My Electric HERMS build w/ Brewtroller in charge

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pompeiisneaks

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Here's photos of my HERMS build I've mostly completed. Still have to stitch up a few things here and there, but all in all its mostly done. I have to paint the stand still, clean up the electronics a bit, etc, but I ran it w/ water today to make sure it can do what its supposed to, and its doing it nicely. I have one design flaw in my HLT where I put the heating element too high and the hot water rises but doesn't go down well, so unless I stir, the water at the bottom doesn't get heated, and the temp sensor down there thinks the temps stay the same... But the point of MY HLT is to just keep temps up... so I think its okay... only time will tell. The HEX is working like a charm. I have a huge storm about to hit here in UT, so I don't know if I can do a real brew on it today or not... :(

Here's the photos:




 

jcdillin

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Looks great! You could add a stir motor to your HLT and use it to keep the temps even. I've had my eye on my wife's old ice cream maker for just that purpose :)
 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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Jcdillin oh good idea... addon number 3322344 ;) Here's a couple photos of jcdillin's shield board w/ the sanguino on top... in my project box from radio shack :)


 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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Well, The extremely cold temps here in Utah may make my batch a failure...I've got it running and it can't keep the temps up above 144 and I want it at 154... I can't get my eff to work worth a darn if my HLT is at 160 lol... I'm boiling some more water now to try and get it back within range... we'll see how it goes.
 

The Pol

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How many watts is your element? Is the problem the MLT lacking enough insulation? That sucks man.
 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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I boiled some water on the side and reheated my mlt manually and its in range and going but still dropping temps... crappy 40ish temps here in utah today suck!

I'm boiling more water because my HLT is nowhere close to the 180 or so I need to sparge :(
 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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Its kinda crappy its a 120v and the only one I could find at the local lowes that was 120, its like 1500 w I think... really bad, fine in warm weather, horrible in cold. I have both tuns wrapped in that aluminium refletix stuff, but I just put sweaters on top to keep the heat from escaping the top. We'll see. I'm maintaining 153 now so I may hit my mash, and hope to hit sparge lol.
 

The Pol

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Your element in the HLT looks small... how many watts?

40ish isnt that cold really... I presume that you do not have lids, insulated lids, and the reflectix is pretty thin? That sucks man...

I know not many people like coolers for HERMS, but I can set my HLT at 155 and hold 152 in my MLT at 30F. I also have enough insulation to ramp up to mashout at 168F at 30F ambient easily with 1500W in the HLT.

I am sure you could get some lids and better insulation to better your heating capability.
 

JVD_X

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Yea... I went electric (with 1500 watts) about two months ago and brewed a few beers where the ambient temp was in the low 30's... but I have a lid.
 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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well I'll have to remember RDWHAHB... I couldn't ever get my sparge temps up to 168 like I wanted, it stayed about 158 ish... post boil... 1.055 OG, and 80% EFF !!! My best ever....

I love my new HERMS :)
 

missing link

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My HLT is a bare keg with no lid. My MLT is a cooler. I use 1500 watt elements for both and have no trouble at all reaching or holding temps. I pump my wort and water through a heat exchanger to get better flow over the element. Are you doing anything to help stir or agitate the liquid as your heating it?

My HLT ramps right up to 185 with no issues. For me the trouble I am having is temp loss in the hoses during the sparge. With the flow rate slowed way down, my 185 degree HLT water is down in the 165 - 170 range when it gets to the top of my mash. I'd prefer to use 170 degree water and have it reach the mash at that temp but I don't think that is going to happen.

Linc
 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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So I wanted to update... I replaced my 1200ish watt element w/ a 1650 and it did great keeping temps, and this was yet again another cold brew day, did a double batch and got 74% eff. But this time I attribute it to having too much water, I had almost 2 gallons extra, and I saved it for yeast wort, but could have boiled it down and woudl have had probably some huge eff instead... I need to dial in my strike and sparge volumes better :p Last single batch had 1 gall extra and I still hit 80%...
 

jcdillin

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great to hear!


I think the brewtroller developers could use a few beer care packages with all this super 80% eff beer you've been making ;-)
 
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pompeiisneaks

pompeiisneaks

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hehehe smuggling it out of Utah is still dangerous until the law is official like May 1st or Jun 1st ;P J/k I need to figure out how to bottle from keg, I saw the thread on a DIY beer wand, I'll have to do that, send you and mattreba some of my first brew, that esb... Its still in primary now, been about 8 days, will move to a secondary next week when I brew a big beer on the brewtroller rig, so I have that primary available.
 

xxdcmast

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That looks pretty sweet. I have a few questions for you as I am in the process of building an electic HLT myself.

1. Did you use the 1500 w 120v element in your HLT?
2. How did you mount the screw in water heater element. Did you use one of the mounting brackets you can pick up from home depot or some other method?
3. What are the orange seals that you have around all of your connections?
4. Would it be possible to take a few more pictures showing where and how the element is mounted?
 

jcdillin

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If you check out the bargainfittings parts page he has the 1" locknut and the silicone o-ring to install the water heat element.
To mount the water heater element you just drill a 1 1/4" inch hole and put the element through, then put on the silicone o-ring and then the locknut.

The orange seals are flat silicone sealing washers available from mcmaster

If you check out my build thread I have a few more pictures that may help you.
 

xxdcmast

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So let me get this straight.

You take the locknut put it inside the keg with the silicone o ring against the keg. From the outside you dont put anything other than just screwing the element in?
 

jcdillin

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Yup you got it, the water heat elements have a gasket that comes on them so the outside is sealed somewhat. But most of the sealing is done by the o-ring on the inside of the keg.

Actually most of the weldless kits are that way, they seal better when the o-ring or sealing washer is just on the inside.
 

xxdcmast

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So now for the internal did you use an O ring or a sealing washer. I would think the sealing washer might work better for this purpose.
 

jcdillin

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Well on my system I used all sealing washers because I could never get the o-rings to seal. But they don't make a sealing washer that big for the water heater element and that is the only one on the system that seals perfectly everytime.

On my thread I have the mcmaster part numbers for the flat sealing washers if you are making your own weldless sets.
 

xxdcmast

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I definitely think I will give it a shot. The only thing I may change is to inset the element from the bottom rather than the side. I think coming up from the center should heat more evenly that going in from the side.

Also the flat area on the bottom seems like it would make a better seal than the curved side.

Once I start getting my equipment together do you mind if I shoot you PM's if I have questions?
 

jcdillin

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Coming up from the bottom is for sure easier because of the flat spot, but you have to watch out because you will expose your element much quicker than with it mounted horizontal and then you'll end up with a ruined element. Might be worth investing in a float switch or something to shut down the element if the water gets to a certain point.

For sure PM anytime.
 

xxdcmast

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Im guessing by exposing the element you mean by having boil off and part of the element contacting the air?

If I were just using this for a HLT couldnt I just switch off the element before I begin draining into the MLT.
 

jcdillin

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Yup you could do that, just during my brew day it never fails I know I would do something like leave it on while I was pumping into my MLT and dry fire it.
 
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pompeiisneaks

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Yeah jcdillin is exactly who I cloned on this. I also will make a few notes... 1. make sure your heating element is near the bottom, I forgot a law of physics, heat rises... and mines in the middle, which means the bottom level doesn't get heated well, unless I stir. I'm thinking of adding a stir motor like jcdillin has too, to keep consistent heat throughout the HLT. 2. keep the HEX coil down low too, so you don't have to keep topping off water to keep it fully immersed... error #2 on my design :( Oh well, i know now and may ahve to buy another HLT some day, but I'll know how to make it work right. I can workaround it for now.
 

xxdcmast

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What is the HEX coil for. I dont think im going to be making a HERMS rather just a EHLT so I wouldnt need the HEX coil then right?
 
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pompeiisneaks

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HEX coil stands for Heat EXchanger. Its not required in a HLT, its required for a HERMS setup, but you can also, as some do, use it in JUST a heat exchange tank, that holds less water, and only provides the mash heating. Ultimately I can't answer 100% because I don't know what you're building, if you just want a HLT to heat the water for batch sparging, then no, you don't need one.
 

xxdcmast

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For now yes I wil only be doing batch sparging. Im thinking EHLT, MLT, and propane fired keggle on a two tier setup.

I will probably use a pump between HLT and MLT.
 
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