Electric Panel Design

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tnordell

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Hello all,
I am in the midst of attempting to figure out all of this swapping from propane to electric at my new house.
I currently have the GFCI in place with a 60 amp GFCI in the spa panel all wired and ready for the brew panel feed, which is using 6-3 with ground. My plan is since I have a HERMS setup with the euro kegs which are about 1 gal shy of our US kegs i have been brewing on them for many years now and with the need to heat the mash water and dough in then reheat the water for the HERMS coil, I was wanting a panel with enough juice to be able to heat the mash water in the HLT as well as heat the water for the HERMS coil in the boil at the same time to save an incredible amount of time. I would like to use a 4500 watt element in both the HLT and the boil, I know the 60 amp service is overkill for this but the spa panel and breakers were a steal when I found them so I grabbed them.

My big question for all of you who have helped soo many before me is to find the best parts for what I would like to accomplish.
The Panel I plan on using.
I am planning on using this PID for the HLT.
And this Potentiometer for the Boil.
Ideally I would like to use illuminated switches just to keep things simple for 2 chugger pumps and both of the elements.

I would love to see what you all would recommend as far as the rest of the workings for the internals like the contactors wiring etc without draining me dry.
I'm sure this has been gone over in detail before but just seeing if i can find one that's more tailored to what I am trying to accomplish.
Thank you all for any and all help in this exciting adventure.
 

Bobby_M

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You've got 60 amps so don't waste it with 4500 watt elements. Use 5500. Based on the component choices it seems like you're trying to keep the budget as tight as possible. If that's not really the case and you have some room, I highly recommend using two of these EZboil, Power Regulator for Boiling Process Automation [DSPR120] - $46.95 : Auber Instruments, Inc., Temperature control solutions for home and industry one for the HLT and one for the BK. If you want to use the BK to heat water to a given temp, a dumb knob option is somewhat gutting the full advantage of electric brewing.

Some of the things you probably didn't consider. Don't move HLT liquor to the MLT only having to move the BK water over to the HLT. That's unnecessary shuffling. Heat HERMS/Sparge water in the HLT and leave it there. Heat the mash strike water in the boil kettle and pump it to the Mash tun. That's just one move.
 
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tnordell

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I honestly dont know why I never transferred the water this way before, it makes so much more sense hearing you say it.
 
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tnordell

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Since I have a 60 amp feed I suppose I wouldnt be able to get away with just a normal 30 amp contactor and switch like everyone else is rolling with. Would I be able to use this the 60 amp version as the main switch, since it is a panel mounted breaker? or am I thinking this wrong?
 

doug293cz

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I second Bobby's recommendation that you use EZBoil controllers for both your HLT and BK, as well as 5500W elements.

You're probably going to want to split the heavy 6AWG feed into two 10AWG branches for the elements, so you will need a couple of 30/32 A breakers in the panel for that. I would suggest a 63A main power contactor, and then two 32A element power enable contactors. Use of a main power contactor in place of the switch/breaker you linked will allow the implementation of a "safe start" interlock, which prevents the main power from being turned on if any of the pump or element switches are "on."

The switch/breaker you linked would work for your main power disconnect, but I wouldn't go that way.

Brew on :mug:
 
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tnordell

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Would these illuminated switches work fine for my chugger pumps in the panel? I am assuming so, the price is just too good to pass up. Anyone have any illuminated switches that they really like for your elements? Otherwise I will probably go with the normal black and a lamp for it.
Thanks!
 

doug293cz

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Would these illuminated switches work fine for my chugger pumps in the panel? I am assuming so, the price is just too good to pass up. Anyone have any illuminated switches that they really like for your elements? Otherwise I will probably go with the normal black and a lamp for it.
Thanks!
A pump will draw 1 - 1.5 A when running, plus a surge of a few amps on start-up. Since these are rated for 10A, they will work for a pump.

You are unlikely to find an illuminated switch rated at 30A for your elements at a reasonable cost. Your best option here is to use a switch to trigger a contactor. Contactor coils take less than 1A, so you can use almost any 120V rated switch to control a contactor.

Brew on :mug:
 
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tnordell

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Thats exactly what I needed to hear, thank you!
 

mabrungard

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Employing a power modulating circuit allows you to use high wattage elements safely. While you probably won’t need that high wattage most of the time, it is very helpful when bringing your water temperature up initially. That’s a real time saver!! Bigger is better except maybe in a RIMS tube.

I wouldn’t go with contactors or potentiometers for power modulation. SSRs are more reliable and less expensive as long as you understand their limitations and you buy quality components.
 
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tnordell

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Very well put, I believe I will be going the more traditional PID route with a couple inkbirds. I am thinking that having two of the same PID will help keep the crazy times under control until I get a firm grasp of this whole thing.
 

Everhard

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I'll back up the comments on going with 5500 right away. I built my system last fall, got it operational this past December, and I built it with 4500 elements. I had some logic for that at the time but now damned if I can give you a good reason. Now I wish I'd gone with the bigger elements - in fact I will replace them at some point soon.
I went with: CUBE 2S Tabletop Brewing Controller, Deluxe (240V 30A) CUBE Home Brewing Controller 240V 30A 7200W [CU002S] - $539.99 : Auber Instruments, Inc., Temperature control solutions for home and industry
Well I got the diy version so I learnt while assembling the unit. Going with that meant I had all the right stuff right away.
Keep in mind though it only controls one element so I have to swap my power to the appropriate kettle. (Hlt or boil kettle)
My long term plan is to replace the box and expand it so I won't have to swap the power cord any longer, plus I'll be able to power up both elements at the same time. I didn't do this right away to spread the cost out over time.
Anyway look over Auberins - I found that site to be very informative when it comes to building panels and the associated parts.

E.
 

jwa120

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Very well put, I believe I will be going the more traditional PID route with a couple inkbirds. I am thinking that having two of the same PID will help keep the crazy times under control until I get a firm grasp of this whole thing.
Be sure the PIDs you go with have manual control. The one you linked to in your original post, mypin TA4, does not. You will need manual control if you intend to use the PID for boiling.
 

augiedoggy

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Be sure the PIDs you go with have manual control. The one you linked to in your original post, mypin TA4, does not. You will need manual control if you intend to use the PID for boiling.
yes you want either mypin TD4-snr or td4-srr model pids... they have the manual pwm mode. I used many myself. the ta4 model is the same in every other respect and fine for HLT and rims control. I also vote for contactor AND SSRs for controling the power to the elements.... the contactors will kill the power to both poles meaning all the power will be shut off vs using an ssr to control power to one leg of the 240 and making the circuit complete... in that case there is still one leg of 120v power going to the elements at all times while the panel is on and it could be a potentially unsafe scenerio. plus when ssr fail they fail in the on position and you may end up with scorching or a burned up element before you know it. the contactor will easliy allow you to turn the power on or off or to more easily allow only certain elements to be on at the same time if desired. The ssrs still do the modulation of power on and off quickly to control the heat output. think of the contactors as the ignition key or kill switch and the ssrs as the throttle... its not a perfect analogy but close enough. auberins has decent stuff but almost all of it is sold elswhere for the same chinese goods at much lower prices. all depends on your budget and how many minutes you want to spend googling what you need.
 
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mabrungard

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A boil power controller is a simpler machine than a PID. It's just for controlling the number of pulses of electrical power the element sees in a unit time. I use the Auber DSPR1 power regulator and it has performed well. I like the percent power readout since it enables me to knowingly dial just the power setting the kettle needs.
 

augiedoggy

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A boil power controller is a simpler machine than a PID. It's just for controlling the number of pulses of electrical power the element sees in a unit time. I use the Auber DSPR1 power regulator and it has performed well. I like the percent power readout since it enables me to knowingly dial just the power setting the kettle needs.
True but if your limited with a herms the advantage to a pid in the BK is you can heat your strike water to a certain temp as Bobby mentioned to save a lot of time..
 

Bobby_M

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Its not like I havent said this before, but the DSPR120 is so much better than the crappy push button PIDs that I feel like I need to briskly shoulder shake people into listening to reason. The quick intuitive knob control of power output is amazing contrasted to tap,tap,tap,tap,tap. Well, that and the boil acceleration mode that prevents boilovers even when you get distracted. Its what. 30 bucks more? One whole batch.
 

augiedoggy

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Different folks, different strokes... $30-40 extra per controller + shipping adds up to about $120-150 more on a 3 vessel control panel build and all this can add up to vastly different costs in the end.
I have the older fully loaded EZBOIL DSP310 and after using the mypins first, I found myself having mixed feelings and sometimes regretting switching over, sure its got a lot of cool automated features but I never really warmed up to most of them and many came at a tradeoff like the fact that it takes longer to come up to a boil. Some people prefer a simpler straight forward controller plus if your already used to one thing, another even if it is superior can be frustrating, most people who've upgraded to a newer version or windows iphone to android or vs versa or had a huge jump in cell phone tech can relate. It did regulate temperatures better and without the need of autotuning which I think really would have advantages when used for herms or rims control but again that all depends on application and once a regular pid is tuned it does an adequate job as well. That said I myself no longer use either mypin or ezboil controllers and went with another solution entirely and I dont believe what im using now is the best choice for everyone but it works best for me.
 

Bobby_M

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I'm mostly commenting for people who just don't realize what kind of functionality differences there are between PIDs and the EZboils. I get it, many will see panels from SS and Spike shipping with typical PIDs and think it must represent the best option available.

I agree the more programmable 3xx series of the EZboil are more challenging to adapt to. The 120 is much more easy to work with as long as you're not looking for ramp/step temp scheduling.

The boil acceleration feature does not take longer to achieve boil over a standard PID in PWM mode. I have mine programmed to run 100% output until it reaches 210F which is exactly what I'd do with a PID in manual mode. The only difference is that last minute power reduction just before imminent boilover is done automatically with the EZboil where with a PID I would have to be there to turn it down.

In summary, I'm specifically stating that the DSPR-120 is a better choice for HLT or Boil Kettles than any standard PID and given the feature differences, I don't even think it's up for debate unless there is a brick wall budget issue.
 

doug293cz

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I'm mostly commenting for people who just don't realize what kind of functionality differences there are between PIDs and the EZboils. I get it, many will see panels from SS and Spike shipping with typical PIDs and think it must represent the best option available.

I agree the more programmable 3xx series of the EZboil are more challenging to adapt to. The 120 is much more easy to work with as long as you're not looking for ramp/step temp scheduling.

The boil acceleration feature does not take longer to achieve boil over a standard PID in PWM mode. I have mine programmed to run 100% output until it reaches 210F which is exactly what I'd do with a PID in manual mode. The only difference is that last minute power reduction just before imminent boilover is done automatically with the EZboil where with a PID I would have to be there to turn it down.

In summary, I'm specifically stating that the DSPR-120 is a better choice for HLT or Boil Kettles than any standard PID and given the feature differences, I don't even think it's up for debate unless there is a brick wall budget issue.
Can't give this post enough likes.

Brew on :mug:
 
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I'll be bold and take Bobby's post a step further... in the same way there are functionality differences between PIDs ans EZboils, that gap is dramatically wider between those devices and software based control systems (not naming names!). Hardware controls, while marginally less expensive today, represent a dead-end in my opinion. Investing in fixed hardware that limits any upgrade path makes little sense to me. Would you buy a flip phone today which doesn't enable any new apps to be put on it?

Boil-over prevention is great, but what if you want to follow a pre-defined recipe, start brewing at a time, fill your vessels automatically, monitor and prevent stuck mashes, monitor recirculation rate, see pH in real-time, fly-sparge electronically, start boiling as soon as the element is covered, automatically chill following the boil, whirlpool, then transfer to your fermenter, control the fermentation temp on a profile, set fermenter spund pressure according to gravity trends, measure how much beer remains in your keg, monitor your CO2 usage, log all that data, issue text message alerts if anything goes wrong... or anything and everything in between? What do you do with a control panel of dedicated hardware when your brewing needs/goals change... throw it out and start over, or just add new devices and associated controls?
 

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^ there are brewers that are going to prefer the independent hardware options though too.. one downside is you have all your eggs in one basket and if something goes wrong with the pc or software you are dead in the water. Again I myself use a not mentioned software solution and I do prefer it and its advantages (many of which I do not utilize) but I have seen people try to go this route only to get frustrated and go back to something simplier too... hence my different folk different strokes comment. I know older people that dont like smart phones too.. different people are going to get different things out of it. (kind of like a surround sound system in the living room which some find unnecessary and some love). For some the controls are a new toy and they love the gizmos and such and for other they are just looking for the simplest way to achieve their goals, others the cheapest way. and yet thier are others that just want to impress thier peers when they come over. I myself love what I use for the reasons mentioned above, much easier to modify or add on to my system and adjust things to what I want or need without having a bunch of old wasted surplus hardware in my closet like the panel in my avatar pic which hasnt been powered up in years.
 
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Bobby_M

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I see what you did there. I've used the Brewtronix Hosehead exactly one time and the damn thing crashed on me 5 times. I'm not saying all mini-computer brewing solutions suffer the same problems but I've had my DSPR powered on for 4 straight years and have never had a crash or had to reboot. I've never had to reprogram it. I never had to spend more than 20 minutes learning how it works. I don't need a display, separate computer or tablet to interface with it. I'm not attempting to discredit the flexibility of such a system. I nearly fell for the BCS a while back but I'm glad to have a little box that heats my kettle to where I want it and tells me when it gets there.

TLDR: PID to EZboil is in the same ballpark of cost and complexity while a microcomputer solution is not even the same sport. There's a Sam Jackson quote in there somewhere.
 
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Yes, there I did a shameless plug there. But, I continued your extrapolation. I absolutely agree that software based controls are worthless if they are unreliable (and given your quoted example, not surprised at the failure percentage). I also agree with @augiedoggy - it is not for everyone. But in terms of capability and flexibility, dedicated hardware is much more limited than most realize when they have learned about what is even possible. When you look at both initial cost (more similar than you believe) and long term upgrade costs, dedicated hardware starts to run short, so this combination should be in each panel builder's decision making algorithm.
 

Bobby_M

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I understand that it seems like I'm suggesting something like the EZboil is a Goldilocks solution when in fact it is going to be more complicated and expensive than the cheapest mypin PID on Amazon for some people. It will also be too limited in functionality for the constant tinkerer. I don't have any commercial gain to push the EZboil. In fact, I make money selling the BrewCommander so for me to push an alternate product is really pooping where I eat I suppose.

Another way to think of this is, you're not going to convince someone that was going to build a $100 Amazon/Ebay sourced controller due to budget constraints to drop a few hundred more regardless of how amazing it will be. I'm just offering up the best possible thing that brewer can do if they can spare $30 extra.
 
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