Aaaggh, my head hurts, automated systems

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:


Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Apr 4, 2009
Reaction score
Hello all,

I'm new here but not to homebrewing.

I currently have a herms in the HLT that is set with a timer and electric elements (two 1500 watt) so it heats to preset with

a Johnson controller while I'm sleeping. All else is a manually valved closed system.

I'm finding that it's taking longer than desired to reach temp when doing a step mash and I don't like draining the HLT/HERMS

while doing the sparge. Thus I'm going to use a seperate vessel.

I currently do five and ten gallon batches but the ten is a squeeze. So I'm looking to build a system that will do 15 gallon

with no problem and automate the process.

I've been looking at the BrewTroller and the Bcs-460.


Embedded Control Concepts: BCS-460 Temperature Controller

My head is spinning on trying to pick one.
If someone has done the comparison and can compare the two for me it may help to have another perspective.

I'm thinking I'll have three solenoid water valves (HLT, MT, HEX). Float switches in each.
With an all gas system I'd have three gas valves and controlls. If this is too expensive I could do it with two and

recirculate the MT through the HEX to reach temp for preheat and dough in.

What I'd like to do is be able to turn master power on and if float switch shows no water then solenoid valves open to fill

vessels till float switch shows full.

The unit would then heat to preset value for each vessel and hold.

I'm figuring on having a herms coil (aka: heat exchanger HEX), HLT (aka: sparge tank), Mash Tun and boil kettle.

I'd dough in then activate system to run mash as programmed.

When mash out is done unit would proceed with vourlauf, sparge and fill boil kettle.

Unit pauses till instructed to boil for preset time.

What I have not decided is to make it all gas (propane), all electric or a mixture of the two.
I would like to go all gas so this would be portable if desired. I'll of course need electric for the automation but that

would be standard 110v.
If I went all electric I'd need 220-240 and that would make it harder to use elsewhere.
At this point I don't have a clue as to how to set up the gas so that it would come on, ignite and shut off if it didn't

ingite. Obviously this is done all the time in a furnace but I don't know what I'd need to do this.
Electric would be easy but as mentioned would make it tough to use elsewhere.

I've thought about adding automatic dough in and hop additions but think I'll leave that manual.


VP Libation Association of Northern Maryland Libation Association Of Northern Maryland - Harford County Homebrew Club
Welcome to KVP Brewing.


Well-Known Member
Oct 2, 2007
Reaction score
Westmont, IL

I have the BCS 460 and I would like to give you an endorsement, but life has gotten in the way of my project.

For your system question, you can run a dual RIMS setup each with a 110V heating element. This way, you can heat the sparge water in the HLT and keep the RIMS going for the mash at the same time, all you need to do is run the electric on two separate circuits.

In going with your portability needs, the brewtroller or bcs-460 could control everything for the mash, while the boil could still be done with propane.

Stage two of my brewery is what I have stated above. Once life gets out of the way and I get 220V service out to the garage, I will be able to run an eKeggle as well with minimal changes to the wiring in my control box.

Good luck.
Dec 15, 2008
Reaction score
Huntington Beach
They are both great choices. Either can control gas valves and a gas brewery as well.

Here's how I see it:

The BCS460 is an easier to implement solution and should accomplish what you want. The interface is top notch, easy to use and has more eye candy. You can monitor pretty much everything at a glance. However, you have to have a PC in your brewing area to do so. AFAIK it will function stand alone but it must be attached to a PC (or Ethernet) to adjust or change anything.

The BrewTroller is completely open source and you can make it do anything you can think up, 95% of what you could want it to do has already been thought up and is already coded for. Matt is an animal coder and keeps making it better every day. It is designed to be run stand alone and a PC is only needed if you want to change the code. The downside is that it requires a lot of DIY including building an enclosure and such but you do not NEED to know how to code or even open the code to run it. You will need to be able to open a program and follow some simple steps to load the code onto it though.

If you're more of a DIY'er then go BrewTroller. It's still in Beta but it's shaping up to be an unbelievable appliance. If you're not a soldering kinda guy and want things a little more built for you, then get the BCS.


Why that human mask?
Lifetime Supporter
Jan 7, 2009
Reaction score
I agree w/ Derrin, I don't know the BCS much, but from what he's saying, that's the big tradeoff between the two...

BCS is already there and done, just plug in and configure, but costs more.
BrewTroller requires a bit of electrical setup/wiring and such, but you costs a load less.

You have to decide which fits your needs best.