, going to start a new thread with the 3rd revision): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sing...atches-185796/
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:10 PM   #4
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I would highly suggest you use the 1500W ultra low density elements from plumbing supply. They are a bit more expensive, but you will no doubt have grist in the bottom and you will blow the 2000W high density ones. I have blown 3 of the high density ones in my rigs (a CB20 and a single vessel BIAB with internal chiller for small batches). 3000w is more than enough to boil 1-7 gallons of wort and still get a 1g/hr boiloff rate.

Before you build, you may want to consider building a rims tube with your toolbox.

You already noted your biggest problem, deadspace. The elements can only be mounted so low.

You will need to connect your elements on separate circuits. I use two elements and simply plug one into my PID and the other one into another circuit. I only need the second one for full boil so it doesn't need to be controlled.


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Old 07-09-2010, 11:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarkinBanks View Post
I would highly suggest you use the 1500W ultra low density elements from plumbing supply. They are a bit more expensive, but you will no doubt have grist in the bottom and you will blow the 2000W high density ones. I have blown 3 of the high density ones in my rigs (a CB20 and a single vessel BIAB with internal chiller for small batches). 3000w is more than enough to boil 1-7 gallons of wort and still get a 1g/hr boiloff rate.

Before you build, you may want to consider building a rims tube with your toolbox.

You already noted your biggest problem, deadspace. The elements can only be mounted so low.

You will need to connect your elements on separate circuits. I use two elements and simply plug one into my PID and the other one into another circuit. I only need the second one for full boil so it doesn't need to be controlled.
Thanks for the tip on the heating element. When you said they were a bit more expensive, I wasn't expecting only $20, that's not bad. I went ahead and ordered them.

What would building a rims tube get me for this kind of setup?
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Previous Kegged: Imperial Brown, Smoked Porter, IPA (x3), Coffee Stout (x2), Octoberfest (x2), American Honey Ale (x2)

Sub Brewery (old, going to start a new thread with the 3rd revision): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sing...atches-185796/
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:36 AM   #6
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You are going to have temp loss during your mash so a rims tube would allow you to maintain perfect temp during your mash without direct heat. If you build a portable one, integrated into your toolbox (there is a build on here somewhere that was pretty slick), it would also allow you to integrate it into a modular build later in life. It would probably be a good investment.

An idea for your deadloss problem is to use a voile curtain and line it in your brewpot, drop in the grain, and use the rims tube to recirculate during your mash. Once the mash is done, just lift out the curtain with the grain. You only need to make sure the curtain doesn't affect your pickup tube.

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Old 07-10-2010, 01:28 AM   #7
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Good on ya! I'm really excited to see what you come up with. A couple tiny pearls of wisdom I have gained from building said system that isn't even finished yet:

1. If you can, make it so you can swap in a bigger vessel. You're using some expensive gear (bcs-460, etc.) so you might as well be able to use it with multiple systems.

2. Try "tack" soldering the screen in the basket with a soldering iron. I used epoxy and I think it's less aesthetic. I tried a propane torch and it overheated the screen, but an iron should work nicely.

3. PM Sent

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Old 07-10-2010, 02:35 AM   #8
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@Harkin:
I'll look at adding in a rims tube later once I get an idea of how well this works (and once my wallet recovers a little bit). The voile curtain is a good idea. I was also thinking that I could make a custom mesh basket that goes around the heating elements, dip tube and sensor. That's something I'll experiment with.

@Scuba:
Yeah, I was thinking about that. It'd be great to re-use stuff if I ever decide to do larger batches. I'll leave room in my control box to add in 240V stuff for when I buy a house (not anytime soon) that way I'll just need a new heating element/kettle and can reuse most everything else. Thanks for the tip on the iron... yet another thing I'll have to buy Are you still going to be using loc-line?

Thanks for the help!

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Sub Brewery (old, going to start a new thread with the 3rd revision): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sing...atches-185796/
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:56 AM   #9
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I really like the loc-line, but I'm thinking about using a single silicon hose with camlocks that can be quickly swapped between my RIMS, Sparge, CFC output, or submersible pump for CIP.

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Last edited by ScubaSteve; 07-10-2010 at 03:00 AM. Reason: Whoops. I saw you did go with the stockpot and basket.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:53 PM   #10
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I ordered some loc-line. I'm going to try and use it to assist with a lot of things... could possibly do whirlpooling with it, clean in place, etc. I think it'll be pretty useful.

I also ordered some SS mesh and some SS wire. I'm going to try to stitch a basket together that can fill more of the kettle while avoiding the heating elements/tubes/etc. I'll experiment with a tiny bit of the mesh first to see if stitching will work. I'll also try and tack it with a soldering iron... and if all else fails... JBWeld into the steamer basket.

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On Tap: Pumpkin Ale, Porter
Previous Kegged: Imperial Brown, Smoked Porter, IPA (x3), Coffee Stout (x2), Octoberfest (x2), American Honey Ale (x2)

Sub Brewery (old, going to start a new thread with the 3rd revision): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sing...atches-185796/
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