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Old 03-30-2011, 11:47 AM   #1
CanadianNorth
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Default 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!!

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Old 03-30-2011, 01:57 PM   #2
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Do a search for PWM. This is a very inexpensive way to control the percentage of power going to the element.

Walker uses this.

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Old 03-30-2011, 03:50 PM   #3
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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?ma...&products_id=3

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Old 03-30-2011, 04:51 PM   #4
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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?

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:03 PM   #5
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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?ma...roducts_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.

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:09 PM   #6
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NOOB question,

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

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:18 PM   #7
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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.

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:19 PM   #8
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You could get a proportional controller: https://www.alliedelec.com/search/pr...px?SKU=6823038

Then control it with a cheap potentiometer and a battery.

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadianNorth View Post
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?
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amity View Post
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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