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Old 02-24-2011, 02:22 AM   #1
Dgonza9
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Default Heatsticks vs mounting element in keggle...

I'm just curious what people's experiences and opinions are on this. I started by make heat sticks. They worked great, but then I had the one with the j bend fail on me due to the pour in method and possibly over thinning the jb weld.

After that, I started mounting in the keggle. I'm almost done and for the beginner this does take a different skill set, but to me it seems like a cleaner, more reliable, possibly safer install.

Your thoughts? Here's my new brew kettle. I installed one 2000w element. I will also be using one heat stick to supplement it. I don't have 220 as I didn't have room in my electrical panel to install the gfci breaker for one, whereas I could add two slim line 20 amp circuits no problem. I may just forgo the second heat stick and just mount another 2000 watt element, but at this point it seems like a waste of time.

Heat stick pros: No drilling the keggle (pretty easy once you have the right tools and know how to go about it), portable.

Mounting in keggle: No JB Weld near beer. Seems safer to me. About half the price of building a heat stick.



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Old 02-24-2011, 02:30 AM   #2
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My opinion: Heatsticks scare the sh*t out of me and I would never use one.

I have an element mounted in a kettle, and I had the locknut welded to the thing.

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Old 02-24-2011, 03:08 AM   #3
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I have to admit, the concept of submerging your wiring in a pot full of water is scary. I keep mine on a switched gfci and I try not to touch anything when the system is energized. When my heat stick failed I was boiling away and the gfci popped. I unplugged it, reset, put it in the keggle, plugged it in, hit the switch and the gfci popped right away again. I tried all four of my gfci outlets. Same story. It's nice to know the gfci works and the keggle is grounded.

That being said, once I saw this thing fail with about 8 months of use it freaked me out enough that I decided to mount in the keggle. My trouble is that I don't have 240v gfci breaker. No time or money for it right now. No room in my electrical panel, either, although I could replace some 20 amp circuits with slimline 20 amp breakers to make the space. PITA, though.

I suppose I could add a second 2000w element to the keggle and leave the heat stick aside for now. My keggle already looks like frankenstein, though.

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Old 02-24-2011, 03:13 AM   #4
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My opinion: Heatsticks scare the sh*t out of me and I would never use one.

I have an element mounted in a kettle, and I had the locknut welded to the thing.
Just curious about your signature. Wouldn't a licensed electrician advise you never to boil water/wort in this manner, or no?
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:20 AM   #5
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Just curious about your signature. Wouldn't a licensed electrician advise you never to boil water/wort in this manner, or no?
Why would he advise against it? A water heater is a large tank with an electric heating element in it. My kettle is pretty much the same thing, except that I cut the top off the tank.

As a matter of fact, the licensed electrician that installed the 240v outlet and GFI breaker in my garage for my brewery thought it was a fantastic idea. He ended up knocking money off the price of the work I had him do because he thought my project was so cool. He was very interested, looked over my schematics and partially assembled panel and thought it kicked ass.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:28 AM   #6
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Thanks for the response, Walker.

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Old 02-24-2011, 03:37 AM   #7
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Heatsticks also seem dangerous to me. You can build them in a safe manner, but I don't think the drain pipe and JB weld method is a viable solution for me. You are submerging the wiring, in boiling liquid, so you'd better make damn sure it's robust enough to handle that. The triclamp versions are cool, but at that price point you're better off mounting the element. My vote is for mounting them, but I wouldn't mount just one 2000w element, it won't be enough to maintain a good boil, and won't work well for a HLT unless you are a very patient man. I'd upgrade to 240v before considering putting TWO elements in the same vessel.

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Old 02-24-2011, 04:26 AM   #8
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240V is the thing to do. But again, having to reorganize the electrical panel to add the 30 amp gfci makes this less attractive than adding another 2000w element. Plus, the cost is much more significant than adding another element.

My concern is drilling another hole and then having to do something to plug it if I go 240V.

For now I've got one element in the keggle and a heat stick to supplement. I'll probably only use that during the boil as I can always run sparge water thru the RIMS tube for some extra power.

But an upgrade is in the future.

Anyone have anything positive to say about heat sticks?

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Old 02-24-2011, 01:25 PM   #9
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I agree with the above. I think heat sticks are an electrocution waiting to happen. I will never criticize anyone for using one but I would never even think about using one.

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Old 02-24-2011, 01:32 PM   #10
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Ya, just wire a plug going from your kettle to your control box so you can unplug it to clean and that portable problem is taken care of. I have a 5500w element in my keggle and it works great. No way I'd use a heatstick

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