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Old 01-15-2013, 08:10 AM   #1
tflew
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Default Hybrid Herms Heating Element question

I am in the planning stages of building a HERMS brew rig using keggles and have pretty much figured out what I am going to do but I am hung up on the heating element. I plan on using propane for the BK but want to heat the HLT with electricity. For simplicity I want to use a 120V element plugged into a temp controller instead of trying to wire a control panel and finding a 220v plug. I was thinking of of using the BK to preheat the water close to my mash temps then using the 120V element to keep it precisely at the temps I need and to raise the temp incremently if needed for stepping/mash out.

For starters is this feasible, or am I completely off base somewhere.

Secondly, can I use a bucket water heater like this that is just plugged directly into a temp controller, or should I attach the element directly inside the keg?

If I do attach an element inside the keg, would someone mind giving me some specifics in terms of what kind of wires I would need to buy/wiring I would need to do to make this happen. I have seen tons of 220V builds but am not really electrically inclined enough to switch everything to 120V and be certain I got it right. Sorry for the probably stupid question and thanks for the help.

Tom



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Old 01-15-2013, 11:42 AM   #2
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Welcome to the world of trying to heat water with electricity...

You can use the simple controller you propose, given a few conditions. 1 - how much water are you trying to heat? 1000w at 120v isn't a ton of power, and may not be able to heat your volumes depending on how much you have. 2 - That element will draw just over 8 amps at 120v, so make sure whatever controller you have will handle that load. 3 - Be aware that the way the simpler controllers work is by leaving the element on until such time that the set temperature is reached, and then turning off until such time as the temp drops below the set temperature. You can set a range, but most of the time the smallest is 1degree, so even in the most optimal of worlds your HLT with be 1 over or 1 under your target, a swing of 3 degrees. More likely, the water will continue to heat up, even though the element is off, as there is some delay between how hot the element is, how hot the water is, and how hot the temperature probe shows. You may get swings of 10 degrees or more, which doesn't really help you maintain a steady mash temperature.

The bucket heater you propose, as mentioned above, is a little low on the wattage side but could work depending on your volumes.

The wiring you need depends on amperage. Simply put - take your element wattage (in your case, 1000) and divide it by the element voltage (in your case, 120) and you get the amps (in your case, 8.333). Whatever wiring you run has to be capable of handling that demand. A Google search will give you all kinds of references on what wire sizes can handle what amperages.

Good luck!
-Kevin



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Old 01-15-2013, 04:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Kevin

As for volumes I brew 10 gallon batches. Obviously that bucket heater would take forever to get the water up to temp, but if I preheat it with propane, insulate the HLT and MT and recirculate the water in the HLT for consistency in heating would that element/temp controller be able to keep it withing 1-2 degrees? How would wiring a 120V element to a PID be different?

Thanks

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Old 01-15-2013, 05:37 PM   #4
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You still would have temperature swings, but they would be less. The simple controllers are just that - they turn the element on below the set temp, and off above it. There's some built in wiggle room there, and the system will heat or cool depending on how all the components work together, but the controller can't adjust.

A PID is a more intelligent system. It can learn the characteristics of your setup, and if it consistently sees the temperatures changing, or overshooting, it will adjust.

So maybe your set temp is 165. The simpler controller will turn the element on until the temp probe reads 165 or 166 or whatever the range is you set, then turn off until the temperature goes down below 165 or whatever the range you set is, then turn back on. Unfortunately, the water in your tank may get to 167 or 168 or 170 or who knows what before it starts to cool down again. With the PID, this same thing may happen once or twice, but eventually the PID will learn, so maybe it turns off the element at 161* knowing that it will continue to ramp up until the temperature hits 165... and then it will fire the element for brief periods of time to maintain 165.

With the PID you'll have a much steadier ramp to your set temperature, and much less swing once you're there.

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Old 01-15-2013, 08:47 PM   #5
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i had this exact setup for a while with a Keggle 3 vessel setup. i used a pid (for all the reason BadNews listed), an SSR and a 1500W element silver soldered into my keggle. i also added an outlet to switch my pump on/off. it was the perfect thing to control my HERMS and set my mash temps. it worked so well that a year later my setup is now 100% electric.

my hybrid system let me direct fire my HLT and BK, so i would heat my Mash water in the BK and then dump it into the MLT. meanwhile the HLT water was heating to the approximate temp of my mash to use HERMS... and then i just turned off the gas and flicked on the PID.

the new electric system basically works the same way. 2 pids, 2 ssr's, 2 heating elements. one for the BK one for the HLT. heat huge volumes of water faster, same control over temps. quiet. efficient. no noxious gas from the propane. *swoon*

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Old 01-16-2013, 12:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slakwhere View Post
i had this exact setup for a while with a Keggle 3 vessel setup. i used a pid (for all the reason BadNews listed), an SSR and a 1500W element silver soldered into my keggle. i also added an outlet to switch my pump on/off.
Is there anyway you could send me specifically what parts you used for this and/or send me a diagram of how you wired it. I have been thinking of adding a plug for the pumps as well
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:59 AM   #7
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i don't have any diagrams for my 120v setup, but it's pretty simple. a grounded extension cord comes into the control box and onto 3 terminal blocks to make connecting devices easy.

PID Power goes to Hot and Neutral (hopefully with a fuse)
SSR signal (5vdc + and -) go from the PID to the input signal for the SSR

wall plugs have 2 power receptacles. by default they are both tied together, so if the top gets power the bottom does as well. this is done with a little brass tab. if you break that tab off we now have 2 separate plugs that can be controlled separately. Break off the HOT side tab but leave the neutral.

Run Neutral to the receptacle from the terminal block. it will run to both plugs since that brass tab is still in place.

Run Ground from the terminal block to the ground on the receptacle.

Run a Hot from the terminal block to the SSR output, and another wire from the other SSR terminal output to plug #1. this is your element heat plug.

Run a Hot from the terminal block to a 120v switch, and then from the other end of the switch to plug #2. this is your pump plug. you can put a fuse here if you want.

the PID will turn the element off/on with the SSR. the switch will turn your pump on/off.

make sense?

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Old 01-16-2013, 06:31 AM   #8
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that makes perfect sense thank you for the explanation. I guess now its time to start getting together parts!

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:08 PM   #9
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you may also want to put a 2nd switch between the SSR and the heat plug... to make sure you can turn off the heat when the HLT is empty. dry firing an element is bad news. i forgot to put that in there since i don't have them on my 240v setup, they require contactors/relays for that and i haven't gotten around to spending the cash yet. but for a 120v any switch that can handle 15a would work and shouldn't be too expensive.

you can get the PID, SSR and Heat Sink from www.auberins.com ... switches and a case too if you want 1 stop shopping. i would buy the biggest SSR you can get. the bigger the difference from the load you're using to the rating of the SSR, the less heat they generate. if you get a 60 amp and put 15 amps through it, it's nowhere near as hot as if you got a 20 amp and put 15 amps through it. less heat = lasts longer.

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:18 PM   #10
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Then would the temperature probe be plugged in directly to the PID?



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