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Electric Brewery Control Panel on the Cheap

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If you are into home brewing then you have likely heard of "The Electric Brewery" created and run by a fellow named Kal. If you haven't then get over there and read up. This is the best homebrew setup out there, well thought out, well designed and effectively open source. It uses electric hot water heater elements, a three-kettle two-pump setup, and a process control panel to bring your home brewing to a new level of awesome and easy. Kal has designed a top-notch, no-compromises system that is safe, enjoyable and easy to use. However, it is expensive. Also, Kal is an engineer by training, and as a fellow engineer I cannot possibly leave well enough alone and must change his design. This is job security which is bred into all engineering types. You can substitute fittings and pots and pumps to reduce system cost, but the heart of the "Electric Brewery" system and one of the costliest is the control panel. Here I will show you how I redesigned Kal's control panel with cost in mind, bringing the cost down from around $1500 to $250 without compromising safety and with only a few compromises in function. I can attest to the fact that this control panel works and makes great beer. If that sounds good to you, then read on!
 
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Thanks for the quick and detailed reply. Here is a little further explanation.

Since I am going the use the Keggle as both an HLT and Boil Kettle won't I need to heat up sparge water at the same time the RIMS is running (although with a cooler for a mash tun I could probably turn the element off for a few minutes and still maintain temp). That is why I wondered if the circuit would handle it. I was looking on the net for an amperage calculator to figure the load of the elements and hadn't found
one yet (I forget my Ohms law). I appreciate you telling me the loads. Now I am not sure what I will do. Am I just thinking about it wrong?

I do have another unrelated 120v/20amp GFCI protected circuit close by and could run the RIMS from there, but I really don't want two power cords or two controller boxes.

Since I am using the Keggle for both HLT and boiling I wanted to figure out a way to use the PID during HLT time and the SCR during the boil. You are right I don't need a relay with the SCR, I just need to figure out where to put a switch between the Element and the SCR and PID so I can leave the PID on during the boil and later when whirl-pooling and cooling to watch the temp. I would also like to figure out how to turn off the relays, while still monitoring temp with the PID.

I thought that the SPA panel would all be controlled by the 50 amp GFCI too. But that isn't the case, The GFCI breaker is on the same buss as the rest of the panel. I have tested it and looked at it pretty closely. If someone out there knows how I can re-wire it I would like to know.

With regards to the 50amp breaker / 30 amp circuit wiring you are right, I have wired the sub-panel as a 30amp circuit. It branches off the main panel through a 30amp breaker on the panel. If it ever draws more than 30 amps, it will blow the breaker at the main panel. It will never draw enough load to flip the 50 amp breaker. I am using it strictly as a GFCI for the 240 volt circuit. I finished remodeling my basement last year and pre-ran conduit over the ceiling to run the wire. After I was finished wiring the sub-panel I found a roll of 6 gauge wire that I forgot I bought about 10 years ago hidden behind a stack of boxes. I kicked myself a few times.

jmengel (author)  BittersweetBrews2 days ago

My understanding of sparging would suggest that using the keggle as an HLT and boil vessel would not work. To sparge, I pump hot water from the HLT over the mash and withdraw wort from the mash into the boil vessel. I'm not familiar with your setup.

Since I am running a 1 kettle system I have to do some juggling depending on batch size and how much sparge water I need. I have a 5 gallon water cooler I can I put the sparge water into and gravity sparge from there. If I need more than 5 gallons of sparge water, I have to drain the wort into a 5 gallon bucket until the HLT/Kettle is empty. A seperate HLT is probably going to be my next purchase.

I guess another option, which I hadn't thought of until now, would be to
run the HLT/Boil element at 120V, while the RIMs element is turned on.
Since the sparge water amount would not be near the volume of
the full boil, the time during the mash should give it plenty of time to heat up to sparging temps.
That might be a good solution. I would be able to keep the amperage
below my circuit level at about 22.5 amps and still be able to save some time doing two
things at once. I may need another relay.

baer19d3 days ago

Okay, I fixed the breaker tripping issue. Now my issue is with the 110 outlet for the pumps. How do I split the power between the two receptacles? I have it wired with 2 hots, each going to a toggle switch and one neutral but when I flip either toggle both recepticles have power.

jmengel (author)  baer19d2 days ago

I'm not sure what you are doing, but if you are trying to switch each receptacle in a twin receptacle wall outlet then you will need to run a wire from each toggle to each receptacle separately (one toggle and one hot wire for each receptacle). and also break the connection between the receptacles on the outlet. This is done with a needle nose piers usually, breaking the brass bridge between the two wire attachment screws.

I didn't know I had to break the connection on the hot side. As soon as I researched it on Google it made perfect sence to me.

Never mind, I figured it out.

bonas4 days ago

I am building a version of this control panel. I started a thread about it on the Electric Brewery website here: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/forum/viewtopic....

OK, here is my system and what I want to do. I would appreciate some advice on feasablility and method. Up to now I have been using propane. I am building an electric brewery beacause it sounds cool and it is getting too cold to brew outside. I have been collecting parts and working on preliminary tasks for a months. I plan on building a controller based on your great Instructable.

I have some questions about modifications I would like to make and wonder where and how I should go about doing them.

First my infrastructure. I am listing prices so others will have an idea what it will cost to do this (about $400-$500 depending on what you have already).

I have run a 240Volt, 30Amp, 4 wire circuit ($14 breaker) to a subpanel in my future brewery area (my workshop - 10Ga wire)). The sub-panel is actually a Midwest Electric Spa Panel I got off ebay for about $34. I had the 10 gauge wire and conduit. It came with one 240V/50Amp GFCI breaker and slots for 4 additional normal breakers (fyi-they are NOT protected by the GFCI breaker). I know that the 50amp GFCI breaker is more than the 30 Amp circuit - I am using it for the GFCI (the breaker on the main panel will trip in an overload). I have added off of the sub-panel two 20 amp circuits, one on each leg of the 240V run from the main panel. On the 240v GFCI circuit I have a 30 Amp, 4 prong dryer outlet and an L6/20 outlet. The brew controller will plug into one of these. On each of the 20 amp circuits ($8 for breakers) I have runs to a standard 20 Amp GFCI outlet ($10 ea) which is also in front of an L5/20 outlet (I had this and 12 gauge wire and conduit for the circuits). I also have a previously installed 120V/20A GFCI circuit in the same area (off the main panel) I can use if necessary.

Now my brewing Equipment. I have built most of this recently and haven't used it yet. So this is where some of my questions will come in.

I have a 50 liter keggle with a 5400 watt ULWD ripple element (Keg-$25, Element-$28). It will run at 240V. For now I plan on using it for heating strike and sparge water as well as a boil kettle.
I have a 54 quart cooler I use as a mash tun (had)
I have a SS RIMS tube with a 5400 ULWD fold over element (about $50-SS parts - $25-Element). It will run at 120V so as to not scorth the wort.
1 Chugger pump with SS head.($129)

Here are the parts I can use for my controller and about what I paid for them:
2 - MYPIN PD4 PIDs for RIMS and HLT (these are the model with manual control) $22 ea
1 - 9500W High Power SCR Electronic Volt Regulator Speed Controller Governor Dimmer for Boil Control $20 - I have tested this by itself and it works great.
2 - SSR-40DA 40A /250V W I/O 3-32VDC/24-380VAC & Heat Sink $8 ea
3 - MAGNECRAFT 92S7A22D-120A Relay,Power,6 Pin,DPST-NO,30A,120VAC $7 ea
4 - DPST Heavy Duty 20A Switches $2.25 ea
3 - DPDT Heavy Duty 20A Switches (ON-ON) $2.75 Ea
3 - DPDT Heavy Duty 20A Switches (ON-OFF-ON) $2.80 ea
1 - L5-20 120v outlet (Had)
1 - L6-30 240v outlet ($11)
1 - 120v duplex outlet (Had)
3 - Thermocouples ($15)
3 - XLR Outlets and plugs ($10)
240V lights ($5)
4 - two row screw terminal panels ($8)
Misc. elect. - connectors, 10Ga cord, wire, etc. (maybe $20 total)

Here are my questions. They are over wiring, how to use the PID and power:
1. Since I plan on using the keggle as both an HLT and boil kettle I am concerned with controlling these two functions. Is the manual mode on the MYPIN PIDs easy and quick enough to control and move temp up and down? I have the SCR controller/governor which works great to turn a burner up and down with the turn of a dial. I think this would lessen the chance of a boil-over while pushing buttons on the PID. What does anyone think about this?
2. If I were to put the SCR controller in the panel how and where in the circuit could I switch the heating element from PID to SCR? Should I just switch the element over at the PID or after the relays?. Do I need another relay for this? Can I leave the PID on to use as a thermometer on the kettle without kicking the relays on (can I turn PID controll off and leave temp monitoring on)?
3. Finally an important question. With both a 120v RIMS and a 240V HLT will I be able to run both of these elements at the same time on my 30 Amp circuit? I can run a seperate cord for the RIMS to the previously installed 120V/20Amp circuit but don't really want two cords coming out of my controller box and don't want to build a second one.

Thanks for any input.

Tim

jmengel (author)  BittersweetBrews7 days ago

1. Most PIDs (I don't have experience with the exact model you refer to) take only a minute or less to change the temp. The volume of water involved means that nothing happens quickly. I don't use a PID for boil, as this isn't a state that is easily maintained by a controller. The above build shows a PID for boil, but I've replaced it with a simple PWM output to the SSR controlled by a potentiometer knob. Far easier to get it boiling visually and dial it back or up as you'd do with the SCR controller knob.

2. I would remove the PID for the boil and just use the SCR between the power and the heater element. Which is to say I'd eliminate the SSR as well. Possibly retaining the selector switch and heater relays so you don't have the RIMS and the boil heaters running simultaneously. The SCR can bring the wort to boil all on its own, and maintain boil without boilover fairly easily with periodic attention on your part. The SCR would be downstream of the main relay, and you could keep the RIMS and HLT/Boil selector switch and relays to keep from running both at the same time.

3. Do you need to run both at the same time? Your 5400W HLT element will draw 22.5 amps at 240V. The 5400W RIMS element will draw half that at 120V. Thus the total is 34 amps thereabouts and you can't run it on the 30A circuit. If the whole subpanel is connected throught the 50A GFCI breaker to the main service you could run a separate 20A circuit for the RIMS and still have GFCI protection since all circuits downstream on the subpanel will be protected if you wired it correctly. The 50A breaker will handle both as long as your wired the subpanel to 50A code. But it sounds like you only wired the subpanel to 30A code with 10 gauge wire and you thus shouldn't use the 50A breaker at all or risk a fire. Why would you want to run the RIMS and Boil at the same time anyway? Your system doesn't appear to be capable of dual batching so there sound be no need to run both.

OK, here is my system and what I want to do. I would appreciate some advice on feasablility and method. Up to now I have been using propane. I am building an electric brewery beacause it sounds cool and it is getting too cold to brew outside. I have been collecting parts and working on preliminary tasks for a months. I plan on building a controller based on your great Instructable.

I have some questions about modifications I would like to make and wonder where and how I should go about doing them.

First my infrastructure. I am listing prices so others will have an idea what it will cost to do this (about $400-$500 depending on what you have already).

I have run a 240Volt, 30Amp, 4 wire circuit ($14 breaker) to a subpanel in my future brewery area (my workshop - 10Ga wire)). The sub-panel is actually a Midwest Electric Spa Panel I got off ebay for about $34. I had the 10 gauge wire and conduit. It came with one 240V/50Amp GFCI breaker and slots for 4 additional normal breakers (fyi-they are NOT protected by the GFCI breaker). I know that the 50amp GFCI breaker is more than the 30 Amp circuit - I am using it for the GFCI (the breaker on the main panel will trip in an overload). I have added off of the sub-panel two 20 amp circuits, one on each leg of the 240V run from the main panel. On the 240v GFCI circuit I have a 30 Amp, 4 prong dryer outlet and an L6/20 outlet. The brew controller will plug into one of these. On each of the 20 amp circuits ($8 for breakers) I have runs to a standard 20 Amp GFCI outlet ($10 ea) which is also in front of an L5/20 outlet (I had this and 12 gauge wire and conduit for the circuits). I also have a previously installed 120V/20A GFCI circuit in the same area (off the main panel) I can use if necessary.

Now my brewing Equipment. I have built most of this recently and haven't used it yet. So this is where some of my questions will come in.

I have a 50 liter keggle with a 5400 watt ULWD ripple element (Keg-$25, Element-$28). It will run at 240V. For now I plan on using it for heating strike and sparge water as well as a boil kettle.
I have a 54 quart cooler I use as a mash tun (had)
I have a SS RIMS tube with a 5400 ULWD fold over element (about $50-SS parts - $25-Element). It will run at 120V so as to not scorth the wort.
1 Chugger pump with SS head.($129)

Here are the parts I can use for my controller and about what I paid for them:
2 - MYPIN PD4 PIDs for RIMS and HLT (these are the model with manual control) $22 ea
1 - 9500W High Power SCR Electronic Volt Regulator Speed Controller Governor Dimmer for Boil Control $20 - I have tested this by itself and it works great.
2 - SSR-40DA 40A /250V W I/O 3-32VDC/24-380VAC & Heat Sink $8 ea
3 - MAGNECRAFT 92S7A22D-120A Relay,Power,6 Pin,DPST-NO,30A,120VAC $7 ea
4 - DPST Heavy Duty 20A Switches $2.25 ea
3 - DPDT Heavy Duty 20A Switches (ON-ON) $2.75 Ea
3 - DPDT Heavy Duty 20A Switches (ON-OFF-ON) $2.80 ea
1 - L5-20 120v outlet (Had)
1 - L6-30 240v outlet ($11)
1 - 120v duplex outlet (Had)
3 - Thermocouples ($15)
3 - XLR Outlets and plugs ($10)
240V lights ($5)
4 - two row screw terminal panels ($8)
Misc. elect. - connectors, 10Ga cord, wire, etc. (maybe $20 total)

Here are my questions. They are over wiring, how to use the PID and power:
1. Since I plan on using the keggle as both an HLT and boil kettle I am concerned with controlling these two functions. Is the manual mode on the MYPIN PIDs easy and quick enough to control and move temp up and down? I have the SCR controller/governor which works great to turn a burner up and down with the turn of a dial. I think this would lessen the chance of a boil-over while pushing buttons on the PID. What does anyone think about this?
2. If I were to put the SCR controller in the panel how and where in the circuit could I switch the heating element from PID to SCR? Should I just switch the element over at the PID or after the relays?. Do I need another relay for this? Can I leave the PID on to use as a thermometer on the kettle without kicking the relays on (can I turn PID controll off and leave temp monitoring on)?
3. Finally an important question. With both a 120v RIMS and a 240V HLT will I be able to run both of these elements at the same time on my 30 Amp circuit? I can run a seperate cord for the RIMS to the previously installed 120V/20Amp circuit but don't really want two cords coming out of my controller box and don't want to build a second one.

Thanks for any input.

Tim

BillM14 months ago

In looking at the wiring for the keyswitch, it seems that power would need at the key to activate the relay. However the keyswitch is connected to common buss and the connection that is unpowered until the relay kicks in. Am I missing something?

jmengel (author)  BillM13 months ago
Ah, yes, good catch. If you look at the photo of the ratsnest below the schematic you can just see the black wire from the keyswitch disappearing into the terminal connector on the hot (black) wire from the 240VAC cable BEFORE the main relay, giving the keyswitch power at all times and thus enabling it to actually energize the main relay. As drawn the schematic is in error and would not work. I'll update that one of these days....

Has the schematic been updated to reflect the correction?

jmengel (author)  baer19d7 days ago

No. It is discussed above. Basically the keyswitch needs to be connected to the hot black wire before the relay, as in always on. As drawn, the switch cannot energize the main relay because it is downstream of the main relay. Move the black wire of the switch to the other side of the relay, to the always on side that comes direct from the wall power.

Will you please post your updated schematic to include the heat sinks.

jmengel (author)  carson12033 months ago

The heat sinks go on the SSRs and are not meant to be in the schematic, which is really more of a wiring diagram (with an error as noted by BillM1 above).

What can I do to assist?

Ok Jmengel,

I am no where close to being an engineer. Honestly I am a newbie when it comes to wiring. I love this project. I have all the hardware and am ready to being wiring. I am really nervous and don't want to mess this up. I am having a hard time following your wiring diagram and photos. I require a "rookie" version..... please. This is a huge learning experience for me and I require your expertise. If you could post or email me a wiring diagram for dummies with some explanations so that I may get my learn on. Thanks in advance.

jmengel (author)  carson12033 months ago

I'm sorry to say that I really don't have the time to redo this instructable to a "solder wire A to tab B" level of detail. Since the project uses 240VAC and AC in general throughout, I'd really suggest you bone up on a smaller undertaking before diving in if you aren't comfortable with electricity. AC can ruin your day or end your life if you aren't careful. The diagram as shown has all the info really needed (minus the mistake on the keyswitch wiring) and unless you have sourced the exact same parts as mine I will not be able to provide a pin-to-pin schematic anyway.

That said, if you want to forge ahead, dive in and have specific questions about a portion of the project, I'll be happy to help.

Thanks, I fully understand. I am currently trying to get my learn on. I will send questions as required. Thanks again.

baer19d8 days ago

Well, I had a few wired mixed up. Now as soon as I turn the key switch the GFCI breaker that I installed in my panel trips.

baer19d8 days ago

Well, I had a few wired mixed up. Now as soon as I turn the key switch the GFCI breaker that I installed in my panel trips.

baer19d9 days ago

I replaced the relay and still nothing. Is the relay supposed to click when current is supplied?

jmengel (author)  baer19d9 days ago
When the coil is energized, it will close (or open) the main current carrying contacts. This will result in an audible click.

My guess is the wiring is the problem. Also there is an error in the schematic related to the key switch that is discussed in comments. Could be it.
baer19d12 days ago

Well, I got it all together exactly like the schematic and nothing, no power. There's power to the relay but nothing past that so it looks like the relay isn't working. I'll replace it and see if that's the problem.

baer19d27 days ago

I'm having some trouble understanding the schematic symbols on your schematic for the relays and SSR's. My components don't have the same ones on them. Is it safe to say I can put the wires to the terminals on the relays exactly as your schematic shows? I ask this because it looks like the schematic and the picture show them going to different terminals. Also, for the SSR's I'm assuming the input goes to the AC side and the output to the PID's comes from the DC side. Is this correct and if so does it matter witch terminal, i.e. # 1,2,3, or 4 as mine are numbered?

Thanks, Mike

baer19d baer19d26 days ago

Anyone?

jmengel (author)  baer19d25 days ago

It is safe to say that you can put your wires on the terminals exactly as shown in my schematic if you understand the schematic and the operation of your relays and SSRs. FYI, the DC PID control signal goes to the DC input of the SSR. Without having all your components in hand, I can't say much more.

baer19d26 days ago

Lots and lots of questions! Where does the 120V come from for the pump outlet, do the relays reduce the voltage or something?

jmengel (author)  baer19d25 days ago

The red wire. It is one of the 120VAC hot legs that go into making a 240VAC circuit. The black wire could also be used, as it is 120VAC as well. Relative to the neutral wire and the ground. The relays do not alter the voltage, they are straight pass through, low impedance, or they would get really hot.

Larkym231 month ago

I fully understand your circuit, I am just curious if you could elaborate on the purpose of the SSR and relays. Do we need an SSR and relay per PID or per heating element. I am trying to build something with one PID, but two heating elements.

jmengel (author)  Larkym231 month ago
The short answer is you need an SSR and Relay per heating element, and you would switch which SSR received the single PID signal and which relay was active. The purpose of the SSR is to provide the relatively high frequency switching and long cycle life while the relay provides easy selection and complete isolation. So you could do what you envision by adding another switch that directs the PID signal to the proper SSR in turn. Read your SSR datasheet, I'm not sure if you want the non-active SSR input grounded or floating in case the accompanying relay is inadvertently activated, energizing the leads to the SSR. Good luck.

Essentially, could I hook up another heater receptacle to each of the receptacles you have so there is two heating receptacles? I would have to step up the relays and SSRs to higher currents, but would it work?

jmengel (author)  Larkym2328 days ago

You can't run the heater in the HLT and the boil pot at the same time. Just unplug the HLT and plug in the Boil to your single receptacle and single SSR and single PID. The Electric brewery and my simplified electric brewery control panels are not capable of running both heaters simultaneously (hence the selector switch) so there is no need to step up the relays and SSRs to higher currents. The system can only power one heater at a time.

baer19d jmengel27 days ago

Would it be possible to make one that could run two elements at the same time?

Mike

jmengel (author)  baer19d26 days ago

Yes and no. 2 elements would be pulling about 10kW from your electrical service. You'd need a 60A GFCI breaker and wiring that would take 60A, or build two separate 30A systems with two separate 30A breakers. I'm not sure what your electrical service is rated at either, but you'd likely need to take care as to what else you were running at the same time. For example, many houses have a 100A service drop, with older houses even less. If you had an electric range, water heater, heat pump, or dryer, you'd not be able to brew and use those at the same time.

Ragnacök28 days ago

There are two items that seem to not correspond to the pictures or make sense.

The relays you have listed are rated for 120VAC. Don't they need to be 240 VAC?

In your picture you have 4 wire locking receptacles and on your parts list you have 3 wire receptacles. To make the system safe dont you need to have 4?

jmengel (author)  Ragnacök28 days ago

The 120VAC rating on the relay is the coil voltage, the voltage required to actuate the relay. The relay contact or load side is rated for 240VAC and 30A.

I used 4-wire receptacles and plugs because I had them already on hand. You are correct that the BOM and the schematic shows 3. You only need the 3 because the neutral wire is not involved with the heaters. Just the two hots and the ground. If current is flowing on the ground, then the GFCI trips.

Kevo9991 month ago

JLD612 perhaps?

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