How To... » Electric Brewery Build, Part 3 -or- “Control Panel Comple-ish”

Electric Brewery Build, Part 3 -or- “Control Panel Comple-ish”

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the saga if you haven’t already!

The control panel continues to be the main focus of my attention.  In fact, to get dedicated time to work on it, I have been getting up at 5 AM to have an uninterrupted hour of work every day before the wife and kids get up.

When we left our hero last, he has just primed and painted the control panel box…  The next step was to attach all of the panel components.  All of the controls, switches and plugs attached easily enough to the box.


My next step was to mount the SSR (Solid State Replay) and it’s heat sink.  This is a very important part of the control panel which deals with the heating element and gets very hot.  To help alleviate the heat, it is attached to an external metal heat sink by screws and thermal paste.  The heat sink I am using is rated for much more than the 40 Amps that the SSR requires.  The reason is for future upgrades of a second heat stick (and SSR) going to the HLT.


What a beautiful glob of thermal paste!
The SSR attached to the heat sink.  You can see to the left there is plenty of room for a second SSR when I upgrade.

The control panel box had a cutout on the top for mounting the heat sink.  It fits very nicely and looks good on there.  Next is to mount all internal components to the back plate.  I start out by laying tape and marking screw holes for where each device will lay.  I have 2 Terminal Bus Strips (more on that later), a 4 Fuse holder, and the Contactor Relay to mount.


Not really knowing any better, I accidentally bought 20 Amp Terminal Bus Strips.  It turns out I needed 30 Amp.  I only discovered this by having all of my 10 gauge (30A) Terminal Connectors not fitting on it at all.  Another trip to the hardware store and I was in business and ready to start wiring things up.  All of the internal components are mounted and ready to be wired.  To simplify things, I am wiring each individual circuit one at a time rather than wiring each component one at a time.  Here is what things look like with the Ground (Green) and the White (Neutral) wired up.  It’s starting to become a mess but I have some wire wraps to clean things up later.


After doing some wiring, I’ve noticed that the Terminal Bus Strips are too close together.  It’s not a big deal if a few wires are touching, since they are insulated, but the lower one definitely needs moved.  It would just be a lot more of a mess with out it.  No big deal though, so I’ll move it and the contactor to make a little more room.  Also, in the picture below you can see the stick-on tie-mount and nylon ties that I will have to put throughout the control box to help keep all the wires nice and neat!


So there was one interesting part of the wiring diagram that wasn’t straight up wiring.  The “hot” line for the E-Stop has two resistors in-line.  I am unaware of any resistor holder thingys so I will solder them in place.  Remember how I have NO electrical or wiring experience?



Well, part of my inexperience is having NEVER soldered anything before.  My first attempt, shown below reflects this tremendously.  The solder held just fine but it looks like shit and my wife laughed at how bad it looked.  Time to strip it off and try again.  My problem the first time was that I was heating the solder and trying to drip it on the wire.  It turns out I needed to heat the wire and press the solder to it.  THIS IS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE!


Oof!  That looks bad.
Much better the second time around!

But you can’t have un-insulated wire in the control box.  I used heat-shrink tubing to insulate the wire and keep it from touching anything else.


Before adding heat.
Shrunk down with a lighter.

At this point, the wiring is done except for the the plug that will feed the electricity.  I just need to clean it up a little bit using nylon ties and the mounts.  There are a few installed here but not as many as it needs to be nice and tidy.

Here is a breakdown of the entire box diagramming what is what.
Inside the box:

Mounted to the Inside of the door:

 There are a few things to check off the list but also a few more to add at the bottom under “Other.”  The Christmas deadline is looking more like New Years, or even later.  TREK ON, DAMMIT!

Control Panel:

  • Wire a 220V Fuse to the location of the brewery – Going to talk to my cousin about this TODAY!
  • Install and wire GFCI breaker – Going to talk to my cousin about this TODAY!
  • Install 30AMP Plug on GFCI breaker (to power to control panel) – Planned to have done for next update
  • 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 – Planned to have done for next update
  • Install new plug on pump (I want twist-lock plugs so they don’t fall out as easily) – Planned to have done for next update (as long as the pump arrives)


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


  • Build table to brew on – NEW ADDITION
  • Rig up some sort of ventilation (for moisture, not carbon monoxide) – NEW ADDITION
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