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Auto-sparge via liquid level sensor on site glass - Project

 
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Sparky




Joined: 17 Dec 2010
Posts: 221
Location: Muir Beach, California


PostLink    Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: Auto-sparge via liquid level sensor on site glass - Project Reply with quote


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Just started this build and hope to get some input on the design!

Background
I typically take 45-60min for a 5 gallon batch to sparge and up to 2 hours for bigger batches. Adjusting the input/output of the sparge is tedious - I have better things to do than constantly tweeking the valves during this phase. I wanted to build an auto sparge system with the following requirements:

- Non-penetrating of kettle
- Measurement system that will not be in the mash kettle (cleaning, contamination, clogging)
- Easy adjustments
- Reasonably priced components

Solution
For the reasons mentioned above, I wanted to avoid the Blichman auto-sparge and general float switches.
I noticed on HBT that someone mentioned Omron had a site level sensor, but subsequent messages on HBT yielded no results of someone actually doing a build.

However, I was able to find the liquid level sensor from Omron (picture below):
http://www.ia.omron.com/products/family/475/
I have a Blichman 20gal tank and was able to remove the outer (metal) measurement guide. The site glass is 15mm so the E2K-L26MC1 was the appropriate size. These sensors are a NO operation mode. The premise is that they will turn on/off the pump, based on the level of liquid in the site glass. They are easily attached via small zip tie and can be slid up/down the site glass. They can be attached with a separation of >1 3/8" (>35mm), which is perfect for a liquid level bed.

Wiring
See the attached wiring diagram below. I am not sure about the correct relay since I cannot find a wiring diagram of one.
I will be controlling the pump on/off via the two sensors. The relay will be able to handle 120V output so an SSR is not needed.
If someone could help out with the appropriate relay, that would be great.

Cost
(2) used Omron E2K-L26MC1 = $40
(1) relay/base = $25
wiring/plugs = $6
Total cost = ~$71



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perogi




Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 848
Location: NH

Drinking: Perogi Pale, NEIPA, Nutter's Crossing Nut Brown Ale, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone

Working on: Max's Maibock


PostLink    Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely following this thread!
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kellzey




Joined: 04 Aug 2011
Posts: 580
Location: Orlando, FL


PostLink    Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My only concern would be the following...

1. The sparge water is relatively clear and gets clearer as the sparge progresses. Will the sensor be able to differentiate between the glass and a clear sparge water?

2. Sometimes the input opening for the site glass can be clogged with a grain particle or two which causes the site glass to lag behind the actual levels inside.

Otherwise... interesting idea...

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kellzey




Joined: 04 Aug 2011
Posts: 580
Location: Orlando, FL


PostLink    Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just read the description of the sensor and said it is unaffected by the color of the pipe or liquid. Cool.
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Sparky




Joined: 17 Dec 2010
Posts: 221
Location: Muir Beach, California


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I removed the outer measuring plate on my Blichman and attached the sensors via rubber bands to get an idea of how it would look. It will be easy to adjust - just slide up/down the tube.
I did not have the right size zip ties, which I will most likely use so it will not interfere with the sensor on the sight glass. See pictures below.

Anyone had a chance to check if that SPDT is correct on my wiring diagram?



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wubears71




Joined: 14 Mar 2012
Posts: 278
Location: Webster Groves, MO

Drinking: Keg 1- Hefenweizen, Keg 2- Vanilla Scotch Porter, Keg 3-Munich Helles

Working on: Stinky IPA


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My only concern is the wear on the pump's motor. Are you trying to keep the level in the MLT steady or is there a deadband in there? In other words, the pump stops when level equals x and then starts again when level drops to x - deadband.
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Kevin59




Joined: 03 Aug 2012
Posts: 1049
Location: Fort Collins, CO

Drinking: Imperial Brown Ale

Working on: Oatmeal Stout, IPA


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool idea Sparky.

Thinking about what wubears71 points out regarding motor wear and tear, what about an inline electronic valve after the pump output? The pump would run constantly and the valve would gate the sparge water flow. Yes it adds more cost, and you'd need braided silicone hose between the pump and valve for safety, but the pump motor wouldn't be constantly switched on and off.

UPDATE: Now that I've looked at prices for hot water solenoid valves, this might be a bad suggestion! Other than a few $60 choices on eBay they run $130 and up...


Last edited by Kevin59 on Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sparky




Joined: 17 Dec 2010
Posts: 221
Location: Muir Beach, California


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wubears71 wrote:
My only concern is the wear on the pump's motor. Are you trying to keep the level in the MLT steady or is there a deadband in there? In other words, the pump stops when level equals x and then starts again when level drops to x - deadband.


The cycle time on the pump will be based on the separation of the sensors. The closest they can be placed together is 1 3/8" (35mm), so it will cycle in that period of min water level. The sensors can be slid further apart so you would have more sparge water on top.

The cycle time would not be too great IMO. I should check what the separation level equates to the amount of liquid in a 20gal pot. I will measure the sight gage and that will let you know the cycle amount (ie - minimum cylce at 1/5 gallon).

When I looked at other sparge methods, I was concerned about having to leave a pump in the "on" position at all times. Under this setup, it would only cycle on when needed. Perhaps (max) 10 times during a 5 gallon sparge?
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Sparky




Joined: 17 Dec 2010
Posts: 221
Location: Muir Beach, California


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrjofus1959 wrote:

The pump would run constantly and the valve would gate the sparge water flow.
UPDATE: Now that I've looked at prices for hot water solenoid valves, this might be a bad suggestion! Other than a few $60 choices on eBay they run $130 and up...


No, the pump would turn on/off and not run all the time. The sensors are NO operation and would run through a DPST relay.
Probably cycle on/off about 10 times for a 5 gallon batch of beer.

Regarding cost, you are looking at $125 for (5) sensors on eBay, which is $25 ea. I got mine for $20ea, but it was because no one is trying to buy this stuff (for now). If you are to buy them new, they would be $130 each. Yes, as an early adopter, I may be getting in before higher costs since I am buying used sensors.
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Kevin59




Joined: 03 Aug 2012
Posts: 1049
Location: Fort Collins, CO

Drinking: Imperial Brown Ale

Working on: Oatmeal Stout, IPA


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sparky wrote:
No, the pump would turn on/off and not run all the time. The sensors are NO operation and would run through a DPST relay. Probably cycle on/off about 10 times for a 5 gallon batch of beer.


I was just suggesting leaving the pump on and switching the valve on and off, but given valve costs and projected cycling your idea's probably the best course...
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perogi




Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 848
Location: NH

Drinking: Perogi Pale, NEIPA, Nutter's Crossing Nut Brown Ale, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone

Working on: Max's Maibock


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sparky - you mentioned 5 sensors. It looks like you would only need two. Or are you trying to use them to prevent the pumps from running dry?
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Sparky




Joined: 17 Dec 2010
Posts: 221
Location: Muir Beach, California


PostLink    Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

perogi wrote:
Sparky - you mentioned 5 sensors. It looks like you would only need two. Or are you trying to use them to prevent the pumps from running dry?


Only 2 are needed. However, most used options on eBay sell them by the five-pack. You could ask the seller to break it up and sell only 2 or individually.
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Gunni




Joined: 25 Feb 2012
Posts: 1



PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any update on this ?
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