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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > HERMS Design Suggestions?
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:49 AM   #1
cniemira
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Default HERMS Design Suggestions?

So, it's come time to upgrade from a stove top pot and a cooler to a RIMS/HERMS. I've looked at a few different designs (and I'm sure I haven't seen anywhere near the full range of what other brewers have come up with), but haven't seen anything I'd like to emulate thus far. So, I spent a few minutes with Omnigraffle this afternoon and came up with this:



Yeah, it looks like a flowchart... and, it sorta is. There are the three primary vessels, and two pumps, but only one heat exchanger (not counting the pre-chiller I'm thinking about). The two different blocks labeled A and B represent its two channels.

The green line from V8->BK/FV is the only flexible part here. Everything else would probably be rigid copper pipe, but that green line would be moved from the kettle (for whirl pooling and recirculating during chilling) to the fermentation vessel (to fill). I would use the output from V10 to fill the fermentation vessel, but that won't be sanitized by the boil (which means V10 is probably unnecessary). The blue components are ideas I'm toying with (a pre-chiller and a compressor to blow-out pipes), and I'm sure the rest of it could do with some tweaking.

Anyway, here's what I'm trying to do:
  • Use a single, high efficiency heat exchanger
  • Keep wort and plain water isolated with separate plumbing
  • Allow for both heating and cooling in the mash
  • Don't move any hoses during the brew process

Anyway, suggestions? Like I said, I'm really only starting to plan this all out... A lot of this is probably overkill, but then that's a part of homebrewing isn't it?


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Old 09-01-2009, 12:56 AM   #2
The Pol
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That is A LOT of valves... I personally prefer QDs, but that is me... it uses a lot less plumbing.

12 valves... just seems incredible. I use only QDs, and I have to move TWO hoses during the whole process... which to me seems much more efficient than turning 12 valves.

Why do you want to keep wort and water separated in the system?

I sorta like the fact that when I sparge, all of that hot water runs through my plumbing that carried the wort during the mash, to help clear it out.



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Old 09-01-2009, 01:42 PM   #3
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I don't think I mind employing a lot of valves. I was envisioning lining them all up in a sort of console up front so it shouldn't take more than a couple of seconds to perform any necessary operation. Admittedly, I have a sort of mad-scientist-like fascination with big control panels full of valves and gauges, so maybe that's it. It's true also that the plumbing is much more complicated here than with most designs, but it's also pretty flexible.

As for wanting to keeping water and wort separate, it's a type-A thing I guess. I've seen a couple of setups that make me think they can't possibly be sanitary, so I'm over compensating. Of course, the more clever answer is that keeping everything plumbed independently would provide the flexibility to work on two batches at a time if I ever really wanted to (though, I'd probably have to add a third pump to make that idea practical).
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:54 PM   #4
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Your system looks O.K.

A couple things, like Pol said that is a lot of valves, it will be difficult to route them to a panel arrangment and have it make sense. If you can do it power to you.

Many people making systems like yours are using electrically actuated valves to operate their systems. Instead of turning valves, they flip switches. That way you flip a switch and a remotely mounted valve actuates.

I see a problem with using a plate chiller as a HERMS style heat exchanger. It is going to be very difficult to avoid clogging with husk material. I would suggest using a counterflow style heat exchanger instead.

Here is a system that seems close to what you are looking for. You could easily hardmount all the connections and automate with valves or keep it manual.

Wort-O-Matic: Baltobrewer's Electric Stand

I have a bunch of designed systems in my blog, the Pol's build is also a great design, I also really like Beerthiry's rig, cape brewing, and blackheart's HERMS he is working on.
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:03 PM   #5
The Pol
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I missed the plate chiller as a HERMS heat exchanger... ouch. That is probably not a good idea, though many people have had the same idea in the past. There is a lot of foreign material in the wort as you start the recirc, this would not be plate chiller friendly.

Remember also... the more plumbing and fittings you have, the slower your flow rate will be (resistance). Also, if you are going for a HERMS system... the less plumbing you have, the more eff. the system is as a whole as you are not bleeding out heat to the ambient air through your plumbing.

If you have much experience with March pumps, you will also know the more valves and plumbing you have, the more headaches you will get from loss of prime. These pumps are NOT self priming, so one bubble can cause the pump to lose prime and stop pumping all together. With 12 valves, you have plenty of places where air can get trapped and re-introduced when you open the valve.

I am no HERMS expert, this is just my $.02
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:05 PM   #6
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The Pol is wise. Keep the runs supplying the pumps (suction side) as unrestricted as possible.


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