How To... » Electric Brewery Build, Part 1 -or- “What have I got myself into?!”

Electric Brewery Build, Part 1 -or- “What have I got myself into?!”

It seems like a lot of people are getting into the whole electric brewing thing.  After a few low temperature brews last winter, the idea really hit me hard.  How wonderful would it be to be able to brew INSIDE IN THE WINTER?!  Sounds pretty damn awesome, if you ask me.  I’ve decided to pull the trigger on upgrading my system to electric and I will document it here.

The Plan:

Electric systems can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be.  Check out “The Electric Brewery” for a pretty intricate build with ALL the bells and whistles.  That’s too much.  I just want to modify my system, rather than redo it.  Complete automation be damned, but a little will be nice.  Here is a breakdown of my conceived end product:

brewery

 

I will be building a control panel that will control the following:

  • 5500 Watt Electric Heating Element – Installed in kettle and used to heat strike/sparge water and to boil wort.
  • Temperature Probe – Installed in kettle and will maintain temperature by turning the heating element on and off.
  • Pump – Will transfer water/wort between vessels.
  • Timer – Installed on the control panel, will be used to keep track of mash and boil length.

I will continue to mash in my 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler but it wouldn’t be an issue to upgrade to a keg mash tun if needed.  I will also use a single keg as the hot liquor tank and the boil kettle.  I want to have everything able to be upgraded if I later decide to install a separate HLT.  The only advantage to have one would be to be able to do batches right after one another, having one boiling and the other mashing at the same time.

A member of HomebrewTalk.com named PJ has made plenty of electrical diagrams for various electrical brewery setups and posted them online.  I found exactly what I was looking for in a diagram he had made, taking a lot of work out of my hands.  You can see the diagram here, if interested.

I broke down and bought MOST of the equipment I needed for the build.  Oh my god.  What have I gotten into?

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The Check-List:

Here is a rudimentary check list of what all I have to do broken down by component.

Control Panel:

  • Wire a 220V Fuse to the location of the brewery
  • Install and wire GFCI breaker
  • Install 30AMP Plug on GFCI breaker (to power to control panel)
  • Drill holes in Control Panel box for various plugs and buttons
  • Prime and Paint Control Panel box
  • Install components
  • Wire components
  • Build wire and water-tight enclosure for heating element
  • Install new plug on pump (I want twist-lock plugs so they don’t fall out as easily)

Kettle:

  • Drill Holes for Temperature Probe and Heating Element
  • Install Temperature Probe and Heating Element
  • (Maybe) Install quick-disconnects to make switching the pump easier

It doesn’t seem like too much.  I want to have everything up and running by Christmas at the latest.  Stay tuned for updates!

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