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Old 12-24-2012, 10:46 PM   #1
usdsk8er540
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Default Building a system. Need help!

OK so I'm sure there is probably already a thread on this, but my search didn't find me what I'm looking for so I decided to post. If its already posted paste me the link. I recently came into three 15 gallon kegs that I'm going to use in a sort of electric-propane hybrid HERMS system on a single tier system with a custom built frame. So basically I'm looking to use propane for my boil, but electric to control my mash temp on the HERMS unit side. My problem is that I don't know where to start when it comes to installing electric elements in my HLT and how to control it. I already have a temperature controller, but its the STC-1000 aquarium controller I used for my mini fridge for fermentation control, and I haven't seen any talk about using one of these to control electric elements. Can I just wire the element to a cannibalised extension cord and plug it into the temperature controller or do I need a relay like I've seen in builds with other controllers? Another issue is that I'm looking at 110v rather than 220v since I don't have access to a 220v plug in my garage (I mean, I could use my gas powered generator that has a 220v output, but that's noisy and excessive, especially if I brew late at night) and my temperature controller is 110v as well. I figure no reason to add a 220v outlet and build another temperature controller if i can just use what I already have and save some money in the process. If I'm trying to heat a decent amount of water (five or ten gallon batch size spare water) would I be struggling with one 1500-2000w 110v element or would it be possible to run two or three 110v elements (1500-200w) in the HLT or am I looking at pulling too many amps? Would there be a way to run multiple elements (either in parallel or series) in order to not overload the temperature controller? Its been a while since I have tinkered with electronics and ran stuff through formulas, so I apologize for any questions that may seem novice. If it won't work, I will just get another propane burner and run that for my HLT, but I would really like the tighter control on my mash temp that I could get with this setup and want to get all the info I can before I start drilling holes in my kegs! Thanks all and again, if this has already been covered (110v with the STC controller) please point me in the right direction. Thanks!

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Old 12-25-2012, 01:04 AM   #2
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Study the electric brewery.com site. Yours will be based on 110v with no 240. As long as you go one element at a time, you will be fine. Or, run them off different circuits in tandem. a simple PID will help control the mash. If you use a BCS to control, you can set everything from start to finish including firing the propane. But not needed.

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Old 12-25-2012, 02:51 AM   #3
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I've looked at the electric brewery website but it doesn't really tell me what I need to know or if it's even possible to run 2 or 3 elements on 110v without drawing too much amperage. I don't really want to completely automate my brewing as that wouldn't be as much fun. I just want to control my mash temp with a 110v HERMS system and the controller I currently have if its possible.

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Old 12-25-2012, 01:56 PM   #4
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What can you support amp wise? Both circuit and wire that you currently have?

2000w at 120v = 16.5 amps.

Multiply from there. If it is a current wired circuit it probably supports 30amps and the wire is 10 AWG which will only support 33 amps continuos. You can get a boil going and sustained with 4500 watts easy. Don't know about using less.

Others will chime in......

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Old 12-25-2012, 03:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garbageman View Post
If it is a current wired circuit it probably supports 30amps and the wire is 10 AWG which will only support 33 amps continuos.
It'd be a rare 110 circuit (the OP says he only has 110 available) that was wired with 10 AWG wire and a 30-amp breaker. Much more likely to be a 20-amp circuit on 12 AWG wire, so a single circuit would only support a single 2000w element. Using a second circuit and a second SSR, it'd be simple enough to run two heating elements at the same time, albeit pretty cumbersome and tied to a location that would allow him to easily plug into two circuits.

I'd expect 2000w would be plenty to keep water hot (at whatever temp would be desired), but would probably take quite a while to heat it to that temp, and probably wouldn't be enough to sustain a rolling boil (though that would likely depend on how much water is in use).
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:39 AM   #6
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Agreed, there is not enough there to support element, temp controller and pumps. But if the elements were on their own circuit, I think it could be done. Best, safest way is put that 50amp in the panel and run appropriate wire to the brew stand. I battled with that and just did it. I have 6 AWG 3 wire with ground to my GFI spa panel and out to my control panel.glad I did vs "rigging anything".

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