New 10 Gallon Herms! Pics!

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The Pol

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Alright, so there may be a few of you on this board that have kept up with all of my changes to my brewing system over the past couple years. Here is the NEW setup that I just completed tonight with the help of McMaster Carr and the oodles of ideas that I have found here! I will show pics and give the best descriptions that I can... I would appreciate any questions or comments on the system! Thanks yall!

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Here she is, as my wife calls her "The Beast". 10 Gallons of sweet wort producing perfection!

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The heart of my HERMS, an electrically heated HLT that 1. Heats strike water, 2. heats my HERMS coil and 3. contains my sparge water. This tank contains a 120V 1500W element that works fine for heating the volumes of water that I deal with. I built a thermowell for the A419 out of a #5 drilled stopper and a SS corny dip tube. All of the connections are made with brass QD's from McMaster. Under the little round cap on the lid, lies the motor for the water stirer. The HERMS coil is 25' of 1/2" copper tubing from MB, it is sold as a "prechiller" for cooling wort.

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Here is my HERMS return line/sparge line. I purchased this 1/2" dia. coolant tubing from McMaster and it works awesome! I can pump at a rate of about 7 gallons per minute with all of the 1/2" tubing and fittings. Easily adjustable, and it holds it form during the process.

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Here is the new March pump placement. I used to have the pump bolted to the bottom of the stand, the flow rates were horrible and it was a PAIN to prime. It is completely hands off to prime in this location, and as stated earlier, I am getting a 7 gallon per minute flow rate through the HERMS coil. Ball valves all around for precise control. The pump was also mounted with rubber mounts to alleviate any vibration or noise...

Simple, clean, and fully insulated... holding temps should not be an issue! During the HERMS recirculating, the 1500W element is capable of raising the HLT water temp at a rate of 2 deg F per minute for mashout.
 

beerthirty

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Nice job. 2 thoughts, if you placed the pump near the top of a leg you could get the outlet pointed up preventing any chance of airlocking and prime problems( I know you said priming is not an issue, but if you fill your boil kettle from the bottom port it could become one). The valve on the inlet of the pump isn't needed because you have one on the mash tun( it is better to close the outlet of a pump then the inlet, closing the inlet can cause cavitation which will allow the pump to run without lubrication). I could be wrong, I am having a hard time following fluid flow through your pictures. I do like the simplicity and innovation of your system.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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1. the pump will not be utilized to fill the boil kettle, this will me gravity only.
2. the valve on the inlet to the pump will not be to control flow, for the reason that you stated, but will help in swapping hoses (closed it will help keep the fluid in the hose). The valve on the outlet to the pump will be used for flow control as it was in my previous setup.
3. the pump used to be located at the bottom of the brew stand and was mounted so that the inlet was at the bottom, outlet at the top, and it was a PAIN to prime. In its current config, and with the 1/2" ID hoses it pumps like a champ, with no priming. The larger hoses and fittings may help, it is easy to flood it, the 3/8" plumbing sucked.

Thanks for the comments! It is really simple, should operate pretty efficiently.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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The fluid flow is as such...

Pump INLET is in the left of the pump, OUTlet is on the right. The hoses are HARD plumbed to the ball valves in the pump, with QDs in either end. There is the short "jumper" that goes across the top from the HERMS coil to the return line in the MLT. Also, another hose with QDs in either end to run from the MLT to the BOIL kettle during the sparge. Hope that helps!
 

billtzk

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That's clear. The HLT with HERMS coil is on the left, the MLT on the right. You pump out of the mash and into the HERMS coil inlet at the top of the HLT, then back out the top of the HLT via the other end of the coil and into the top of the MLT to the blue knobby hose return. You use gravity to drain the MLT into the BK.

What does the QD on the MLT to BK transfer hose attach to on the BK side?
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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It attaches to the ball valve on the bottom of the BK, which has a QD nipple on it.
 

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So, to get this straight before I modify my system AGAIN:
You used to have your pump mounted horizontally (compared to now, which I'm referring to as vertically) and you used to have the inlet side down -right?
And just mounting it vertically like this has made all the difference to ease of priming and to flow?
 

Lil' Sparky

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Great setup!

1/2" ID hoses really do make a world of difference, don't they! Anyone thinking about QD's, fittings, and pump hoses really ought to go this route vs 3/8".
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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YES, the flow rate is INCREDIBLE! When I was using 3/8", the flow was a trickle, and the pump could never seem to belch out all of the air... NOW, within seconds the air is purged out and like I said, I can throttle it up to 5 gallons/min! McMaster Carr is also phenominal, order by like 6pm, and it is delivered to my home NEXT DAY using simple ground shipping.
 

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How stable are those brew stands? Where did you get them, and for how much?
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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The brew stand is industrial shelving fom Lowes... I have used it for 3 years, and it is very stable, I like it. You can also reconfigure the shelves and such if you decide to re-design your brew stand every 12 months! Cost, $60 at Lowes.

The tubing, I am not sure what the "rating" is, but I have used it to transfer boiling water, with no issues, for the past 2 years. It is simply reinforced PVC from Lowes.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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So, to get this straight before I modify my system AGAIN:
You used to have your pump mounted horizontally (compared to now, which I'm referring to as vertically) and you used to have the inlet side down -right?
And just mounting it vertically like this has made all the difference to ease of priming and to flow?

It used to be horizontal, YES, the inlet was DOWN and the outlet UP, and it worked like crap. Now I have changed alot, so I cannot say what was the magic bullet, but I mounted it vertically, increased my hose and fitting sizes, and mounted it UP near the tanks, instead of 3' below them. The combination of these things has made priming, a non issue. It can be dry, I crack the valves and turn it on and it pumps at 7 gal/min immediately.
 

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You gotta love that. I know what you mean with the priming being a PITA. I may just try it your way for kicks, who knows! I've always liked that tubing, but was afraid of leeching at hi temps. I went ahead and got silicone, so I guess it's a moot point.

Great job on using what you have....you could've gone out and bought another vessel for the HLT, but you modded the cooler you already had. Do you find that you have to refill the HLT and start over with heating after you use the already heated water in the mash?

What are you using for a chiller?
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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You gotta love that. I know what you mean with the priming being a PITA. I may just try it your way for kicks, who knows! I've always liked that tubing, but was afraid of leeching at hi temps. I went ahead and got silicone, so I guess it's a moot point.

Great job on using what you have....you could've gone out and bought another vessel for the HLT, but you modded the cooler you already had. Do you find that you have to refill the HLT and start over with heating after you use the already heated water in the mash?

What are you using for a chiller?

I was really pleased to see that the pump works so well now. In my prior setup I was so disappointed in the performance of it that I almost removed it all-together.

I love the coolers, I have three keggles, but the coolers are SO much more efficient at retaining heat. (My modded HLT cooled from 170F to 120F over an 18 hour period) About the HLT, I only brew 5 gallon batches, fits my fermentor and kegs... so I heat 9 gallons to my strike temp.
I then pump about 4.5 gallons into the mash (depending on the size of the grain bill), the remaining 4.5 gallons is used as the heat exchanger water/sparge water. This comfortably covers the heating element and coil (7" in height).
Once my mash is complete, I turn up the heat on the HLT to 173F and continue to recirculate to reach mashout temp. Then I simply swap a hose and purge the HERMS coil with 173F water to clear out the remaining wort... THEN I swap another hose and begin the fly sparge and lauter.

Chilling is done with a another copper IC with garden hose fittings.
 

RockfordWhite

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Can you post pictures of the inner workings of your HLT? I am interested in building something like this...
 

Mirage

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Not entirely sure what it does, lol (I am new) but from a construction standpoint, it looks like the tops of your stands are particle board. This will fall apart as it gets wet. I would invest in some decent plywood to use as the top and put some primer on it to make it a bit more waterproof. There will be a fair amount of weight on the tops and you don't want to take a chance on your igloos falling through full of the beer you just brewed. ;)
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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I have used the particle board for 3 years, it isnt the best, but I have yet to upgrade it. I would like to use a 1/2" plastic sheet instead of wood, that will be the next upgrade to the stand itself, but it is a lil pricey....
 

Yorg

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So Pol,
As part of the difference between your pump working crappily, and now, you moved from 3/8 id to 1/2 id Right???
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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Yes, aside from the orientation and location changing, I also upgraded to all 1/2" fittings and tubing. Like I said, I dont know exactly what contributed to the great performance of my pump, or if it was a few things all together, but 7 gallons/minute and no priming problems is certainly nice. Like I said before, in its previous location and with the 3/8" tubing, it was almost worthless.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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Can you post pictures of the inner workings of your HLT? I am interested in building something like this...

I will get to this when I get my stirrer installed... I still have to order it from McMaster. It is really quite simple... a 1500W heating element installed through the bottom of the tank, a 1/2" x 25' copper coil as a HERMS heat exchanger and then a stirrer attached to a small motor... oh, and the thermowell for the JC A419 to control the element. I will get picks of the details up soon.... thanks for the inquiry... Id be glad to help you with your build.
 

RockfordWhite

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I assume the heating element is 120v, so do you heat the water in the BK first then transfer to the HLT?

Also how do you attach the element to the bottom
 

beerthirty

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1/2" tubing is key, I agree. the fewer restrictions or hard corners the better it will flow. For those of you think that any bigger hose might be better stick with the 1/2". bigger hose although will flow more down hill or on a straight can cause problems when pumping uphill due to the added head weight and under some circumstances lower your flow due to the added weight when getting to heights over 1/2 total head. Found this out the hard way in another hobby.
nice job Pol.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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I assume the heating element is 120v, so do you heat the water in the BK first then transfer to the HLT?

Also how do you attach the element to the bottom

The element is 120V... I do NOT heat any water in the BK. All of the water is heated in the HLT. With 9 gallons of water, prior to striking, I get 1F pre minute rise in temp. After transferring the strike water, the remaining water volume will rise 2F per minute. This is acceptable for me, it takes about 90 mins to reach my strike temp with 9 gallons, since it is monitored by the A419, I can set it and forget it and do other things.

The element is attached through the bottom by first drilling a LARGE hole throught the outer shell and insulation in the center of the cooler. Then using a smaller hole saw to drill a hole just large enough to accomodate the heating element. The heating element is installed through the bottom of the cooler and tightened by using a 1.25" ( I think ) threaded PVC coupling on the INSIDE of the cooler and tightening it on the threads of the heating element. I also constructed a water tight housing around the element electrical connections by cementing a large PVC coupling to the underside of the cooler and capping it off... leaving a hole just large enough to allow the cord to fit through.
 

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That's cool. :) I was just offering a suggestion, as I have made shelving with particle board and it has gotten wet and fallen apart. I agree with you that plastic would be awesome. Easy to clean up and no chance of it falling apart on you due to water.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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That's cool. :) I was just offering a suggestion, as I have made shelving with particle board and it has gotten wet and fallen apart. I agree with you that plastic would be awesome. Easy to clean up and no chance of it falling apart on you due to water.

Yes, the particle board came with the shelving, in the pic it is wet, due to some leaks from not having the hose clamps installed when I did my "dry" wet run on the system. Typically the wood never gets wet, the connections and fittings are nice and tight, but when the hoses got up to temp, they started dripping as I had not yet clamped them to the barbs. The plastic will be awesome, but it is expensive as all get out.
 

Mirage

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Yea I bet. All I can think of is very large cutting boards. I guess you could double as a caterer if you bought those. ;)
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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I could... hrmmmm, a beer caterer!
 

ScubaSteve

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If the particle board craps out.....you could just put plywood in there and treat it with deck sealer. Good job man....you got me jonesing to make an electric HLT out of my keggle. I really like the idea of putting the hlt on a timer so your water is hot when you get up in the morning :)
 

Mirage

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I was thinking too, if you live in CT, I have some PT 2x10 from when I built my deck that you can have. Not sure what the diameter of your coolers are, but maybe that would work. That stuff lasts a LONG time.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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I live in IN... I could get some pressure treated lumber or something, but if I am going to make it better, I want to get what I WANT, which is the plastic sheeting.

As for the HLT "timer"... the heating element is actually connected to the JC A419 temp controller, so I just set it for 165F and then run to my LHBS and buy my ingredients after breakfast, when I get home, it is up to temp and the controller has the heating element off. Transfer 4.5 gallons to my MLT, dough in (drop a couple ice cubes in the HLT to get my HLT down to say 155F) and start the recirc. It should be pretty sweet... I am looking for more repeatability and more precise control of my mash environment.

I am glad that I have sparked an interest in some of you to go thise route too, it is pretty easy and I think will add more repeatability in my brewing.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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FOUND my solution for my water stirrer... it is not cheap, but it will work well. McMaster has an AC geared motor that turns at 100rpm... it is fan cooled, so it should hold up. The shaft DIA is .3125", I also found a mixing impeller that is 2.5" in dia, plenty long, and it has a .3125" shaft... I will attach the two with a shaft coupling that has a .3125" ID and JB weld them together. Hopefully it arrives tomorrow for installation!
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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Here is my recent McMaster Carr order... this may be a little over the top for a stirrer, but after two failed attempts, I am tired of wasting time and money. This is a geared motor, 100RPM, plenty to mix water, an impeller on a shaft, and a SS coupler to marry up the motor shaft and the impeller shaft.

6142K49 Ac Gearmotor W/fan, Face Mnt, 100 Rpm, 7 In-lbs Torque, 115 Vac

34935K66 Polypropylene Propeller With Shaft U-shaped Blade, 2-1/2" DIA.

6099K22 Stainless Steel One-piece Set-screw Coupling 5/16" Bore, 1" Length, 5/8" Od, Without Keyway
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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That's clear. The HLT with HERMS coil is on the left, the MLT on the right. You pump out of the mash and into the HERMS coil inlet at the top of the HLT, then back out the top of the HLT via the other end of the coil and into the top of the MLT to the blue knobby hose return. You use gravity to drain the MLT into the BK.

OK, either I no longer understand English, but to ME that was not really crystal clear, more like hazy shades of "MUD". Mostly because a HERMS system is still alien to me.

Pol - Seriously that does look really cool, now do I understand that moving from 3/8th to 1/2 ID made a massive difference? My MLT is 3/8 so this is interesting to me.

I have looked at making a heat stick to help with my low BTU electric stove top brewing, but it seemed that they all cited 220, does 120 really provide you enough BTU conversion to heat the water levels you need?
Please share if you don't mind, eager brewers await.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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Kauai...

Friend, HERMS is pretty simple... take a little of the mash water out, pump it through a coil that is immersed in water that is at your target mash temp (to warm it up) then return it back to the mash.

Now, there is a HUGE difference in flow rates when using the March pump when you move from 3/8" tubing to 1/2" tubing and fittings. I also brought my pump UP about 2.5 feet. It was previously connected at the bottom of my stand, now it is just below my HLT and MLT vessels. These pumps have a limited head head pressure, and the higher you have to pump something, the lower the flow rates will be. 7 gal/min is pretty respectable in my case, and I will only be able to use that when I am filling my MLT for dough in.

I use a 120v 1500W water heater element. For my purposes, it will raise 9 gallons of 70F tap water to 170F in 90 minutes in a cooler that is insulated and covered, and where the water is stirred. Not super fast, but I have time, and it uses alot less gas. After I pump out 4-5 gallons to dough in my grains, I am left with 4-5 gallons in my HLT to be used to heat the heat exchanger coil... with half the volume, I get twice the temp rise. I can obtain about 2F per minute increase in my water temp at this point, which I would primarily use for mashout and sparge water.

I am not familiar with heat sticks and boiling on a stove, but I would think that an additional 1500W of power in a pot that already has heat being applied would help significantly. Again, I have no experience with that sort of setup.

I am happy to field all questions, I should be able to get some more detailed pics up here soon. Thanks for the inquiries!
 

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I'm probably gonna build a new rig here shortly....I think I might go with one of those bucket heaters; essentially a well-made heat stick with an auto off for safety. I guess using the temp controller would be safer, as it would cut the element once it reaches temp. You could potentially over/undershoot with a timer.

What about a timer to switch the thing on at say, 0400, then power would reach the temp controller, which would take over and get the water to 170? Hands free, baby!

Just to play devil's advocate, have you thought about what you'll do if the HERMS doesn't work as well as you'd like? I know a lot of people have put all the bells and whistles together and find out it takes forever to step up your temps......

FWIW, how will you measure your mash temp? At the MT output, or the HERMS coil output, right before it goes into the mash?
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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It will take some tweaking, I only take my temp in the HLT with the A419 to control the heating element. I have a through the wall digital therm in my MLT to monitor the temp in the mash. Between the two temp readings, I should be able to figure out how many degrees F I lose between the HLT water and the return line in the MLT. Keepin it simple... if it is off a couple degrees on my first couple brews, I dont care. I just want to be able to HOLD a temperature... if I have to set my HLT at 155F to maintain 152F in my MLT, so be it. It will be nice to set the A419 to say 173F and let it recirculate to raise my temps to mashout (concurrently heating my sparge water to 173F! It will be fun to mess with it and see how well it works. I will work better than simply striking at one temp and letting it sot for an hour, I am pretty sure of that! It will also be nice to do all of this without burning propane.
 

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It will work better than simply striking at one temp and letting it sot for an hour, I am pretty sure of that! It will also be nice to do all of this without burning propane.

I agree to that! Especially with the IN and IL winter.....can you say "heat loss"? :p Part of the fun is the tweaking!
 
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