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"Logical Progression" for Automation?

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LBussy

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I know I would like some automation - I'm a geek that way. I believe there is a reasonable logical progression of styles/systems that won't waste too much money and allow me to experiment as I go. Here's what I think:

Step 1 - "Old Fashioned" MLT and Keggle setup with an immersion chiller. nothing fancy, an igloo cooler and a keggle like I used to have. My brew-buddy has the immersion chiller so this is a no-brainer.

Step 2 - Counter-flow chiller. I like them so I will have another one. :)

Step 3 - "Brutus" inspired system. Similar to this build, I will add a pump and some plumbing to pull it together. Since I am firing my kettle with gas this will be a manually controlled setup.

Step 4 - RIMS. All I should need to do is add the RIMS tube and controller to everything I have (plus some misc plumbing). Likely have to find something to use as a HLT (or I have mashed-out into a bucket and used the keggle as a HLT temporarily in the past).

Step 5 - eHERMS. This is my desired end goal. If I have lived a righteous life, in theory, everything thus far will be re-used in this setup with the exception of the RIMS tube and some random hardware. Since I don't have the plans solidified this is a complete WAG but it sounds like it will work.

So what do y'all think? The theory is at any given point I have not broken the bank and I just may end up with a "final system" if I like the result.
 

crane

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I am going down a very similar path to what you have described. I am currently at a 2 keggle system with a RIMS tube and plan to eventually move to a 3 vessel eHERMs system. I like this route for a number of reasons:

1. I don't have much time outside of work so I didn't want to launch a massive build and take 1-2 years before I could use it. This way I am able to use each new piece right away instead of waiting till everything is complete.
2. I do not have the funds to drop all of the money for the entire project at once.
3. Before I started down this path I didn't really know all of the features that I wanted to incorporate. Since I have started I have changed directions a number of times without wasting any money. I think my final setup will end up being much better than if I committed to everything upfront.
 
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LBussy

LBussy

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I'm not sure why the intermediate RIMS step.
Because it adds the automation pieces without necessarily needing an additional HLT, and certainly not the coil setup. It utilizes a pump and PID, all of which will be used when taking the next step towards eHERMS.

Basically, it's a smaller financial step, while allowing me to experiment and learn what I like and don't like. The "dunk" cost when moving to HERMS from this is the RIMS tube.
 

tophmck

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It's true that many of us go through a progression like this, but I wouldn't really call it logical, and it's certainly not efficient. If you know what your long run goal is, I'd try to get there with as few intermediate steps as possible.

If your eventual goal is an eHERMS, just start with a manual gas-fired HERMS. If you don't already have one, I guess you'd need a pump. But otherwise it sounds like you already have access to a cooler, a keggle, a gas burner, and an immersion chiller -- so you have almost everything you'll need. (You can just use your friend's immersion chiller as your HLT coil.)

EDIT: Rereading your post, I'm realizing you're not 100% sure what you want your final system should look like. In particular, you have both 2-vessel Brutus 20 systems and 3-vessel HERMS along your upgrade path, which are very different setups. Once you get a pump, I'd recommend trying both with the equipment you have to see what you prefer. In fact, try BIAB and direct fired RIMS, while you're at it. Once you've experimented and know what your ideal system looks like, it'll be a lot easier to think about the best upgrade path for automation.
 

MrShake

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Because it adds the automation pieces without necessarily needing an additional HLT, and certainly not the coil setup. It utilizes a pump and PID, all of which will be used when taking the next step towards eHERMS.

Basically, it's a smaller financial step, while allowing me to experiment and learn what I like and don't like. The "dunk" cost when moving to HERMS from this is the RIMS tube.
I'm not sure its really a smaller financial step. Though one you might be able to recover part of.

I think I remember pricing out both when I built mine, and price was not a deciding factor once I did that.
 
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