How To... » Electric Brewery Build, Part 4 -or- WE HAVE POWER

Electric Brewery Build, Part 4 -or- WE HAVE POWER

Check out Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of the saga if you haven’t already!

Things seem like they are *GASP* on schedule with everything.  My next goal with the build is to hook up power and test some stuff with the control panel.  With not everything complete, we will need to do a little creative debugging, if there are any issues.

The first thing I needed to do was setup the GFCI spa panel box and wire that to the location of the brewery.  The GFCI is a safety feature to prevent me from getting shocked.  It is exactly the same as the outlets you have in your bathroom or kitchen with the TEST and RESET buttons, only bigger.  The breaker will flip if there is any imbalance of power flowing.  Safety first, kids!  The control panel  will be receiving power through the GFCI breaker via a dryer plug.  To help compact everything, I will be installing the dryer outlet directly on the spa panel box.  There is plenty of room on the inside to wire it all up, so this will be a nice little space saver.

First I had to use a jigsaw and cut out a hole where the plug would be mounted.  Four screw holes are drilled as well to hold it in place.
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Then I wired up the plug to attach it to all the outputs in the breaker box.  I feel like I turned the outlet into a Lovecraft-ian horror with it’s 4 tentacles.
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And then installed the plug and attached all the wires.  The terminal connectors shown above had to be cut off since the connectors were designed to attach to a bare wire instead.  No problem there!

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And then I had my cousin’s fiance come lend a hand to run a new line to the breaker box which will feed the spa panel.  It ended up being a little over 30 feet of wire feeding through holes cut into the floor beams, so having a helping hand was very much appreciated.  He does electrical work for a living so he was really quick about it all.  In no time we had the line run and the spa panel mounted to the wall and wired up.

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The real test came when we plugged in the control panel.  WILL IT BLOW UP?!?!  WILL WE DIE?!?!  WILL THE SPACE TIME CONTINUUM COLLAPSE?!?!
None of that happened.  The lights all came on as expected.

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Well, not exactly as expected.  The first thing that happened was the GFCI breaker flipped.  I had wired the E-Stop backwards.  And then when lighting the buttons, it eas obvious that I had them goofy.  The red had the green bulb, the blue had the red and the green didn’t light.  After a little rewiring, it all came out working just fine.  This was a huge milestone for the project.  I am getting pretty excited!

Now that we’ve got everything wired up and power running to the control panel, I need to get this heat stick built so I can test the damn thing!  The plug will run from the control panel to an enclosure box which will be mounted on the brew kettle.  The first thing I did was “build” the wire for it.  First I spliced the wire and then attached the plug to the end.

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The enclosure at the other end of the wire is a waterproof electrical conduit box.  First I cut a 1.5″ hole in the back of it with my hole saw.  I will be gluing an electrical faceplate to it so I needed to file down any of the lettering and spacers that were bumping up out of the box.  That’s a fun job!
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And then I drilled a hole in the face plate and used J&B Weld to “glue” them together.  The heating element will be threaded to this face plate into the boil kettle.IMG_1429

Next, I drilled the holes in the kettle for both the heating element and the temperature probe.  I installed both and had to fiddle a bit with where the o-ring went to prevent a leak.  On the heating element, the o-ring is on the inside, while on the probe the o-ring is on the outside.  After a successful leak-test, I was ready to wire up the heating element.

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Oof!  Holding the conduit box in the vice grip really bent it up on the sides.  It won’t have any effect on the performance though so I don’t mind.  Here is a nice view of the inside on the kettle.

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I couldn’t help myself, I had to run a quick test with it.  Something isn’t quite running right though.  The water didn’t heat at all and the PID was going nuts and triggering the alarm almost instantly.  It seems to think that it’s getting a reading of 1213*.  It’s probably just an off setting or something.  Time to download and read the manual, I guess!

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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

Other:

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