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Hey there chaps, im in the throws of building a single teir 3 vessel + HEX brew rig, i have been reading through many of the electric builds on here and figured id bang up my own blog for when i inevitable have questions for some of you clever blokes.

Anyway, i have been collecting the vessels and a few other things for some time now, just slowly getting bits as i find them / can afford it. So this is how my plan i drew on sketchup to suss things out in my head, i have condensded it down a little but this gives an overview of the pipework i will have etc, it will be using a range of 3 way ballvalves loosely based on the late great Paul Wicksteeds system, he actually helped me a lot in the design of mine not long before he left us. The BK / whirlpool side will be all threadless for sanitary and cleaning reasons.

anyway here is the original plan-

and here it is with squashing it up a bit and moving the manifold etc-

Like Pauls system i will be using a small 12v hot water pump to recirc the Strike / sparge water in the hlt and this can then be diverted by use of 3-way valve to direct it to the manifold and onto the mash tun, i like the idea of transferring by just redirecting a valve rather than turning off the pump.

The pump that will be used to recirculate the wort in the MT and transfer to the BK is a termpercon magnetic jobby cos i got it cheap second hand and the last pump used for whirlpool and cooling is a big peristaltic jobby which im quite proud of, i love the idea of having nothing but a hose that the wort is going through, cant get much more sterile than that. 

anyway here is how it all sits at the moment, need to get some steel to build the frame for the bench and cut a bit off the end to allow for the blichmann burner-

The HLT is a large and heavily double skinned jobby that i think is ex dairy, it holds about 130 litres which i like becuase i can heat strike / sparge and cleaning water all at once, this will have a 4 to 5 kw element installed at some stage. check out the thickness of the walls -

The MLT albeit slightly smaller than what i would like now is again a pretty cool piece of kit, its a well made double skinned and insulated vessel that will hold about 65-70 litres to the top of the inlet. I gave it to the talented Chris Banks a year or so ago and he build me a stainless false bottom and added the draw/dip tube which is all sanitary welded to the 3 piece ball valve.

My heat exchanger is nice and simple, its a little 5 litre 1600watt urn that i have installed about 8 metres of 1/2" copper tubing inside, i will most likely stick some kind of sealed stainless float etc in the middle to further reduce the water volume / increase ramp time.

and my latest purchase because i want to stay gas for the boil is the blichmann burner, i have heard nothing but great things about the efficiency / power / quietness of these burners and the build quality of the stainless sheild etc is great

I currently have a couple of sparky mates scouring their parts bins for a decent control panel enclosure and soon i will order a bunch of sestos PIDs and SSRs and switches etc to start building the control panel. Like Scott Bennisons great setup i plan to use a slightly modified belkin WeMo so i can wirelessly switch the HLT element on while im still lying in bed :-) I have also ordered a bunch of tri clover fittings etc for the BK and will get all the parts together then hopefully get Chris Banks to wave his magic Tig wand at it.

Any thoughts / ideas / suggestions please let me know, im still have an open mind at this stage.



Views: 679

Comment by Blake Jones on August 11, 2016 at 12:28pm
So does anyone thinking I'm silly going with gas boil kettle and electric everything else? I just figured wit ha 100lt kettle and doing 70 litre batch sizes that 5500watt element might be pretty average to boil and that I would get a bit more grunt and control etc. plus buying the burner has allowed me to brew while the system is still under construction. I'm going to build the control panel so that I can easily make the BK electric if the need arises.

A question for the clever electrical folks, would I be pushing too much to have the 5500 watt hlt element and he 1500watt hex element on at the same time, with say a pump running also, it's getting close to 32 amps. I don't really want to have 2x 3000watt elements in the hlt but may have to go down that route yet.
Comment by Cain Harland on August 11, 2016 at 12:54pm

I don't think its silly at all provided you have good ventilation in your brewing area and don't mind refilling LPG bottles every so often. And you already have the blichmann burner.

Comment by Blake Jones on August 11, 2016 at 1:15pm
Yea it's just in the garage but I will brew with the roller door open, will also rig up some ventilation ducting with an inline far that I can poke out the door when it's open etc.
Comment by Cain Harland on August 11, 2016 at 1:38pm

How does a 1600w HERMS perform on a mash tun that size? are you able to get to mash out temps in a reasonable time. I'm running a 3kw RIMSs on a 50L mash tun which turns out to be over kill for everything except heating strike water.

Comment by Blake Jones on August 11, 2016 at 3:22pm

i have not used it yet Cain so cant comment quite yet. I think it will be more than enough as there is only 3-4 litres in the Urn so there isn't a lot of water to heat. Scott in wellington has a similar setup to what mine will be but he uses a 1500 watt element in a small pot as a HEX but he has a larger 100 litre mashtun, if I remember correctly when I did a brew with him his system achieved appx 1 degree per 1-2mins rise in mash temp when mashing out so mine should be just as good as that I would hope. I have about 7 metres of copper coil in the hex so I would imagine it will be pretty efficient at exchanging the heat. What size element do you have in your HLT Cain? do you run it as the same time as your rims tube?

Comment by Cain Harland on August 11, 2016 at 6:28pm

My HLT and kettle are on gas but mostly I heat my sparge water by boiling a couple of big stock pots on the stove and mixing with 55c water from the hot tap (continuous on gas) and just fire up that burner if I get the mix wrong. Last time I got that wrong I used the RIMS and it had no probs heating sparge water as needed but I would rather use it between the MT and kettle during sparge to reduce boil time. If you can get 1-2 degrees a min thats plenty, I recon you would be hard pressed to heat a mash tun much faster than that at any wattage since there is a fairly big bottle neck with how fast its practical to recirculate.

Comment by Peter Smith on August 11, 2016 at 9:39pm

Blake , I have seen people use a small pump or a stirring propellor in the small HEX urn to keep heat distribution even, after trying without one and seeing non uniform heat.

Comment by Blake Jones on August 12, 2016 at 9:08am

Cheers peter i have thought of it, i have looked at small low rpm motors on aliexpress etc and will likely put on of these in rigging up to turn on when the PID switches the HEX on.


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