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I've been considering for a while adding some automation to my brewery.

I currently have a 45L chilli bin mash tun and 50L boil kettle setup that I use to make good beer.

The things that I would like to do that have made me consider automation include:

  1. The ability to lock in a mash temperature
  2. The ability to do step mashes
  3. The ability to use a timer to start heating mash water (so I can wake and brew! a big plus for the wife who is sick and tired of being a brewery widow one day a month)

I've been looking quite seriously at a RIMS tube with a ~2500 watt element and a BCS from Embedded Control Concepts.

I *think* that a 2500 watt element will be enough for me - I currently only do 20L brews and don't really feel the need for double batches. I'd also like to avoid having to upgrade the electrics in my brew shed if at all possible. If you think I'm dreaming - now would be a great time to find out!

Does anyone here have any experience with the BCS here in NZ? I note that they're a few years old now - are there other systems that I should be considering?

I have also considered an electric brewery-like setup, but don't see how I can do this without changing my electrics, and also a grainfather - but I do like the idea of upgrading my existing system rather than replacing it entirely (although so far it looks like it will cost about the same!)

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Sounds like a worthy endeavour.

Is your concern about electrical changes due to the 20-30 amp draw of the electric brewery?

What ever your system, the power available will determine how quick you can raise temperatures and how vigerous your boil is. A 2500 watt element could be run off an electric brewery and would likely be fine for boiling a 50 litre pot - it would just take longer to get there than a higher power system. Another approach is to run another power lead to the brewry that runs of a separate circuit to up your power. I do this on my electric brewery but it requires a second element in both hlt a kettle. I imagine the bcs could be used in a similar way. Having built an electric brewery i think that it is pretty complex for what it does.

Are you going full electric including the boil?

yes, very worthy - could you please let the wife know? ;-)

I'm currently firing my kettle with a 4 ring camp burner and a regulator I got of trademe (following a link from this site, I suspect) which works fine for my purposes - at the moment I'm really just looking to improve my ability to hold a specific mash temp and do step mashes.

I hear you RE: the complexity of the BCS - I've also looked at a standard PID/SSR type setup but like the (possibly imagined) benefit of being able to upgrade a BCS system at a later date (e.g. being able to control fermentation).

I think your 2500w is heaps for mash temp control and stepping. I have about 4.2kw in my herms system and its more than fine. I have to heat the hlt water as well when stepping so you should be able to step faster than me -or your average electric brewery user- if you go down the rims route.

Is it fine to run a 2500w element and pump off a 10amp outlet which should theoretically only output 2400w?

Good question.

Pumps draw so little that you can ignore them unless you've got a huge commercial one. Mine draw something like 50- 100ma which is roughly 15 or 30 watts.

As far as the element goes the correct answer is you shouldn't. Reality is that your element will unlikely use 2500w as they seem to err on the side of low power. Mine draw 2100-2200 depending on line voltage and are rated at 2500w. If you were going to do it you would be wise to check the draw just to be sure you were safe.

Some newer places have higher rating for the wall wiring I think?.

Final thought , the wall sockets after often abused by alliances . a toater plus a kettle is about 4kw. A dryer plus washing machine is about 4kw as well. Individually these appliances are OK but running together there well over 10a. I wonder what the regulators make of this.
Another interesting question. If you make it yourself are you covered by insurance? Ie wire up a BCS or build your own electric brewery.

http://www.energysafety.govt.nz/consumer/safe-living-with-electrici...

Regulation 79

Exemption for domestic electrical wiring work
  • (1)The owner of any premises that are occupied, or intended to be occupied, by that person as a residence for that person, or for that person and members of that person's family, may do any electrical wiring work, or assist in doing any electrical wiring work, in relation to those premises, if—

    • (a)the work is within the limits prescribed in regulations made for the purposes of this section; and

    • (b)the work is carried out in accordance with the requirements of any regulations; and

    • (c)the work is carried out in a competent and safe manner; and

    • (d)while that work is being carried out, no part of the work is connected to a power supply; and

    • (e)the work is, before connection to a power supply, tested and certified, in accordance with regulations, by a registered person who holds a current practising licence issued under this Act that authorises that person to test and certify prescribed electrical work; and

    • (f)the work is connected to a power supply by the registered person referred to in paragraph (e).

    (2)Subsection (1)(e) and (f) apply only if required by regulations.

    (3)For the purposes of subsection (1), owner, in relation to any premises, means the person who (whether alone or as a joint tenant or tenant in common) would for the time being be entitled to receive the rack rent of the premises on his or her own account if the premises were let to a tenant at a rack rent.

    Section 79: substituted, on 1 April 2010, by section 13 of the Electricity Amendment Act 2006 (2006 No 70).

Basically you can do it, but you are not allowed to connect it to power at all it has to be tested/inspected and connected by a registered electrician.

As an electrician this is not something I know of alot of sparkys doing, because doing so means we are accepting responsibility for the home owners work. Also we really want this regulation changed to prevent home owners from doing any electrical work at all.

You can also repair your own appliances and it doesnt require anyone to cert it. Making a brewery doesn't sound like reparing though...

If I was an electrician I wouldn't cert someones home brewery either. Would you check each piece of wire is rated corectly?

Interestingly you don't need qualifications to design or assemble appliances. So you could say you were the manufacturer. However it would then have to meet a bunch of other product standards and if you were the manufacturer and something went wrong you would still be liable . doh.

I'm semi tempted to ask the electrical workers board if its allowed or if its even in their jurisdiction since youre making an appliance for personal use as opposed to doing fixed wiring or repairs or commissioning commercial equipment.

I've just checked the circuit board (house was rewired by previous owner) and all the breakers marked "power" are 20A. I assume this means I'm theoretically OK to proceed with a 2500W element? 

I take your point RE: certification - and will definitely do this if I do end up going down this route.

thanks for the warning, it didn't cross my mind that the pump will also draw power (duh). Is there any size element that I can safely run alongside a pump on a 10amp circuit?

2kw or a 2.2kw if you can get one.

if you go down this route you need to remember that the outlet your running from is more than likely not the only socket on that circuit. So other appliances running in conjunction to your element caould cause tripping issues.

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