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Planning out my automated 10G electric brewery

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thefost

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I've been brewing for about 5 months now using propane, and a couple days ago I realized that there are 3 20A electrical sockets on separate circuits near my apt garage. So, the only logical thing to do is to build a fully automated electric brewery :D

At the bottom of the page you will see my preliminary plan in picture form. I am planning on using a BCS-460+expansion or BCS-462. It seems like the easiest option, but if something about my setup requires the brewtroller I'd be fine with switching.

I would be super grateful for any input on why this will or will not work, and how I can improve my plan to make it simpler or cheaper.

According to my picture the BCS will be connected to
5 1500 watt heating elements (1xHLT (own), 1xMLT, 3xBK)
2 Cheap Pumps (P38I on ebay, own 1)
1 Chugger pump (own)
3 Temp Probes
1 Sump Pump (own)
2 Solenoid Ball Valves
1 Float Valves (maybe an extra one or two for redundancy)

Goals
Automate everything except Dough-In, Transferring Wort to Carboy, and hop additions
Keep It Cheap
Can do hop rests
Very accurate, near perfect repeatability

Extended Goals
Self cleaning cycle
Step Mashing (not sure if 1500W element is gonna cut it)
Able to run two cycles at once (can begin second beer in mash tun while first beer is still in BK)

Brew Day Step by Step List:

1) Add initial water to MLT and HLT (calculated from beersmilt) abnd use elements to heat the water up to the correct temperature
2) Manually dough In

Begin BCS-460 program, every following step is now automated

3) Use RIMS tube to to raise mash temp and hold temp while recirculating wort though fly sparge (60 min)
4) Raise temp for mashout (20 min)
5) Open MLT Mechanical Ball Valve which will begin gravity draining the MLT
6) Turn on Pump 1 to begin fly sparging (60 min)
7) Pump one turns off once water level reaches HLT float valve, ending fly sparge
8) HLT and MLT heating elements turn off, three BK heating elements now turn on
9) A half hour later the wort should all be transfered to the BK.
10) BCS-460 sends me a text message the wort is near boil and its time for hop addition
11) I add hops and press a button to begin boil program
12) I continue to get text messages when its time for hop additions
13) Chugger pump turns on near end of boil to sanitize plate chiller and beigin whirlpooling
14) Boil is complete, elements turn off
15) Garden hose solenoid opens, sending water through plate chiller
16) Garden hose solenoid closes at 180 degrees for hop rest for 20 minutes
17) Garden hose solenoid opens again
18) At 70ish degrees garden hose turns off and I transfer wort to carboy


Purchase List
BCS-462
8 Relay Module,Board, for 8051, PIC Project, 12V
DC 12V Electric Mini Water Pump 103 GPH (P-38I)
Stainless Float Valve
1/2" MPT 4" long BCS-460/462 Temperature Sensor
18" Rims Tube Kit
Plate chiller with wingnuts and inline probe assembly
1/2'' SS304 Valve--12V Motorized Valve TFCWX CR02 NPT
Packard C240B Packard Contactor 2 Pole 40 Amps 120 Coil Voltage



Update 11/21/13 - Added schematics, added purchase list

Brew Automation Scaled v2.jpg


bcs-462 schematic.jpg


BCS-462 Schematic Part 2.jpg
 
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TNugent

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Biggest issue is going to be power. You may have 3 separate outlets but do you have 3 separate circuits? A 1500w element running at 120v is going to need 12.5 amps. You could run 3 at a time if each of thos outlets had their own circuit which seems very unlikely and if all of those outlets are on 1 circuit you would only be able to run 1 1500w element at a time and that's not going to cut it.
 
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thefost

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Thanks TNugent, yeah they are on 3 seperate circuits. Two of them are in my garage and one is at my patio 70ish feet away, so I can just use an extension cord for that one. I played around with the breaker box to confirm they are definitely separate.
 

TNugent

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Thanks TNugent, yeah they are on 3 seperate circuits. Two of them are in my garage and one is at my patio 70ish feet away, so I can just use an extension cord for that one. I played around with the breaker box to confirm they are definitely separate.
Very nice, at first glance it seems doable then.

Only concern may be the use of an electric element inside an Igloo cooler. Not sure I've seen that done and what could be done to aleviate concerns regarding grounding, etc.

Back to back batches may be challenging also but you may be able to drop your BK down to 2 elements once the boil gets rolling and then you could use that 3rd circuit to start heating up your strike water.
 
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thefost

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Only concern may be the use of an electric element inside an Igloo cooler. Not sure I've seen that done and what could be done to aleviate concerns regarding grounding, etc.
Thats actually something that I already have working right now. I just soldered the ground wire to the element's base, haven't electrocuted myself yet (knocks on wood).

Back to back batches may be challenging also but you may be able to drop your BK down to 2 elements once the boil gets rolling and then you could use that 3rd circuit to start heating up your strike water
I'm hoping that is the case. I'm not yet familiar enough with the BCS-460 so I wasn't sure if it could even begin a second cycle while the first one is still running.
 

ChuckO

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I'm hoping that is the case. I'm not yet familiar enough with the BCS-460 so I wasn't sure if it could even begin a second cycle while the first one is still running.
I'm using a BCS-460 to run heating & two pumps for a 3 vessel system with manual valve changes. Having separate processes set up for Heat Strike, Heat Sparge, Mash and Boil allows me to be boiling with 5500Watts while starting to heat the next strike water with 2000Watts in the MLT w/RIMS at the same time as heating the next sparge water with 1375 watts in HLT.

Each process may start the next in sequence if desired.
 
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thefost

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I'm using a BCS-460 to run heating & two pumps for a 3 vessel system with manual valve changes. Having separate processes set up for Heat Strike, Heat Sparge, Mash and Boil allows me to be boiling with 5500Watts while starting to heat the next strike water with 2000Watts in the MLT w/RIMS at the same time as heating the next sparge water with 1375 watts in HLT.

Each process may start the next in sequence if desired.
Great, that's exactly what I was hoping for.

Well, without any objections, I guess its time to start assembling a schematic :D
 

crane

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1500W for the HLT seems a bit weak especially if you are going to do 10 gallon batches. May take a long time to heat to strike/sparge temps.
 

ChuckO

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1500W for the HLT seems a bit weak especially if you are going to do 10 gallon batches. May take a long time to heat to strike/sparge temps.
I agree with crane, 1500W is low to heat strike and sparge water together for a 10 gallon batch, would take well over three hours.

I have found it useful to heat the sparge water in the HLT with a 5500W element at 1/4 power while heating the strike water in the MLT/RIMS with a 2000W element. If I start them both at the same time the sparge water has an extra hour to come up to temperature while mashing.
 
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thefost

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I agree with crane, 1500W is low to heat strike and sparge water together for a 10 gallon batch, would take well over three hours.

I have found it useful to heat the sparge water in the HLT with a 5500W element at 1/4 power while heating the strike water in the MLT/RIMS with a 2000W element. If I start them both at the same time the sparge water has an extra hour to come up to temperature while mashing.
Good call, that's exactly what I'll do. I ran a test with ten gallons in my HLT and with 1500W it continuously raises 10 gallons 1 degree every 1 minute. So, for my largest 10 gallon batch, I guess I'd have about 7 gallons in the MLT and 7 in the HLT. Raising the water from 70F to 170F in the MLT should take roughly 70 minutes then, which isn't too bad.

Worst case scenario if I'm in a rush I can split the strike water in the HLT and MLT, cutting the strike water heat time in half, then add my sparge water to the HLT and in 70 minutes it'll be ready to go just in time.

Well after staring at my drawing for a few days I decided its too complex. I really don't want that grant. Its another thing to clean, and I wouldn't be surprised if those float switches get stuck at some point. That means I either need to pump directly from the MLT to BK and find a flow switch to turn off my MLT pump when its dry, or I need to gravity drain the MLT.

I can't find a good flow switch (a used gems fs-380 is close but it doesn't have a .1gpm version) so I'm probably gonna go gravity. If anyone know of a good flow switch I'd love the input.
 
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thefost

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Ok so I changed my setup plan a bit. I replaced the immersion chiller with a plate chiller, and removed the grant bucket and will instead gravity drain the MLT into the BK. If I find a good .1gpm flow switch I may switch it back to 1 tier, but for now we're doing 2 tiers.

Below are my first two attempts at making a schematic for everything.

Brew Automation Scaled v2.jpg


bcs-642 schematic.jpg


BCS-462 Schematic Part 2.jpg
 

ChuckO

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Here's a layout of my current setup. It's somewhat similar to what you are proposing.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/photo/brewery-layout-61437.html

Main differences
I run the HLT output through a 3 way valve and into the pump that recirculates mash through the RIMS, eliminating the need for a 3rd pump.
Second pump is fed through a 3 way valve from either the MLT or the BK and all output goes through the CFC, either back into the BK, or by moving the output hose, into my fermenter.

The HLT uses 1375 watts to heat only the sparge water. The strike water is heated in the MLT via the RIMS with 2000 watts. The BK has a 5500 watt element. Both the HLT and MLT are Igloo coolers with Bayou Classic 44 qt. kettles set into them. I don't use a float switch to cut off the HLT element, as I shut it down via the BCS-460 when starting the sparge. Final sparge water temperature setting is done with the RIMS, as the water passes through it anyway.
 
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thefost

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Here's a layout of my current setup. It's somewhat similar to what you are proposing.
Thanks for the ideas chuck, that does look pretty similar to mine. In fact, thats almost exactly how I originally planned my brewery. Then I got the idea of trying to use more cheap pumps and less ball valves might be simpler and work out well. If it doesn't, I'm pretty much gonna copy your plans :D

Question for you: What do you use to stop pumping from the MLT to BK to keep the pump from running dry?
 
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thefost

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ChuckO

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Question for you: What do you use to stop pumping from the MLT to BK to keep the pump from running dry?
I generally stop the pump manually when I have reached full calculated volume in the BK. That's just a little before the time that I start loosing prime in the pump. I stop the sparge when I begin to loose prime in the pump from the HLT to the MLT. This ends up with close to a quart that settles out from the spent grain at the end of the sparge.

If I have a good crush I usually get my planned efficiency and end up with final runnings about 1.011 SG. It took a while to adjust the equipment parameters in BeerSmith, but it's consistent now.
 
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thefost

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I generally stop the pump manually when I have reached full calculated volume in the BK. That's just a little before the time that I start loosing prime in the pump. I stop the sparge when I begin to loose prime in the pump from the HLT to the MLT. This ends up with close to a quart that settles out from the spent grain at the end of the sparge.

If I have a good crush I usually get my planned efficiency and end up with final runnings about 1.011 SG. It took a while to adjust the equipment parameters in BeerSmith, but it's consistent now.
You know, that's a much better idea. Rather than trying to stop once the mash tun is empty, I should be planning on stopping when the BK has reached the correct volume. I've been hung up on this idea that to get the best efficiency I need to completely drain the mash tun, but I'm realizing that's not necessary. I'll probably get even better consistency that way.
 

ChuckO

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You know, that's a much better idea. Rather than trying to stop once the mash tun is empty, I should be planning on stopping when the BK has reached the correct volume. I've been hung up on this idea that to get the best efficiency I need to completely drain the mash tun, but I'm realizing that's not necessary. I'll probably get even better consistency that way.
Usually the amount of sugar left in the mash is not worth worrying about. Leaving a little wort with 1.010SG doesn't make any difference, except for the clean up afterwards.
 

rodduley

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ChuckO, I was looking at your brewery layout and wondered do you do any recirculation/mixing in your HLT to avoid stratification or does just running it through the RIMs keep the temperature precision? Also when filling the BK during sparge does the run off go through the CFC on the way to the to BK? Seems there would be some liquid remaining in the CFC during boil but would then be sterilized during whirlpool so no concerns with infection, is this correct? Is there a actual "tee" below the MT to divert the flow towards each pump and how much liquid would be remaining in this line. One last question, could you please explain a step by step of how you perform your clean up process. This concept looks like a CIP and requires no hose switching...very interesting.
 

ChuckO

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ChuckO, I was looking at your brewery layout and wondered do you do any recirculation/mixing in your HLT to avoid stratification or does just running it through the RIMs keep the temperature precision? Also when filling the BK during sparge does the run off go through the CFC on the way to the to BK? Seems there would be some liquid remaining in the CFC during boil but would then be sterilized during whirlpool so no concerns with infection, is this correct? Is there a actual "tee" below the MT to divert the flow towards each pump and how much liquid would be remaining in this line. One last question, could you please explain a step by step of how you perform your clean up process. This concept looks like a CIP and requires no hose switching...very interesting.
After I fill the HLT with my sparge water I put an air pump hose over the sight gage and let a small amount of air bubble up through the water. That seems to do sufficient circulation to keep down temperature stratification. When the sparge water gets pumped through the RIMS it cycles a bit to raise the temperature if necessary.

The output from the MLT goes through the CFC on the way to the Boil Kettle and a little does remain in the CFC. I start the pump again during the last 15 minutes of the boil, so it gets mixed into the boiling wort while the pump and CFC get sanitized. As long as there is no cooling water flowing the CFC output gets up to 205 by the time the boil ends. I seem to leave about 6-8 oz. in the tee and manifold while pumping to the BK, but it is at SG 1.010 or so, so it doesn't matter. The wort staying in the lines after the 3 way valve gets recirculated through the BK, so that volume eventually gets lost when I pump from the BK to the fermenter, about 20 oz.

Yes, there is a tee on the output of the MLT which can direct the flow to either pump. The RIMS pump can draw through a 3 way valve from either the HLT or the MLT. The CFC pump can draw through another 3 way valve from either the MLT or the BK. The output of each pump only goes to one item.

I don't do a CIP on the MLT or BK, rather I take them off the stand and dump them elsewhere. I do take the hoses from the outlets of the HLT, MLT and BK and drape them into a plastic bucket along with the output hoses from the RIMS and CFC. I fill the bucket with water and oxiclean and run both pumps and the RIMS heater. This recirculates 3-4 gallons of water through everything but the kettles. I redirect the 3 way valves a couple of times to make certain that everything has been flushed while this is happening. I then repeat 2-3 times with clear water and drain.

A benefit of my piping is that I can hook up a hose from the RIMS output directly to my water source and back flow to fill the HLT and the MLT through the RIMS pump and then flow through the CFC pump for priming both pumps. By playing with the valves I can also back fill the hose between the manifold and the BK outlet.
 

jCOSbrew

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You might be able to simplify your design by using 30-50amp 220vAC power from the panel in your garage. By the time you add the cost of the 3x power cables, 3x contactors, and extra elements it might be comparable to adding the 220v GFCI breaker. Also make sure your existing outlets are all GFCI if you stick w/ 110v.
 

RiverCityBrewer

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You might be able to simplify your design by using 30-50amp 220vAC power from the panel in your garage. By the time you add the cost of the 3x power cables, 3x contactors, and extra elements it might be comparable to adding the 220v GFCI breaker. Also make sure your existing outlets are all GFCI if you stick w/ 110v.
I think that the OP is in an apartment, and is likely not able to make electrical changes to the property.
 
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thefost

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I think that the OP is in an apartment, and is likely not able to make electrical changes to the property.
Exactly :mug:


So I've been wiring this thing up a bit. I think once it's finished I might win the award for messiest HBT control panel :drunk:

jAXHxOWHjwJVHrnNi7hYyoruQavftpHLiAbjs3g4xCk=w912-h684.jpg
 
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thefost

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Strangely enough, it's actually fully working! Finished up my wiring and tested it out and everything seems to work just fine. This box is just too small for my design, so after testing it out and working out the kinks I'm going to move to a larger, much cleaner box =)

+1. And impossible to troubleshoot if it doesn't all work right away. With that kind of messy wiring my bets are on it not being 100% fully functional first time it's powered on.
 
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