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Old 10-29-2010, 06:44 PM   #1
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Default 2kw heater element plug question

Hey all, I'm considering switching to outdoor brewing, but I have a few questions.

First of all, I want it to be outside for a multitude of reasons, and as such I'm going to need an extension cord (I live in an apartment). It needs to be about 35 feet for each element, so for that reason I was considering making my own, since I definitely don't need 50 feet. I have access to 2 20 amp outlets on GFCI, and one 240V outlet without a GFCI.

I was considering using 2 2kw elements in my kettle connected to both of the 20 amp outlets, but I am having problems finding a plug that will fit. All the 20A plugs have 1 vertical and 1 horizontal plug, while my outlets only have two vertical plugs. Would using a 15 amp plug with a 20 amp cord be an issue during the course of a brewday?

My other option would be to use one 5500 watt 240v heatstick, but then in addition to all the other things I have to buy, I would have to get a GFCI for the breaker (or some kind of inline solution) as well as a pid and ssr, which seems like a lot more expense.

Does anyone have a suggestion, or a picture or description of what plugs they use for their 2kw heatsticks?

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Old 10-29-2010, 06:53 PM   #2
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Two vertical slots indicate a 15amp recptacle.

They are made different than a 20amp, so you don't plug a 20amp device into them (like you are trying to do).

Don't put a 15amp plug on a 2000watt element. Even if you plug it into a 20amp receptacle, the 15amp plug may get hot (its rated for 15amps, not 20).

Are you sure the receptacles are on seperate 20amp breakers?

Ed

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Old 10-29-2010, 08:40 PM   #3
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Everything that you said makes sense. So, should I buy GFCI outlets that are rated for 20 amps then? Because I assume that this means that my outlets are only rated for 15 amps as well.

I just tested to make sure that the outlets are on separate 20A breakers, and they are, here is a picture of the breaker box (14 and 16 control the outlets in question)

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Old 10-29-2010, 09:30 PM   #4
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Upgrade your outlets.

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilishprune View Post
Everything that you said makes sense. So, should I buy GFCI outlets that are rated for 20 amps then? Because I assume that this means that my outlets are only rated for 15 amps as well.

I just tested to make sure that the outlets are on separate 20A breakers, and they are, here is a picture of the breaker box (14 and 16 control the outlets in question)
You want to be careful.
It is "possible" that the breaker was replaced by a previous person and the wire is actually 14awg. If this is the case, you don't want to make it worse by running a 2kw element on 14awg wire.

It's pretty common for places to have 15amp receptacles on on a 20amp breaker because of the number of receptacles but it should be wired with 12awg wire. So, if you have a bunch of stuff on those circuits, your heatstick may put it over the 20amp limit and trip the breaker.

Once you're comfortable that you have 12awg wire and the circuit doesn't have a bunch of other stuff on it, then you should be able to replace the receptacles.

A 20amp receptacle will have a vertical slot and a "T" slot to accept either a vertical or horizontal blade.

Hope that helps.

Ed
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:36 AM   #6
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You say you have a 240V outlet. What is the breaker rating for that outlet? - AND is it a 3 wire or a 4 wire outlet? My thinking - if it is a 4 wire circuit (240V + neutral + ground) you will have all the power you need to run your system. Check it out and let us know.

BTW, Ed is right on the money. Your 2 - 120V outlets, although run on a 20A breaker, are probably on a multi drop outlet circuit in your kitchen. As such they are down rated to limit the draw to 15A. Its a NEC thing. If they are indeed a single run outlet on #12 wire you can change the outlet to a 20A unit. If it is a multi drop do not change it.

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Old 10-30-2010, 02:02 PM   #7
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I decided that in order to avoid risking death/wall fires/whatever, I'm going to go with 2 15 amp elements and suck it up on the time aspect. That way, I can stick with the current wiring, because I don't know if it's the correct gauge inside the walls or not.

The 240V outlet is three prong and is on a 30A breaker with no GFCI protection.

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Old 10-30-2010, 07:08 PM   #8
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You could pull the cover off the main panel and see what the wiring is there. White is 14ga and yellow is 12ga, orange is 10ga.

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Old 10-30-2010, 07:24 PM   #9
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The color coding is somewhat new. If it's old or even BX, you won't be able to tell by the jacket.

Your best bet would be either calipers, a wire guage, or even sized wire strippers.

B

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