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Newbie 30L BIAB Electric Setup

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KnightDesign

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Hi everyone,

I figured I'd share my process for my first electric brewing setup. I know a lot of you have 50L + setups but I wanted to share my little 30L (max volume) kettle for those who are just starting out or have little space.

So, first off I'll list all the parts and their cost and then go onto the build.

Parts:
All costs in NZ $, excluding shipping

Berma Rex c100 PID temperature controller with K-type thermocouple and 40amp solid state relay - $67

Camco 2500W 240V Ultra Low Watt Density (though it looks a little short for ulwd) - $27

3 x 20amp toggle switches - $18

Cable sourced off old high rated appliances - $0

316 Stainless hardware: 1/2" 3-piece ball valve, 1/2" weld nipple, 1/2" hose tail, 1" npt coupling - $60

30L, 202 stainless kettle 1mm wall & base thickness - $50 (it's a bit ****, but will do the job)

Odd bit's like the boxes, heat sink, and ring connectors - $20

All in all, probably around $270 if you include shipping.


I removed the mechanical relay from the Rex c100 and simply soldered some wires across to complete the new output for 10ish vdc (heaps of good info on how to do this around the place).
Other than that, it was a fairly straightforward process and I just had to make sure I was clear in my intention and therefore diagram, and then patient in the testing phase which seems fine at this stage.

The three switches are:
Left - PID on/off which also activates the PID side of the relay.
Middle - On/off for the element through the PID controlled relay.
Right - On/off full power to the element (not requiring any other switch to be on).

I swappd out the main power cord though as it got a little too warm for my liking during the 5min test. Oh, and also add some kind of plug to connect between the element cord and the PID control box (some kind of XLR type thing if I can find one rated for the 10ish amps at 240vac I need). Then I should be able to plug this thing in between my brew kettle and my temp controlled fermentor box - saving a whole new PID.


Cheers everyone, I've been lurking on here for a while so thanks for the great community and knowledge.

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Weezy

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No pic of the element???? Come on, I feel cheated!

Looks nice. I like the toggle switches.
 
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KnightDesign

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Sorry!

Here are the rest of the photos. I put a locking 20A Neutrik plug thing (XLR?) on the element lead which is awesome! Such a snazzy plug - was about $20 from RubberMonkey for any NZ people out there.

I also replaced the internal wiring with 15A single wiring across the plugs and ssr.

Tested all again and seems to work well. I plan on filling the kettle with hot water from the tap which should speed up my brew day this weekend - Any issues with doing that?

As to what I'm brewing, I'm planning a 10L Amarillo APA (55 ibu's and a heap of dry hopping) this is due to storing constraints and I want to put down a range of different brews over the next month so that I have a range of drinkable beer for a while. I'm sick of being stuck with 23L (6g) of something without having room for anything else. This also means that if I stuff something up, it costs less.

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KnightDesign

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So I changed my mind and did a 20L kiwi hopped pale ale/esb.

It was an interesting first brew day for sure! There is a big difference between learning through reading and learning through doing.

I had a few issues which I'll note here for anyone who might have similar issues:

So I found keeping stable mash temps is more difficult that I thought, especially within the same damn pot! I stirred that thing every 5-10 minutes and kept repositioning the thermocouple to make sure it was a consistent temperature. I plan to glue or bind 10mm thick pads of polystyrene around the kettle, and then cover with 12mm wooden slats to help with the insulation on the bottom and sides.

I need to sort out a one-man way of hanging and squeezing the bag after I pull it out, and also maybe poor a bit of sparge water over it too. My overall efficiency was 60%!

Also, I now understand why you guys talk so much about extraction! It was like the swamps of Dagobah in my garage, so I had to move part way into the boil off to the bathroom - not ideal carrying a 20L hot pot up some stairs.

The boil was very one sided due to the small element size, and I'm not sure if the boil was too vigorous as the element had a 1mm thick layer of stuff (sugary grainy stuff) kinda baked all over it after the boil. This didn't taste burnt when I scraped some off and tasted it, but it was quite bitter (maybe just the hops) and perhaps not ideal.

I also found fermentation took about 24 hours to really get going, this hasn't been my experience before with extract (lots of bubbling after just 4 hours), though I may not have aerated as well this time.

I think that's it! The Co2 coming out of the airlock smells so hoppy and wonderful, I cannot wait to see how the thing turns out.

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