If you have been following me on social media you have likely noticed that I am in the process of converting my brewery over to all electric. The motivation behind this change has many factors.

Number 1 is that I am sick and tired of schlepping propane tanks around. I don’t like having to include this errand before every other brew day. I get demoralized when I have to stand in front of that orange cage at Home Depot in the snow or rain waiting for someone to come out of the store to hand me a tank. Getting them filled at a local rental store has been a bit more enjoyable, but I still dislike having to go out of my way for this.

Number 2 is safety and environment. I brew indoors with a serious industrial fan and a vent hood that provides more than adequate ventilation. I also have a CO monitor to ensure the ventilation is working properly. But at the end of the day it is a bit nerve racking running propane burners indoors. Electric elements, when wired properly with grounding and GFCI breakers, are definitely going to be safer. The burners and fan are also very loud. Electric brewing is practically silent and I will be able to dial the fan down to simply remove the steam.

Number 3 is automation. I use the Brew Control System (BCS) 462 which has PID control built in. By using the PID functions I will be able to more accurately automate and control electric elements vs. propane burners.

Number 4 is Cost. I rip through half of a 20lb tank for each brew session, a bit more for a 15 gallon batch. That is roughly $11.50 in propane per batch. For my proposed electric design let’s assume the following:

  • Run two 5500 watt elements at full power for 30 min to get my strike and sparge water up to temp.
  • Run one 5500 watt element at ½ power for 1.5 hr during the mash and sparge.
  • Run one 5500 watt element at full power for 1 hr during the boil.

This would result in essentially 3 hours at full power. At a $0.14 per kWh cost, that would equal $2.31 per batch or about a $9 savings. Multiply that by 20 batches per year and that works out to about $180. That amount certainly doesn’t justify the overall cost of a switch over but when combined with the other factors, it’s a home run. Additionally, I am in the process of installing a 10.92 kW solar array on my property which will offset my entire electric bill, thus making my brewery solar powered and electricity practically free (not factoring in the cost of the array).

My approach to the design of my electric rig takes inspiration from a few builds that are well documented online. They include eBrew Supply, The Electric Brewery, and a thread on Homebrewtalk.com by user JonW. Jon is a BCS power user and a great inspiration for my approach to controlling March/Chugger pumps along with automated mechanical ball valves. Ryan over at eBrew Supply has an amazing amount of information available about panel wiring to use the BCS to control all the various systems. The Electric Brewery was great inspiration for how to plumb the kettles. Ultimately I am building a system that draws from, and builds on, elements of each of these designs.

Stay tuned to hungusbrews.com for updates as I work through this system build out.

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