Electrics

240vac is very dangerous and you should never mess with it unless you’re confident that you won’t kill yourself.

Most of the electrics are housed in a waterproof box. Any connections outside this box are waterproof in their own right. With all the water and wort flying around on brewday this is a really good idea. I originally mounted the controls on an aluminium plate with the connections exposed on the back but I popped several PID controllers by splashing them so I fitted the waterproof box.

The way I connected my electrics up, I only break/make the live feed to the element with the SSR. To be sure that the element is completely isolated you could (and arguably should) also break/make the neutral with a second SSR.

Here’s a diagram showing the system connections. It’s really very straight forward but if you have any doubts get an electrician to do it for you.

The SSR I use is a Tyco SSR-240D25 which I bought from RS. The spec is in the name; it’s an SSR used to switch 240 vac, it’s switched by a DC voltage and it’ll switch 25A. The element in the heat exchanger is a 2.4kw unit and it’ll draw 10A max, so the SSR is well able to switch it on and off safely.

The thermocouple is designed to be attached to a pipe with an attached jubilee clip. It’s a K-type thermocouple and I have attached it to the pipe exiting the heat exchanger. This is what they look like (in the RS catalogue).

Copper

The copper is the vessel in which the wort is boiled together with the hops.  It’s basically a 75l stainless steel vessel with two 3kw, 240vac elements and a hop stopper made of 22mm copper leading to a ball valve.

As soon as the wort covers the first of the two elements I switch on the power. This means that the boil commences even before all the wort is collected.

Once all the wort is in the copper it is boiled fiercely to produce the “hot break” which is the proteins coagulating in the copper so that they can settle out later.
After about 60-120 minutes of boiling, the wort is cooled. I’ve been using a plate chiller for the last 2 years. It gets the wort to pitching temperature very quickly. Concerns expressed by other brewers about the ability to keep it clean seem to have been unfounded.