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Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric

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  • Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric

    We have built a 1bbl set using 3 - 55 gallon stainless steel drums. We have followed Kal's design (from the electric including the forum pages for setups of 30+ gallons or more. We have a HLT that has two 4500 Watt elements in it. The HLT has the 50' stainless coil with a 1/2" ID.
    We are having problems with mash temp control. We could control the mash temp on our test batch at all so we tried it again today with just water. We had the HLT set to 157 degree which it was holding perfectly. Our water temp in the mash tun was 148 degrees. We recirculated the Mash tun water thru the coil inside the HLT for at least 30 minutes and the mashtun temp only rose 1 degree to 149. It would occasionally fall back to 148 too. The temp of the water that passed thru the coil and reentered the mash tun was 153 degrees so it was obviously being heated while running through the coil in the HLT. For some reason it was never really heating the water in the mashtun as a whole though. We confirmed the readings of the temp probe were accurate with another thermometer. We had 11 gallons of water in our mashtun.
    We had several problems with air bubbles and getting the pump to prime properly. We are using the following pump:
    Chugger Stainless Steel Brewing Pump Center Inlet (Comparable to March 809-SS-HS-C)
    It has a 3/4" inlet and 1/2" outlet.

    We tested the flowrate of the pump directly out of mashtun to be about 3GPM and also running through the 50" stainless steel coil and up to the top of the mashtun as 2GPM. Is it possible we are simply not getting enough flow to heat up the water in the mashtun fast enough? I'm wondering if we should get a pump that has an 8GPM flow rate.

    Any ideas would be helpful. Pictures of set up are attached.

    Thank you,
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I can't say anything definitive as I've never brewed on a similar setup, but 2 things come to mind right away. You may well not be getting enough flow to noticeably affect the temperature, or you may be loosing too much heat due to lack of insulation in the mash tun. Either way I have a feeling this will continue to be a problem. (its probably a combination of both factors)

    The only thing I could think of that may help you raise your mash temp is to increase the temp of the HLT.


    • #3
      The gravity drop where the mash water drops through air (in the 4th picture) is probably where you are loosing most of your heat, those small droplets cool fast. With a bigger batch when the mash is higher, this is probably less of an issue.

      I would try as a test putting the coil output directly into the mash with a longer hose and see how your temp is affected. If that is it you are probably okay to bump up the HLT temp a few more degrees, or keep using the hose method for smaller batches.

      Looks like a nice setup otherwise!


      • #4
        We do have a hose that goes from the inlet barb down to the grainbed. It just happened to be off in that picture. Turns out it was a temp loss situation. We insulated the tun well and were able to keep the mash within 2 degrees of the HLT the entire time.

        Thanks for your help,