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Old 11-17-2011, 07:30 AM   #1
DanTheBrewMan
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Default Couple of questions about heating elements

Let me start off by saying hello to everyone, seeing as this is my first post.

I have been searching the forums and some other sites for an answer to a few problems but haven't had much luck so I figured why not just ask?

Situation:
I am currently living in an apartment and we just had the stove replaced and SWMBO won't let me use it to brew anymore . I looked into propane burners and they're not completely out of the question but electric seems to be much cheaper. I'm not planning on building a big brew rig or anything fancy (at least not yet ) since I don't have the funds or space available (whole starving college student thing). So I just want to install a heating element in my BK that I can plug into a regular wall outlet.

From my searches I've found that most people are running full rigs or elements from a dedicated 240V outlet or the people that are running 120V elements have them integrated into a brew rig or don't exactly say how they did it. But I have learned some random bits and pieces of info from them. So I'm thinking I would be able to buy a heating element, 1500w x 120V for example, and some 12/3 wire with a regular 3 prong plug on one end and wire it up and plug it in, possibly run some sort of switch in the line. I like to think I'm fairly mechanically inclined (in my junior year of pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering) but I'm nowhere near as familiar with electrical components, other than the basic circuit analysis class I took, and wanted to double check with you guys before I kill myself.

Questions:
1. Will this setup work? (assuming everything is wired and grounded correctly) or will it just pop the element or a fuse? Its a fairly older building so I'm guessing the outlets are 15 amp and 1500w at 120V is 12.5 amps so it should be safe right?

2. I am still only doing extract and partial brews, so I top off my fermentor with water and only boil about 3 gallons. Would a 1500 watt element be sufficient to boil this amount?

3. Would you recommend something else?

Sorry this was kind of long but I figured the more info the more you guys would be able to help. Thanks!

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Old 11-17-2011, 10:33 AM   #2
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here's a small countertop system I remember reading about. This is more than you want but maybe you can get some ideas or gain some knowledge from it.

Good Luck

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/coun...s-20-a-131411/

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Old 11-17-2011, 10:36 AM   #3
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Upon further looking post 5 of the link has parts breakdowns for the system, maybe you could get away with the kettle and controller parts.

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Old 11-17-2011, 03:24 PM   #4
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That's a great thread! Thank you

It looks like he has the heating element wired with a regular 3 prong cable. So it seems like my idea on just wiring the plug directly to the element should work then?

Would I need an actual controller for it? Or could I maybe plug that into a power strip and use the switch on the power strip to essentially turn the element on and off?

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Old 11-17-2011, 05:34 PM   #5
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Your plan will work for a 3gallon boil without an issue, just watch for scorching if you use a HWD element & remember to cut the power when you add your extract.

If you want to get really fancy then you can head down to Lowe's and pick up a Wireless Dual Outlet Remote Control Set like I did and use it to control your element. I used mine to control 2 elements and a pump without an issue on my last brewday.

And finally, please remember to only plug that element in to a GFCI protected circuit. It could save your life.

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Old 11-17-2011, 05:37 PM   #6
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1500 watts is about 5200 BTUs/hour

to heat 3 gallons from 70 to 212 degrees it takes around 3500BTUs of energy. so you can boil 3gal of water from room temp in about 40 minutes (not taking into account any heat lost from the pot to the air in that time).

to go from mashout of 170* to 212*, it should take about 12 minutes, again- plus a few extra for the heat lost.

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Old 11-17-2011, 05:51 PM   #7
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You guys are going to get me in trouble with SWMBO. That controller is awesome!

I'm planning on doing my brewing on my patio (shes not a fan of the smell) and using an outlet out there which I'm assuming is GFCI since its outside and exposed to the elements, but I'll double check. Thanks for the info guys.

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Old 11-17-2011, 07:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTheBrewMan View Post
You guys are going to get me in trouble with SWMBO. That controller is awesome!

I'm planning on doing my brewing on my patio (shes not a fan of the smell) and using an outlet out there which I'm assuming is GFCI since its outside and exposed to the elements, but I'll double check. Thanks for the info guys.
It was only $20.00, besides when you're not brewing you could use it for christmas lights or something. ;0)
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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 11-17-2011, 08:09 PM   #9
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Thats a good point.

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to incorporate the heating element with my aluminum pot. I was looking at the heat stick method that you just stick in the pot, but with only a 3 gallon boil I'm not sure it would be deep enough to fully submerge the element. I also noticed that the people that mount the element in the pot from the side use some sort of gang box to enclose the back side of the element. I'm wondering if this is a little over kill for my situation or if maybe there is a simpler way of protecting the back side of the element? Maybe a short tube or something?

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Old 11-17-2011, 09:03 PM   #10
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A new turkey fryer (burner and 7.5 gal pot) is $70 at Home Depot. A heatstick might be cheaper, but probably not a full on electric kettle.

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