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Old 09-23-2011, 04:46 AM   #1
BiscuitPower
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Default Heating Elements Tripping GFCI, Now they're working?

Kinda like the title says. The details? First time brewing in the keggle with two 2kw elements. Was brewing an imperial porter BIAB. Both worked fine up until the mash, then the first one trips it's 20amp GFCI, nothing else on the circuit, in about 20min into the mash. Waited 30min, reset the outlet, plugged the element in, and it tripped in 'bout 5min. Ok, figured thats it for that one. Then about 50min later the other one trips on it's separate 20amp circuit. Neither element would plug in without tripping. Ended up doing the hop additions in a separate kettle on the stove with some drained wort. Looked at the elements while cleaning and there was probably a good 1/8" of crud baked on there. Otherwise, it flaked right off. Figured both elements were toast. Ordered a couple of low watt density elements, and just for kicks filled up the keggle half way and plugged 'em both in. Sure enough, both worked like a charm and brought the water to boil in no time flat!

Any thought as to what's going on here???

I'd like to use them to brew again if I could, but I'm still a bit concerned.

Thanks for the help in advance.

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Old 09-23-2011, 01:25 PM   #2
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You didn't mention what voltage you're running those 2000w elements at. I'm assuming that you're running it on 240v, so the amperage should be well within the 80% limit for the 20a breaker. If its run on 120v, then the current draw will be over the 80% limit for continuous use (20a x 0.8 = 16a).

I don't know what else it could be.

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Old 09-23-2011, 01:37 PM   #3
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How did you mount the elements to the kettle? Also, how did you insulate the power connections?

My thinking (depending on your answers) is that you potted the connections within epoxy inside of a PVC cover. If you had any leakage through the kettle connection, a small amount of water within your electrical connections could give the results you are experiencing.

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Old 09-23-2011, 02:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by P-J View Post
How did you mount the elements to the kettle? Also, how did you insulate the power connections?

My thinking (depending on your answers) is that you potted the connections within epoxy inside of a PVC cover. If you had any leakage through the kettle connection, a small amount of water within your electrical connections could give the results you are experiencing.
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:15 AM   #5
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies. Sorry I didn't mention the voltage. It's 120v. So, like 16.6 amps? That's 83% v 80%. Do you really think that would do it? (Honestly asking- not trying to be a smarty).

P-J and wyzazz, Thanks for the input. I thought of that at the time and I don't think (didn't see any) that there was water on the connections. Though, I wouldn't count it out. I actually used some old bike tire inner tubes, tightly wrapped concentrically from the wire to the bulkhead- not as ghetto as it sounds, promise. I unraveled the tubing afterwards and everything appeared bone dry. Meh.

I guess I'll give it another shot and report back. Thanks again everybody!

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Old 09-24-2011, 12:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by BiscuitPower View Post
Hey guys, thanks for the replies. Sorry I didn't mention the voltage. It's 120v. So, like 16.6 amps? That's 83% v 80%. Do you really think that would do it? (Honestly asking- not trying to be a smarty).
...
Just a little point. The 80% "rule" does not apply to the home owner. Not even in your wildest imagination does it apply. That "rule" is part of the NEC code that applies to the architect, builder, building inspector - et.al. - not to the home owner. (How would the average home owner ever have a clue about it?) It also applies only to multi drop circuits. Never to a line feeding a single outlet. Never to the home owner as well.

Do not sweat it. It is not part of the problem.
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Old 09-24-2011, 03:07 AM   #7
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I don't do electric brewing but I do do a lot of electrical stuff. What you described is from to much heat build up in the wiring etc. As heat increases resistance decreases causing amps to increase etc etc. Basically if say your wiring run to the outlet was to small of a gauge it would do this. If your heater elements are getting to hot because of not enough water to remove the heat from them. I'm thinking of this in a water heater sort of way but maybe you have to much heater for the amount of water you can hold in there?

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