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Why are brewing controllers so expensive?

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augiedoggy

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I’ve asked myself the same question. I understand labor safety More expensive parts etc etc. I dont see how that justifies a 3.5x price increase from 120 to 240. I built a 120V controller. I’ve explored upgrading it to 240V and the extra components I need to buy totaled less than $75 from Auber. Need an extra contactor, bigger SSR bigger wires and and different Inlets/outlets. I don’t see where the extra $500 in the clawhammer example is coming from.
one contributing factor is also because thats what they can get away with charging until competition brings prices down. its the same setup as gfci breakers vs more commonly sold spa panels with them. or epiepens
 
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golfindia

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This box cost less than $150 in parts. However, I have a large round column end mill with 3 axis DROs and lots of tooling. I can easily drill precise big holes and machine openings exactly where I want them, drill and tap screw holes.... but there's hundreds of $$ in tooling in the background to make that happen that most people just don't have. That's a large part of what you're paying for in commercial units.

The extra "fluff" that everyone likes (lights, labeling, buzzers, E-stop and keyed switches) also adds $$. R&D also costs money. My own R&D is free....
 

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Bad Bubba

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I have to say too many people look at the cost of components without looking at other costs that have to be covered in order to be in business. Things like building rent, utilities, marketing, advertising, design and development cost. Not to mention things like product liability insurance, general liability insurance, etc. Then start adding things like labor, tools, payroll taxes, etc. Then you have the client headache items, product support, warranty, returns, damaged goods, etc. Then cost of money for inventory, maintaining a website, accounting. And at the end of the day the owner would like to have enough money left over for a happy meal.

I have run companies and spent many years consulting with businesses on how to be profitable and in my experience component cost is just a part of the total cost especially when you are out of the mass production part of the market which I believe is the case with brew controllers.

Certainly you can save money by building your own, but you also do not have the same expense structure as the commercial controllers.
 

jdudek

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I have to say too many people look at the cost of components without looking at other costs that have to be covered in order to be in business. Things like building rent, utilities, marketing, advertising, design and development cost. Not to mention things like product liability insurance, general liability insurance, etc. Then start adding things like labor, tools, payroll taxes, etc. Then you have the client headache items, product support, warranty, returns, damaged goods, etc. Then cost of money for inventory, maintaining a website, accounting. And at the end of the day the owner would like to have enough money left over for a happy meal.

I have run companies and spent many years consulting with businesses on how to be profitable and in my experience component cost is just a part of the total cost especially when you are out of the mass production part of the market which I believe is the case with brew controllers.

Certainly you can save money by building your own, but you also do not have the same expense structure as the commercial controllers.
Point taken. However the question was about why the same vendor sells a 120v controller for 200 and a similar 240v controller for 600. The business overhead does not explain the difference in price.
 

Bad Bubba

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Point taken. However the question was about why the same vendor sells a 120v controller for 200 and a similar 240v controller for 600. The business overhead does not explain the difference in price.
I am not trying to be argumentative, but I do not believe it was his original question - His question was Why Controllers are so expensive - especially 240V ones. He finished his original post with

A 40a SSR is ~$15. An ITC-100VH for controller the SSR is ~$25 (I know that SS Brewtech use a much more expensive Omron PID controller)

Throw in a case, a couple buttons, a temp prob... what am I missing?
Which is the part I was addressing in my post. As far as the differences between 120V and 240V, I have no direct knowledge. I do know that for my panel on my home a 120V GFCI breaker costs $40 and for the same panel a 240V GFCI breaker costs $140 so I am assuming there is some significant difference in costs. I may be wrong.-
 

jdudek

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I am not trying to be argumentative, but I do not believe it was his original question - His question was Why Controllers are so expensive - especially 240V ones. He finished his original post with
fair enough. I suppose I understood the question to be why the 240V are so much more than the 120V, and it's something I've asked myself as well. No question that running a business is loaded with cost the DIYer can hardly imagine, as you pointed out.
 

augiedoggy

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Point taken. However the question was about why the same vendor sells a 120v controller for 200 and a similar 240v controller for 600. The business overhead does not explain the difference in price.
Especially in the cases where they are building them out of a garage or have no actual liability insurance to speak of.. my earlier comments were about assembled control panels (and mostly the same copied designs at that) built out of off the shelf components... I can see custom made components that require actual development and designwork costing more. Also most of these control panels are being made or sold by companies already in existence that sell other products as well.. This shouldnt require them to charge $1000 for something build out of $200 in hardware in 2-3 hours
 
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Bobby_M

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It's easy enough to cut out all the speculation about material costs and overhead and literally just say they cost exactly what people are willing to pay for them as with any other product in the market. If anyone thinks there's profit to be made by forming a company and selling your cheaper version of a controller, go for it.
 

augiedoggy

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It's easy enough to cut out all the speculation about material costs and overhead and literally just say they cost exactly what people are willing to pay for them as with any other product in the market. If anyone thinks there's profit to be made by forming a company and selling your cheaper version of a controller, go for it.
Or better yet, build your own as many here do. Then you have the advantage of not worrying about support from the manufacturer when something fails down the road or you want to make a change or upgrade.
 

jdudek

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they cost exactly what people are willing to pay for them as with any other product in the market.
And maybe that’s all there is to it. Demand. I imagine the demand for 240V is much higher than 120V. Higher demand commands a higher price, regardless of the product.
 

augiedoggy

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Certainly you can save money by building your own, but you also do not have the same expense structure as the commercial controllers.
Dont forget also that thse companies with these expenses are certainly buying the components in bulk and often paying much less in wholesale prices for the components than the average consumer. As a field engineer who installs and services large machinery I have an idea of what kind of markups are often involved. anyone whos replaced thier own blower motor on thier furnace for example thats sourced a replacement online instead of thier local furnace business will usually have an idea what Im talking about... I'm not saying your points arent valid but I am pointing out there are other advantages these business's have which can lower their overall costs as well and as mentioned above most were already covering thier overhead with other homebrewing products before they started offering these control panels.

To add to Bobbys point, Many businesses will take advantage for higher profit if they can over the fair and ethical choice and justify it in all sorts of ways.
Case in point The AC stopped working on my truck.. local shop quoted me $900 to repair stating the compressor needed to be replaced.. quick you tube search showed that the clutches often wear out and fail and that if it spins easily by hand but doesnt engage than a $40 clutch kit is needed.. took me about 2.5 hrs in the driveway yesterday but my AC now blows cold air and it cost me about $50 including the new clips for my bumper cover since I wanted to remove and replace it while doing the job. aparently replacing the clutch is something many shops forgo in favor of higher profit compressor replacement jobs.
 
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Beermeister32

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Years ago I worked for a company building electric controllers for a different industry. These were limited production units, some custom. They were priced at what the market would bear. Prices (like water) seek their own level. Business 101...
 
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Bobby_M

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took me about 2.5 hrs in the driveway yesterday but my AC now blows cold air and it cost me about $50 including the new clips for my bumper cover since I wanted to remove and replace it while doing the job. aparently replacing the clutch is something many shops forgo in favor of higher profit compressor replacement jobs.
No matter what the job, there are going to be "doers" and whatever its called when you never try figuring stuff out for yourself so you're always going to be hustled. Even with no real spare time on my hands, I rarely call in the pros. I just fixed my 20 year old central AC twice in 2 weeks. First the run capacitor for the fan went out. A ride to the plumbing supply and $12 and I'm back up and running. More recently we had the big tropical storm and a long brownout burned up the contacts in the contactor so it was starting up very intermittently. It was almost midnight when I figured out what was happening and instead of waiting for the next day to buy an new one, I just polished the contacts clean and it's running like a clock now. I saved the $175 minimum HVAC service call twice, not to mention the $80 marked up parts and I probably would have needed to wait a few days for someone to show up. I always say, the only thing I won't try to DIY are root canals and colonoscopies.
 

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Interesting thread.
I don't quite understand the posts saying that with going from 120V to 240V you are also going to higher amperage (and that drives up the price). To me the main point of using 240V is double the power for the same amperage, same wire cross section, same wire power losses. Of course you could go to a 30A breaker instead of 20A (and run the wires that go with it), but nobody forces you to.
 

Beermeister32

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Another thing to keep in mind is that some 240 volt controllers are set up as two separate 120 volt controllers - remember household 120 VAC lines used to create 240 volts are 180 out of phase with each other so the composite voltage is 240 VAC (two 120 volt legs.) So depending on the design, you could conceivably be running two 120 volt controllers internally. So it isn't always a matter of running "higher voltage" components of similar price ranges. Keep in mind, there are two out of phase lines you are controlling, and there can sometimes be doubling of the power outputs, which doubles the higher priced pieces of the controller. It just depends on how the designer has configured the power control unit.
 
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augiedoggy

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No matter what the job, there are going to be "doers" and whatever its called when you never try figuring stuff out for yourself so you're always going to be hustled. Even with no real spare time on my hands, I rarely call in the pros. I just fixed my 20 year old central AC twice in 2 weeks. First the run capacitor for the fan went out. A ride to the plumbing supply and $12 and I'm back up and running. More recently we had the big tropical storm and a long brownout burned up the contacts in the contactor so it was starting up very intermittently. It was almost midnight when I figured out what was happening and instead of waiting for the next day to buy an new one, I just polished the contacts clean and it's running like a clock now. I saved the $175 minimum HVAC service call twice, not to mention the $80 marked up parts and I probably would have needed to wait a few days for someone to show up. I always say, the only thing I won't try to DIY are root canals and colonoscopies.
:off:
Ive done a lot of filing and polishing contactor contacts in my life.. I am exactly the same way, couldnt afford to call in the pros in most cases for a very long time so I always try to do it myself which is whats responsible for the skills I acquired as a kid for my career. I restored an old stingray myself, built and engine from a bare block, replaced the interior, body work and paint all from reading and videos for guidance, and all for under 9k including the cost of the car. Same deal at the brewpub, Our budget was small so the pros were old called for things the local inspectors would not allow us to do like plumbing and electrical ironically but we did everything else we could including refinishing floors, building walkins, Bar, brewing platform, installing tin ceilings and even all the tvs and many kitchen appliances had to be repaired by myself to work as broken incomplete appliances sell dirt cheap at auction and are free at the recycling drop off location. With most project completions I find myself more confident to tackle the next. So if someone reading this is aprehensive about building thier own brewing setup or panel, keep in mind its not rocket science, all you need is a little money and the ability to pay attention to what your doing so you do it safely, theres are lots of resources here to help you along the way. You may just learn some skills that change your life. .2012-12-03_20-05-00_599.jpgIMG_20160606_183433916.jpgIMG_20160629_222450022.jpg
 
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augiedoggy

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Another thing to keep in mind is that some 240 volt controllers are set up as two separate 120 volt controllers - remember household 120 VAC lines used to create 240 volts are 180 out of phase with each other so the composite voltage is 240 VAC (two 120 volt legs.) So depending on the design, you could conceivably be running two 120 volt controllers internally. So it isn't always a matter of running "higher voltage" components of similar price ranges. Keep in mind, there are two out of phase lines you are controlling, and there can sometimes be doubling of the power outputs, which doubles the higher priced pieces of the controller. It just depends on how the designer has configured the power control unit.
True but in the least you want 240v breakers where the poles are tied together mechanically in some fashion to prevent brown out type situations. I thing for many, Much of the cost comes with making the design cosmetically appealing. The pic of my old panel in my avatar photo was after I literally replaced the entire face of my first attemt that while functional was pretty ugly looking, At first these things didnt matter much to me but then I made the mistake of spending too much time here... :)
 
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Ha! I live in FL and learned to keep capacitors and contactors in stock... even replacing them prophylactically. Contactor for a 5 ton condensor unit is literally $11 on Amazon... and is the some one many people use in their panels!
 

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Interesting thread.
I don't quite understand the posts saying that with going from 120V to 240V you are also going to higher amperage (and that drives up the price). To me the main point of using 240V is double the power for the same amperage, same wire cross section, same wire power losses. Of course you could go to a 30A breaker instead of 20A (and run the wires that go with it), but nobody forces you to.
Do the math, a 2000 watt 120v element is 16.6 amps, a 5500 watt 240v element is 22.9 amps. (volts times amps equals watts)
 

augiedoggy

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Do the math, a 2000 watt 120v element is 16.6 amps, a 5500 watt 240v element is 22.9 amps. (volts times amps equals watts)
yes but my 2200w 240v elements draw about 9-10 amps... keep in mind , elements arent always quite as powerful as the rated markings stamped on them.
 
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Gruel

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Maybe it's a metric versus imperial thing.
Here in Chicago, 2400W at 120V draws the same current as 4800W at 240V, 20A.
Even with the new major.
 

Beermeister32

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In the industrial area where I work, the line voltage will fluctuate. That has an effect on motors and all other electrical systems, computer battery backups, etc. I placed a meter on the line voltage once, you would be surprised how it moves aound. Optimally 117VAC, it would drop down to as low as 95VAC at times, triggering beeping from the battery backups. This is in a typical SoCal modern industrial park. Also the low voltage does other things like playing havoc with fluorescent light ballasts, etc. Motors don't pull the rated amperage and can load up, and can cause damage. The systems really are optimized for 117/120VAC.
 
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Gruel

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In Germany they slowly crept up from 220V (that's what the old people still call the line voltage, but it hasn't been there since the 80s) to 230V and now 240V, to arrive at a common European standard. Equipment tolerances were adjusted well beforehand, so that old stuff would continue to work.

95V when nominal is 120V = over 20% down you would call a brown out though in pretty much any country.
 
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