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Old 09-28-2012, 07:22 PM   #1
imrook
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Default Kettle jacket vs heat stick

I have a 40qt aluminum stock pot that I'm using for my brew kettle doing all-grain batches on my gas range. My problem is that I can't get a good rolling boil going. I have been using the 2 pot method, but that's getting old. I see two real (cost effective) solutions:

1. Insulate the kettle with ceramic insulation as described on a thread here somewhere.
2. Build a (1500W) heatstick to supplement the heat from the burner (or use the burner to supplement the heatstick as the case may be.)

I'm looking to fellow HBT members for feedback based on their experience with one or both of these solutions. I know the heatstick will cost a little more to implement, but I believe it will shorten my brew day more and might actually reduce my total brewing energy bill. I have GFCI outlets at counter height near the kettle, am experienced with home AC wiring, so the fear of electrocution is not a strong argument to make for me, nor is the trip hazard.

I have thought about going pure electric, but I have no 240V outlets that would allow me to do so and both of my GFCI outlets over the counter are on the same circuit breaker.

I know it's a tough call-that's why I'm here. So what do you all say?

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Old 09-28-2012, 07:50 PM   #2
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Another option to consider is using heavy duty aluminum foil under your burner on the gas range. It helps reflect heat upward to your kettle and can catch some boil-over mess and drips. It does make a difference although, perhaps, not a huge one. One thing that does make a big difference for me (when I brew inside on the gas range) is to heat and boil with an immersion chiller in the pot for the whole time. If you use an IC to chill, try this out first before you start spending on insulation or a heat stick--it makes enough of an impact on my set-up that I can forgo the other options and it doesn't cost anything additional assuming you have an immersion chiller...

If you chill be other means, or it doesn't make a big enough impact, my vote is for the heat stick.

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Old 09-28-2012, 08:35 PM   #3
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cram, that's interesting-I've never heard of that before. I do have an immersion chiller. I don't usually put it in the kettle until 15 minutes left in the boil. I'm concerned about the physics behind this though. Copper is a good conductor of heat, as is aluminum, thus I can't see it really holding enough heat to help the boils enough. I'm currently putting ~2 gallons into a second (SS) pot and that boils a *lot* harder than the ~5 gallons left in the aluminum pot. I'm thinking that the aluminum just transmits too much heat to keep the wort boiling hard.

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Old 09-28-2012, 08:36 PM   #4
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Aw, man...I was hoping for a deathmatch between a kettle jacket and a heat stick...disappointed...

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Old 09-28-2012, 09:31 PM   #5
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I suspect the copper helps heat transfer by touching the hot kettle bottom heat will flow up it and give a bigger area of contact. Also bringing heat up through the depth of the sort.

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Old 09-28-2012, 10:10 PM   #6
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get an outdoor burner if you are in this for the long haul.

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Old 09-28-2012, 11:41 PM   #7
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I think the heat stick is the best bet. The insulation isn't going to help nearly as much as adding more btus.

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Old 09-29-2012, 03:12 AM   #8
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Heat stick FTW IMO...If you have a 20 amp circuit, go 2000w. Nothing like power...insulation is good, but IME power wins hands down!

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