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Old 08-26-2011, 05:07 PM   #1
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Default 2x 4500W elements?

So, I've been scouring the electrical threads for months now, playing out various scenarios that I'd like to consider for upgrading to a 10+ gallon all-electric brewhouse. There is still plenty I have to consider, so I'm not jumping into this quite yet, but wanted to see if I could clear something up.

Here's the scenario: I have a small room in my basement that I'm converting into the brewery (at SWMBO's suggestion no less!) and will only use electric in it, nothing gas. So, no matter what I do, there will need to be fresh electrical ran to the room. Safety is obviously most important, so I'm heavily leaning towards the Spa Panel for my GFCI since it seems to be the best for both wiring plus price, especially if I want to use 120V and 240V in the same control panel. Because of this, I'm leaning towards just running 6/3 wire from the panel and putting a 50A breaker in there so it is 50A all the way through. I plan to use 5500W elements or 4500W in both the HLT and BK, but plan to use a cooler for my mash so I won't be recirculating like HERMS/RIMS.

Where I'm a little stuck is, on one hand, 50A seems overkill if I only run one element at a time, as I've seen most people use 30A service to achieve that. Obviously with 5500W elements I can't run both at the same time on 50A, but I just wanted to see if someone could clear this up for me. I haven't seen anyone mention it in all of my searching but I assume there is a reason it hasn't been done. Is there any reason you couldn't put two 4500W elements on a 50A circuit? From doing the math with the spreadsheet I found on here, 9000W should only add up to 37.5A, which is within the 80% threshold it seems. Again, since this hasn't been done I'm sure there's a good reason not to, but since I can't find anyone mentioning it, I'm not sure if it just hasn't been tried either. I would like the convenience of running both at once since I do often do back-to-back batches, but it isn't an absolute must, just seems possible in this case. Since I won't be doing RIMS/HERMS either, the only times the pumps will be used is for transferring from one vessel to another, even then, the math seems to add up that it shouldn't be an issue then either.

Did I miss something perhaps? The spreadsheet was straight forward, I just punched in the numbers and it claims it should work, but again, I just feel like I must be missing something. I'm fairly familiar with DC electronics and 120V AC stuff but this is a little above me. No worries, the wiring in the household will be done professionally and otherwise I have a friend who's more familiar with 240/120 to help on the other details as they come up, but I'm just curious if this seems possible or even a good idea. Sorry if this has been posted somewhere already, I've been hunting for a while and haven't found something quite like this scenario, so feel free to point me elsewhere if I missed it. Thanks!

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Old 08-26-2011, 05:58 PM   #2
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The 80% "rule" does not apply to your situation. No way. Your 50A 240V electrical run will be going to a single outlet. With that said, 2 5500W elements, a pump and your controller will draw less than 50A.

You are good to go.

P-J

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Old 08-26-2011, 06:04 PM   #3
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Pardon my ignorance, but why doesn't it apply in this situation? I guess I'm just surprised that no one else seems to have gone this route, as often as I've heard people bring up wanting to be able to run two elements at the same time. I know in some cases it is because they are on an existing 30A circuit. The idea I have in mind is the 50A circuit will run the whole way through the spa panel into the control panel, at which point I plan to make the circuitry similar to the diagram I've seen you post before, only I'm trying to think through re-working it to use 2 PIDs, etc. (or possibly just 1 PID and a PWM for the BK, if that seems reasonable to do). Again, I'm fairly familiar with electronics, but I'm just very cautious when it comes to dealing with 240V and this much amperage, so I want to make sure I have all bases covered. This project is still in the works, so I'll definitely be posting a build thread once I get everything more hashed out, but I figured it would make sense to clear this up before planning it into my build and finding for whatever reason it's a bad idea. Thanks, I definitely am glad to hear this sounds more feasible than I was first guessing!

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Old 08-26-2011, 06:33 PM   #4
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The specific NEC rule only applies to a multi drop circuit where multiple outlets are wired to a single feed. It also applies only to the designer & the electrician doing the wiring. It does not apply to the home owner. The primary reason for the implementation of this rule was for the planning of the outlet layouts in kitchens and how portable appliances might be places on the counter. Because of it, refrigerators generally have their own outlets today.

As a home owner - you should have no concern about this NEC rule.
You can easily run 2 5500W elements on a 50A 240V feed.

Here is an example of a possible setup that might interest you.

As always - click on the image to see a full scale diagram that is printable on Tabloid paper 11" x 17":



I hope this helps you.

P-J

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Old 08-26-2011, 06:40 PM   #5
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Holy cow dude, you rock! Even the diagram, you are awesome! That's actually along the lines of what I was picturing, except you even included the stuff I haven't planned out yet (resistors, etc). Thanks a ton, I'm definitely getting excited about this project now, it seems a lot more realistic and a lot closer already! Thanks again!

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Old 08-26-2011, 06:44 PM   #6
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It's exactly what I plan to do, but when I mean plan, I mean, it is my high level intention at this point. I'm going to put two 5500w elements in the HLT and two 5500w elements in the BK. I'll use an interlock so that I can only run either two in the HLT, two in the BK, or one of each at the same time. Yes, it's pure overkill but in the end it's for time savings and scalability. Right now it's a 10 gallon system but if I ever go to 15 or 20 in the future, it's just a vessel change out not a full system overhaul.

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Old 08-26-2011, 07:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
It's exactly what I plan to do, but when I mean plan, I mean, it is my high level intention at this point. I'm going to put two 5500w elements in the HLT and two 5500w elements in the BK. I'll use an interlock so that I can only run either two in the HLT, two in the BK, or one of each at the same time. Yes, it's pure overkill but in the end it's for time savings and scalability. Right now it's a 10 gallon system but if I ever go to 15 or 20 in the future, it's just a vessel change out not a full system overhaul.
Bobby,

I'm going to have to think about that for a while and see what mind jumps I can do with it. Give me a few days (and then remind me if I don't). That's so I don't just let it go. (Getting old sucks big time!) It should be intriguing to see how I can come up with a good interlock. Hmmm..

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Old 08-26-2011, 07:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worstbrewing View Post
Holy cow dude, you rock! Even the diagram, you are awesome! That's actually along the lines of what I was picturing, except you even included the stuff I haven't planned out yet (resistors, etc). Thanks a ton, I'm definitely getting excited about this project now, it seems a lot more realistic and a lot closer already! Thanks again!
I'm please that I could help you. Let us know how it is going for you.

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Old 08-26-2011, 07:16 PM   #9
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P-J that diagram shows the SSRs as 110V. Is that correct?

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Old 08-26-2011, 07:21 PM   #10
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P-J that diagram shows the SSRs as 110V. Is that correct?
No. The SSRs are switching one leg of 240V that is being delivered to the elements through switches (Switch #1 & #2)

Keep in mind that the SSR is nothing more than an electronic switch.

HTH
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