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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Electric burners - Any builders out there?
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:06 AM   #21
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Crap I just realized that my garage breaker has a double pole 15 amp and a single pole 20 amp. I need to get an electrician in here to tell me how much power I have left on my main box. Otherwise it looks like might be running a little thin.
With 15A on 240V, you can drive a 3000 watt element. You should be able to boil 5 gallon batches with that.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:02 PM   #22
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take a look in your main panel, you should see a breaker for the garage sub-panel in there. My garage sub-panel was driven by a 40A double pole (240V) breaker. It was pretty easy to then install a 240V breaker in my garage sub-panel and install a dryer plug a few feet below the panel.
It is the weirdest thing. The breaker on the main service panel to the garage is 20 amp leading out to a 20 amp breaker and a dual pole 15 amp breaker in the garage's box. So basically it is like I have two circuits in the garage, but can only draw a heavy load from one circuit at a time. At least the line out to the garage panel is 10 gauge, so I think I could improve the power heading out there.

I think this means that I would have to replace the "garage" breaker on the house service panel with something higher, say 30-50amps (but I forget what the requirement is for a 10 gauge wire). Once I do that I could replace a breaker or two in the garage with higher amp rating.

Walker, you mean if I run off one of the wall sockets I currently have on the dual pole 15 circuit I could use a 3000watt element and get a boil on a 5 gallon batch (i.e. starting boil volume of ~7 gallons?). That would certainly be the cheaper option than buying the breakers.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:30 PM   #23
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It is the weirdest thing. The breaker on the main service panel to the garage is 20 amp leading out to a 20 amp breaker and a dual pole 15 amp breaker in the garage's box. So basically it is like I have two circuits in the garage, but can only draw a heavy load from one circuit at a time.
That's actually common for to have things like that.

My main panel is outside of the house and contains three breakers:
- one 30A breaker for the central air sitting near the panel
- one 40A breaker for the electric range, directly through the wall from where the panel is
- one 100A breaker that feeds to the subpanel in my garage

In the subpanel is every other breaker for the house.
- ten 15A breakers for lights and receptacles in most rooms
- four 20A breakers for the receptacles in the bathrooms and kitchen
- one 30A breaker for the dryer
- one 50A breaker that I had installed for brewing

No way I could max everything from the subpanel (310A) because there is a max of 100A coming in.

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At least the line out to the garage panel is 10 gauge, so I think I could improve the power heading out there.

I think this means that I would have to replace the "garage" breaker on the house service panel with something higher, say 40-50amps (but I forget what the requirement is for a 10 gauge wire). Once I do that I could replace a breaker or two in the garage with higher amp rating.
10 gauge romex wiring can handle a max of 30A.

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Walker, you mean if I run off one of the wall sockets I currently have on the dual pole 15 circuit I could use a 3000watt element and get a boil on a 5 gallon batch (i.e. starting boil volume of ~7 gallons?). That would certainly be the cheaper option than buying the breakers.
Power = Voltage * Current = 240V * 15A = 3600 Watts

And you want to leave yourself some head-room, so 3000 Watts is as big as you would would want to go on that 15A breaker.

I have a friend here in NC that has a simple e-kettle with two 1500W elements in it and he has no issues brewing 5 gallons AG batches, so 3000W should be fine.

It'll take you 15-20 minutes to get your wort to a boil after sparging, but that isn't all that bad.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:33 PM   #24
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\That would certainly be the cheaper option than buying the breakers.
One more thing to throw out there.

Don't forget about GFI protection. I would never brew without GFI protection.

You can get a power cable that has GFI built into it, or you can swap out the breaker for a GFI one. Those breakers can get expensive, so be prepared for that and shop around. This is totally unrelated to whether you want more power in the garage... it's just a safety thing that I STRONGLY recommend.
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Old 03-01-2011, 02:15 PM   #25
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Thanks for the information Walker - it looks like my best bet might be running with 3000 watts (and what is already in the panel). I don't stand to gain a ton by putting in the 30 amp breaker due to my line restriction. I also don't deem myself confident enough o work on the service panel myself, I would hire an electrician or get my soon to be brother in law to help (union electrician).

That is interesting about your panel. Mine doesn't have a single breaker on it larger than 30amp. But it is a 200amp panel. I watched a you tube clip this morning that showed a set up like yours, larger breakers that support all the smaller ones.

The other option I would have is to put in a separate 50 amp breaker all together for brewing and run a whole new line out to an outdoor box out of the house ($$ approach). However that will take a little more convincing of the SWMBO at this point. I could easily be sneaky if I had to change breaker boxes but the minute I start digging in her flower beds to run the line.... things get complicated!

Luckily I have GFI breakers set up in the garage already. But thanks for the tip. That is my main concern with this set up, safety. I built a climbing gym in my 22x30 foot garage - structurally it is ridiculously safe and over spec (I understand structural loads). I don't understand electrical loads. No way am I working on a service panel. Just trying to understand it enough to know what i am getting into, before I let someone else do it

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Old 03-01-2011, 02:23 PM   #26
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Now the question is heat sticks, or permanent install...

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Old 03-01-2011, 02:26 PM   #27
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I also don't deem myself confident enough o work on the service panel myself, I would hire an electrician or get my soon to be brother in law to help (union electrician).
There's more at play than confidence here. My brewery outlet is located just 2 feet from my garage sub-panel. I was 100% confident that I could install it myself, and I already had purchased the wiring, receptacle, and breaker to do the work.

Then my uber-thorough wife told me that she found a clause in our homeowner's insurance policy that stated that any damage to the house caused by electrical work that was performed by someone without an electrician's license would not be covered. Period. So, in the event that something terrible happened and my house burned down... if it was deemed to have been caused by the breaker and 2 feet of wiring that I had installed, then I would be SOL and sitting on top of 25 years of mortgage for a house that no longer existed.

That was enough for me to cough up $100 to have a licensed electrician come spent 30 minutes in my garage.

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Luckily I have GFI breakers set up in the garage already. But thanks for the tip. That is my main concern with this set up, safety. I built a climbing gym in my 22x30 foot garage - structurally it is ridiculously safe and over spec (I understand structural loads). I don't understand electrical loads. No way am I working on a service panel. Just trying to understand it enough to know what i am getting into, before I let someone else do it
Good! I worry about some of the folks that rush head long into electric systems with little to no knowledge and a cavalier attitude about it. I'm glad your head is screwed on straight!
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Old 03-01-2011, 02:28 PM   #28
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Now the question is heat sticks, or permanent install...
Well... I suggest reading this.
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Old 03-01-2011, 02:34 PM   #29
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Then my uber-thorough wife told me that she found a clause in our homeowner's insurance policy that stated that any damage to the house caused by electrical work that was performed by someone without an electrician's license would not be covered.

Damn! Too late, but better look at my policy anyway.
Wonder if you can have an electician give your work some kind of an official approval.
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Old 03-01-2011, 02:41 PM   #30
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Wonder if you can have an electician give your work some kind of an official approval.
No idea on that.

The guy that came and did my work was ballsy, too. He installed everything without even shutting off the 100A breaker feeding the damn subpanel. I would have never done that myself.
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