First Tests of Electric Brewery

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Nosybear, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Nosy's RIMS system is ready for its first trials. I ran water tests this evening, everything works and I fixed the two leaks I could find. Tomorrow it gets used: Maerzen with ramped mash (144/156 degrees). I'll post pics as I go through the brew day.
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Well you gotta get some pics up to please Nosey! I find them cold leaks clear up once the water heats up.
     
  3. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    Nice! Looking forward to some piktors!
     
  4. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    MAERZEN! Holy crap I haven't even ordered my grain for that. Might end up being an Aprilzen for me:confused:
    Hope your new system does you right!
     
  5. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    It will take a few brews to dial everything in, but once you do, it will make brewing a lot easier. You can step mash with ease. It’s as close to a pro system a homebrewer can get without getting an actual pro setup.

    They work different with water only, once grain is added it will act different, especially if you have a PID. I tuned my PID with water only and it seemed to work really well. Rice hulls can be you best friend, they keep the mash circulation going when you use adjuncts or you doing a decoction.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Report plz
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Okay, long post follows. I used the system today, some good, some not so, lots of learning by doing so here goes. First, this is what the system looks like:
    System.jpg
    Kind of a mutt system: My old MLT is still doing duty as an MLT. I've hooked up a pump, a RIMS tube and a controller, all joined by 1/2 inch ID silicone tubing (more to come on that later). I built it on a restaurant table SWAMBO got me for Christmas for this purpose, having shortened the legs by 8". The components:
    Pump.jpg System.jpg Pump.jpg
    Just a simple little MkII pump. I have a throttle valve on the outlet and a system drain on the inlet. It's all quick-connects, 1/2 inch. They work fine at my scale. The drain is a nice little attachment, when I need to switch out hoses I can drain them at the bottom of the system. I run the wort using the pump through a RIMS tube with a 1600 watt heating element:
    RIMS Tube.jpg
    It, too has a throttle valve. You can see the temperature probe at the bottom left. It is on a PID controller:
    Controller.jpg
    A few issues programming it but aside from that, it worked like a champ. I used a manifold in the mash tun to distribute the runnings evenly. In action with wort in the lines it looked like this:
    System Working.jpg
    I started running into trouble here: The 1/2 inch lines were too big, the pump didn't have the capacity to keep them full with wort draining through the grain bed, no matter how I set the throttle valves. So I replaced two of the lines with 3/8" tubing. It'll fit on the 1/2" barbs by the way. Once I did that, less air, less cavitation and much smoother operation. I'll have to replace the line from the RIMS to the tun but that's okay, it did well enough, I got super clear wort. But eventually the step mash was over and I could run off the wort:
    Runoff.jpg
    I have a plate chiller but my kettle is not yet ported (step bit and cutting oil are coming soon). So I used the good old fashioned gravity drain. Once this part was over, I sparged - batch sparging still, even with this newfangled pump setup, reconnected my system to recirculate the sparge (RIMS shut off), then ran that out. Finally for Craigerr, some boil porn:
    Boil.jpg
    A good start. Not everything went as I'd planned and a few errors run me into a lower than expected efficiency (I got my wort too hot and likely denatured my enzymes a bit earlier than usual). Lessons learned: Bigger tubing isn't necessarily better: Backing down to 3/8" ID tubing will help out a lot. I got a lot of air in the lines this brew, I'm hoping that hot side aeration is indeed a myth. Rice hulls: A stuck mash with this system is a scorched mash. If you build something like this, put in a bottom drain. You'll thank yourself when it comes time to clean up. It's less work and will be much less lifting once I have the kettle ported. When you build your system, you won't think of everything but with a little ingenuity, brew day will work. Finally, keep good notes so you'll know what to do (and not do) next time. Next brew will be smoother.
     
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  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I think key to designing and building your system is to know your requirements. I'm not going for more wort, just more consistent wort than I can get with the passive MLT. So I'm building to consistency with a controller, RIMS and so forth. It helps to be consistent in your brewing before starting. Once the beer is ready (and I made the mistake of brewing one that won't be until September - one more note to self), if there are changes, I can attribute them to the system and hopefully troubleshoot. By next brew I should have the mechanics worked out, after that I can start tweaking the programming. So it was a fun and sometimes frustrating brew day but I think, once I have it dialed in, I'll enjoy using the "mutt system."
     
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  9. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    What we need here is more boil porn (cowbell)
     
  10. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I like the drain valve idea off the pump good thinking. System looks fairly compact. You'll iron out them kinks after a few brews. My electric rig is around 7 brews in and whilst mashing today I left it recirculating set at .3c difference watts at 1200 and went and mowed the lawn.
     
  11. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this write up. It is very intriguing to me. I never really studied a RIMS until this morning. I struggle a bit with mashing as the process sucks with just a brew kettle. I have it worked out but it still sucks.

    I have a few questions:

    • I can see that you chose a 120V system. Are you happy with it? How long does it take to get a 1 degree change in temp with that setup? The wattage on that element seems low at 1,100 watts. I have a laundry room with 240 and I have a 240 in my shop for my big cabinet saw so I have options . . .
    • I see your RIMS tube came from Nor-Cal Brewing (they are about 60 miles north of me). Are you happy with that choice? Is the plug water tight?
    • Do you intend to keep the block of wood mounting system? :)
    • What is the capacity of your pump and how do you control the flow?
    • Safety > is there a feature to turn the thing off should the circulation get stuck and the pump runs dry or do you have to watch it the whole time?
    • What kind of connectors are those?
    • What is your cleanup process?
    • How much wort do you leave behind?
    • What does your manifold look like?
    Thanks in advance - I'm already making a sketchup model...
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    that's the only issue with rims, you need a limiter switch to cut the power when the pump stops otherwise you burn the element every time even if your very careful, ask me how I know;)
     
  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Okay, in order:
    - The unit has a 1600 watt heating element. It's actually too much for the RIMS. It'll heat a degree in two minutes or less - I didn't time it - and the reason I chose 120V is my 240V circuit downstairs is taken up by the induction heating unit. If I start running into issues with overheating the wort (I experienced some yesterday), I might replace the element with a 1200 watt.
    - I'm happy with it so far. Easy to dismantle and clean, watertight....
    - I do, until I come up with another idea.
    - Not sure of the capacity - I think it's 5 GPM. I have throttle valves at the outlet of the pump and the outlet of the RIMS.
    - If you see that big red button, it shuts everything down. The system alarms at 170 degrees.
    - 1/2 inch quick connectors.
    - Drain all the wort left in the lines, the RIMS and the pump through the system drain at the bottom (inlet side of the pump). Put three gallons of water in the mash tun, add 3 TBSP of PBW, turn the pump on, circulate for a while. Drain, repeat using just water to rinse. I can disassemble the RIMS and the pump. Once I add the plate chiller, I'll just have to go with the PBW and rinse.
    - A few thimbles full. That's where the bottom drain comes in - I can drain and reclaim any wort left in the system. Once I'm running through a chiller and whirlpool, I'll lose a bit unless I want to risk draining it into a sanitized pitcher, then I'll lose about a quart.
    - I'll have to take a picture of the manifold.
     
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  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Learning as you go.... I just found some clamps and thread rod so the wood block mount of my RIMS tube will soon be replaced by clamps on the table and the tube, bridged by all thead rod. The tube will be mounted vertically, making it much harder to run dry.
     
  15. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    #15 HighVoltageMan!, Mar 31, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
    I use 120 volt for my RIMS too. I have talked to others who use 240 volt and they mentioned scorching problems. I use 120 volt for convenience and because I wanted a larger surface area to reduce watts per square inch on the element. I also slaved the heater element to the pump, if the pump gets shut off, the heater loses it's whetting voltage. I did that because I'm absent minded and I shut off the pump, but leave the heater running.

    I use a 5500 watt 208 volt element and run it at 120 volt (it's also pretty big physically). It gives me the highest wattage for 120 volt/20 amp circuit, @1820 watts. I still use gas for the HLT and boil for speed, eventually I'm going to upgrade the HLT and boil to electric (240Vac). The element I have can raise the temperature 1-2 degrees per minute depending on grain bill. Personally, I think 1 degree per minute is better anyway, especially when step mashing.

    You can use 240 volt 3500 watt element ( @ 240 volt) and get a PID that you can program to limit the power. The advantage of that setup is you could run at 100% when heating your strike water directly in your mash tun and dial back to 50% or so when you add the grain.

    There are a lot of variables, so talk to people who built them and learn from their successes and failures.
     
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  16. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Best dog I ever had was a mutt! ;) Neat set up Nosy! You just gave me an idea for my new tun, where can I get some smarts on that thermometer modification?
     
  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Came with the RIMS controller. Basically you use a "T", Wort comes in one part, out the other and the temperature probe goes into the remaining one. I had to do wort-in on the leg of the "T" because the probe was too long to use that way.

    By the way, when I get the plate chiller hooked up, I'll be doing in-line oxygenation using a similar setup: The sintered stone is in one of the "crossbars", wort comes in through the other and out the side.
     
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  18. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I've gotta get a better temp probe solution too my just dangle it in the wort is working for now but would like to streamline it better as well as getting all my electrics all in the one box.

    I've got a power what meter hooked up before my temp controller (an stc1000) i can get a real slow rise in mash steps buy setting power down around 50% any lower and the STC relay doesn't trip to run the element again. I can also sit the Biab Bag on the element this way without scorching the bag. I recon one of these hooked up before your element nosey could help control scorching easily. I can turn my 2400w element into a lower wattage element by the turn of the dial I have my pump hooked up to it too so I can control pump speed this way too.
     
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  19. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Next round of pieces-parts purchased yesterday - two bulkhead ports and a dial thermometer for the kettle. Step bit is here, will start drilling, likely tonight. Last round of parts are clamps to mount the RIMS tube, ordered, and hoses to use with the plate chiller.
     
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  20. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Can't wait to see it! I have decent dial thermometer on my kettle and it has an adjusting screw on the back but it's not much good for anything but telling me when it's close.
     

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