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Old 06-07-2011, 03:19 PM   #1
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Default General Wiring Questions On A 240v 50amp Line

I have a 50amp 240v old spa breaker that's no longer in use in my panel. The line runs right next to my brewstand...so it is perfectly ideal, and I hope I don't need to make any changes to it. I'm going to order 2 of those 5500w elements Kal recommended, along with most of the complete setup recommended in the element section of his website (thelectricbrewery.com). I plan on simply plugging the elements in when I need to use one of the two, though maybe later on I may try to develop the control box.

I don't understand a lot about electricity yet, so bare with me. If I use the 50amp line, do I need to keep everything rated at 50amps ie the GFCI/outlet, the wiring (I assume at least 10 gauge)? What would happen if you plugged the element into the 50amp line? Would it overload, or just heat the water uber fast? Also, I assume I couldn't order the 30amp outlet listed on Kal's site because the energy flowing to it would be way too high?

Lastly, everyone on here has told me I must have a GFCI...which I completely agree with. Problem is, I haven't found any 50amp outlets that come with a GFCI, other than looking at using a spa sub panel with a built in GFCI (which I prefer not to buy because they're ~$150). Have any of you come across any outlets with GFCI in them that are rated at 50amps? If not, do you think I should just pull the 50amp breaker, and put a 30amp GFCI breaker directly into the panel, and then just wire an outlet?

Thanks for all the help everyone! I really, really appreciate it!

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Old 06-07-2011, 03:30 PM   #2
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I plan on simply plugging the elements in when I need to use one of the two, though maybe later on I may try to develop the control box.
You need some way to switch them on/off. Unplugging/plugging is not a safe way to turn something on/off.

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What would happen if you plugged the element into the 50amp line? Would it overload, or just heat the water uber fast?
If you plug a 5500W element into a 50A line it'll draw 5500W which is about 23A.

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Also, I assume I couldn't order the 30amp outlet listed on Kal's site because the energy flowing to it would be way too high?
The component at the end pulls current. It dictates how much current flows. A circuit with a 50A breaker has a 'potential' of delivering up to 50A to whatever requests it without popping the 50A breaker.

Spa GFI breakers are about the cheapest way to get a 50A GFI. I'm confused however, you say you have a 50A spa breaker. If it's a spa breaker it's going to have a GFI built in (that's why it's a spa breaker).

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Old 06-07-2011, 03:37 PM   #3
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Give this sticky post electrical primer a read too: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/ele...rewers-145019/

It explains a lot of the fundamentals and is correct/accurate (IMHO).

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Old 06-07-2011, 03:41 PM   #4
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What switch would you recommend Kal? Would simply wiring in a light switch be an option, or would I need something more heavy duty. As for the spa breaker...here's a picture of the box & breaker.





Thanks!

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Old 06-07-2011, 03:44 PM   #5
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I'll suggest reading the above sticky as well as consulting with an electrician in your area.

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Old 06-07-2011, 03:48 PM   #6
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What switch would you recommend Kal? Would simply wiring in a light switch be an option, or would I need something more heavy duty. As for the spa breaker...here's a picture of the box & breaker.
That's not a GFCI Breaker, it's just the breaker that was used to power the spa, presumably it was protected with another GFCI downstream somewhere. So, putting a Spa Panel downstream or using an inline GFCI Cord would be the way to go. As for a switch you'll need something like this rated for 30A or a contactor and switch.

Another thing to note is that unless you are willing to stand over that switch and cycle it a lot over a 60min boil, I'd plan on biting the bullet and building in some sort of power control like a PID or PWM. 5500W is going to give you a crazy boil on 5 or even 10 gallons.
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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 06-07-2011, 04:04 PM   #7
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wyz...that's the plan later on...right now, since the wife is in college, I can only afford so much. The heating aspect of the brewery is the last piece of the puzzle before it becomes fully functional. Later on I plan to add some temperature controls and sensors for the element, but that will come with baby steps (and more moola once the wife get's out of school at year's end!)

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Old 06-07-2011, 04:31 PM   #8
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I would recommend waiting until you can do it right. It'll cost less in the long run to do it once and do it right. End of the year's not far way. We're more than half way there.

Kal

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Old 06-07-2011, 04:36 PM   #9
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My only other alternative is a weak propane burner from my smoker, which probably wouldn't be much faster than a few hot plates (BTW...I measured how long the 2 hotplates took to get 6g up to 155 degrees...2 hours...lord knows how long a boil would take.) I don't want to wait until the end of the year to brew on the system. So either I can buy a huge burner, and blow through some gas, or I can go with the elements...even if it means pluging them in and unpluggin them to keep the temps stable (which I could easily do via the breaker come to think of it since it's right there in the garage). The elements (at least IMHO), is definitely the way to go...

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Old 06-07-2011, 04:51 PM   #10
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My only other alternative is a weak propane burner from my smoker, which probably wouldn't be much faster than a few hot plates (BTW...I measured how long the 2 hotplates took to get 6g up to 155 degrees...2 hours...lord knows how long a boil would take.) I don't want to wait until the end of the year to brew on the system.
But it's not like you'd be brewing tomorrow anyway if you went the 'simple route' that you want to do first..

If you decide to go with a 'simplified' electric setup now, you mentioned that you still have a lot to learn and haven't bought anything yet. That itself will likely take weeks if not months. Which puts you that much closer to the end of the year. What's an extra few months? It takes most electric guys many months to get set up anyway. It took me well over a year from ordering the first part to my first brew.

So why not do it right like you say you want to in 5-6 months anyway and start now? The end difference is that you've saved a bunch of money since you're not going to replace everything.

If you wanted to go simple from the start and stay that way then by all means go for it now. I only say this since you say you want to change it all up at end of year anyway. If it was 2-3 years down the road that you were planning on replacing most of it that's a different story. But the end of the year is only 6 months away.

Some of the stuf you're going to need regardless: A (possibly) 30A outlet with GFI and other things. You can get started on that since it's not something you end up throwing away in 5-6 months.

If you're not brewing at all now then you're likely buying craft beers or the like. I'd keep doing that while I slowly read/learn and put something together.

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So either I can buy a huge burner, and blow through some gas, or I can go with the elements...even if it means pluging them in and unpluggin them to keep the temps stable (which I could easily do via the breaker come to think of it since it's right there in the garage).
You can't sit there and cycle the breaker on/off every second. That just isn't going to work. Nor should you do the same with a 30A switch like the one from home depot listed above. They're not meant for that sort of cycling.

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The elements (at least IMHO), is definitely the way to go...
Agreed!

Kal
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