Author Topic: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?  (Read 1395 times)

Offline AmandaK

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Yes, I've been out for a while - brewing 90 gallons on a strict schedule for the wedding kinda burned me out for a bit. But I'm getting back into it with this...
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So here's a hair-brained idea: what if I was able to reprogram the PLC on the Brew Magic to also control heating elements in the BK and HLT, as well as use the 2000W heater in the RIMS tube to actually raise the mash temp?

For those who aren't intimately familiar with the Brew Magic, it has a Unitronics V350 touch screen PLC in it, which is a 12 relay PLC. The Brew Magic is currently using 2(? - basically not many) of the relays.

Theoretically, the BK and HLT could be converted to electric fairly easily. Add element, add wiring, and use a simple controller like High Gravity has (with the turn knob) to control the heat output. Done, but not pretty.

If I wanted to go pretty, I could add programming into the PLC (with appropriately stepped relays) to control the BK and HLT elements.

BUT. What if I could reprogram the RIMS tube heater logic to work when I want to raise the mash, instead of just maintaining the mash? I know the element in place can do it, if you trick the program, but it's tedious. The Sabco software only operates the RIMS tube element if you are -4F to -0.01F from your set mash temperature. It will be off otherwise, and you are forced to use the propane burner to bring it up any farther than this. Here's my trick: If you have a steady mash temp at say, 152, and you want it to be 158... program the set point to be 154, then when it gets there, go to 156, then when it gets there, go to 158. And then you have a RIMS element works as a step masher! Ha.

So how crazy is this? I've searched the internet and no one has seemed to do this specific thing. There are plenty of conversions from super old BMs to electric (before they had the PLC), but none using the existing PLC with new custom software.

I already talked with our lead electrical engineer in the office and he seems to be quite excited about it. He also indicated that the reprogramming/wiring of the PLC would be the easiest part of this (from an EE perspective, of course). Rewiring the house for 30-50A and getting a condensate hood installed would be the difficult part, according to him. Ha.
Amanda Burkemper
KC Bier Meisters Education Director
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Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
Our Homebrewed Wedding, AHA Article

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 08:14:03 PM »
If you truly want to convert your system over to electric brewing, then you should do it.   PLCs are flexible process controllers.

Offline blatz

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2014, 09:30:57 PM »
Amanda

i love my electric setup - it definitely was one of the better decisions I made.  I say do it!

Also - don't you brew with the garage door open?  i can't recall if that was part of your new setup. i open the big door and i have a back door (regular size).  I didn't wind up needing a condensate hood for my application. 
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2014, 11:11:48 PM »
Good to know! Thanks Paul!

My garage is a bit weird in that it doesn't have a back door. This is basically the back wall, opposite the garage doors.

I think (if I do this) that I would keep the brewery right where it is for brewing, since the sink is just to the left and one fermenter is just to the right. The back wall is constructed in such a way (split level home that has a 2' overhang in the back on the second level above the garage) that I could run the ducting through the upper portion of the wall, through the soffit, and back down into the soffit. With that ~2' duct run, you won't even see the ducting from the deck out back.

I think I'm going to talk to a friend over Thanksgiving that welds stainless and see what kind of attachments I can put on my kettles for the elements. Perhaps he can weld up a condensate hood out of sheet steel. I'll have to look at yours and see what you did. Are you RIMS or HERMS?
Amanda Burkemper
KC Bier Meisters Education Director
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BJCP Master/Mead

Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
Our Homebrewed Wedding, AHA Article

Offline blatz

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2014, 11:30:23 PM »
Cool!  Happy to help with tips.  Will think a bit more about what you're trying to accomplish.

Mine is HERMS - i did a post on The Pimp My System folder a while back if you want to see it
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline flynnale

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2014, 11:53:59 PM »
I converted my sabco kettles to electric last week. I used weldless fittings and it worked fine. I did go to a welder and have 1.5" TC ferrules welded on so it would be easier to pull and position the element. I use an ebrewery control panel. That first electric batch was sure nice.  Quiet too.

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2014, 03:14:58 AM »
I converted my sabco kettles to electric last week. I used weldless fittings and it worked fine. I did go to a welder and have 1.5" TC ferrules welded on so it would be easier to pull and position the element. I use an ebrewery control panel. That first electric batch was sure nice.  Quiet too.
So did you use the existing PLC or are you running something separate to run them? And what year is yours, if you don't mind me asking?
Amanda Burkemper
KC Bier Meisters Education Director
BJCP Assistant Education Director
BJCP Master/Mead

Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
Our Homebrewed Wedding, AHA Article

Offline flynnale

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2014, 04:08:10 AM »
Ah, I was not clear Amanda.  I have all the kettles but not the Brew Magic PLC controller.  What I did do was install 1 1/2" ferrules in the boil and hlt and then put a 50' HERMS coil in the HLT and everything is run with an ebrew supply panel.  Sorry I wasn't clear.

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2014, 02:06:32 PM »
Yeah, there are plenty of threads all over for that kind of build. I'm curious about the PLC / RIMS /custom software route.

Thanks though!

Paul, I looked at yours and will probably be send you some questions along the way.
First one: can you describe how you attached the elements to the kettles? Are they on some sort of disconnect or do you need to take the cord with you when you take it off the stand to clean it?
Amanda Burkemper
KC Bier Meisters Education Director
BJCP Assistant Education Director
BJCP Master/Mead

Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
Our Homebrewed Wedding, AHA Article

Offline blatz

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2014, 02:41:56 PM »
Paul, I looked at yours and will probably be send you some questions along the way.
First one: can you describe how you attached the elements to the kettles? Are they on some sort of disconnect or do you need to take the cord with you when you take it off the stand to clean it?

I built it off the plans on kal's site www.theelectricbrewery.com.  basically, you punch a hole through the kettle and slide the element through, and use a gasket/nut combination similar to the weldless kits to seal it up and keep it in place.  on the outside is an electrical box that plugs into the controller.  I'm actually brewing tomorrow so I can take more pics if you'd like.

I don't really move the HLT or BK - I clean in place.  I suppose you could unplug them to move and clean them, but seems like more hassle than its worth. 
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline flynnale

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2014, 05:35:17 PM »
Here is what I did on the elements

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2014, 07:29:02 PM »
Here is what I did on the elements
I'm not seeing a picture if there is supposed to be one. Just FYI.
Amanda Burkemper
KC Bier Meisters Education Director
BJCP Assistant Education Director
BJCP Master/Mead

Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
Our Homebrewed Wedding, AHA Article

Offline flynnale

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Re: Tell me I shouldn't do this: Convert a Sabco Brew Magic to Full Electric?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2014, 07:40:45 PM »