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Old 03-12-2013, 08:27 PM   #1
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Default Can I hook up my ferm. chamber Ranco to heating element for HERMS?

Would it be safe to install an element in a kettle and just plug it into a temperature controller?

After digging around here a fair amount I get the sense that to build even a basic eHERMS setup I need a PID wired to a solid state relay. I feel like the answer to my question is no based on not seeing anyone do it, but I want to probe it before I dive in to learning wiring etc.

My main objective is to be able to step mash and mash out (my current vorlauf procedure loses 30 degrees) without worrying about needing too much infusion water.

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Old 03-13-2013, 12:34 AM   #2
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Would it be safe to install an element in a kettle and just plug it into a temperature controller?

After digging around here a fair amount I get the sense that to build even a basic eHERMS setup I need a PID wired to a solid state relay. I feel like the answer to my question is no based on not seeing anyone do it, but I want to probe it before I dive in to learning wiring etc.
It's going to depend on the element you are trying to control.

The normally open contact on a Ranco ETC-111000 controller can handle a resistive load of 15A @ 120VAC. That's sufficient to drive a 1500W/120V heater element.

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My main objective is to be able to step mash and mash out (my current vorlauf procedure loses 30 degrees) without worrying about needing too much infusion water.
That's the problem then.

1500W can probably maintain a mash temp, but it'll suck balls at trying to boost the temp. Step mashing isn't really an option because of how long it will take.

But, this really has nothing to do with a PID+SSR vs Ranco. This is a limitation of 120V and 1500W. If you want faster ramp times, you are probably going to have to look at multiple elements and/or 240V.

You could still use the ranco instead of a PID, but have the ranco drive some SSRs instead of the element directly.
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:26 AM   #3
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But, this really has nothing to do with a PID+SSR vs Ranco. This is a limitation of 120V and 1500W. If you want faster ramp times, you are probably going to have to look at multiple elements and/or 240V.
That clears up so much, thanks! So would there be a major downside to using the Ranco to control the pump, and just manually adjusting water temperature to the right neighborhood?
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:50 AM   #4
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I am not sure I follow you there. Not sure how activating your pump based on temp will help you do step mashes and mash-out (*).


* = i find the mash-out to be a waste of time. why heat it to 170 in the MLT before pumping to the kettle and boiling? Just pump it to the kettle and boil it.

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Old 03-13-2013, 05:39 AM   #5
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The idea would be to manually make sure the HLT stays above target temp, and then have the pump trigger to recirculate through the HLT exchanger only when the MLT is below target temp.

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Old 03-13-2013, 11:00 AM   #6
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Would you be using propane as the heat source in this scenario?

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Old 03-13-2013, 12:26 PM   #7
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The other downside with the RANCO is that it's not a 'smart' controller. It will stay on at 100% duty cycle until it reaches the temperature you program. Then it shuts to 0% duty cycle (off). The temperature can continue to ramp for quite a few degrees before it starts to fall again. Then, when the temp drops enough, the controller will kick back on to 100%, but you will find that it takes a while to start going up. So you'll have much wider temperature swings with a RANCO than you would with a PID. I'd guess in the order of +/- 2-5 degrees (so 4-10 total swing), whereas with a PID you're looking at +/- .5*

If you're cool with that, then your issue is what Walker poitns out - the load capability of the controller.

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Old 03-13-2013, 01:45 PM   #8
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Correct. Ranco's/Johnson's/Love/etc.... they are simple re-active thermostats. PIDs are more sophisticated pro-active thermostats. Temp swings around your set-point will be MUCH smaller with a PID.

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Old 03-13-2013, 01:59 PM   #9
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Would you be using propane as the heat source in this scenario?
I would if I went that route.

BadNews thanks for chiming in as well. The tradeoff is becoming very clear.
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:35 PM   #10
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FYI, you could use the ranco to control a relay or contactor to allow a more powerful element, but a 20 amp, 120v circuit is maxed out at 2000 Watts.

Any temp controller is effected by the location of the temp probe and consistency of the temp in the vessel, in this case the MLT.

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