Three vessel electric

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clyne

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Hey all

I've recently acquired some new kit (from @big yogi - details here) and looking at the best way to connect it all up to my garage electrics in as safe a way as possibly but also in a modular way that means I don't have cables trailing all over the place. Currently the kettle (70L) has 2 x 2.8 (ish) heating elements and the HLT I think has one (should have written this down before I came to work!).

My garage has it's own electric supply and small consumer unit with a 68A (again, going from memory here!) breaker.

I've connected each heating element up last night to separate sockets and it ran with no issues and no signs of heating up on any cable (although only had it on for about 3 mins).

However, I'd like to (eventually) build a control panel and wanted to try and make the electrics a little bit safer in the meantime. I'm thinking of replacing the heating elements for tri-clamp fittings, but don't want to jump in before I get advice on the best way to do this. I'm no sparky, but do have someone I can use to do electrical work if needed (as a homer and she's fully qualified) so I'd be happy to extend/replace the consumer unit if needed in order to (1) make it safer and (2) future proof it for the control panel.

So - would welcome any thoughts/suggestions/ideas. I'll try and send a couple of pics tonight so you can see what I have currently.

Tried to search previous threads but couldn't quite find what I was after. Also looked on youtube but again couldn't find anything - but probably searching for the wrong terms :)

Thanks in advance :) Can't wait to have a go on a large 3 vessel system, currently using a 30L Robobrew/Brewzilla.
 

JockyBrewer

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First thing you need to establish what your garage really has in it. 68A doesn't sound right to me unless you have an EV charger in there or something else industrial. More likely for a home garage setting is 16A or 20A, with wiring rated for the same. Even if you've got a massive 68A 'breaker' in there then you need to ensure the wiring is safe to carry that load. I'd be worried someone has stuck a massive breaker in there and not improved the wiring to carry it.

Each of those elements are going to require around 12A to run. So if you want to fire two elements at the same time without anything tripping (or wiring melting) you should probably have 32A wiring installed. If you want to run all three then you'll need to go bigger again, or have a couple of circuits installed.

Basically I would talk to a qualified sparky and get their input. When you're having circuits replaced on a house you're legally required to have the work be at least signed off by a Part P qualified sparky and notified to the council. If you don't then you're also invalidating your house insurance.
 

tigertim

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The device with 68A on it will likley be the main isolator of the consumer unit - not a breaker. If so, it's essentially a switch rated for a maximum of 68A which is to isolate the incoming power to the installation and would never "break" in an overload situation.

Take a look at the distribution board it's run from and ascertain the breaker size there - the breaker's purpose is to protect the cable supplying the board in the garage and that will be your maximum load. It could be anything from 16A, 20A, 32A, 40A, 50A depending on the cable size.
 

clyne

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Thanks @JockyBrewer and @tigertim for the replies.

I've re-checked as per your advice above and what you've said makes complete sense. The RCD in the distribution board feeding the garage is 40A. I've included a pic of the consumer unit in the garage and the cabling going to the sockets. Cables measure around 10mm? I think it's a 20A breaker in the consumer unit in the garage?

This being the case I assume could I run both elements from separate sockets? I can't think of a situation when I'm brewing that I'd need to have both the kettle and the HLT on at the same time, so I think it would only ever be 2 max - perhaps plus smaller items such as a pump, TV, fridge etc. which I don't think should be an issue? Well it wasn't for the 5 minutes I tried it :)

I've also included a pic of the connector on the heater currently - it's this I'd like to tidy up and make a bit safer - would welcome ideas.

I do have my sparky friend coming out to take a look as well, but you guys seem to know your stuff and probably more likely to understand issues with this type of kit and how I can jazz it up to make it safer and sexier clapa

Cheers!

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hoppyscotty

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This is my setup that I've just brewed on for the first time last weekend.

Just off shot to the top right are two independant 32A commando sockets and I have made the controller myself and have the two supplies going into it (two sockets under the controller on the LHS) as I have one 3300w element in the RIMS tube and a 5500w element in the HLT (just off shot to the left) and the boil kettle. So I have split the electrics in the controller. One of the power supply inputs just controls the mash and the other controls the HLT and the boil kettle and you can only run one at a time and can select which element you power by the rotary switch.

Unfortunately you have to move the thermocouple from one vessel to the next when you switch the power as I've not found a way to switch the thermocouples...thermocouple switches seem to be very expensive.

First brewday went really well apart from the mash temp control...the RIMS didn't seem to work very well....the PID did a good job of regulating the temperature in the RIMS tube but the temperature in the mash tun was all over the place. I assumed that the temp in the mash tun couldn't get any higher than the temp of the water entering the mash tun, but it rose significantly higher than the set temperature. I could just move the thermocouple from the RIMS tube to the mash tun thermowell, but then I'd risk an over temp in the RIMS tube, so not quite sure what to do to better control mash temp.

God knows what this first brew will turn out like....temp initially dropped to low 60 degrees when I first mashed in, then over 15 mins or so rose to the set temp of 67 degrees, but then continued to rise up to well into the 70's, then it yo yo'd for the rest of the mash as I intervened to try to manually manage the temperatures. In the end just gave up. It's fermenting nicely right now but we'll see what FG we achieve.

Alot of learning and alot of improvements/modifications to be made, but was a successful brewday in the end.
 

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Buffers brewery

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Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your RIMS set up achieving control of the mash temperature. I considered RIMS when I was putting my kit together but decided to go HERMS as I didn’t like the idea of possibly overheating the wort by direct contact with the heating element. Also, I felt that by having a large mass of temperature controlled water in the heat exchange, mash temperature variations should be small. I get pretty consistent mash temperature control. The only downside is keeping the inside of the heat exchange coil clean.
 

hoppyscotty

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I prefer the idea of HERMS but I got the kit off eBay so just ran it as it is currently configures. I'll give the RIMS another go and maybe convert to RIMS. Should be easy enough. Still struggling to understand how the temp in the mash tun can get significantly higher than the temp of the wort coming out of the Rims tube.
 

Buffers brewery

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I prefer the idea of HERMS but I got the kit off eBay so just ran it as it is currently configures. I'll give the RIMS another go and maybe convert to RIMS. Should be easy enough. Still struggling to understand how the temp in the mash tun can get significantly higher than the temp of the wort coming out of the Rims tube.
When you find out, patent it cos you’ve discovered free energy :laugh8:
 

hoppyscotty

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yes...my thoughts exactly! the only problem with using multiple thermometers is you don't know which one to believe!!
 

Buffers brewery

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I use one of these as non of my 3 thermometers agree….

 

hoppyscotty

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Are you measuring the temperature of the wort as it comes out of the RIMS tube and the wort in the mash tun with an independent thermometer?
Yes...there is a thermocouple at the top of the RIMS tube at the wort exit which is connected to the PID controller...however I could only source a 1.5" triclamp so had to use a 2" to 1.5" reducer so the thermocouple was sat a couple of inches higher than the top of the RIMS tube and I suspect that, especially at low flows, the short stubby thermocouple might not be fully immersed in the wort. I'll buy a longer thermocouple to see if that makes a difference. Could be the thermocouple is reading a lower temp than the wort if its not fully immersed in the flow.

I have a thermowell in the side of the mash tun and was using the thermocouple from an ink bird to monitor the temp of the mash and also a long stemmed thermometer stuck into the grist...which mostly agreed with the ink bird so the mash was definitely too warm for most of the mash.
 

Buffers brewery

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If you’re able, I’d suggest using the long stemmed thermometer that is stuck in the grist to check the temperature of the reheated wort coming out of the RIMS tube as it enters the mash tun.
 

Weizenberg

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I've got a similar setup. My breaker is at 63A (which is likely what you have). It powers a 3 vessel 50l brew setup, a mill, a maxi 310, frequency inverter, fermentation chamber and keezer (also used for secondary). It's plenty, rest assured.

I built my panel. Happy to share notes.

2022-07-2219.17.036189790036996395318.jpg
 

hoppyscotty

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I've got a similar setup. My breaker is at 63A (which is likely what you have). It powers a 3 vessel 50l brew setup, a mill, a maxi 310, frequency inverter, fermentation chamber and keezer (also used for secondary). It's plenty, rest assured.

I built my panel. Happy to share notes.

View attachment 72079
That’s awesome. Mine is not quite as polished as yours but is functional and sage so that’ll do for starters…
 

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Weizenberg

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Are you using thermocouples (usually K-types) or RTDs (most likely PT100).

Thermocouples measure at the tip only, whereas RTDs have the entire stem of the probe influencing the result.

Thermosense is a good UK company that can advise you further if needed. They have very good and friendly pre-sales support.

Measuring rather close to the element and well near the exit is a good idea.

HERMS can give you quite a temperature gradient as well.

I don't use a RIMS tube but have a circular element beneath a false bottom and a bottom draining tun. Its a 68l pot and the 3.5kw element can comfortably raise the mash by 1 Celsius a minute - which is usually what step mash schedules presume.

You can zero calibrate your probes using ice cubes. Easier with thermocouples than with RTDs.

Not sure why you had to use a reducer with your RIMS tube. Indeed it sounds like your probe is too far away, esp when it is a thermocouple.

Do you know how much power the element in the tube is rated at?

You won't need a lot for a RIMS tube...
 

clyne

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I've got a similar setup. My breaker is at 63A (which is likely what you have). It powers a 3 vessel 50l brew setup, a mill, a maxi 310, frequency inverter, fermentation chamber and keezer (also used for secondary). It's plenty, rest assured.

I built my panel. Happy to share notes.

View attachment 72079
Hey @Weizenberg - that looks awesome and very similar to what I want to end up with. All my gear came with a half built control panel and my son is doing an apprenticeship in panel wiring - so with any info you’ve got I think I should be onto a winner!! Thank you 🙏
 

hoppyscotty

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Are you using thermocouples (usually K-types) or RTDs (most likely PT100).

Thermocouples measure at the tip only, whereas RTDs have the entire stem of the probe influencing the result.

Thermosense is a good UK company that can advise you further if needed. They have very good and friendly pre-sales support.

Measuring rather close to the element and well near the exit is a good idea.

HERMS can give you quite a temperature gradient as well.

I don't use a RIMS tube but have a circular element beneath a false bottom and a bottom draining tun. Its a 68l pot and the 3.5kw element can comfortably raise the mash by 1 Celsius a minute - which is usually what step mash schedules presume.

You can zero calibrate your probes using ice cubes. Easier with thermocouples than with RTDs.

Not sure why you had to use a reducer with your RIMS tube. Indeed it sounds like your probe is too far away, esp when it is a thermocouple.

Do you know how much power the element in the tube is rated at?

You won't need a lot for a RIMS tube...
That’s useful info. They are PT100’s so the RTD type. I replaced the thermocouples that came with the kit as I couldn’t identify them or get a sensible readings from them no matter the settings in the PID. However the PT-100’s read Bob-on out of the box. Will get a longer probe for sure. The reducer is needed because the RIMS tube is 2 inches in diameter and I couldn’t find a 2 inch tri clamp fitting to use with the probe, everything seemed to be at 1.5 inch diameter.

My RIMS tube element is 3.3 kw. Seems more than powerful enough, I used it to heat up the strike water which came upto temp quickly enough.

I’ve identified a few improvements needed to my control panel so will be an ongoing project but at least it’s got the system up and running with the first brew finished in the fermenter and just waiting for me to get back from holiday to finish off. Seem to have hit all the numbers despite the issues with mash temp control.
 

Weizenberg

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3.3kw is a lot for a RIMS tube. I'd go with half that. Maybe it was operated at 110V?

My panel also handles the fermentation and conditioning. Nowadays, I would probably use a second one for this.

Finding sensible DIN rail mount Relais is a good idea.

My controllers are Red Lion PXU. It's a good idea to connect them in serial via RS485 modbus. They also support profiles and setpoint ramp rates (probably a good idea with RIMS tubes). I am very happy with them.

Unfortunately, inflation made the quite a bit dearer than when I got them.

 

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