Carl's Electric HLT

I wanted to convert my brewery to electric for a couple reasons, cost to operate, precise temp control, and the cool factor.

I decided starting with the HLT would be the most challenging part but the most critical to the process.

My objectives for the project were as follows:

  1. No dedicated rig - in other words when brewday is over the whole system needs to be able to be packed away.
  2. For simplicity reasons I only would require to fire one element at a time – no big deal unless I was doing back to back brews which I never do.
  3. The control box needed to be big enough to add another PID for whatever reason down the road.
  4. It has to have some WOW factor.

A few years ago I met Paul Muth (P-J on the Brewboard) through a mutual friend. Paul is a wealth of knowledge on brewing, electricity, and plumbing.

I mentioned to him one day that I was considering converting to electric and soon after that conversation a plan was hatched.

Supplying Safe Power

First I had to run 240V into my garage where I brew. An elegant solution was to purchase a “Spa Panel? which included the 50A GFCI circuit breaker. I mounted the 50A GFCI breaker in my main panel and then fed the empty subpanel with 6/4 wire.

The subpanel has 4 breaker locations in it – two take up the 30A 240V circuit and I only ended up using one of the 2 locations left to run a 120V circuit so far.

This way ANYTHING that is plugged into either the 120V or 240V outlets from the subpanel will be GFCI protected -a vital safety measure.

Finding the Parts

I purchased a Hammond 1401C box from Ebay for $20. Perfect size and very tidy looking. Next were the brains of the system.

I went with Auber Instruments for the PID, thermocouple, and 25A Solid State Relay with heat sink.

I purchased some specialty plugs, switches, receptacles, etc. from Mouser and the rest came from my local home improvement center.

Putting it all Together

Now I was ready to start cutting holes and mounting the hardware on the kettle. Paul turned me onto Stay Brite 8 silver solder and Stay Clean liquid flux and coached me through the soldering process. This stuff is amazing and once you get the hang of it really easy to work with. Paul and his handy dandy metal lathe provided the fittings once we defined what we wanted the HLT to do and look like.

First came the element mounting. The fitting started life as a 1? female barb fitting. A few cuts and turns on the lathe and voila! The fitting has two special features – the threads were turned on the kettle side for sanitary reasons and a recess was turned on the outside so the seal is made at the intended place, the gasket. Then the electrical box got soldered in place ensuring enough room to fit the element socket.

Next I decided to mount the HERMS coil in the HLT by going through the side wall.

Through the use of the modified flare fittings the HERMS coil can easily be taken out and flare caps can be used to cap off the inside fittings.

The thermowell is another modified flare fitting and adapter with a small length of copper tubing plugged at the end. The thermowell can be easily removed and a flare plug can be put in place if necessary.

The sight tube really shows how the Stay Brite 8 silver solder really shines. Paul and I came up with an elegant solution to hold the tube. A few cuts of copper and the standoffs were born.

With some careful balancing of the vice grips they were soldered in place and holding nicely. I think the copper will bend before the solder joint fails…last came the hole for the elbow and a little more soldering. The tube is secured to the elbow with a barbed flare fitting.

A Motorized Stirrer

After the first test run it became apparent that I wanted an automated stirrer setup.

Again, this had to be functional, practical, and have some WOW factor.

I purchased a Molon motor from Herbach. The key to mounting the motor to the lid are the stand offs that elevate the gearbox over the lid to help alleviate heat transfer from the lid. The standoffs and screws are all Stainless. Mounting a shaft was easy but the actual stirrer needed to be something special. Some brass sheet, inspiration, and high temp silver solder and the “prop? was born. This baby moves some water let me tell you.

The best part about soldering versus welding was I did it all myself – not relying on a welder and paying for the service. The added bonus is that if I ever upgrade to a larger HLT or it gets damaged for whatever reason I can undo everything that has been soldered and keep the fittings for another project.

Cost Breakdown
Qty Part Vendor Cost Ext.
1 PID SYL2352 Auber Instruments $44.50 $44.50
1 Thermocouple K Type 3" Probe Auber Instruments $13.00 $13.00
1 Heat Sink Auber Instruments $10.00 $10.00
1 25A SSR Auber Instruments $15.00 $15.00
1 Box Hammond 1401C eBay $20.00 $20.00
2 Element 240V 4500W Home Depot $18.00 $36.00
2 Keggle Boxes Home Depot $2.00 $4.00
35 10/2 Romex feet Home Depot $1.19 $41.65
1 25' Extension Cord Home Depot $24.00 $24.00
1 30A Twist Lock Plug Home Depot $18.00 $18.00
1 30A Twist Lock Flush Mount Outlet Home Depot $11.00 $11.00
2 Single Gang Box Home Depot $3.00 $6.00
1 Duplex Outlet Home Depot $2.00 $2.00
6 Strain Relief Home Depot $.50 $3.00
3 Brushed Plate Covers Home Depot $1.50 $4.50
1 Assorted Terminals Home Depot $10.00 $10.00
1 Spa Load Center 50A GFCI Lowes $84.00 $84.00
8 6AWG Wire Lowes $2.89 $23.12
2 120V 15A 1" Double Breaker Lowes $12.00 $24.00
1 240C 30A Breaker Lowes $12.00 $12.00
1 12/2 Romex 50' Roll Lowes $35.00 $35.00
6 Terminal Block Jumpers (538-38002-0442) Mouser $.25 $1.50
2 4P Terminal Blocks .563 (538-38211-0104 Mouser $3.38 $6.76
1 Neon Panel Mount, red (607-1050QA1) Mouser $2.43 $2.43
2 AC Connector Snap In (161-PX0598/15/63) Mouser $2.11 $4.22
1 AC Cable Connector (161-PX0599) Mouser $6.13 $6.13
1 120V Toggle Switch (633-S301T-RO) Mouser $3.86 $3.86
2 On/Off Plates (633-AT202) Mouser $1.80 $3.60
1 240V DPDT Switch (633-S821-RO) Mouser $20.90 $20.90
1 HERMS Coil - 25' 1/2" Copper P-J $30.00 $30.00
2 Heater Element Fitting P-J n/a n/a
2 Thermowell P-J n/a n/a
2 HERMS Fittings P-J n/a n/a
1 Sight Gauge P-J n/a n/a
  $520.17

Carl Krivutza

Keep an eye out for Carl's next project, the electric brew kettle.

Carl lives in Roswell GA with his wife, 3 children and Rachel the choco lab and has been brewing since 1993 after taking a food science class at RIT - Thanks Fritz! He began kegging in 1999, all grain in 2002, upgraded to 10 gallon batches in 2006, and just completed the conversion to electric. He can be found most often online at the Brewboard as DC2002 When he's not brewing he is working, doing projects around the house, chasing the kids, then relaxing, not worrying, and having a home brew.
Paul Muth (P-J) on 05/02/08 04:23 pm writes
That is a great story and will be a model for others that venture down the path of going totally electric.

I'm glad to have been a part of this project. Carl - great job!
psi2000 on 06/03/08 05:04 pm writes
Can you show us or me step by step how you put together the temp unit. I am unsure about what a relay does and why its there, so I am confused.
Carl K. on 06/04/08 11:18 am writes
The PID actually sends a low amp signal. It is not strong enough to power the element. This is where the replay comes in. Essentially a switch on one leg of the 240. The PID sends the signal to the SSR, which completes the connection to power the element.
Vince on 07/13/08 11:19 pm writes
Is there any links you have or make a post that walks us through your soldering process?
Yambor44 (Rob) on 07/17/08 08:54 pm writes
What about that brew kettle?? Did you get it started yet?? :-)
Chrisw on 12/17/08 11:13 pm writes
I'm trying to hook up the same motor to help stir but am a bit confused with the wiring hookups. They sent two capacitors but I don't know if I need just one or both.

I'd really appreciate info or a picture of how you hooked these up!

Thanks!!
Mike on 04/02/09 12:08 pm writes
I have the same motor and was thinking of doing the same thing I had some questions. The motor came with a capacitor not sure if that is needed. Also there are what appears to be 2 hot, 1 ground and 1 common. How did you wire yours up? It seems that sometimes you have to spin the motor to get it moving . How did you connect the motor to the copper shaft? It is a little hard to see what those fittings are. Thanks
Marc on 05/03/09 03:18 pm writes
Hi Paul,

I'm building a project that uses a small heating element,ssr,pid and a thermocouple and a small ac/dc converter as well. This is all new to me and i was wondering if you could possibly email me a simple diagram so i know how to properly wire this all up. Also would like to know what the proper wire gauges to use would be. You can contact me at speedfreakfromco@yahoo.com

Thanks in advance for any help,

Marc
Jim Dawg on 07/21/09 10:41 am writes
Awesome Work, I'm using the exact motor you have for your motorized stirrer just wondering if you could give me a wiring diagram and possibly a better explanation for what you used to get the copper tubing to fit the end of the motors shaft. my email is essteedeez@hotmail.com

thanks,
Jim Dawg
Jon Meeker on 09/04/09 08:57 am writes
Very nice Carl! I just purchased the same motor for my hlt and it is running very hot. too hot to touch and shuts itself down in about an hour. Just wondering if yours runs this hot or if its normal? I'm using 16 ga wire and the wiring isn't getting hot. It even runs hot with no load when I just let it run dry with no water in the hlt. You can email me at jon.meeker@att.net.

Thanks,
Jon
Kerry on 11/16/09 11:24 am writes
@ Jon,
Have you checked your motor to see if it is binding up? Also I am wondering if you are using a controller that may be sending too many amps. Seems odd that it would over heat with no load on it. I am thinking it is binding on the shaft. Try running the motor with nothing attached to it.
Kerry on 11/16/09 11:29 am writes
I started thinking more about this and thought that I could just use my Jamil-Whirlpool to stir the wort. I am wondering if the wort would be too hot, but it seems like a good idea at least in my little mind. The only issue I have is the high temperature of the wort. Not sure if the March Pump can handle it!
Jim Wilson on 12/30/09 02:52 pm writes
I'm adding a kettle stirrer to help wort cooling. I have the same motor as you, a Molon EM5R-63-1 but have no clue how to wire it and its capacitors. Any help you could offer would be much appreciated.
Happy Holidays!

Jim Wilson
BJCP Master
jim7258 (at) gmail.com
mark on 02/23/10 09:49 am writes
Question on your schematic. The indicator light that you have for the 240V circuit. Is that a 240V indicator light? Also is the light able to handle the 30 amps going through that circuit the way you have it wired?
Carl K on 04/02/10 05:44 am writes
I ended up only using one 120V lamp. It is wired off one leg of the 240V and a common lug from the 120V. In theory I only wanted it to light up when the 240V was live.
brian on 11/02/10 07:28 pm writes
As many people have posted I have purchased the same motor for my HLT and now need to figure out how to wire it. I would really appreciate some info on how you wired yours up. Anything would be appreciated. Thanks

Brian
valleevista@gmail.com
Robert B. Fedyna on 11/29/10 01:55 pm writes
I have the same motor and was thinking of doing the same thing I had some questions. The motor came with two capacitors not sure if they are needed. Also there are what appears to be 2 hot, 1 ground and 1 common. How did you wire yours up? Also what size standoffs and screws did you use? I guess I can purchase them from McMasters.

Thank you,

Robert
Jason on 11/30/10 07:34 pm writes
I too have a Molon EMR-63-1 motor and am in need of some wiring instructions. Please email me at jasonesquell@yahoo.com
Scott on 01/03/12 02:24 pm writes
Thanks for sharing! I just purchased the same motor for my HLT. Do you have any additional information on wiring the motor? Really nice job on the prop!

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