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Old 02-10-2011, 04:21 AM   #1
hatrickwah
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I've been building my brew setup since Thanksgiving, and have made some serious stride in it as you can see below (Thanks Tiber_Brew and HBT). I've actually undertaken a number of projects relating to brewing at the same time: I also have been repairing a pair of commercial grade glass front refrigerators that I picked up for free.

I'm gearing up to order a BCS-460 at the end of the month so I can have more control over the brew process, which is why my brew cart is designed as it is (that and I like using my computers over the PIDs).

Right now I'm on the fence on whether to plan on converting any or all of my system to electric. I'm leaning towards a hybrid brewery. If I do go electric though, it won't happen anytime soon. I'm thinking of going electric with my HLT but staying gas for my BK and MLT. Part of the reason for a hybrid is because I want to take advantage of the remote control functions of BCS and have the HLT start heating up my water before I get brewing, since right now it takes over an hour to heat from cold to striking temperature.

Where I am now is confusing my self; I have seen a number of people here on HBT put electronic control valves on their gas (LP or NG) setups that can be controlled by PIDs or BCS setups. What I would like to be able to do with mine, that I'm hoping someone can answer for me, is to have my BCS control the level of flame and not just whether it is on or off. This fact is part of what has been confusing me most, from what I can tell, most of the auto gas brew setups are simply doing on/off (hi/off) heat like the electric rigs. Keep in mind, the wife will shoot down an idea that involves expensive gas valves (probably can squeeze an $80 one by her, but not much more)

What I do now is leave my heat at super low when I'm at or around my desired mash temp, and when I step up, depending on my target I will vary the flame from low to high.

Personally I like my direct heat MLT with gas heat, and the idea of building and using a HERMS setup just isn't one I fancy to entertain, but at the same time I would like to also take advantage of some of the auto brew features to maintain my mash temperatures.

Anyones help would be appreciated. At some point I'll get to uploading some more pictures.

Thanksgiving:

At Xmas:

Today (still under construction):

Tomorrow:
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:29 PM   #2
SweetSounds
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Looks like you've got some great plans!

Good luck getting the "Tomorrow" tanks by SWMBO

Mine is a useless post, btw - I have nothing to add you your questions...
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What does the primary pressure gauge on the tank tell us? That's right, the temperature. Put it on a scale if you want to know how much is in it...
Put some duct tape over the gauge - Or better yet - Replace the high pressure gauge with a plug - High pressure gauges are useless!

 
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:36 PM   #3
IrregularPulse
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You look to have quite a busy day ahead of you!
I like your stand layout.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:21 PM   #4
hatrickwah
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SWMBO is already digging a bunker, she's gonna put up a fight, or so she thinks.

I like my gas MLT, but its starting to look like I may have to go to all electric to keep the control I have now but with the electric monitoring. I don't want to have the gas either all on or all off I like being able to vary the heat.
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Old 02-12-2011, 03:52 AM   #5
harpo
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Unless I'm way off base, you will not be able to control gas like you want. No electric. The PID function of the BCS-460 gets you as close to what you want as possible, or at least without spending a literal fortune.

Electric with the BCS-460 is on/off, so is gas. Duty cycle gives a percentage of on and off based on a time segment, but its either 100% on or 0% on. There is no inbetween.

You'd be suprised how much control you have with PID. I have a Hybrid rig, with gas under the HLT and Boil, and both of those have 120V electric elements. Once I get everything up to temp, I am trying to rely on the eletric to just keep it going. Right now its hard because ambient temps are 20-40, so the element isn't enough. But its a work in progress, so we'll see as warmer temps come my way.

 
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Old 02-12-2011, 04:03 AM   #6
hatrickwah
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I was afraid of that. Maybe on my next batch I'll experiment with all on all off type heating on the MLT. I may end having to just go with an electric HERMs setup. I am still planning on going electric with the HLT. If I can convince the SWMBO, I'll ultimately convert the entire setup to electric. Only time can tell. Meanwhile I'll work on the brew stand and get it setup.
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:45 AM   #7
tannnick
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I am currently making a hybrid HERMS system. My HLT will be controlled by a Love Controller to a 1500w 120v element and the water will initially be heated in the BK by gas. I will use gas to boil. I will recirc. mash through a herms coil inside my HLT. I am on a 15 gal system.

I have had an all gas system and an all electric system and both have their pros and cons. There is something about a gas fired boil kettle. Steam would be the best, but...Gas is very easy to use to boil: No 240v wiring, PID, or SSR and all the wires. Also, using electricity to control hot water temps is a very easy thing to do.

In addition, I have built a MLT that raised my efficiency 15+%. I have an inverted keg with the bottom (really the top) cut out with a 12" dome false bottom and the drain out of the top of the keg. 2" triclamp, elbow, then straight out with a valve. Controlled by a Love controller to a pump that recircs through the HLT and the desired temp.

Build what suits your needs!
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Old 02-12-2011, 03:16 PM   #8
MilwaukeeBrewGuy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harpo View Post
Unless I'm way off base, you will not be able to control gas like you want. No electric. The PID function of the BCS-460 gets you as close to what you want as possible, or at least without spending a literal fortune.

Electric with the BCS-460 is on/off, so is gas. Duty cycle gives a percentage of on and off based on a time segment, but its either 100% on or 0% on. There is no inbetween.

You'd be suprised how much control you have with PID. I have a Hybrid rig, with gas under the HLT and Boil, and both of those have 120V electric elements. Once I get everything up to temp, I am trying to rely on the eletric to just keep it going. Right now its hard because ambient temps are 20-40, so the element isn't enough. But its a work in progress, so we'll see as warmer temps come my way.
Does the flame interfere with the element or electrical cord? How do you keep it out of the way?

 
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Old 02-12-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
harpo
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I run something similar to Kal's rig (theelectricbrewery.com).

I welded in a coupling to the keg, and then welded a stainless box to the keg. I also include the heat resistant sheathing for the power cable. I have done several test runs actually brewing and the rig works great. In colder temps (20-40F) the 2000W 120V element cannot keep a rolling boil, but the same element in the HLT works awesome to keep it at either 164 or 170. I plan to waterproof the install with a cover to the square hole (used to R&R elements if necessary) and same with the cable using cord plugs.
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Old 02-12-2011, 04:54 PM   #10
MilwaukeeBrewGuy
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Looks really good. Do you just suspend the cord on top somehow when the burner is lit?

 
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