Question for other Tower of Power users

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

c3hutson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2013
Messages
130
Reaction score
27
I've got one "test" run (water only in MLT) and one batch under my belt so far with the tower of power, and now have some questions.

I'm wondering how many of you did as I did, and skipped the stand. I'm using just on module and recirculating from my bulkhead to the pump and back up to a loose hose on top of the grain bed. I'm noticing that the recirculating mash stay kind of segregated to the area that it's returning to and the rest of the mash seems stagnant. This is confirmed by some fairly drastic (5-10 F) temperature differences between parts of the mash. Should I be using the autosparge instead of loose hose?

Next is the brewmometer temp vs the TOP sensor temp. Quite a variation here... again, 10 degrees cooler in the mash tun at times.

Finally, for people NOT using the ToP stand, have you had any luck finding an alternative Flow Meter (rotameter). I've been searching but DAYUUMMMM.... no wonder the stand costs so much... these flow meters are $$$$$
 

JJFlash

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Also, my experience with the Tower of Power is that it comes nowhere near the advertised 0.5 degree temp span. My mash is anywhere from 4 - 8 degrees less than the programmed temperature even after one hour. Smaller mash tuns have larger error. The temperature ramp is also a problem. Never makes it to the programmed temperature with the 1.5 minutes per degree ramp recommendation. In a ten minute ramp mine will cycle on/off for the first several minutes, then try desperately at the end to hit the programmed temp. Always runs into the mash time trying to come up to temp. You can work around these issues but disappointed, for the price I paid, does not work as advertised. I use Top Tier / Tower of Power / all Blichmann kettles.
 

NMG318

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
51
Reaction score
2
Location
Winchester
I would have to agree with JJFlash. I generally have to set my temp on the controller several degrees higher than the required mash temp. I have 2 thermometers (one has a long stem on it to check deep into the mash...the other is a Thermapen) to monitor the mash temp and I adjust the TOP as required. I have found the Brewmometer is fairly accurate, however, sometimes I notice a difference of up to 10 degrees compared to my Thermapen and Brewmometer.
 
OP
C

c3hutson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2013
Messages
130
Reaction score
27
Did a second brew. I changed the "steady state" offset via the TOP-link software to +2 degrees and it really seemed to help the TOP match the brewmometer. I also stirred every few minutes. I think changing the offset a touch more will get it even closer!

Chad
 

JJFlash

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
I too have played with the "steady state offset". Never could get it to synchronize the temperature discrepancy. Never did seem to do much no matter what number I plugged in. Did manage to totally corrupt the programmed mash schedule playing with it.
 
OP
C

c3hutson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2013
Messages
130
Reaction score
27
JJFlash said:
I too have played with the "steady state offset". Never could get it to synchronize the temperature discrepancy. Never did seem to do much no matter what number I plugged in. Did manage to totally corrupt the programmed mash schedule playing with it.
Strange. Are you using the tower of power stand? What's your recirculation rate like?
 

BrandonS

Active Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
25
Reaction score
2
Location
Westminster
I realize this is an old thread, but did you ever end up successfully tuning your system any further with the offsets? I have tried multiple blichmann RTD's and they all still run 3+ degrees high.

When my RTD reading drops below the setpoint the system tries to fire on and off constantly for only a second at a time. It doesn't really heat properly again until the drop is over 1.5 degrees. Once the TOP starts to heat shouldn't it stay on until at least setpoint + steady state offset has been reached? I have no idea why it fires the igniter and turns off again every 30 seconds or so until the heat drops enough. I am using HERMS with a second pump recirculating water over the coil so my temp drop is a lot slower and steadier which just exacerbates the issue of the TOP turning on and off so many times.

EDIT: I used -3.7 for my Calibration offset and I am going to attempt a really large number for the Steady state. Steady state appears to be a percentage of "time on/heating" once the controller starts cycling. .1 degree below my setpoint is only on 1-2 seconds which isn't enough time to fire the burner. This might work for electric but I don't understand why the controller is set to go even that low for gas. My goal with these settings is to create a minimum time my burner will stay on just under my setpoint. I will follow up when I have some results.
 
Last edited:

JJFlash

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
I have given up on adjustments with my Top Tier. Drove me crazy for the first year. My temperature is off by about 4 degrees - keeps it within 0.5 degrees of that error, but always off. If I want my mash to be 148, I set the Top Tier for 152.

The other irritation is the ramping. Never works right. Standard is 1.5 degrees per minute. So a 15 degree increase should ramp up to temp in 10 minutes. My system cycles on/off without heating for at least the first half, then does not hit the temperature at the end of that 10 minutes. System tries to play catch up encroaching into the mash time. PIA for multi-step mashing. I have to add additional time to each step to account for the heating lag.

Over all I do like the system. I have found work-arounds for these system flaws. I use natural gas.

If you do find tweaks for these flaws I would like to hear about them.
 

BrandonS

Active Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
25
Reaction score
2
Location
Westminster
I got a batch in last weekend and before I started I used an ice bath to determine how far off the RTD was. I ended up using a -3.7 degree calibration offset in the software and I was really close to the advertised +/-.5 degree. Towards the last 15 minutes of the mash I started to get about .8-1.0 degree difference but I was also adjusting the burner flame to try and prevent the short cycling. If you want to fix your offset grab a cable and the software and adjust the calibration offset. That should take care of it.

As for the steady state offset, I still don't have an answer. My retailer didn't know and Blichmann is just ignoring me now. I have two tickets over the course of two weeks asking for help as well as a warranty RTD replacement (bad cast on threads) and I've heard nothing outside of getting my RTD replaced with a partially assembled one for my new one. Very disappointed with their support so far. I have in the meantime verified the steady state is a percentage as briefly mentioned in the videos, but I can't tell what it is a percentage of. The cycling time on and off and duration of heat seem to be an inverse. Once I get to about .1 from my set point the lowest time I could generate was 1.6 seconds of heat cycle. About a degree away from the setpoint I was getting 22 seconds. 1.6 seconds is obviously not enough time to even light a burner. I have basically been trying values of around 400 and 500% just to see how it re-acts, with mixed results. I would really like to get an official answer from Blichmann on steady state offsets and how to keep a burner on a minimum amount of time. I think it could help some of us out. I will follow up if I ever hear anything.

There are several factors in play for the ramp up so I really want to nail down a single infusion before I begin working on any decoction mashing.
 

Michigan_Wolfman

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 30, 2015
Messages
740
Reaction score
241
Location
Jackson
I was considering a Blichmann Tower Of Power or the Blichmann Easy Brew system when I decide to make my venture into all grain, but after reading this thread, I'm not so certain I want to go that route now!
 

ArcaneXor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
4,502
Reaction score
127
I have been using the Tower of Power (module only) in propane-fired RIMS configuration for over a year now, and I love mine. I have not noticed any temperature deviations between the Brewmometer and the unit, but I will verify with a digital thermometer next time I brew. I usually do single-infusion mashes with mashout, but have done a step mash and a turbid mash with the system.

I do experience the slow ramp time issue (moves very slowly at first, and then tries to catch up - usually runs 3-5 minutes over the desired ramp time).
 

JJFlash

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Would like to dig this out of the dust and see if anyone ever figured out how to use the steady state adjustment on the Tower of Power.
Thanks,
JJ
 

davidgaines

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
76
Reaction score
8
I have been using the Tower of Power (module only) in propane-fired RIMS configuration for over a year now, and I love mine. I have not noticed any temperature deviations between the Brewmometer and the unit, but I will verify with a digital thermometer next time I brew. I usually do single-infusion mashes with mashout, but have done a step mash and a turbid mash with the system.

I do experience the slow ramp time issue (moves very slowly at first, and then tries to catch up - usually runs 3-5 minutes over the desired ramp time).

How do you setup a propane fired RIMS system?
 

ArcaneXor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
4,502
Reaction score
127
How do you setup a propane fired RIMS system?
It's pretty much the standard configuration for the gas-fired Tower of Power. It takes the temperature in the recirculation loop and then turns on the burner as needed to stay close to the desired mash temperature. The alternate configuration would be to run it as a HERMS.
 

Fabrizio

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
32
Reaction score
3
Location
Southeast MI
Is there a way to set/adjust the temp offset from the panel without the PC software or cable?

First wet run, water only, recirc. directly into boil kettle @ 2.5 gpm, 100% power, temp set @ 153 deg.

TOP stable at 153.0 +- 0.2 deg F.
certified lab thermometer reading 150.0 +- 0.1 deg F.

Full TOP stand w/ RTD in the std location above the flow meter.

Thermometer at return hose submerged in kettle.

View attachment ImageUploadedByHome Brew1457143935.054065.jpg
View attachment ImageUploadedByHome Brew1457143966.070685.jpg
View attachment ImageUploadedByHome Brew1457144004.342311.jpg

Thanks,
F.
 

BrandonS

Active Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
25
Reaction score
2
Location
Westminster
You can contact support for more info, but here are some instructions I received. I can't attach a PDF so here is a copy/paste:

Blichmann Tower of Power Controller Temperature Offset Instructions

It is not uncommon to see a difference between the Tower of Power controller display and the mash tun thermometer. It is highly recommended before proceeding with these instructions that the Tower of Power sensor and the mash tun thermometer are properly calibrated to one another. The photos below each line of instruction show what the controller display should look like upon completion of the step above the photo. Ensure that the temperature probe is connected to ToP controller. For the most accurate offset perform the following procedure during an actual mash, however, an offset utilizing only water generally provides adequate results. Wait until the mash tun has reached a steady state (no temperature change on the mash tun thermometer for at least five minutes) before continuing with temperature offset procedure.

Step 1. Press the ENTER and NEXT keys simultaneously to unlock the controller.

Step 2. Press ENTER again while at the Home Display in order to access the Regulation Settings Menu.

Step 3. Press NEXT (7) times until you reach the tPof screen.

Step 4. Press UP/DOWN to enter the degrees of offset desired. Then press ENTER twice to return to main display. In our example, our mash tun measures 152°F while our Tower of Power controller is set at 154°F. Therefore a -2.0 offset is entered to increase the temperature of the mash tun. The offset will always be the Mash Tun Temp - ToP SET Temp.

Step 5. If the offset is negative, the Heat LED will illuminate and the burner will light, provided the controller is in Auto mode. Allow the mash tun to reach a steady state and verify the ACT temperature matches the mash tun temperature.

Step 6. After the offset value is entered and verified, lock the controller. Press NEXT three times to enter LoC screen.

Step 7. Change the LoC setting to LoC 2 using the UP arrow.

Step 8. Press Enter to save the value and exit to the Home Display.
 

Fabrizio

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
32
Reaction score
3
Location
Southeast MI
BrandonS,
Thank You. I will give this a try.
Interested in the full PDF, especially if it explains other settings too.

PM me with your email and I'll grant edit permissions on the following google drive folder so the PDF can be made available easily.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0Rfog9KgppTcXRqQmNvSnNmSXc

Thanks!!!
-Fabrizio

You can contact support for more info, but here are some instructions I received. I can't attach a PDF so here is a copy/paste:

Blichmann Tower of Power Controller Temperature Offset Instructions

It is not uncommon to see a difference between the Tower of Power controller display and the mash tun thermometer. It is highly recommended before proceeding with these instructions that the Tower of Power sensor and the mash tun thermometer are properly calibrated to one another. The photos below each line of instruction show what the controller display should look like upon completion of the step above the photo. Ensure that the temperature probe is connected to ToP controller. For the most accurate offset perform the following procedure during an actual mash, however, an offset utilizing only water generally provides adequate results. Wait until the mash tun has reached a steady state (no temperature change on the mash tun thermometer for at least five minutes) before continuing with temperature offset procedure.

Step 1. Press the ENTER and NEXT keys simultaneously to unlock the controller.

Step 2. Press ENTER again while at the Home Display in order to access the Regulation Settings Menu.

Step 3. Press NEXT (7) times until you reach the tPof screen.

Step 4. Press UP/DOWN to enter the degrees of offset desired. Then press ENTER twice to return to main display. In our example, our mash tun measures 152°F while our Tower of Power controller is set at 154°F. Therefore a -2.0 offset is entered to increase the temperature of the mash tun. The offset will always be the Mash Tun Temp - ToP SET Temp.

Step 5. If the offset is negative, the Heat LED will illuminate and the burner will light, provided the controller is in Auto mode. Allow the mash tun to reach a steady state and verify the ACT temperature matches the mash tun temperature.

Step 6. After the offset value is entered and verified, lock the controller. Press NEXT three times to enter LoC screen.

Step 7. Change the LoC setting to LoC 2 using the UP arrow.

Step 8. Press Enter to save the value and exit to the Home Display.
 

BrandonS

Active Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
25
Reaction score
2
Location
Westminster
Sent. The only addition is pictures. You can contact Blichmann for info on other features and they will probably have some instructions.
 

JJFlash

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Can anyone explain what the steady state adjustment actually does and how to use it?
 
Top