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-   -   Getting started with electric brewing: to PID or not to PID (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/getting-started-electric-brewing-pid-not-pid-236179/)

CanadianNorth 03-30-2011 11:47 AM

Getting started with electric brewing: to PID or not to PID
 
Ok,

So I am moving the ol' brewing indoors.

I have been brewing for just over two years, I've done a couple dozen batches.

I don't have the dime for a setup like electricbrewery.com (go Senators!), at least not yet. I want to start small while keeping things efficient.

After a couple of posts and a lot of reading, I am stepping away from heatsticks and going for an in-pot 5500w 240v element (12gal pot). I do "5 gal" batches (starting with 8 gal of wort, boiled down to 6, previously on a massive propane burner).

So right now I am looking at one element in one pot, to be a multipurpose HLT and BK (I can make it work).

Here is the catch:
I need a way to 'tune down' the element once I hit boil. A PID will run me $60, SSR and heatsink wil run $25.

The PID/SSR option is most likely the best move - and I will go that way eventually, but the cost (after just buying the element and a 30A 240V GFCI breaker) is not cool.

So the question to the forum is; is there a cheaper way to control the heat output? An analog dial, for example the type on a stove, perhaps with an SSR?


I'm not really concerned right now about reading the temperature, I have lots of thermometers to do that.
Thanks!!

stlbeer 03-30-2011 01:57 PM

Do a search for PWM. This is a very inexpensive way to control the percentage of power going to the element.

Walker uses this.

stevehaun 03-30-2011 03:50 PM

If you want to control the temp on the HLT, you will need a pid anyway. You can use the pid (must have a manual mode) to control the HLT and BK. If you use a PWM, you will still need one (or two) SSR and heat sinks.
Here's a pid for $45. I have picked up omega pid for about $30 off ebay.
http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_ id=3

CanadianNorth 03-30-2011 04:51 PM

Thanks.
I know I will likely get a PID for my HLT eventually.

I have read that I only need one SSR/heatsink for a PID, do I need more than one SSR/heatsink for a PWM?

stevehaun 03-30-2011 05:03 PM

At a minimum, you will need either two SSRs or one SSR and a hard shut off, i.e., a contactor. Otherwise you will only be turning off one hot limb of the 240 vac circuit. Here is a reasonably priced contactor:
http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_ id=129

SSRs usually fail "closed" which is why I think it is preferable to have a hard shut off. I personally use one SSR and a contactor. Some will argue for two SSRs which is also safe because it would be really unusual for both SSRs to fail simultaneously. I suppose the most safe way would be two SSRs and a contactor. I find the contactor very useful, especially at boil over time. I use my contactors to turn off my elements many times during a typical brewday.

CanadianNorth 03-30-2011 05:09 PM

NOOB question,

it says taht's a 120v contactor, is that okay?

Amity 03-30-2011 05:18 PM

I do 10-11 gallon batches with a friend. Our kettle has two elements: 3500W and 4000W. We just switch one leg of the 240V on or off to cut power to each element. (Each element has a switch). To get our strike water or wort to a boil, we run both elements, then shut off one element to maintain a boil.

Dead simple.

wuertele 03-30-2011 05:19 PM

You could get a proportional controller: https://www.alliedelec.com/search/productdetail.aspx?SKU=6823038

Then control it with a cheap potentiometer and a battery.

CanadianNorth 03-30-2011 05:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CanadianNorth (Post 2788803)
NOOB question,

it says taht's a 120v contactor, is that okay?

I get it. 120v to run the contactor.


Could a two pole contactor could handle both lines of a 240V heater????

Why would this be different than a physical switch?

CanadianNorth 03-30-2011 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Amity (Post 2788833)
I do 10-11 gallon batches with a friend. Our kettle has two elements: 3500W and 4000W. We just switch one leg of the 240V on or off to cut power to each element. (Each element has a switch). To get our strike water or wort to a boil, we run both elements, then shut off one element to maintain a boil.

Dead simple.

You're absolutely right - only trick is I don't think I have room in my pot to put two heating elements and stil use my wort chiller. I know I could get a plate chiller or a counterflow chiller, but I like the convience of my 'drop in' wort chiller......


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