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ManSkirtBrew
08-03-2014, 11:00 AM
I'm looking to build out a 5 or 7bbl brewhouse. The way I see it, electric has a lot of advantages over gas: no make up air needed, no venting for CO, no open flame heating the air (less strain on air conditioning), no need for fire suppression, programmable so I can set the HLT the night before.

I hear a lot of gas brewers saying very vehemently to stay away from it, but I don't hear a lot of good reasons. Mostly I hear "it'll be too expensive." I did some spreadsheeting using the industry standards found here (http://www.soundbrew.com/standards.html), and for a 7bbl batch, electric power comes out about $2 more expensive per batch. So cost isn't really an issue, unless those "industry standards" are way off.

I have a hypothesis that most of these brewers have never used an electric system, so I'd love to hear from anyone using an electric brewhouse in this size. How do you like your system? Do you wish you'd gone gas instead?

Thirsty_Monk
08-03-2014, 07:02 PM
Did you consider demand charges? If your electrical connection can deliver more them 25kW you will have demand meter.

Also electric elements are bear to clean. And you will have to clean them.

gagners
08-03-2014, 08:06 PM
Currently on a 3.5bbl electric system. Great advantages, as you stated, but Thirsty also has some great points. A huge chunk of our electric bill is a peak demand charge. We get the first 5kw included in our base bill, but every kw after that is pretty expensive.

Also, ensuring the elements are clean is a big deal.

If you have any specific questions about electric systems, feel free to PM me.

Steve

ManSkirtBrew
08-04-2014, 07:59 AM
Did you consider demand charges? If your electrical connection can deliver more them 25kW you will have demand meter.
Also electric elements are bear to clean. And you will have to clean them.
Thanks TM. No, I didn't consider demand charges. I will ask about that when I call my electric company today.

Yes, I'm quite familiar with scrubbing elements. I do it every brewday on my 11000watt system at home.

How big is your electric brewhouse?

PolarisBrewing
08-04-2014, 01:24 PM
Any thoughts on a Kai-style The Electric Brewery rig? Thinking of building a "giant homebrew" 2bbl system from his instructions and dual 4500w elements in the kettle and HLT to allow back-to-back batching. His control panel and process make me think it's the best way to go.

Thanks,
Jason

ManSkirtBrew
08-04-2014, 01:34 PM
I am running a very similar rig at home already, with 5500 watt elements in 25 gallon kettles. I absolutely love it, but I'm here on Probrewer to find out how it scales up to production sizes. I was hoping maybe someone had installed one of the 5 or 7bbl electric systems from Stout (or something similar) and had some feedback.

jcmcdowell
08-04-2014, 05:26 PM
We have 3 phase in the building so we built a 3-5500w 55gal SS drum kettle brewery with a 35 gallon mash tun. I have enough power (200 amps at 3phase) that I could 'possibly' run 4 units simultaneously for a 6bbl one man brewery. I like the automated control I can achieve from the electric setup. I have an arduino controller controlling pump and PID heat cycle that can be programmed in at the start for step mashes.

The big advantage starting out- no venting and no need for propane (no natural gas where we are at in the woods). A lot less issues with fire marshall too.

I haven't 'officially' used it to find out how it works in production mode- but time will tell.

I think electric is probably good up to 5-7 bbl with 3 phase power (wild assed guess with my limited experience). After that it seems steam is the way to go. Of course, I hope to grow to steam down the road. A friend just bought a 600gal still and boiler to match and it ran him as much for the boiler as for the still.

Higher Ground Brewing in Hamilton, Mt has a 5bbl (I think that is right) brewery that is electric with an insulated mash tun and instant hot water heater. They use a single massive heating element.

Thirsty_Monk
08-04-2014, 07:45 PM
Thanks TM. No, I didn't consider demand charges. I will ask about that when I call my electric company today.

Yes, I'm quite familiar with scrubbing elements. I do it every brewday on my 11000watt system at home.

How big is your electric brewhouse?

I have 5.5 BBL brew house. If you wire it for 3 phase that would help you with demand. You do not need any elaborate controls for your BK. just turn elements on and off.

Let me know if you have more questions.

jcmcdowell
08-05-2014, 06:45 AM
Thirsty Monk- do you have some pictures or a description of your system. I'd like to see how to grow the electric brewery.

Are you using Plastic conicals? How do you have them setup for fermentation? Again a picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks.

Here's the basis of my 1.5bbl:
18398

Thirsty_Monk
08-06-2014, 05:24 PM
Thirsty Monk- do you have some pictures or a description of your system. I'd like to see how to grow the electric brewery.

Are you using Plastic conicals? How do you have them setup for fermentation? Again a picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks.

Here's the basis of my 1.5bbl:
18398

Picture of brew house.

[url]https://www.dropbox.com/s/5nsap4r0gnxmay5/IMG_0109.JPG

Picture of control box.
[url]https://www.dropbox.com/s/s1hma8jtdyqzhrz/IMG_0107.JPG

After couple of years this is my opinion.
I think that electric HLT is great.
Electric BC is pain but I live with it.
Direct fire is a better cheap option for BK.

And do not forget CIP.

is_wiz
08-07-2014, 07:44 AM
We have a 7bbl brew house and use electric. And I wouldn't change anything. We use 27000 watts to bring it to a boil and it works great. After each brew we spray the kettle and elements down with a hose. which mostly gets them clean. Then we fill the kettle with hot water and pbw until the elements are covered and let them soak. We primarily do this to circulate the water through the plate chiller. but it cleans both. We have 6 4500 elements that we heat with. We do replace them about every 25 brews or so. We probably wouldn't have to but we like to. We use standard cheap commonly accessible camco heating elements so replacing them isn't hard. Cleaning really doesn't require any additional effort beyond that which cleaning any other kettle would require.

ManSkirtBrew
08-07-2014, 08:52 AM
We have a 7bbl brew house and use electric. We use 27000 watts to bring it to a boil and it works great. We have 6 4500 elements that we heat with.
Oh, interesting. Stout's 7bbl system has 4, 15000 watt elements in both the HLT and BK. So they're using 60kW just for the boil. You think that's massive overkill?

SMiller
08-07-2014, 01:08 PM
Oh, interesting. Stout's 7bbl system has 4, 15000 watt elements in both the HLT and BK. So they're using 60kW just for the boil. You think that's massive overkill?

Overkill. We use three of the brewmation 15kw elements in our 9bbl system.

ManSkirtBrew
08-07-2014, 03:09 PM
9bbl! That's the biggest electric system I've heard of. How long have you been using it? Impressions? Do you like it?

SMiller
08-07-2014, 09:04 PM
9bbl! That's the biggest electric system I've heard of. How long have you been using it? Impressions? Do you like it?

It's great. Been using it since January. Would never want to anything larger than this with electric, but for us it's perfect.

Nros
08-10-2014, 11:08 PM
Also currently tossing up between electric and gas on 7bbl. Couple of questions:
1) How long is it taking to come up to boil from mash with 27kW ish of elements?
2) Does anybody whirlpool in the kettle with electric elements sticking in?

woohokie
08-11-2014, 08:48 PM
Also currently tossing up between electric and gas on 7bbl. Couple of questions:
1) How long is it taking to come up to boil from mash with 27kW ish of elements?
2) Does anybody whirlpool in the kettle with electric elements sticking in?

We run a 7bbl e kettle with 3 x 15k watt low density elements controlled via brewmation and to get to boil (provided you start heating as the wort covers the elements) is probably ~25min or so from the 195f or so I try to keep the filling kettle at or above prior to boil.

And yes, we whirpool in the same kettle which doesn't seem to cause any issues. The trub just falls right on top of the elements in a cone. We run off super clear wort from the side pickup till the cone starts to get pulled into the pump and then we're done.

mrivers
01-07-2015, 03:28 AM
We use 27000 watts to bring it to a boil and it works great.

Going back a while here but how long does it take to get the 7bbl kettle up to boil with only 27kW?

mmmatt
03-22-2015, 07:47 PM
I run a 3bbl stout/brewmation brewhouse and love the electric. What you pay for the controllers you save in the venting needed for gas. I pull my elements and soak them in a bucket of pbw then scrub off with a normal bathroom scrub brush. It would take 35 gallons of pbw to cover the elements in my kettle and I am too cheap for that so I run my cip ball on about 7.5 gal and manually scrub the elements.

wlw33
09-14-2015, 06:15 PM
how far apart do you keep your elements? have read that having them too close together can cause excessive caramelization or charring. we run a 1.5 bbl in a 55 gallon SS drum and have one element at about the 15 gallon mark and the second at about the 30 gallon mark on opposite sides of each other, which puts them about 8 inches in height apart. would like to have them closer if possible. they are 5500w. thanks

Thirsty_Monk
09-14-2015, 07:30 PM
how far apart do you keep your elements? have read that having them too close together can cause excessive caramelization or charring. we run a 1.5 bbl in a 55 gallon SS drum and have one element at about the 15 gallon mark and the second at about the 30 gallon mark on opposite sides of each other, which puts them about 8 inches in height apart. would like to have them closer if possible. they are 5500w. thanks

You should get ultra low density heating elements. No need to do the Mickey Mouse stuff.

Karma
09-18-2015, 06:51 AM
We currently have the 3bbl Stout/Brewmation electric system and I love it (aside from the mash tun design)! The Electric is so efficient and easy to use. I do soak my elements after every brewday in PBW and the buildup just wipes away with very little effort. I tried once to simply spray them off but the next batch took twice as long to come to a boil. We are currently in the process of buying 10 bbl ferms to triple batch into until we can afford to buy a 10 bbl brewhouse and we are seriously considering a 10 bbl electric!