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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Amp, gauge, duty cycle recommendations
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Old 12-03-2011, 04:43 AM   #21
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I'm totally with you on this one but...hang on now. How many watts are ample to boil a 5 gallon batch? Not sure if I mentioned it but I don't intend on doing more. Let's go with a good rolling 7 gallon maximum boil. Can I get that with a 4500 watt element? If that's the case I can run a 30 amp circuit.

A 4500 watt element will be more than sufficient for a 5 gal batch (7 gal boil). But if you go that route then you could run 2 4500watt elements on a 50 amp circuit. So there's one good reason to go 50 amp instead of 30 amp, if you can that is.

2 elements running simultaneously would allow you to do back to back batches. Heat strike water and begin mashing your second mash as you boil and chill the first. I don't personally ever do back to back batches but I might if I did tiny 5 gal batches
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Old 12-03-2011, 05:00 AM   #22
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I don't personally ever do back to back batches but I might if I did tiny 5 gal batches
Hah, I see your schwarz is bigger than mine. I drink a majority of my beer myself. Most of my friends that would really appreciate it live elsewhere so I only go through 5 gal every few weeks. I'd love to make larger batches but I'll save that for the day I can legally sell it somehow.
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Old 12-03-2011, 01:49 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Spintab View Post
I'm totally with you on this one but...hang on now. How many watts are ample to boil a 5 gallon batch? Not sure if I mentioned it but I don't intend on doing more. Let's go with a good rolling 7 gallon maximum boil. Can I get that with a 4500 watt element? If that's the case I can run a 30 amp circuit.
FWIW, I can get a good rolling boil (if it's not 20F outside) with 3000W on 7.5 gallons. A 4500W element will do you just fine, it'll just get you to a boil more quickly. You could easily do 10gal batches with a 4500W element.
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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 12-03-2011, 02:59 PM   #24
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I've got 5500 watts in my HLT and kettle. I have the ability to do 10g batches, but I like to brew a lot of different styles so only do 5 gal batches. But I went for the larger watt elements cause I'm an impatient b*stard, so I like my stuff to heat quickly.

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Old 12-03-2011, 04:31 PM   #25
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Lets not give someone advice that goes against the National Electric Code. They are very clear that to be code compliant you need 6 gauge wire for a 50A breaker going to a subpanel or outlet.

National Electric code says:

14 gauge = 15 amp
12 gauge = 20 amp
10 gauge = 30 amp
8 gauge = 40 amp
6 gauge = 60 amps

Please don't try to cut corners by overloading your wire putting too large of a breaker on it trying to pull more current through it. This is dangerous.

-Steve

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Old 12-03-2011, 05:31 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjwelna
Lets not give someone advice that goes against the National Electric Code. They are very clear that to be code compliant you need 6 gauge wire for a 50A breaker going to a subpanel or outlet.

National Electric code says:

14 gauge = 15 amp
12 gauge = 20 amp
10 gauge = 30 amp
8 gauge = 40 amp
6 gauge = 60 amps

Please don't try to cut corners by overloading your wire putting too large of a breaker on it trying to pull more current through it. This is dangerous.

-Steve
You are right, but in practice a 5500watt element pulls less than 30. You would only overload the wire in the event of a short and that's why you have the breaker in the first place.

As I said before, if you are really concerned then put a 30 amp fuse in the line.

This wiring isn't going through the walls and I don't personally plan to have my control panel UL listed. But again, do what you consider safe.
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Old 12-04-2011, 05:17 AM   #27
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New plan. After spending an hour in Lowes tonight I realized this is going to get really expensive really quick. I already blew 300 bucks on a couple kegs and a new kettle so I'm running out of budget pretty quick. So I'll go with all 120vac. Three 20 amp breakers at the box to three 20 amp gfci outlets near the brew area. One 2000 watt element in the hlt and two in the boil kettle. 2000 watts is pushing the headroom of a 20 amp circuit but it should be ok. I haven't had a problem using it in my hlt thus far. I already have one gfci outlet and two mechanical relays well rated for the job. The one in the HLT is on a 30 second cycle which works well and if I keep one in the kettle fully on throughout the boil I think I could get away with a several second cycle for the other. That's still rough on a mechanical relay but doable and without the heat issues of SSR's. Even running 3 lines to the brew area, I think the cost of wiring would ultimately be less, let alone the cost of 240 volt recepticals, switches, contactors, etc. We'll see. Still have some figuring to do to confirm this.

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Old 12-04-2011, 12:56 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjwelna View Post
Lets not give someone advice that goes against the National Electric Code. They are very clear that to be code compliant you need 6 gauge wire for a 50A breaker going to a subpanel or outlet.

National Electric code says:

14 gauge = 15 amp
12 gauge = 20 amp
10 gauge = 30 amp
8 gauge = 40 amp
6 gauge = 60 amps

Please don't try to cut corners by overloading your wire putting too large of a breaker on it trying to pull more current through it. This is dangerous.

-Steve
Perhaps it might help you to better understand wire ratings if you did a little more research instead. Take a look at this wire chart:
http://www.armstrongssupply.com/wire_chart.htm
Please note that #8 copper wire is capable of carrying 50 or 55A depending on the wire's insulation.
Oh - and the information is from NEC.
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:12 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Spintab View Post
New plan. After spending an hour in Lowes tonight I realized this is going to get really expensive really quick. I already blew 300 bucks on a couple kegs and a new kettle so I'm running out of budget pretty quick. So I'll go with all 120vac. Three 20 amp breakers at the box to three 20 amp gfci outlets near the brew area. One 2000 watt element in the hlt and two in the boil kettle. 2000 watts is pushing the headroom of a 20 amp circuit but it should be ok. I haven't had a problem using it in my hlt thus far. I already have one gfci outlet and two mechanical relays well rated for the job. The one in the HLT is on a 30 second cycle which works well and if I keep one in the kettle fully on throughout the boil I think I could get away with a several second cycle for the other. That's still rough on a mechanical relay but doable and without the heat issues of SSR's. Even running 3 lines to the brew area, I think the cost of wiring would ultimately be less, let alone the cost of 240 volt recepticals, switches, contactors, etc. We'll see. Still have some figuring to do to confirm this.
You are greatly increasing cost by using multiple breakers, elements, and line to feed each outlet. 240v outlets are about $10 and the SSR from Auber is less than $20 and the heatsink is about another $20. You only need 1 ssr. And you could do with a single outlet for the element. Just unplug the element from the HLT and plug in the element from the boil kettle, this would save you the cost of the switch too (which isn't too bad anyhow).

For your prosed 120v setup, the two gfci outlets you'll need to buy along with the 3 breakers will probably equal the expense of the HD spa box ($50 if I remember correctly) and the single double pole 30 or 50amp breaker (~$10) needed for the 240v system. Plus you have the added expense of the additional element, nut to secure it (from bargain fittings) and time to drill the extra hole.

It looks to me like a more complicated system that isn't any better and isn't going to be any cheaper. I don't see what you save by going with 120v. That said, I will agree the expense of an electric system is hidden. It doesn't look pricey until you start adding up all the little things (outlets, wires, switches, heatsink, fuses, fuse holders, etc.). I speak from experience.

You could use the mechanical relay but I sure wouldn't expect it to last long. There are some around here who have or are toying with the idea of a PWM to control the element. It would be like adjusting the heat on a stovetop element - you turn it up and down until the temp is where you like it. There's no setting it for 150F and leaving it, you would have to monitor it constantly and 'learn' your system (i.e. how far to turn the dial to maintain the temp you seek).

I think the PWM is cheaper but I'm not positive about this, it's worth looking into though. I would consider a PWM if I wasn't doing HERMS, with HERMS I really need to set the HLT at a specific temp and maintain it there. If I were just heating the strike and sparge water and boiling the wort then I would definitely consider a PWM if it were cheaper and it may be.

Anyhow, food for thought.
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:22 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Lost View Post
You are greatly increasing cost by using multiple breakers, elements, and line to feed each outlet. 240v outlets are about $10 and the SSR from Auber is less than $20 and the heatsink is about another $20. You only need 1 ssr. And you could do with a single outlet for the element. Just unplug the element from the HLT and plug in the element from the boil kettle, this would save you the cost of the switch too (which isn't too bad anyhow).

For your prosed 120v setup, the two gfci outlets you'll need to buy along with the 3 breakers will probably equal the expense of the HD spa box ($50 if I remember correctly) and the single double pole 30 or 50amp breaker (~$10) needed for the 240v system. Plus you have the added expense of the additional element, nut to secure it (from bargain fittings) and time to drill the extra hole.

It looks to me like a more complicated system that isn't any better and isn't going to be any cheaper. I don't see what you save by going with 120v. That said, I will agree the expense of an electric system is hidden. It doesn't look pricey until you start adding up all the little things (outlets, wires, switches, heatsink, fuses, fuse holders, etc.). I speak from experience.

You could use the mechanical relay but I sure wouldn't expect it to last long. There are some around here who have or are toying with the idea of a PWM to control the element. It would be like adjusting the heat on a stovetop element - you turn it up and down until the temp is where you like it. There's no setting it for 150F and leaving it, you would have to monitor it constantly and 'learn' your system (i.e. how far to turn the dial to maintain the temp you seek).

I think the PWM is cheaper but I'm not positive about this, it's worth looking into though. I would consider a PWM if I wasn't doing HERMS, with HERMS I really need to set the HLT at a specific temp and maintain it there. If I were just heating the strike and sparge water and boiling the wort then I would definitely consider a PWM if it were cheaper and it may be.

Anyhow, food for thought.
I agree... 3 120V Breakers seems like it would be more annoying and more expensive. You would also be using much more current to get the same wattage. I'd go with 240V
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