So for about a year now, I’ve been toying with this idea of making my brewery electric. Seemed like a great idea, no more propane, no open flames, no CO to worry about in enclosed spaces…it seemed too good to be true, so I just had to jump on board. I decided to go the route of the PID as opposed to one of the computer based solutions as I want this to just work…no windows crashes or farts…just work.
I had one major problem. These systems all work on the premise of a 240V electric water heater element for the heat source, and I had no 240V source anywhere near where I would brew. Since it was a rental, running new wires and such was out of the question, but I still wanted to do it, so I decided to make a ‘hybrid’ system or sorts. I would use the propane burner in the brew stand for the boil, but for heating the strike water and maintaining the temp of the HERMS system, I’d use my electric bru box…with 120V that I could get anywhere. This would also allow me to use my pumps with switches in the box or even automate them to turn on at set temps if I so desired.
So there it was…a half-assed attempt at electric brewing. It took forever to heat strike water, ramp up temps for the mash, and actually made my brew day more complicated…NOT what I had in mind. I had drooled over systems like the one known as the ‘Electric Brewery’ online and knew I had to do something…but I was handcuffed to 120V, until now. Enter Hot Carl’s new house, and Brewery V2.0.
First up, my original control panel…I tried my best to wire it so that I had to redo as little as possible when I did make the jump to 240V. After laying down some hard-earned $$$ for another PID and temp probe, some 240 LED’s and some other miscellaneous hardware, I was ready to go. I cut the hole for the heatsink so that I could mount both relays to it, and also cut a hole for the PID and new power switch and led.
Then it was time to drill and tap the heatsink and get it all mounted up to the control box with some sealant/adhesive so that the enclosure stayed watertight. All of the external components (LED’s, switches, PID’s) are all rated to be watertight and have gaskets where they connect to the holes in the enclosure…And it will have its own 50A dedicated GFCI. I dont particularly love electric shock, so I might as well try to make it as safe as possible.
And, were back…Heres a schematic from eBrewsupply.com (who is local and I have sourced much of my equipment from) on what I am attempting to do.
As one that isn’t particularly savvy with electricity,, I had to go over this diagram repeatedly and make double sure that I was wiring things correctly. The last thing I want is to plug the thing in and have all my work and $$$ go up in magic white smoke before any beer is actually to be had The one thing that I left out was the E-Stop switch/button. Some will argue that this is absolutely necessary to have in the event that something is going awry…I argue that the on/off switch will suffice for now since it cuts power to everything in the panel when activated. I may later on however install a e-stop cutoff that would cut all outgoing power (heating elements and pumps) while leaving power to the PID’s and any timers I choose to add. That way if it is something that can be easily remediated, I can keep going with the brew where I left off without having to start everything over. That is, however, a future installment to this…and in no way guaranteed as I am inherently lazy. Since I have spent the past few months moving working and NOT brewing, I have no homebrew to drink…I guess I’ll move on to wine to wet my palette while I work.
And the finished product…
Up next, keggle bottom drain mash tun, or rewiring the garage to brew-land…I have yet to decide.