New Equipment Advice

Discussion in 'Beer Kits & Brewing Equipment Reviews.' started by Kristian Purcell, Jan 8, 2019.

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  1. Jan 8, 2019 #1

    Kristian Purcell

    Kristian Purcell

    Kristian Purcell

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    Hi all,

    Soo, I have just been gifted some new equipment, I have an ACE 30l 2.5kw hot water boiler which has been adapted with a half inch ball tap and a false bottom. Plus a peco mash bucket which I plan for my sparge water.

    I want to make this recirculating for the mash with a 12v DC pump from the ball tap back up through the lid. I'm planning to put a bucket in as you can see from the picture and raise this by a few inches from the false bottom. Thinking a 200 micron stainless steel mesh in the bottom of the bucket(bucket will have large holes in the base) which I am hoping will work well and will help to produce clear wort.(would use the bucket lid with holes in it on top of the grain bed to help stop disturbing)

    I am going to install a ink bird PID and 25a SSR externally to replace the current thermostat so I hopefully get a super consistent mash temp and easily maintain boil which at the moment I have leave the dial turned up to full and if I have to dial it back will switch off for a minute or so before turning back on.

    From what I can find a PT100 RTD is better than a thermocouple for both accuracy and longevity, plus I can find one which has a 4 pin plug so I can completely detach the control box when I am finished. I was thinking the best placement would be between the false bottom and the bucket...

    Any opinions on what I could change/do differently? Should I find some sort of voltage regulator for the element so I can turn the power down for the boil etc...?

    My thoughts are the PID and pump equipment can be re-used in the next larger build so don't really have anything to lose money wise as I want to go full electric and currently have a gas keggle, biab setup.

    Anything will be appreciated!

    Cheers all.
    IMG_20190108_205821.jpg IMG_20190108_205831.jpg IMG_20190108_205841.jpg IMG_20190108_210452.jpg IMG_20190108_210508.jpg
     
  2. Jan 9, 2019 #2

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi @Kristian Purcell
    Welcome to the forum.
    The ACE is an excellent vessel to use as a mash tun. I investigated several options for a malt pipe but was always stymied by the relatively narrow diameter of the ACE. I finally went with a pressure cooker gasket laid around the edge of the false bottom and the grain simply added to the tun.
    It makes it messy to empty the tun when you want to use it as the boil kettle but it works.
    I never tried a BIAB bag, but several members have used one with success.
    You definitely want a PID/SSR combo to control the temperature. A voltage regulator is a great idea - I built mine into the control box but afterwards thought it could be set up in a project box as a stand-alone unit. That way it's available to use for other equipment (stir plate, for example).
    Re: pump - get your hand in your pocket! There are some decent looking pumps on Alibaba if you are willing to wait for delivery and the price is very competative. If you go for cheaper pumps you may find it false economy - some members have reported the cheaper "solar" pumps fail fairly quickly.
    I installed the temperature sensor immediately after the ball valve - others consider the best place to be at the end of the return pipe, just before the wort returns to the tun.
    I think a separate control box is better than "building in" to the ACE.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  3. Jan 9, 2019 #3

    Dutto

    Dutto

    Dutto

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    Welcome to The Forum!
     
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  4. Jan 9, 2019 #4

    Ghillie

    Ghillie

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    PT100's are not better than thermocouples. In fact, thermocouples are more desirable when rapid changes in temperature can be commonplace. For example mashing. You might want to way up the cost though as PT100's are cheaper and should do a okay job anyway. But just to reiterate, PT100's are not better than thermocouples. Hence the reason why thermocouples are more expensive - they have a quicker response time and are better suited to situations where accuracy is essential.

    Plastic bucket, I wouldn't be keen... There shouldn't be an issue providing it's made of PP. But I'd sooner use a stainless basket or even easier than that, a large nylon BIAB (as you have it already).

    2.5kW is a lot of energy for a mash. So you're right, some means of regulating that output for mashing is essential. Likewise, 2.5kW even for boiling is too much: 1800W - 2000W is plenty for a pre-boil volume of 28-30L. You want a rolling boil rather than an aggressive one. When you're buying a PID, get one with proportional output control. That way, you can regulate the power going to the element. I'd imagine PID controllers exist where you can select max output. For example, before starting your mash you would punch in 20%, so the element can only deliver 500W. Without that, you'll likely see massive hunting around your desired set point when mashing. And as previously mentioned, a very angry boil.

    In terms of temperature probe placement, you want it in either of the places where @Bigcol49 has said.

    A very warm welcome!
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  5. Jan 9, 2019 #5

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi @Ghillie @Kristian Purcell
    The ACE usually has two elements: 1500W and 900W, if I remember correctly.
    On my model, the 900W element had been disconnected at the factory, leaving only the 1500W.
    This was ideal for mashing with a voltage regulator to reduce the power.
    For boiling, it just about coped with a rolling boil, but only just.
     
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  6. Jan 9, 2019 #6

    Ghillie

    Ghillie

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    Thanks for pointing that out, I didn't know! When I read "30l 2.5kw hot water boiler" I just assumed it was like a Buffalo, Swan, etc style urn. Cheers for pointing that out!
     
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  7. Jan 9, 2019 #7

    Kristian Purcell

    Kristian Purcell

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    Hi guys, thanks for the replies and warm welcome!

    Well I had already ordered a Ink Bird PID set which has a k-sensor thermocouple, 25a SSR and heat sink for 30 quid which I will build into a external box. So I think I will need to get a voltage regulator.. the kettle actually says 2500w + 85w on the label underneath, would that mean it has 2 elements then? When I tested the boil it was pretty violent so some form of regulation is a must!
    I'm assuming the link below is what I am after.
    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https://www.ebay.co.uk/ulk/itm/292527107690

    I will stick with the K-sensor, by the sounds of it, it's just what I need. I just read on some forum threads that the PT100 is best but really I need to spend as little as possible so happy days!

    I want to do the filter bucket because of recirculating and being able to actually close the lid. With a bag I wouldn't be able to close the lid properly. I'm going to keep my eyes open for a stainless pot of the right size but this will do for the moment I should think. I really want to get it as close to a all in one system as possible but without the expense.ha

    I had ordered a 12v pump from Amazon last night but might still return it.. it's all a matter of money at the moment so I might just roll with it for now and after each brew strip & clean it. The price I could find a decent pump for was around 50 dollars plus shipping and then I could get caught up with customs charges when it arrives into the UK.

    If I am to place the temp probe where suggested how will I fair with running up a boil or even heating the water to strike temp? Do I need a thermowell as well?

    The PID set ordered is below.
    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https://www.ebay.co.uk/ulk/itm/222450261592
     
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  8. Jan 9, 2019 #8

    Ghillie

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    Could you post a picture please?

    Regulating that 2.5kW is a must yes. Would I chose to run a high load through £2.60 electronics direct from China? Nope! My advice, get something along the same lines but just from a UK seller; preferably a Home Brew Store as well. You don't want to mess about with scrimping on potentially deadly equipment, especially when you've done well to piece together the rest of the control system with good quality Inkbird gear! Just spend the bit extra to complete the good quality system...

    Of course there's nothing wrong with Chinese equipment, but there is a problem with Chinese certification and tractability in terms of where it came from and whether it meets safety standards... For all you know, that could have been pieced together by a total idiot with the ropiest of materials.

    Thermocouple > PT100; I've already said it but I'll say it again:laugh8: Honestly, I work with this stuff for a living.

    Have you tried the bag in the boiler with the lid on? I'd be very surprised if you couldn't get it closed. Them bags are so fine that there shouldn't be a problem. If you stumble across stainless then happy days, it's just sourcing it somewhere for free that will be the problem. I can see something like that being specially made costing a lot of money. You're going to have to work out how you're going to get the grain basket to sit on top of the ACE boiler for sparging. If you're going to go down the dunk sparge route, you'd honestly be better using the bag.

    If you head over to BrewKegTap; John the owner is the UK retailer of the Robobrew. He has loads of spare parts, etc and sells them individually. Give him a shout and ask for the dimensions and a quote for a malt pipe, malt pipe handle, bottom screen and bottom mesh screen. If you're in luck, it might fit and be cheap enough to justify buying. You'll still have the problem with getting the malt pipe to sit on the ACE boiler for sparging though...

    It all boils down to how much you're willing to spend. You may well reach the conclusion that it's going to cost more to piece a DIY version together yourself than it is to buy something off the shelf. Fittings, etc are surprisingly costly. If you're doing it for the love of DIY then fair enough, but if you're trying to do it on a budget then good luck!

    When getting to and maintaining a boil, your temp probe is irrelevant. Water/wort boils at 100C and that's all there is to it. You'd put the regulator on full chat and set the PID to a temperature above 100C so the element never turns off. When you see the water boiling, reduce the regulator output until you get a nice rolling boil.

    You would be running your pump to recirculate when heating your strike water; as this speeds up the heating process. So even if your temp probe was placed after the ball valve, you would still know the water temperature as it would be recirculating past the temp probe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  9. Jan 9, 2019 #9

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    My reply is not displaying correctly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  10. Jan 9, 2019 #10

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi @Kristian Purcell
    You probably won't need to strip and clean it, simply pump hot water through it to rinse out the wort residue.
    This is the pump I went for. It works really well and I've had no problems with it.
    I fancy this type of pump - more expensive.
    The voltage regulator I went for is on ebay too - http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-5...0001&campid=5338413729&icep_item=292817981913. I put a 220V fan in the project box to dissipate the heat it generates.
    Re: lid - my ACE has a double skin lid so fitting the return through the lid might not be as easy as it sounds.
    If you are heating the mash you don't need to have the lid tightly closed. I got good results with the return pipe just laid over the edge of the mash tun and the lid laid loosely on top of that.
     
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  11. Jan 10, 2019 #11

    Dutto

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    ... and then he read the Manual and it was all sorted! clapa
     
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  12. Jan 10, 2019 #12

    IainM

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    I don't have much to add, but that second pump Bigcol mentioned is the one I have and you can pick it up for £57 shipped from aliexpress (here is the link). It's plenty powerful to recirculate wort through a bazooka filter, even with grain debris and break material from a large grain bills with a fairly small crush size; my last brew was 6.85 kg, 0.9mm gap size, and the overflow pipe snapped off so grain got through the malt pipe, and it still breezed through it without having to throttle it all the way.
     
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  13. Jan 10, 2019 #13

    Kristian Purcell

    Kristian Purcell

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    Sorry for the delay chaps, work and family keep eating away at my free time, such as life.

    Here is the bottom of the kettle..
    IMG_20190109_195559.jpg

    I was planning to spend to spend a little more on the regulator but was just making sure I was on the right track, honest.wink...lol
    I have to admit if there is one thing I have learnt through time... it's don't buy the cheapest! I have bought one from Bigcol49's link, would it be best to get two, one for the pump as well?

    That leads me onto the pump, I am going to return the 12v solar one and order from AliExpress, you guys are right and it just makes more sense plus the wait won't be too long. I will have a control box to sort in the mean time anyway.

    I'm not going to lie... I had to Google "malt pipe" to understand what it is and essentially it's what I would like to do with the bucket, i was planning on two stainless nuts and bolts with some washers through the top of the bucket for a handle to hook onto and then use a cheap bucket handle bent into shape for the handle itself. As for sitting the bucket on the ACE, the bucket would be bottom heavy so I think 3 narrow strips of stainless formed into angled "S" shapes, for hooks..lift the bucket, put the hooks in and place the bucket back in, if you get me?
    I have never actually sparged before so it will be a new process to me as my last setup I used to put all water in and just squeeze the bag at the end of mash.
    With getting the pump I will contact Brewkegtap next month I think.lol

    That all makes perfect sense for the probe placement now! Is there a specific adapter that I can screw into the end of the 1/2 BSP balltap?

    Bigcol49, I think I will roll hanging the pipe over for now and if I want to mod things further then I may sort the lid later, if I even feel the want/need.

    IanM, that was helpful, i have had a bit more of a browse and have found one for just under £50 with a new sign-up code.
    https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/inBZP5O

    With that I could probably justify quick lock connectors or camlocks..

    I have also treated myself to a hop basket and fortunately my previous wort chiller fits in just nice.. well to be a tad smaller would be better but it I think it will be fine.
    IMG_20190110_084853.jpg
     
  14. Jan 11, 2019 #14

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi @Kristian Purcell
    You won't need a voltage regulator for the pump - fit a ball valve on the output to control the flow. It is a magnetic pump and restricting the output does no harm to the pump.
    One question: does your ACE have two on/off switches or just one?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  15. Jan 11, 2019 #15

    Kristian Purcell

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    Ok cool, I was a little concerned of restricting the flow applying strain to the pump but thats put my mind at ease. Would it damage the pump using the ball tap on the outlet of the ACE, would be more convenient but I can imagine it could cause the pump to run partially dry?

    The ACE just has the one power switch and a timer dial that also needs to be set to on for it to heat up.
     
  16. Jan 11, 2019 #16

    Ghillie

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    I have no idea what the "+85W" is in reference to... I'm at a loss as your kettle just has a thermostat, single element and that's it? Are you sure there's not a small element for maintaining the temperature or something? There HAS to be another load of sorts.

    BrewKegTap is a good outfit, I'm sure John will sort you out if need be.

    Check out BrewBuilder with regards to probe fittings.
     

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