120v E-BIAB with BruControl

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LittlejohnBrew

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Sorry if this has been discussed before, but I didn't have any luck with a search of the forums. Unfortunately in the near future my brew buds and I will all be separated due to work relocation. Right now we have a 10 gal traditional 3 vessel system using propane. Given that shortly down the road I will most likely be brewing by myself I am looking to simplify my brew system.

Since I will most likely be renting for the next 5 years or so and possibly in a small space I am considering building a dual 120v 5 gal E-BIAB system. I have already put together a BOM of an electric build using an EZboil, but after coming across BruControl I am very intrigued at the possibility of utilzing this software.

Unfortunately I have practically no experience with microcontrollers and limited experience with electronics/controls in general. I am considering a prebuilt system such as the GF, however I am a mechanical engineer by trade and thoroughly enjoy the process/equipment side of brewing as much as the beer itself so a DIY projects like this is exciting. Also, I think a build around BruControl will give me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and learn something new. Fortunately for myself there appears to be a great and growing community with regards to BruControl and automated brewing in general that I can learn from.

All that said, I wanted to get other's opinions on a dual 120v element (3000W total on two separate circuits) single vessel E-BIAB system with BruControl. My goal is to simplify the brew process, minimize costs, learn something new, and of course make good beer!
 

GParkins

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3kW is going to slow down a brew day considerably, as it will take a long time to bring 6-7 gallons of wort to a boil. In an apartment, you probably have access to a 120/240VAC, 30A dryer circuit. Much easier to build an extension cord that will allow you to reach your patio/balcony. As long as it's less than about 100' or so, voltage drop shouldn't be an issue. That will allow you to use 5500W elements (one at a time). Keep the questions coming here...there's a solid bunch of guys that can help.
 
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LittlejohnBrew

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Yeah ideally I would run off 240v and I have a couple 240v 30A and 40A circuits at my current place. Unfortunately these arent easily accessible, but what worries me most is when I move will these circuits be even less accessible. One day I hope to have a place with dedicated 240v circuits to a gargage, shed, etc. But that day is years down the road.

I was considering going ahead and sizing all components for 240v, but my concern is cost, if I could fit 2 240v ripple elements in the same kettle, and if ~2740W would be adequate. Although all the urn type setups (GF, RB, M&B, etc) seem to get a boil at 1500-1600W. Another concern is my brew kettle is a Bayou Classic 1440 which is wider than most 10 gal brew kettles.

Maybe to alleviate the longer heat times of a 120V system a timer on BruControl can be used to have it heat up ahead of time? Similar to the GF.

I am not totally opposed to the 240v though as it definitely would be an improvement. Biggest hurdle would be to convince my wife to let me run an extension cord from upstairs laundry room to the garage/patio!
 

GParkins

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I am not totally opposed to the 240v though as it definitely would be an improvement. Biggest hurdle would be to convince my wife to let me run an extension cord from upstairs laundry room to the garage/patio!
Fortunately, that's an easy fix. Brew in the shower and open the window. No faster way to get a budget for a dedicated 120/240VAC, 50A outlet installation approved by the Domestic Budget Committee!
 

TexasWine

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Don't be afraid of going with 120v. That's all I've ever used and it works great.

The time savings of a typical 240v set up compared to a dual element 120v will be in the ballpark of 15 minutes, and that's simply the time difference to go from mash to boiling. With either option you should heat your strike water overnight or while you're at work or something, so that time difference doesn't get considered in the comparison.

Personally, I use 1650 watt elements. Each one puts out about 1500 watts.

And like you, I've been eyeing Brucontrol but have little to no experience with things like Arduinos. The way it makes the most sense to me is this. Think about where your typical controllers, like the EZBoil, are installed and what they do. Now just replace the EZBoil with Brucontrol on the Arduino. Everything else is the same. But Brucontrol can do so much more than the EZBoil.

Disclaimer, I will be swapping over to 240v 50 amp at some point. But that's simply because I plan to cram two 5500 watt elements into the HLT/BK of my two-vessel system. Talk about time savings.[emoji16] I step mash every batch at five different temperatures, so 11,000 watts versus 3300 really should shave off quite a bit of time.
 

GParkins

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Disclaimer, I will be swapping over to 240v 50 amp at some point. But that's simply because I plan to cram two 5500 watt elements into the HLT/BK of my two-vessel system. Talk about time savings.
I step mash every batch at five different temperatures, so 11,000 watts versus 3300 really should shave off quite a bit of time.
You might consider adding a RIMS tube for the step mashing. Really fast response.
 
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LittlejohnBrew

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Personally, I use 1650 watt elements. Each one puts out about 1500 watts.
I've considered 1650 watt, but most receptacles within the vicinity of where I brew are 15 A circuits which I would of course be pushing the limits of the circuit. Also I'd like to go with TC elements and only sources I've seen for 1.5" TC 1650W are quite expensive.

In any case I will have to run an extension cord either to the dryer outlet for 240v or likely a kitchen outlet (which is 20A so 1650W or 2000W possible) for the second element. This makes me consider 240v even more.
 

TexasWine

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I've considered 1650 watt, but most receptacles within the vicinity of where I brew are 15 A circuits which I would of course be pushing the limits of the circuit. Also I'd like to go with TC elements and only sources I've seen for 1.5" TC 1650W are quite expensive.

In any case I will have to run an extension cord either to the dryer outlet for 240v or likely a kitchen outlet (which is 20A so 1650W or 2000W possible) for the second element. This makes me consider 240v even more.
I use 15 amp circuits with no issues. Run two fridges, pump and a 1650 heating element at the same time.

No reason you can't put a 1650 watt element in one of these.

https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/etc4wl.htm
 

TexasWine

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Not to hijack a thread @TexasWine but can you share your step schedule? Does it vary by style or pretty much stay the same?
Mash for the grain, not the beer. The goal is to maximize extraction while minimizing mash time. To do that, a safe place to start is...

20 minutes at (°F)
144
148
152
162
10 minutes at
172

This mash schedule is pretty much a sledgehammer. If you don't get 100% conversion using this, something is off. The malted barley as of late has had very high gelatinzation temps, and it even works well for those.

It's based on this Brauwelt International article attached here.

I use this for pretty much every beer, maybe adjusting the time durations slightly if I'm willing to accept lower conversion. The old homebrew advice of mashing high for certain styles isn't necessarily good advice. Simply cold crash one to two points above your desired final gravity.
 

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Hi @LittlejohnBrew. Thanks for expressing interest in BC. Admittedly, when we put it together, we didn’t think that it would be useful for BIAB systems. It’s intent was to create a flexible pathway to automation. Therefore, anything less than just temp control would be best served by a simple PID or EzBoil. But as we think about it, an automated solution can provide some additional benefits even with one element systems: digital alarms and timers, pump flow control, remote monitoring, automated start, automated level fill, etc., and all of those can be built in stages. So if your down for a little learning and extra work up front, BC can be a good foundation for BIAB. Thanks for helping us realize this!
 
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