Author Topic: Electric BIAB DIY Questions  (Read 851 times)

Offline fishinjay

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Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« on: March 20, 2018, 07:02:27 PM »
I imagine most of my questions could be answered with a bunch of separate searches, but perhaps if we post links or info below, this post could become a "sticky" post for others looking to build their own Electric BIAB.

I have been considering the UniBrau V3, but I often see people saying you could build your own for far less. Trouble is, I have no idea what to even search for. DIY projects are typically no problem, but I know very little about electrical systems.

One thing I particularly like about the UniBrau is the ability to brew with 110v on two different circuits. Can anyone recommend a parts list to me, or maybe a good resource for learning how to build a single vessel electric brew system?

I brew 5.5 gallon batches and I'd like to build the system around a Spike 10 gallon kettle.

Specifically I'm trying to figure out:
  • What controller - and are there controllers that can simultaneously control 2 electric elements?
  • Do controllers usually come with a thermometer, and if not, how do I ensure I buy a compatible one?
  • Are there elements small enough, yet still powerful enough to put two in this kettle?
  • I'd rather use a metal basket than a bag for the mash, but where would I find such a basket for sale?
  • When recirculating the mash, do I need a basket that fits snugly against the sides of the kettle? If not, how do you ensure the mash circulates through the grain bed and not around it?
  • How do I keep the grain basket off of the elements when circulating my mash?
  • What other questions am I missing?

Offline Stevie

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Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2018, 08:25:56 PM »
First off, this is a complicated build, but doable. I can’t point you to a wiring diagram or plans.
 
You can try this kettle. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FTLY1K/ref=as_at/?creativeASIN=B000FTLY1K&imprToken=vX.FME0-KOCZefyl97Yomg&slotNum=2&ie=UTF8&linkCode=w61&tag=hombrefin-20&linkId=0d123432d211733caa93a614c33c19fb

  • What controller - and are there controllers that can simultaneously control 2 electric elements?  You can use a single PID to control two SSRs wired in parallel. Each SSR will control one element. You would also want hard switches for each element to kill the power.
  • Do controllers usually come with a thermometer, and if not, how do I ensure I buy a compatible one?  PIDs use different types of probes. Check the manual to see what kind. Sometime they come bundled.
  • Are there elements small enough, yet still powerful enough to put two in this kettle? No idea, might be tight.
  • I'd rather use a metal basket than a bag for the mash, but where would I find such a basket for sale?   See kettle above.
  • When recirculating the mash, do I need a basket that fits snugly against the sides of the kettle? If not, how do you ensure the mash circulates through the grain bed and not around it?  Can’t help here.
  • How do I keep the grain basket off of the elements when circulating my mash?  The kettle above has a gap. You could install risers using bolts.
  • What other questions am I missing?  Should I hire an electrician? Probably.
[/quote]

Check the systems at High Gravity. They might be able to configure a dual element system.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 08:27:30 PM by Stevie »

Offline Stevie

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Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2018, 08:41:06 PM »
And the electrician comment wasn’t a dig. At minimum have your plans inspected and then the build before firing it.

Offline jpeets

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Re: Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2018, 08:45:39 PM »
 Check out short-circuit brewing its on YouTube it will answer most of your questions he just did a 1 gallon brew in the bag electric

Offline Richard

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Re: Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2018, 09:14:25 PM »
Regarding the second heater, you don't really need it to be connected to your controller. You only need the extra power when heating water to strike temperature or from mash temperature to boiling, and the controller isn't doing any regulating at those times. The controller does the regulation during the mash, and a single element will have plenty of power for that. The second element just reduces the amount of time you spend while heating. I have a single 2000 W element for 5-gallon batches, and it runs at less than 10% power during the mash and less than 75% during the boil. Adding a second element would not be worth it for me.
Original Gravity - that would be Newton's

Offline Wilbur

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Re: Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2018, 09:25:16 PM »
I've been looking at this as well. Here's some good resources:

http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/

https://ebrewsupply.com/

https://www.highgravitybrew.com/store/pc/Electric-Brewing-Systems-d68.htm

Kai has a really good writeup on thelectricbrewery.com. According to what I've read, if you get the ultra low watt density elements, it shouldn't be an issue to use a bag. Other options: use a false bottom and place the element under the false bottom, or use a RIMS setup. A RIMS setup places the heating element in a pipe outside of the kettle, and pumps the wort around it.

One question on it: Are you trying to keep it 120V for a specific reason? A 240V outlet is usually ~ $200 to install, and would allow much faster ramp times.

High gravity brewing has a turnkey 120V system for $900, they list a 30 minute mash>boil time.
https://www.highgravitybrew.com/store/pc/Brewing-System-Electric-Wort-Hog-5-Gallon-BIAB-120V-445p4647.htm

Here's a bunch of reviews of ready made systems:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/single-vessel-brewing-systems-overview-review-pt1.html
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/single-vessel-brewing-systems-pt2-reviews.html

Any reason in particular you're not looking at a ready made system? My only complaint is either the cost, or most seem to require a sparge.

Offline fishinjay

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Re: Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2018, 01:47:21 PM »
Thanks for all the replies so far, it's a huge help!

Quote
One question on it: Are you trying to keep it 120V for a specific reason? A 240V outlet is usually ~ $200 to install, and would allow much faster ramp times.

In my work I end up moving every 3-5 years, so having to re-install a 240v outlet every time would be a pain for me. If I go with the 120v then I know I can use it anywhere I move.

Quote
Any reason in particular you're not looking at a ready made system?
I really like the Unibrau V3 for it's mash insert and apparent quality, but the cost seems a bit much to me. I still might go that route, but I wanted to explore DIY possibilities first. I worked for many years as a an aircraft airframer, and I do a lot of home remodeling work myself, so I know I have the mechanical skills for DIY. But electrical work is something I've never attempted, so I am trying to learn as much as I can before i jump in - or abandon the idea for a ready-made system.

Offline fishinjay

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Re: Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2018, 01:49:47 PM »
I have a single 2000 W element for 5-gallon batches, and it runs at less than 10% power during the mash and less than 75% during the boil. Adding a second element would not be worth it for me.

Good to know, thanks!

Offline 802Chris

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Re: Electric BIAB DIY Questions
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2018, 04:21:35 PM »
Thanks for all the replies so far, it's a huge help!

Quote
One question on it: Are you trying to keep it 120V for a specific reason? A 240V outlet is usually ~ $200 to install, and would allow much faster ramp times.

In my work I end up moving every 3-5 years, so having to re-install a 240v outlet every time would be a pain for me. If I go with the 120v then I know I can use it anywhere I move.

Quote
Any reason in particular you're not looking at a ready made system?
I really like the Unibrau V3 for it's mash insert and apparent quality, but the cost seems a bit much to me. I still might go that route, but I wanted to explore DIY possibilities first. I worked for many years as a an aircraft airframer, and I do a lot of home remodeling work myself, so I know I have the mechanical skills for DIY. But electrical work is something I've never attempted, so I am trying to learn as much as I can before i jump in - or abandon the idea for a ready-made system.

For what it's worth, I have similar background and skillset. I DIY almost everything that I can and always try to save money where I can. I looked into DIY for months and eventually settled on a ready made system. The brewers edge mash and boil, the robo-brew, among others all offer good value when you look at the features vs DIY. This especially holds true if you are sticking with 120V and would use the features such as a timer.