So I'm maxing out about 72% eff. on a good day and I would like tips on how to improve it. I know the number one reason is the amount of beer I drink on brew day so I'm looking for reason 2, 3, 4 etc...
Also, I'm still starting out and with little space so I have no plans (yet) to do crazy welding or super out the box processes.
For heating I have a 60qt pot over a bayou classic that works great to get my liquor up to temp. I have a 48qt rectangular igloo cooler with a ball valve and T attached to a washing machine braided hose with rubber removed as a manifold.
As an example from a blonde partial mash I just did, I mashed about 9 lbs of grains last time and used brewsmith to calculate my water amounts. I added 11.25 qts @ 165 degrees and this ended up a little over my target of 150 degrees at the beginning. I left this for 60 mins and came back and it was right around 150 degrees so my temp maintained well. Then I added on 2.9 gallons of 168 degree water and recycled via a quart measuring cup about 6 times until it was fairly clear. Then I drained into a bucket (only have one pot) with the valve open maybe 1/2 way. Took about 5-10 mins to get down to grain level and then I added 4.6 gallons of 168 degree water. Poured the bucket wort into my pot and cranked up the heat and added bittering hops. Drained the second batch sparge directly into pot, again about 1/2 way open and it took 10-15 mins to drain into the pot.
Refractometer told me I was at 12 brix which in beersmith gives me about 72% for my volumes. I wanted about 5% and this puts me closer to 4.5%. How can I increase this?