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PhotosLance O05-01-03  04:19 am
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Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 04:04 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I finished constructing my Electic AG system several weeks ago, but my daughter just finally lent me the digital camera (that I bought her) so I could take a few photos to share. Most of the information I used to build the system was acquired on this board over many months -- so thanks to the many of you who helped!

I have run four 11 gal batches with the system (batch five tomorrow) and it works beautifully. Several brewer friends have come over to see it, and left a bit green (too much beer, too much envy).... Ahhhh.

I have posted a more complete set of pictures on the brewery photo page.

The system uses 15.5 gal Sanke kegs for the vessels -- they were the less common "plastic composite on top and bottom" types. The composite tops/bottoms were removed, and legs and handles welded on, along with several fittings.

Electric heating elements in HLT and Kettle are very low density 4500W 240V. These are controlled with a dual PWM driving two SSR's, built based upon modifications of schematics on the CD Electric kettle page. The HLT heater/temp is additionally controlled with a Johnson A419 temp controller. (The temp probe is in a copper 3/8" tube immersed in the HLT).

The HLT has 50' of 1/2" copper tubing inside for the HERMS. An old kitchen mixer was converted into the stirrer for the HLT (very necessary, especially when using HERMS). The pump is the B3 1/25 HP mag drive. Quick disconnects are used throughout.

There is a Bazooka T in the mash and 16" SS false bottom in the kettle. I had the false bottom in the kettle to start, but found it tended to stick with recirculation on large mashes (38#), so I am trying the Bazooka T in the mash for the oatmeal stout I am brewing tomorrow (that should be a true test for stuck mash potential).

To do steps mashes, I use the Johnson A419 temp controller on the HLT/HERMS. I also have a second thermistor sensor in the HERMS return line and can switch between the two to set the HLT controller temp based on either the HERMS recirculant or the HLT temp.

The immersion cooler is 40' of 1/2" copper tubing, with an integrated lid and digital thermometer. Cools 12 gal in 20 minutes with my 48F tap water running.

And of course, I had to build a tile counter top in the laundry room to properly support the system. There is a big floor drain right there, as well as hook-ups for the hot/cold water (now on quick disconnects) and the 240V line.

Total "in advance projected possible budget" for the system was $700. Actually cost was about $1,500.... Don't tell my wife.....)

Electric AG System1
Electric AG System2
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 04:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

1

My precious... Oh, my preciooooussssssss.....

The system, in the (previous) laundry room. The custom tile counter and backsplash. (The two fermenters of Russian imperial stout on the floor....)

Since I decided to only do batch sparging, the system is one-level. I can, however, set the HLT (on the left) up on a 22" platform (not shown) if I ever wish to do a gravity fly-sparge. Mash tun is in the center, Kettle on the left.
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 04:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

2

View from the "laundry room cum brewery" doorway. The control box is at the right, with the 240V plugs exiting to the HLT and Kettle. Note the exhaust fan at the upper right -- added to vent the huge amount of steam from the brew kettle. Without it, the laundry room becomes a steam room during the boil. (Or leave it turned off, and brew naked, with a towel wrap).
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 04:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

3

The HLT. The stirrer is on top, an old kitchen mixer hooked to a 1/4" rod with two copper stirring blades in the HLT. The level tube is made from 1/2" plastic racking tube hooked to a right-angle coupling with a piece of 1/2" vinyl reinforced tubing and a clamp -- works very well, no problem with heat affecting the plastic tube in this electric system.

The water inflow is at the top right -- the inflow is run through a brass float valve in the HLT to avoid the possibility of overflow (auto shut-off when HLT is full!). (In the design phase, over-flow while busy doing other things seemed like a disaster waiting to be avoided.)

The bottom valve is HLT water outflow. The coupling above goes to the input side of the HERMS coils. The HERMS outflow comes out the top. There is a thermistor temp sensor placed in the HERMS outflow line (wiring properly secured with industry-standard duct tape.

Notice the neat little "port" in the custom tile counter-top for the lines to the HLT.
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 04:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

4

The control box. PWM on top, with heat controls for the kettle ahd HLT. To the right is the Johnson A419, which is used to control the HLT and HERMS temps -- there are two thermistor temp sensors, one to the HLT and one in the HERMS outflow line. The little toggle switch (seen on the top of the A419) was installed to switch between the two temp sensors.

The 240V power plugs are below the box, and signal lights are installed below the breaker switches to help make sure one KNOWS when the elements are powered on.

GFCI wall plate and box is seen at the left bottom -- 120V power to the pump and HLT stirrer is on this circuit. The wall switch is for the fan.
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 05:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

5

My daughter Sarah, amazed by the wonderous invention of her father. An immersion cooler. How delightful!
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 06:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

6

The PWM (top) has two circuits to control the SSR's (in the breaker box) which power the heating elements of the HLT and Kettle. This is a dual circuit design, based on the system described at:
http://hbd.org/rlaborde/controll.htm

A PWM works much better for fine temperature control of the kettle than is possible using a PID controller. (A PID does, however, work better for controlling the HERMS circuit and mash temps -- I may add this later).
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 06:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

7

Top of the HLT, with the mixer, the HERMS output, and the copper tube well (in front) for the A419 temp probe.

Under the duct tape on the HERMS outflow line is a second thermistor temp sensor. Generally, the HERMS outflow temp is very predictable based on the HLT temp, but I can run the HLT heater based on either sensor.
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 06:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

8

One last higher-resolution picture.
 

Codewarrior (150.169.165.87)
Posted on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 05:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great job. It looks sweet!
 

jonreth (4.33.188.238)
Posted on Saturday, May 03, 2003 - 03:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Clean looking! Your wife must love you VERY much;)
 

Terry Thornton (12.231.242.19)
Posted on Monday, May 05, 2003 - 12:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Lance -- Looks Fantastic!

One question: What brand and size pump did you use for this sweeeeet system?
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2003 - 01:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I used the 1/25hp Mag drive pump sold by Beer, Beer and More Beer. http://www.morebeer.com/detail.php3?pid=H315

This pump is used by many people and works well. One note, though: The pump is (like all mag drive pumps) not self-priming. It must be placed below all the tuns so that it fills by gravity. When starting flow all air must be purged from the pump, either by allowing gravity flow through the pump (flushing it) or (as I do) by sucking on one of the exit lines to pull out any remaining air in the pump line. Obviously, the latter technique would not be advised if using the pump on the cooled wort.

Once the pump and lines are purged of air, just use caution not to suck anything dry, keeping fluid in the lines and pump (and air out of the lines), and no further priming will be necessary for the rest of the brew session. This is mainly a problem when draining the mash. I watch the flow and when I have drained a bit less than the expected amount, I stop draining the mash to avoid draining it completely and sucking air into the lines. Then I add the sparge water.

If you pull the lines dry, you have to prime the pump again -- easy enough, once you figure out the procedure, but a hassle when the liquids and lines are all at 155F.
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2003 - 01:22 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One of my main concerns in doing an electric system was not electrocuting myself (or, even worse, an innocent bystander). Working with 240V can be dangerous -- an electric system is not a project for anyone unfamiliar with circuit boxes and basic electric wiring.

I was most concerned with the method of shielding the wiring to the heating elements on the tuns, given the high potential this area has of being exposed to water or over-flowing wort.

These pictures show how I handled the connections. It was the best solution I could come up with.


plug1

I used PVC pipe connects. A right-angle 1 1/2" to 1" coupling fits nicely over the heating element. The exposed electrical connections at the heating element are coated/sealed/insulated with a super-thick coating of silicone. The connector is slotted to allow tight compression with the hose clamp onto the hex head of the heating element head, and the gaps around the hex head and the PVC compression were filled with more silicone, making a fairly water-tight enclosure.

See the two other pictures in the next post....
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2003 - 01:47 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bump to next...
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2003 - 01:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This the wire connection before the silicone is applied:


plug3

And with the housing attached.

plug4

A 1" to 1/2" thread PVC reduction coupling was used on the exit side of the PVC housing for the cable. The 1/2" thread PVC accepts a standard thread circuit box cable entry tie-down which is used to secure the cable (10 gauge 3 wire flexible waterproof cable). Also notice the ground lug for the gound line in the cable. I additionally have another independent ground line that I clip onto each tun when in use. The circuit box has two 6 gauge lines to two solid ground points, and is on an independent circuit. No GFCI on the 240V line because, I am told, a GFCI circuit will not function properly when used with SSR's.

After each use I check the heating element and gasket for any evidence of fluid leakage -- none yet. (By the way, the element -- which is 1" straight-threaded -- mounts in a 1" pipe thread coupling without any difficulty. Threads are heavily wrapped with silicone.)

I hope this is helpful to anyone else working on a similar project!
 

Lance O (12.254.174.93)
Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 11:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Make that last comment, "Threads are heavily wrapped in teflon pipe tape" (not silicone).
 

Mike Parker (216.114.155.89)
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 07:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey Lance. My name is Mike and I'm an intern at Brew Your Own magazine. I'm new at homebrewing, but it looks to me like you have quite a cool system. Think it's worthy of a "Homebrew Systems that will Make you Drool" article for the Homebrew Nation section of the magazine? If so, drop me a line and we can put together a profile.

Any other brewers out there with cool systems should contact me too. intern@byo.com
 

Tom Burk (66.231.36.96)
Posted on Thursday, January 08, 2004 - 11:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Lance, if you still monitor this post I would be interested in an inside picture of your boil kettle and an update on how you like the electric boil kettle. I have been thinking of doing something very similiar to this and you must have quite a few batches on this system by now. My research hasn't discovered many electric kettles and I'm not sure if you used a large false bottom with the element below, a smaller false bottom with a pick-up tube or some kind of manifold system. My concern is whether hops sit on the element and how easy it is to clean.
Thanks Tom
 

Todd Snyder (128.205.24.125)
Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - 02:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Really nice system Lance! I love it. I too use electric elements for HLT and Kettle, but my HLT is made of copper and I'm getting a rust problem in the liquor. It is probably from the dissimilar metals, copper against steel.

Based on that I'm leaning towards a system like yours, with the 1" FPT welded in the side of a sanke keg.

Do you have any rusting of your HLT element? If not, do you ever leave it full of water for any length of time? For instance, my problem seems to stem from filling the night before brewing.

Thanks,
Todd Snyder
Buffalo, NY
 

Jason Pinkowski
New Member
Username: Jayflap

Post Number: 1
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 03:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am researching building an electric setup myself and this by far is the cleanest setup I have ever seen. Congrats, I can only dream my setup will look anywhere near as nice.
 

Marlon Lang
Intermediate Member
Username: Marlonlang

Post Number: 301
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Todd,
If you keep the steel portion always covered with water, it won't rust. Honest.
Lance O,
Awesome rig! However, you may have problems pumping 170F sparge water because your pump will lose prime. You should consider lowering the pump to the floor to increase the NPSH (pressure at the pump suction.)

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