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Sizz

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Just out of curiosity, how close does the hex probe come to the element itself? I'm wondering if it's picking up hot spots just as they leave the surface of the element before it has a chance to integrate with colder water that rode through further away.

Maybe try a longer center nipple to give the water more mix time.

Note: I'm talking out of my ass.
That's actually a good idea. The probe is only about 1 inch away from the element because I wanted the fastest response. I was hoping the stainless shielding around the probe would be sufficient to average the hotspots. But that's something I should definitely confirm. The probe has a compression fitting holding it so I will slide it back some and see how that effects the response.

I don't believe the caramelization question has been addressed yet, nor has the question for how to maintain both sparge and mash PID configurations. Sounds like he's currently focused on the sparge temperature/flow question, which, I agree is good news. :)

Have you considered how long it's going to take to get your full volume of strike water up to temperature?
Ideally, heating 25quarts using my summertime ground water temps would take about 15 minutes.

Currently, I've only confirmed that a 5500w element can produce enough heat for inline heating of sparge water. The good news is that worse case scenario, I can make the system work as is by adding a little more hardware (contactor for 120V mode to prevent scorching). An actual full size MLT will average out the temp swings. I could even add a mini mixing reservoir. The multiple PID issue isn't a problem because I have a spare SSR and will just switch between which SSR i'll use(120V or 240V).

Ideally, the above additions won't even be needed if I can get the software modifications required for this wild system. Fortunately, ECC (maker of the BCS controller), is working with me. :mug:
 

bakins

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I was just thinking related to this thread. I use a 4500W ULD 240V element in my BK and have no caramelization issues. Others report the same with larger elements. Shouldn't the same be true in the mash for RIMS?? I run my RIMS element (which is a 5400W ULD) at 120V, mostly because I don't have "room" for any more 240V stuff.

I'm still interested if the high density element shows any scorching. If it doesn't, that's interesting because those elements are much smaller in size.
 

Sawdustguy

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I think we are all waiting for the answer to that question. I think there are some encouraging results using the rims heater as a Instant hot water heater but the Scortching issue still remains. Only an experiment will tell.
 

CodeRage

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Hmm, Im considering putting a Hi/Lo switch in for my Rims element (4500W) so I can heat the initial strike water quickly before adding the grain. Perhaps 2 back to back batches of Ed's Pale one with the RIMS on hi and the other on Lo would be in order..

Maybe should diverge this to a new thread and not derail OP. Sorry
 
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I was just thinking related to this thread. I use a 4500W ULD 240V element in my BK and have no caramelization issues. Others report the same with larger elements. Shouldn't the same be true in the mash for RIMS?? I run my RIMS element (which is a 5400W ULD) at 120V, mostly because I don't have "room" for any more 240V stuff.

I'm still interested if the high density element shows any scorching. If it doesn't, that's interesting because those elements are much smaller in size.
If you can boil with a ULD with no scorching, then it'll certainly function fine as a RIMS heater. The reason I went with a high density element was to reduce costs for the stainless steel RIMS piping. My original intent was to use the 'RIMS heater' in conjunction with a plate heat exchanger, basically a HERMS, which is still a possibility.

If money wasn't an issue, I may have gone with a ULD element in a larger stainless vessel, probably something custom fabricated. The only ultra low density elements i've seen are huge (see the pic in my 2nd post on page 1). I even flattened one out with intentions of using it but it would have required at least 24 inches of 2" or even 2-1/2" pipe.

I definitely plan on doing a scorch experiment, although I'm still unsure how to accurately measure scorching. Maybe run DME through it and check for deposits on the element or discoloration of the wort?
 

lamarguy

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I definitely plan on doing a scorch experiment, although I'm still unsure how to accurately measure scorching. Maybe run DME through it and check for deposits on the element or discoloration of the wort?
Yes, I would recommend you make a low SRM 1.050 gravity wort and experiment with different temperature differentials (e.g. 10F step, 20F step, 30F step, etc) across the heat exchanger using your PID controller. Then, check for color change and, possibly, taste change in the wort. You should be able to reliably observe and measure scorching that way.

You will also need to control the flow during the experiment, so consider using gravity only.
 

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I wonder if you could use cheap cane sugar? It dilutes clear and I would think any darkening would be an indication of caramelization. I'm not too sure how close caramelization and scorching are related but it should be roughly the same thing.

Edit: Hmmm maybe I'll try this out some time with glowing hot metal and a small vessel of sugar water to see if this whole scorching thing is valid...
 

lamarguy

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I'm not too sure how close caramelization and scorching are related but it should be roughly the same thing.
All kettles (gas-fired, electric, and steam-jacketed) caramelize the wort to some degree (some less than others), which is a desirable flavor in most beers. Scorching results in burnt flavors and colors. Once the burnt flavor is there, the entire batch is ruined.
 

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Just thinking out loud here...

What if you had a single RIMS unit that had two different kinds of heating elements - one screwed into each end. The HD element (and possibly the LD element together) would be used to heat strike/sparge water additions, and the LD/ULD? element would be used to maintain mash temps. I guess you need two PIDs/SSRs, but the layout/footprint could be greatly reduced. Of course, if it turns out that you can maintain mash temps w/out scorching the wort with the HD elements, I guess it's a moot point.
 

CodeRage

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might as well just use one LD element and switch it between 240 and 110 for high low like kladue suggested.

Or... You could get 4 LD elements (say 5kw) and run them at 120v. This would be like one 4x UUULD 5kw heating element. I dont think density is going to affect the rate at which the water heats, total wattage is really the factor.

Or maybe I am missing something.
 

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I even flattened one out with intentions of using it but it would have required at least 24 inches of 2" or even 2-1/2" pipe.
My 5400W element (I think it's just very low density, not ultra or whatever) fits easily in a 1.5" pipe about 14 inches long (the element). This element is not "wavy" like alot I've seen.
 

CodeRage

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How would you switch between 240v and 120v on the 5500 element?
to run 240v you have both of the "hot" legs hooked to the terminals of the element. to run 120 you just remove one of the hot legs and put neutral on it instead. You could use a few high current contactors to do it.

There is a drawing I put up on Brew Pastors page that shows how to do it with a PID controller.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/57-gallon-electric-hlt-build-129898/index4.html#post1470392
 
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Small Update 8-12-09

Good news:

I got a sneak peak version of the next BCS build and was able to test some new features. I was able to limit the maximum pulse width which effectively limited the wattage of the element and I was able to heat 80F ground water and maintain steady temps targeted at 140F at a 1.2qt/min flow rate. This also means I don't have to switch the element to 120V for mash recirc mode. Thanks ECC!

Bad news:

I boiled water when I tried to go to 170F. The surface area of the high watt density (HWD) element is just too small to apply the heat required for that temp differential. I did get to 170F but I could hear bubbling in the RIMS. Conviently as Bakins just posted, there is a solution. Not sure how I missed it but I returned to Home Depot and finally found the 5500w LWD (low watt density) element. It has twice the surface area (75w/sq in) vs (150 w/sq in) while maintaining the same 1" profile. It's 4 inches longer so I had to order another pipe nipple & coupler to expand the RIMS piping a little.
 

slimer

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Nice. I love my BCS and hope to finish my project within the next few months.
 

leboeuf

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Nice!
I had a feeling all it would take would be a little PWM :)

That's a bummer about the boiling.... Technically if the water was at 170F at your MLT then you would be ok for sparging. I'm not too sure what negative effects this would have on your brewing hardware...
 

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I'm wondering what the worry of some boiling is. I suppose steam pockets could screw around with the probe reading but as long as the tube is oriented vertically, is it really a problem if your output water is at your target?
 

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I'm wondering what the worry of some boiling is. I suppose steam pockets could screw around with the probe reading but as long as the tube is oriented vertically, is it really a problem if your output water is at your target?
Maybe it's me but I would be concearned about steam pressure building up in the RIMS tube. I did have concearns about the high density element from my post earlier in the thread but I was hoping it would have worked out. If the high density element was enough to boil the water, my guess is that it would have scortched the mash also. I hope the low density element works as it would be a neat little two vessel RIMS brewery.
 

Bobby_M

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It sounded like it was only a problem when going for a large in/out delta such as heating for strike or sparge. In that case, it's only water and the output tube is never blocked off so pressure wouldn't build.
 
OP
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Maybe it's me but I would be concearned about steam pressure building up in the RIMS tube. I did have concearns about the high density element from my post earlier in the thread but I was hoping it would have worked out. If the high density element was enough to boil the water, my guess is that it would have scortched the mash also. I hope the low density element works as it would be a neat little two vessel RIMS brewery.
I'd like to give you credit for being right about the HWD element but you said it wouldn't work due to scorching, not this issue. :mug:

It does boil water if I try to apply 100F delta, which I certainly would not try to do during a mash recirc. With the new pulse width limiting feature of the BCS, one can effectively turn the 5500W element into any wattage element so scorching from too much power isn't an issue anymore. The only scorching issue remaining is regarding how aggressively it can step mash temps without scorching. We know people step mash with 1.5kw or 2kw elements fine. What about beyond that...? Can you shed any info Bakins? This is a power/surface area/flow issue.

The sound of the RIMS boiling was a little disturbing but I'm sure it would have been fine since the bubbles were passing through the output. But in order to truly test the limitations of an electric RIMS (primarily step mashing capabilities), which is what I want to do, I decided to go with the best affordable option, the LWD element. Using a LWD vs HWD adds about $25 in stainless piping.
 

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Run a test by putting the element full on and reducing the flow rate even more. You'll probably just get what sounds like a coffee maker. Sputter, sputter. You may still boil a bit even with the lower density unit but I'm guessing it will be fine.
 

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The only scorching issue remaining is regarding how aggressively it can step mash temps without scorching. We know people step mash with 1.5kw or 2kw elements fine. What about beyond that...? Can you shed any info Bakins? This is a power/surface area/flow issue.
Are you talking about mashout steps or protein->sacc steps? If the latter, your limiting factor will not be the heating element, but the flow rate. The only way you'll be able to take full advantage of that element is with a very high flow rate, at which point you'll risk a compacted grain bed. Realistically, you'll only be able to flow at ~ 1 gal/min without needing to stir the mash.

You can super-heat the wort as it passes through your HEX and raise your mash temp fine, but you're also going to denature your enzymes in the process. Most HERMS/RIMS users set the HEX output to 1-2º above the target. I think it's probably OK to have it a little higher than that initially, but you have to be careful, or you'll overshoot your step target. Most people that have these systems don't want to take that chance.
 
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Are you talking about mashout steps or protein->sacc steps? If the latter, your limiting factor will not be the heating element, but the flow rate. The only way you'll be able to take full advantage of that element is with a very high flow rate, at which point you'll risk a compacted grain bed. Realistically, you'll only be able to flow at ~ 1 gal/min without needing to stir the mash.

You can super-heat the wort as it passes through your HEX and raise your mash temp fine, but you're also going to denature your enzymes in the process. Most HERMS/RIMS users set the HEX output to 1-2º above the target. I think it's probably OK to have it a little higher than that initially, but you have to be careful, or you'll overshoot your step target. Most people that have these systems don't want to take that chance.
I hope it's flow limited. Flow is a constant and something I have no control over. If I do reach that limitation, that means I have plenty of the other variables, power and surface area. Are you saying this is already the case with a 1.5kw element? I'd guess no but I could be wrong. By going with the element with the largest surface area (which will fit inside my rims piping), I can maximize power until flow is the limiting factor. I'm guessing that power will be greater than the standard 1.5-2kw. At least that's what I hope. I wonder how I can verify that i'm not superheating the wort?
 

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I'd like to give you credit for being right about the HWD element but you said it wouldn't work due to scorching, not this issue. :mug:

It does boil water if I try to apply 100F delta, which I certainly would not try to do during a mash recirc. With the new pulse width limiting feature of the BCS, one can effectively turn the 5500W element into any wattage element so scorching from too much power isn't an issue anymore. The only scorching issue remaining is regarding how aggressively it can step mash temps without scorching. We know people step mash with 1.5kw or 2kw elements fine. What about beyond that...? Can you shed any info Bakins? This is a power/surface area/flow issue.

The sound of the RIMS boiling was a little disturbing but I'm sure it would have been fine since the bubbles were passing through the output. But in order to truly test the limitations of an electric RIMS (primarily step mashing capabilities), which is what I want to do, I decided to go with the best affordable option, the LWD element. Using a LWD vs HWD adds about $25 in stainless piping.
I'm not looking for credit. I just hope it works out for you and you get it working.
 

bakins

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I We know people step mash with 1.5kw or 2kw elements fine. What about beyond that...? Can you shed any info Bakins?
My RIMS element is a 5500W run at 120V, so about 1375W. I get only about a degree (or two) per minute rise. IN my BK, with the same type element at 240V, I get a much higher rate (sorry I haven't actually measured it, but I get almost 100% efficiency).

You will have to play with flow rate. I just run my RIMS as fast as it will go without sticking.
 

bakins

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Realistically, you'll only be able to flow at ~ 1 gal/min without needing to stir the mash.
I can run my RIMS with the valves full open. I crush at .030. I mash fairly thin (2+ quarts/pound) and also use a grain bag. I have a B3 false bottom as well. Before the bag, I couldn't reliably recirculate at a trickle even with stock barley crusher crush without sticking. The bag also makes for easy cleanup. My 10 gallon round cooler can fit in the bag.
 
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I can run my RIMS with the valves full open. I crush at .030. I mash fairly thin (2+ quarts/pound) and also use a grain bag. I have a B3 false bottom as well. Before the bag, I couldn't reliably recirculate at a trickle even with stock barley crusher crush without sticking. The bag also makes for easy cleanup. My 10 gallon round cooler can fit in the bag.
Interesting. I never thought about using a bag to make cleanup easier. You just lift the bag out after the brew session and dump it? I was planning on a tip dump system for the MLT but I'm liking the bag idea.
 

slimer

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You have a build thread going? I'd like to keep up with your progress.
I'm secretive...or lazy.

Maybe I should start my build thread. I am 2/3 of the way there.

Tell me more about the grain bag. I have smaller ones, where did you get one that's large enough to fit a 10gal cooler?
 

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I can run my RIMS with the valves full open. I crush at .030. I mash fairly thin (2+ quarts/pound) and also use a grain bag. I have a B3 false bottom as well. Before the bag, I couldn't reliably recirculate at a trickle even with stock barley crusher crush without sticking. The bag also makes for easy cleanup. My 10 gallon round cooler can fit in the bag.
I can understand why this helps. Anyone with a false bottom knows that a lot of the holes get permanently plugged with grain which kills the total open area. I'm sure that was something the Blichmann punched bottom is supposed to prevent. I would imagine putting a layer or two of stainless screen over the FB would also help in that regard but the bag obviously works too.
 

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Interesting. I never thought about using a bag to make cleanup easier. You just lift the bag out after the brew session and dump it? I was planning on a tip dump system for the MLT but I'm liking the bag idea.
Yep, just lift it out and dump it in the yard. A trick I learned from the Brew-in-a-bag folks. I had horrible luck with every type of manifold, braid, and false bottom. The bag solved it (for me at least). I use the false bottom under it because it cost a lot and I felt guilty for not using it...
 

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I would imagine putting a layer or two of stainless screen over the FB would also help in that regard but the bag obviously works too.
Yeah, I had though about making a "permanent bag" out of SS screen, but the bag cost less than $2 in fabric.

If/when I build my grand brew-in-a-bag rig, I'll probably do a SS bag. But it's little more than some vague ideas right now.
 
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The RIMS heater extension parts (coupler & 4" nipple) arrived today and I re-assembled the RIMS heater, version 2, with the low watt density element. Water goes in low port and exits high port so air bubbles won't get trapped inside.




Here's a picture of high watt density (HWD) and low watt density (LWD) elements side by side. It's hard to see in the picture, but the LWD is not only longer but thicker in diameter.




Hopefully I'll have time to test and tune this weekend. But for now, it's keg polishing time (thanks Bobby). Another benefit of the HLT-less system: you only have to polish 2 kegs! After medium gatorgrit pad:



Simple jig:

 

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Just throwing out ideas, but another configuration you can try is to reorient the top tee so that the trunk is on the tube and the temp probe and outlet are on the branches. I'm not sure how long the thermowell is but that setup could give you just a bit more buffering... maybe, and you wouldn't have that small high spot where air could accumulate.
 
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Just throwing out ideas, but another configuration you can try is to reorient the top tee so that the trunk is on the tube and the temp probe and outlet are on the branches. I'm not sure how long the thermowell is but that setup could give you just a bit more buffering... maybe, and you wouldn't have that small high spot where air could accumulate.
Good tip. I tested the version 2 heater today and the HLT temp probe was higher than the RIMS temp probe. In order to get the probe closest to the heater output, I switched to the config you suggested, and also switched to a 6" probe so that it was very close (1/2" away from the output). Now the temp shows a slightly higher RIMS temp than MLT temp which is what I'd expect.

On a side note, I'm almost ready to start drilling the kegs for the welded couplers. Is there any reason not to put the output for each keg on the underside? I like the benefits of being able to completely draining each vessel, and the ability to pre-drain the hotbreak/hops from the kettle (in theory) like a conical fermenter does.
 

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A suggestion, use a tube or pipe nipple through skirt of keggle so it can be set on the ground or counter during cleaning if you make the keggles demountable. The through the skirt method is more work but it might be worth considering if you are not doing the tippy method like "BeerThirty's" rig for cleaning.
 
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Kegs are at the welder and should be done in the next couple of days. In the mean time, I played around with a MIG we have at work and made the brewstand frame out of 2" angle. I'm going for small and simple as you can see.








Welding was easier than I thought it was going to be but there's definitely skill involved in making a good looking weld. This is about as good as I could manage:




Assuming I get the kegs shortly, I should have everything assembled for a test run this weekend. I am out of beer so I may just dive in and make a batch.
 

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