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Old 02-16-2011, 04:27 PM   #1
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Default Guidance in going a little electric hybrid...

One of the things that annoys me when brewing is the inexact dance of trying to get my strike and sparge water temps spot on. Since it all starts here I feel this is a pretty important step to nail. So what I'd like to build to simplify this step in brewing is a HLT that is electrically heated. I have a converted sanke that I could use to modify/convert to a heated HLT. I have absolutely no experience in this type of thing and not really any knowledge of electricity so I'm looking for some guidance, maybe some directions to follow so that I can build a HLT that is heated with an element that is controlled with a temp controller so that I can simply dial in, say 168*F, and my water in my HLT will be heated and held to 168*F, or obviously whatever temperature I desire. This seems like it would be pretty simple, just a matter of installing an element into the HLT and wiring in the Johnson digital controller. Is it this easy? If so, would some of you mind sharing some pictures of a similar setup and/or sharing some specific directions?

thanks



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Old 02-16-2011, 04:33 PM   #2
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I did the exact same thing about a year ago. IMO the hlt is the heart of my brewery. I can not remember nor would I care to brewing without it. I maxed my available power with a 4500w element. Go as big as you can. I will post some pics of mine when I get to a real computer.



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Old 02-16-2011, 04:55 PM   #3
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This came up in another thread yesterday I think.. using a Johnson controller is going to limit the size of heating element you can use by quite a bit. It's rated to 16A @ 120VAC (or 8A at 240VAC) - so you're stuck with a 1500W or therebouts. A PID + SSR is fairly cheap, but wiring it up can be a little bit intimidating - but would give you freedom to configure your own system around whatever requirements you want.

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Old 02-16-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bruin_ale View Post
This came up in another thread yesterday I think.. using a Johnson controller is going to limit the size of heating element you can use by quite a bit. It's rated to 16A @ 120VAC (or 8A at 240VAC) - so you're stuck with a 1500W or therebouts. A PID + SSR is fairly cheap, but wiring it up can be a little bit intimidating - but would give you freedom to configure your own system around whatever requirements you want.
If you already have a johnson or ranco, you can use it to drive an SSR, and have the SSR handle the big load. Saves you having to buy a PID, though the PID *is* a slightly better choice (and cheaper than a ranco/johnson).
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beavdowg View Post
One of the things that annoys me when brewing is the inexact dance of trying to get my strike and sparge water temps spot on. Since it all starts here I feel this is a pretty important step to nail. So what I'd like to build to simplify this step in brewing is a HLT that is electrically heated. I have a converted sanke that I could use to modify/convert to a heated HLT. I have absolutely no experience in this type of thing and not really any knowledge of electricity so I'm looking for some guidance, maybe some directions to follow so that I can build a HLT that is heated with an element that is controlled with a temp controller so that I can simply dial in, say 168*F, and my water in my HLT will be heated and held to 168*F, or obviously whatever temperature I desire. This seems like it would be pretty simple, just a matter of installing an element into the HLT and wiring in the Johnson digital controller. Is it this easy? If so, would some of you mind sharing some pictures of a similar setup and/or sharing some specific directions?

thanks
There are a TON of schematics for this kind of thing floating around on here, but the available power source controls a lot of things.

If you are using 120v, you are limited to 1500W or 2000W (depending on if you have a 15A or 20A breaker in your electrical panel), and that will take a while to heat water up.

But, you can always do the heavy lifting with your kettle and then put the water in the HLT when it's close to where you want and have the HLT then finish the heating and do the maintaining.
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by lschiavo View Post
I maxed my available power with a 4500w element. Go as big as you can.
For what it's worth, I use a 3000W heater. Not enough for your boil, but for an HLT that you can keep a lid on, it's fast enough. And it runs on a 240V, 20 amp breaker from an existing wall outlet installed for a window air conditioner.
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:11 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the responses. Some pictures would be helpful. The wiring diagrams unfortunately don't help me much as I'm not trained in reading them. Question; what is an SSR? I would only be using this to heat water in the HLT, NOT for boil. I just want a way that I can be more exact on my temps, and save some propane too. How fast does a 3000W heater heat water up?

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Old 02-16-2011, 06:17 PM   #8
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SSR = Solid State Relay.

It's basically a switch with no moving parts. Big old chunk of silicone. They are generally controlled by a low voltage signal. When that signal says "GO", the SSR allows another (usually higher) voltage source to pass through it and power up something on the other side.

No moving parts = nothing to wear out after lots of on/off switching, unlike a mechanical relay which has moving parts and click-clacks back and forth as it switches things on and off.

As for saving your propane...

If you are limited to 120v for the electric stuff, you are going to be forced to use a pretty low wattage element. It will take a looooooong time to heat up your strike/sparge water. If you don't feel like waiting for an hour or more for water to heat up, you'll probably end up heating the water with propane and just maintaining it with electric, which means you won't really save on the propane.

Do you currently own any kind of temp controller that you are trying to make use of, or are you starting from scratch here?

Do you have 240v available to use, or are you going to be using 120v?

If 120v, do you have two separate circuits (outlets powered by separate breakers) to use, or just one circuit?

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Old 02-16-2011, 06:25 PM   #9
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How fast does a 3000W heater heat water up?
This might help.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker View Post
SSR = Solid State Relay.

It's basically a switch with no moving parts. Big old chunk of silicone. They are generally controlled by a low voltage signal. When that signal says "GO", the SSR allows another (usually higher) voltage source to pass through it and power up something on the other side.

No moving parts = nothing to wear out after lots of on/off switching, unlike a mechanical relay which has moving parts and click-clacks back and forth as it switches things on and off.

As for saving your propane...

If you are limited to 120v for the electric stuff, you are going to be forced to use a pretty low wattage element. It will take a looooooong time to heat up your strike/sparge water. If you don't feel like waiting for an hour or more for water to heat up, you'll probably end up heating the water with propane and just maintaining it with electric, which means you won't really save on the propane.

Do you currently own any kind of temp controller that you are trying to make use of, or are you starting from scratch here? Yes, I use a Johnson digital controller for my keezer.

Do you have 240v available to use, or are you going to be using 120v?I don't know the answer to that. How would I figure that out?

If 120v, do you have two separate circuits (outlets powered by separate breakers) to use, or just one circuit?
Again, I don't know the answer to that either.


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