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Old 12-14-2011, 03:15 PM   #1
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Default Heating element with controller

Hi folks,

first post here and have to say this forum has helped me quite a lot over the past year!

I'm still fairly new but I have a decent amount of equipment that I'm constantly upgrading, which results in a proportional downgrade of funds I've recently graduated myself to all-grain brewing.

Anyway, it's getting cold up here and I don't wanna brew on my balcony with a gas burner so I wanna move to electric (and at around 7 cents a kWh who wouldn't?!). I wanna essentially use a 5500 watt heating element (or smaller) but without the PID or the temperature probes. All I want is some kind of controller on the heating element so I won't always have to operate it at full capacity. Can it be done? I already have a hole drilled in my kettle for a smaller 1000 watt element that I've used. I wanna avoid drilling more holes so a bigger element is what I would like.

I've done a fair bit of searching on here but most I can find is PID controller type set ups. Any help in terms of some key words that I should be looking for or whole threads would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:27 PM   #2
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search for "PWM" or "pulse width modulator".

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:32 PM   #3
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You can build a PWM (pulse width modulator) circuit very simple easy to do. bactronics is where I bought my first one cheap I think it was <$20 shipped. That will give a knob type setup where as you turn the knob the element will pulse "on" longer and turn the knob the other direction and the element will pulse slower (less heat). Like a knob on your stove top. You will have to have an ssr and heat sink and also some type of box to put all of this into. There is a ton of onformation on here just do some searching on "PWM"

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:33 PM   #4
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Fast finger Walker beat me to it. Also just do a search under Walker and you can find all the information you need Walker knows his stuff.

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Fast finger Walker
Hey! That's what your wife calls me, too!
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Hey! That's what your wife calls me, too!
Hey now!!!!! Dont let them know that is my wife who modeled for that avatar of yours. How ya been?
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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These guys seem to have devices you can buy to do that so you dont have to do any work making one:
Burners & Electric Pot Heaters - High Gravity

Warning - They are pretty expensive for what it is.

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Old 02-10-2013, 07:52 AM   #8
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Default DIY heating element controller

Hey ya'll. This controller might be of some use to you. It uses a 2000w dimmer dial and a receptacle. All the parts are easily bought online. Here is a pic.

The Home Brewer's Haven has a detailed writeup of what it takes to build this controller. Note that this is for a single 120v heating element. Some are 1000w, some are 1800w. This controller will handle both obviously. Here is the article with parts list.

Hope this helps some of ya'll. On my setup I have 2 120v elements mounted into each vessel. I have 2 controllers, one for each vessel. I rock one element at 100 % and then use this controller to dial the other one back to around 70% once the boil has started. It is too vigorous otherwise with 8gal boils. Please note that a general 20amp circuit can only handle one heating element at a time. If you use both, make sure they are plugged into separate circuits.

Cheers.

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Old 02-22-2013, 05:01 PM   #9
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Am I doing something wrong? When I search for PWM in electric or DIY forum I get nothing...?

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Old 02-23-2013, 01:56 AM   #10
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I saw this today on the video, but it looks both simple & effective. If I did not already have mine set up, I'd add it.

Dan F.
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