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Old 01-10-2013, 01:24 AM   #1
mr_tripp
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Default Electrical Fire! Help!

Photo: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B7N...0wzN2JRVGt5UDg



I have a electric kettle and I use a 2000W element from Home Depot. I use a Ranco controller and Shock Buster GFCI from Lowes. I have used my system about a dozen times and no problems. The other day I started an electrical fire. The black cable melted. I technically saw no flames, just smoke. Luckily I was in the room and was able to disconnect the cords before much more damage could have happened. Do you have any idea for what might have caused this. I'll try to describe my setup as much as possible and give some possible problems:

1. The ground wire came lose on the kettle. It also had JB Weld on the end of it because my hole was cut to large so I had to patch it.

2. I have a 220v dryer connector and I had an electrician re-wire it to make two 110v receptacles instead of the 220v. (I know I should just use a 220v element, but then I can't use my ranco controller)

3. The Shock Buster says 1875 Watts on the back and the element is 2000 (I think, again it's from Home Depot)

4. The Ranco controller is using a standard orange extension cord. I tried to use heavy gauge wire, but it always came loose, so now it is braided wire, not solid copper. I opened the Ranco controller and there was not burns on any of the cables inside, just the male plug that went into the Shock Buster. The other male and female connectors from the element to the Ranco also did not have any burns.

5. The steam from the boil was pretty close to the electrical outlet. I actually though the smoke was steam from the boil at first.


Thanks for any help.

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:35 AM   #2
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Two things...the components you're using are overloaded if, in fact, you have a 2000W element (16.7A) on devices spec'ed for 15A. That is a 15A plug and receptacle.

And, based on the burned mark on the plug it looks like you had a bad connection at the screw clamp/connection inside there. Bad connection = high resistance = voltage drop (combined with current) = heat.

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Old 01-10-2013, 03:36 AM   #3
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you plugged something from The Depot into something from Lowes.... It was bound to fail!

Then you overloaded it while subjecting it to a steam bath with no ground connection with undersized extension cords fed from a hacked dryer connection( that could've been used with a Ranco since they can support 240v), but other than that there shouldn't have been any issues.

I'm thinking items 1-5 were the source of your issues and luckily they didn't show up on the previous dozen batches. Make sure you use the correctly sized components(wire, controller, protection, outlets, ect) for your application or have that electrician review your rig before you brew again. This may be harsh, but you should be dead right now with what you had cobbled up, so please get all the issues worked out before you brew with this again.

Did you get the beer to the fermenter?

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Old 01-10-2013, 03:41 AM   #4
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Default Plug is the problem methinks

Look at the picture. You can see where the heat was. Inside that DIY plug.

What must have happened (not the first time on this forum) is that the wire was not securely connected to the prong in that 110V plug. A loose wire has higher resistance than normal, and current through resistance = heat. If it screws down, maybe the screw wasn't tight.

I think your whole system sounds flawed, actually, but the problem was probably just a wire that wasn't tightly screwed down in that plug.

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Old 01-10-2013, 03:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WPStrassburg
you plugged something from The Depot into something from Lowes.... It was bound to fail!
true that
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WPStrassburg View Post
you plugged something from The Depot into something from Lowes.... It was bound to fail!

Then you overloaded it while subjecting it to a steam bath with no ground connection with undersized extension cords fed from a hacked dryer connection( that could've been used with a Ranco since they can support 240v), but other than that there shouldn't have been any issues.

I'm thinking items 1-5 were the source of your issues and luckily they didn't show up on the previous dozen batches. Make sure you use the correctly sized components(wire, controller, protection, outlets, ect) for your application or have that electrician review your rig before you brew again. This may be harsh, but you should be dead right now with what you had cobbled up, so please get all the issues worked out before you brew with this again.

Did you get the beer to the fermenter?
My Wife and I are laughing so hard right now at this response. Bravo!

Im glad that OP can live to brew another day.
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:59 PM   #7
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I've had a similar problem in the past and it was due to a bad connection inside the socket.

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Old 01-10-2013, 04:12 PM   #8
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This makes me a little nervous! What's the best way to make sure the wire terminal connects stay together? I'm using the switchcaft plugs and each receptacle has the 4 male connects. I slid the female ends on and tried to crimp them the best I could. They pass the tug test but I'm not trying to start any fires.

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Old 01-10-2013, 04:16 PM   #9
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not knowing all the details, i would get some insulation/shrink tubing on the exposed terminals, those wires are not secured sufficiently.

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Old 01-10-2013, 04:36 PM   #10
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That plate is mounted on the top of my spa panel. What would you do different to make it more safe?
Individual shrink tubing to cover the terminal ends?
Solder the connections?
Silicone to cover the connections?
Leave it be?

I'm concerned as I plan to make a similar set-up at the control panel.

image-1960658351.jpg   image-746442570.jpg  
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