Using Solenoids In Ag Setups

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I have been brewing for a year now and the AG bug has bit and im trying my best to be a sponge and soak up as much info from this forum as possible. A thought came to mind that instead of using ball valves why not use solenoids and the whole set up could be controled from one spot. Its just an idea, is anyone game to try it?
While that could possibly be an option, solenoids have two flow options-on (flat out) and off. Ball valves are chosen because of their ability to control the flow. Unfortunately having your mash tun outlet wide open and your HLT wide open is probably not the option your after. Maybe this could work for batch sparging but I fly so my experience is limited on this.

I like the control of ball valves, however I was considering using a solenoid to control the level of sparge water above the grain bed while sparging using a float switch. I wasn't sure whether to turn the pump on and off or switch a solenoid on and off leaving the pump on all the time. I think Jasony (forgive me if wrong) said that solenoids don't work real well on low pressure systems.

Anyway, for the number of times that you actually open and close a ball valve on your brewery while brewing I think your money could be spent better elsewhere.

Cheers, Justin
I have two 1/2" ball valves to go no the HERMS heater for my mash ton when its done.

I will have a temp probe in the mash and when its at temp it will by pass the HERMS in the HLT and go back to the mash.
When it falls below the set point temp it will switch automaticly and pump through the coil in the HLT and heat the mash back to the set point.

You can use a Celing fan speed control to change the speed of the pump if you dont want it running flat out, as long as the motor is not to big :blink:

They are not cheap though.

I got mine off obosilete gear at work and cleaned them up.

I think brass ones are $200 to $250 and ss ones are about $450 each
You can use a Celing fan speed control to change the speed of the pump if you dont want it running flat out, as long as the motor is not too big
There has been a bit of talk on this exact topic on the US forums, that being can you control a pump with a dimmer switch/fan speed controller? If your talking about a march pump (and I think the concensus was most air cooled AC motors) then definitely not. They need to be running flatout to cool the windings and are not designed to be controlled this way. They are designed to have the output restricted and that's it.

If you have DC motor, like brothernutz uses (LVM Zambezi) (see it here: then you can use a motor speed controller but for an AC motor I'd be very careful in case you burn out your favourite toy. If it's a march then I absolutely would not control it this way.

Hope it helps.

Tony said:
You can use a Celing fan speed control to change the speed of the pump if you dont want it running flat out, as long as the motor is not to big
For those using a March pump, the manufacturers caution against this. On the March website it specifically says:

"Electrical opeation is also critical. High or low voltage could have an affect on pump performance. Caution - do not operate the pump at varied voltages, without contacting a March distributor first."

Why do you want to change the speed of your March pump?
You can adjust the flow using ball values , keep a head to the pump and feather your outlet.
This way the pump is full of wort and no air , you are not airating your wort , don't forget you are using a magnetic drive impeller here.
These pumps suit this application well , by restricting your inlet and outlet correctly , you get no increase of pressure , no cavitation and no airation.

I think it's about the best investment along with a CCFC that your brewery could own.

Ready your not a brewer till you own a March pump :huh: :blink: Ken?? :unsure:

i havent a march pump yet.hopefully sometime in 05.
i mustnt be a real brewer yet as i rely on the fact that the earth sucks therefore i let gravity do the work ;) <_< :D

big d

ps do washing machine pumps count :p
My idea was not to control a pump but to have electrical switches controlling the valves. It was so you do not need to bend down and squeeze this or burn your hand on that. It was to make the whole system automated. Its just an idea.

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