Improving my AG Indoor setup

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Picobrew

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I envy all of you with lots of room and fancy brewstands. They look awesome.

I am stuck in a townhouse with a pretty compromised outdoor scenario - no opportunity for a brewstand. I have been brewing outside with some success, but now that the sun is going away, I am thinking about how to improve my indoor experience.

Here are my questions/problems:

1. My boil is weak on my stove. Can I compensate with a helper heat stick? Is this easier to buy or build?
2. My outlets are non-gfci. Can I replace them myself with gfci?
3. Does anyone in their right mind do 10g all grain indoors? I would like to make this happen, but not sure how I would boil. Maybe 10g is outside only.
 

TeufelBrew

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Google the "Brew Ladder". At least one person on here had some pic's of their setup. Looks like a great way to do the outside brewing on a very small footprint.
 
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Picobrew

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Google the "Brew Ladder". At least one person on here had some pic's of their setup. Looks like a great way to do the outside brewing on a very small footprint.
I am thinking I'll work on something that like for next summer. Or by then I'll have to rent a space (ha!). In the meantime, I need to tweak my indoor setup (in my kitchen) so it is optimal. Any tips appreciated on how to do more volume faster, I barely have time to brew but I make time by going late into the night or starting very early now.
 

stevea1210

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Here are my questions/problems:

1. My boil is weak on my stove. Can I compensate with a helper heat stick? Is this easier to buy or build?
2. My outlets are non-gfci. Can I replace them myself with gfci?
3. Does anyone in their right mind do 10g all grain indoors? I would like to make this happen, but not sure how I would boil. Maybe 10g is outside only.
1. sorry no clue on that
2. you certainy can. Be careful and turn off the breakers first. it's easy.
3. No. Therefore I say you need to go for it. :D Someone needs to forge the path to indoor 10gall, and I think you have just volunteered.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Do you have a budget you are working within?

Are you just trying to cobble something together to get by?

How big of batches do you want to do? 10 is fine but you need space to put the beer and equipment.

Do you want something permanent? i.e., rig, or sculpture

Without knowing anything about your desires it is tough to give good advice. I heat stick is definitely easy and will help if you just need some more gusto for the boil.

I would plan and start building something nice, but that is just what I do (says the guy who has slowly been collecting parts for two years already :().

Anyway, I would build this if I were living with space restrictions or in an apartment:


You could do 4-5 gallon batches with regular outlet power, or 10g batches if you step up the system to run on your range outlet (could be done pretty easily). Check out my blog if you are interested in stuff like that, I have a whole design series that details several systems I have designed and how they work.
 
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Picobrew

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Thanks for the advice guys.

Here is the breakdown:

a. I am in this for the long haul. I have enough "gear" to get by with now, and already have a pretty good (albeit a bit awkward) system for doing 6g indoors and 11g outdoors. I'm just looking to optimize, evolve, improve. That being said, I don't really have a budget, and I am a bit unsure regarding permanence. I like the idea of permanence, but it is also nice to be able to put everything away in the garage and have it out of sight in my tiny place.

b. I have a garage where I ferment and manage most of my gear. I have 8 kegs and 8 fermenters and can manage a lot of beer. I have two filing cabinets full of bottles, a ghetto temp control station (think water+ice), and enough physical room for improve some things there. In the near term I am going to work on proper temp control, better shelving etc. However, for a variety of reasons, the garage is not suitable for any kind of brewing; gas or electric.


c. regarding power, I'm not sure I have access to 220v without doing some rewiring. My range is gas. I do own the place, so I have a bit of freedom here.

I am sort of attacking this in priority order based on limitations:

1. boil time
2. boil size
3. mash size
4. moving the liquid around

Boiling outside sort of solves 1 and 2 (albeit inefficiently, in my mind).

My mash tun (10g igloo) is big enough for most 10g brews, although sparging twice is a pain and so is moving around all the liquid.
 

Catt22

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"1. My boil is weak on my stove. Can I compensate with a helper heat stick? Is this easier to buy or build?
2. My outlets are non-gfci. Can I replace them myself with gfci?
3. Does anyone in their right mind do 10g all grain indoors? I would like to make this happen, but not sure how I would boil. Maybe 10g is outside only."

1. Maybe, but not the way I would go.
2. Yes, absolutely, but avoid using them on circuits with freezers or refrigerators. The GFCI's sometimes trip due to an electrical anomaly of some kind and you don't want to lose a bunch of food because of it. This is epecially important when you go on vacation!
3. Yes, I do it in my garage and could do it in the basement if need be. I'm running on propane too. Code violation, but I'm careful and never leave anything unattended.

My advice would be to go modular rather than with a brewstand of any kind. Go electric if you can, but be sure to do it properly. Sloppy electrical projects designed and built by amatuers make me nervous and especially so where large volumes of liquid are present.

Go modular and get a pump to move the liquids. Boil with electric if you must be indoors the entire time or if the logistics are a barrrier. Outdoors with a canopy overhead works pretty well so long as it's not too cold. I've brewed outdoors in the snow, so it can be done. Do you have a patio or balcony near the kitchen? That would help. That's all that I can think of without knowing more details.
 

UnaBonger

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Interesting topic. I'd love to be able to use electric (110v or 220v) and brew 5g batches in my basement in the wintertime. Subscribed...
 
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Picobrew

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I bet the non-gfci outlets (in my kitchen) are that way because of the damn fridge. Good call Catt. I was wondering why two of the outlets (very close to sinks) were that way.

I have a narrow walkway next to my front door and kitchen, but there is a wooden fence and a bunch of plantlife and it is narrow - not good for a burner. This leads me to brew out on the front of my house, which is near a very very busy street and is a bit awkward because of the spectacle and because it is remote from the kitchen, and my gear. I can't have a bunch of junk out there cuz it is a common area with other neighbors and because of the walking by grab something factor of the busy street. This is also why a brew stand out there is non optimal or just not doable.

One option I haven't explored yet is upgrading my stove or at least getting a "wok burner" on my stove. Aren't those things rated at a ton of BTUs? I think I would need a proper hood.

I have a workbench right in the kitchen area that we use for cooking - it has butcher block on it. If I could come up with something modular that I could disassemble, I can imagine having an electric setup on there. I guess I'll check all my electric options out. I'm assuming that most electric setups use a water heater element at the core, which is essentially what a heat stick is.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Ltilter

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I like the idea of a rectangle pot that sits on two burners but can't find such a thing. might have to fab one up but it would be good for indoor brewing.
 

CodeRage

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Here is what I would try.

Get a 4500W low density 240v water heater element and install it towards the bottom of your future boil kettle.

Wire it for 110V which makes it a 1200 Watt element, roughly 4100 BTUs.

If you really want gfci protection, you could use a gfci extension cord rated greater than 10 amps. Otherwise a 14 gauge extension cord will work. It is important to bond the ground to the pot somehow.

Now this will determine how adventurous you are :). Make some kind of heat shield to protect the cable and element from the range burner. A fiberglass insulation sheathing on the cable may help. If the pot is much bigger than the burner then it may not be an issue at all.

Fire up the burner and plug it in and you got an extra 4100 BTUs. Adjust the boil by turning the burner up or down.

Do this and when you do have time and space to build a rig, your boil kettle is ready. Throw some 240v on it and call it a day.

it sounds a little unorthodox but give your criteria it may be what you need.
 
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Picobrew

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What's preventing you from brewing in the garage?
It's detached, under someone else's property, no water, no gas, no good electricity. I think the electricity might even be charged to my neighbors bill. It is great for fermentation and storage, but there is no way I can use it to brew.
 
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Picobrew

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Here is what I would try.

Get a 4500W low density 240v water heater element and install it towards the bottom of your future boil kettle.

Wire it for 110V which makes it a 1200 Watt element, roughly 4100 BTUs.

If you really want gfci protection, you could use a gfci extension cord rated greater than 10 amps. Otherwise a 14 gauge extension cord will work. It is important to bond the ground to the pot somehow.

Now this will determine how adventurous you are :). Make some kind of heat shield to protect the cable and element from the range burner. A fiberglass insulation sheathing on the cable may help. If the pot is much bigger than the burner then it may not be an issue at all.

Fire up the burner and plug it in and you got an extra 4100 BTUs. Adjust the boil by turning the burner up or down.

Do this and when you do have time and space to build a rig, your boil kettle is ready. Throw some 240v on it and call it a day.

it sounds a little unorthodox but give your criteria it may be what you need.
This is the direction I have been thinking. The shielding of the cord from heat and the lack of GFCI are two of the weird things. I need to figure out which circuit my fridge is on so I can look into adding some GFCI.
 

CodeRage

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bad67z

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This is the direction I have been thinking. The shielding of the cord from heat and the lack of GFCI are two of the weird things. I need to figure out which circuit my fridge is on so I can look into adding some GFCI.
Before you start trying to replacing out side outlets, I would recommend checking your circuits and how the are wired. My home is 15 years old and I have 4 GFIC outlet inside and none outside, but the one in the master bath runs the light on my deck and the outlet in the deck. The one in the kitchen provides power and protection to the outlet on my porch. So it is possible depending on the age of your town home and local electrical code your outside outlet could be protected from the inside GFIC outlet.
 
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Picobrew

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I am sure the shielding can be addressed with a little research.

This is what I meant about the GFCI.
TRC ShockShield Inline GFCI Cord Set 120V/15A 6 FT - eBay (item 300342335282 end time Sep-26-09 06:54:28 PDT)

You don't have to install a new receptacle into the wall, it's built into the cord. So the only thing on the gfci is the brew pot.
This is great! Then I don't have to worry about a soggy fridge.

If I do a removable heat stick, then I don't have to worry about shielding the heat right?

Does anyone know if a gas range needs 220v? If it does, then I probably have 220 right there also.
 

bad67z

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This is great! Then I don't have to worry about a soggy fridge.

If I do a removable heat stick, then I don't have to worry about shielding the heat right?

Does anyone know if a gas range needs 220v? If it does, then I probably have 220 right there also.

Not usually, but there is a possibility that there is a outlet already there. Take a look, good luck.
 

Catt22

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I am sure the shielding can be addressed with a little research.

This is what I meant about the GFCI.
TRC ShockShield Inline GFCI Cord Set 120V/15A 6 FT - eBay (item 300342335282 end time Sep-26-09 06:54:28 PDT)

You don't have to install a new receptacle into the wall, it's built into the cord. So the only thing on the gfci is the brew pot.
I would not pay $40 plus shipping for a GFCI equipped extension cord. There are much less expensive alternatives. Here's one plug in adapter from Radio Shack for about $9.00. Home Depot also has one for just a bit more IIRC. You can also build your own using an off the shelf GFCI outlet, a box and cover and some appliance cord. That's what I did. I've used it quite a bit for group brews and camping. Cheap insurance.
 

CodeRage

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I would not pay $40 plus shipping for a GFCI equipped extension cord. There are much less expensive alternatives. Here's one plug in adapter from Radio Shack for about $9.00. Home Depot also has one for just a bit more IIRC. You can also build your own using an off the shelf GFCI outlet, a box and cover and some appliance cord. That's what I did. I've used it quite a bit for group brews and camping. Cheap insurance.


It was just an example for simplicity's sake.
 

Catt22

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It was just an example for simplicity's sake.
I understand. It was not my intent to discount your post. That is a nice extension cord. I'm a sucker for gadgets and I can't help but take a look at those kind of links. The sticker shock got me though.
 
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