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Old 08-12-2012, 01:27 PM   #1
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Default Induction Cooktops

Aloha homebrew brethren, I have been trying to put together a cheap, electric, step mashing system and came across an infomercial for an induction cooktop. I did a bit of research and found out that a commercial grade cooktop can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and the devices seem to have digital temp controls. Has anyone ever used these to heat a brew kettle/mash tun? Does the temp control work well. I read the induction cooking method doesn't work with aluminium or stainless steel (I have a kettle made of each one) but there does seem to be an adapter u can purchase to make it work with any metal. Any help or info from anyone who has used induction cooktops would be awesome. Thanx!

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Old 08-13-2012, 10:33 AM   #2
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You can get a metal disk which allows the induction unit to work on aluminum pots but these are a bit less efficient than using an induction friendly pot. If a magnet sticks to the pot, you are usually OK. IME, the clad aluminum pots with thick metal bottoms work very well. These are usually aluminum clad in some sort of steel. Al is really good at evenly distributing the heat, and the steel bottom is magnetic to allow the induction to work its magic.

I have one that we picked up for under $100 at target, but it's power settings are more like 1-6, rather than temps (150/200/etc). I have no experience with a professional unit, but I doubt the provided temp control would provide the specificity and control to be useful for mashing. there is no way to determine the temp of a liquid without direct measurement. Now, if one were to use a temp probe to provide temps to a controller, and the controller could send signal to the induction unit to control output-that would be killer.

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Old 08-13-2012, 03:20 PM   #3
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I was about to raise a more general question: Is there any sort of way to boil 5 or more gallons of wort in a kettle using an external heat source?

I've surfed thru the forums and just about come to the conclusion that - other than cutting a hole into the kettle and installing an electric heating element - there is really no viable way to apply enough heat externally to a kettle to do 5+ full volume boils - especially with BIAB in which you often begin with 7 gal at the start of the boil. The guys doing stovetop brewing seem to be doing partial boils and topping off with water into the fermenter.

On a thread somewhere in this forum, someone commented that the heat transfer from hot plate > kettle > liquid is very inefficient when compared to that of an immersed heating element.

I read thru a multi-page thread on this site from someone who was scared to death to cut a hole into his kettle - despite having his "man-card" revoked by the forum. I'm not exactly "scared to death" to cut my kettle (I'm planning to cut the top from a free keg this afternoon); I just don't want to mess up a $100+ kettle.

Thanks,
Keith

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Old 08-13-2012, 07:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Is there any sort of way to boil 5 or more gallons of wort in a kettle using an external heat source?
sure there is... it just depends on how much energy/electricity (and money) you are willing to spend doing it. you *can* get 10kw hot plates/electric coils for a few hundred bucks... but if you can get the same performance out of a 2500w immersion element that costs $10, is it worth it?

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the heat transfer from hot plate > kettle > liquid is very inefficient when compared to that of an immersed heating element.
its actually more like; hot plate > air gap of various size > kettle > liquid.
an immersion element is; element > liquid.

its just a difference in efficiency of heat transfer. with an immersion element, the stuff you are trying to heat (the water/wort) is directly contacting the source of the heat, making efficiency very high (upper 90's-%). nearly all energy that goes into the element gets put into the liquid.
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:02 PM   #5
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re: hot plate > kettle > liquid

The OP was referring to induction cooking, and I just wanted to distinguish between induction and electric cooking.

Induction =~84% efficiency
Electric cooktop=~74% efficiency
Hot water heater elements=~90% efficiency

There are many brewers using induction to boil and...I'll be...just found someone mashing with induction: http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2011/07/induction-brewing/

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Old 08-14-2012, 03:36 AM   #6
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I have used an 1800W 120V Max Burton induction 'hot plate' and a 4 gallon kettle wrapped in Refletix to make 2.5 gallon batches. I also noticed the infomercial induction cooktop. With my 4 gallon pot I was able to get a gentle rolling boil. I doubt the 1000W induction cooktop could get the 4 gallon pot boiling with the lid off. Keep in mind that you will need a bunch of energy going into the pot to get the steam going. I was considering using a 3000W 240V Max Burton induction cooktop from Amazon with an 8 gallon Megapot from Northern Brewer. I like the idea of having a reusable electric stove and not having to punch holes in the kettle for elements.

4 Gallon Pot - http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/t...-qt.?ID=478441
8 gallon Megapot - http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/b...ewmometer.html
Max Burton 1800W - http://www.amazon.com/Max-Burton-600...dp/B000MVN1M6/
Max Burton 3000W - http://www.amazon.com/6530-ProChef-3...dp/B0037Z7HQ0/

I wound up running 240v into my garage for the 3000W, but just went with a Kai Boil kettle clone.

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Old 08-14-2012, 04:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kzimmer0817 View Post
I was about to raise a more general question: Is there any sort of way to boil 5 or more gallons of wort in a kettle using an external heat source?

I've surfed thru the forums and just about come to the conclusion that - other than cutting a hole into the kettle and installing an electric heating element - there is really no viable way to apply enough heat externally to a kettle to do 5+ full volume boils - especially with BIAB in which you often begin with 7 gal at the start of the boil.
.... I just don't want to mess up a $100+ kettle.

Thanks,
Keith
If you don't want to cut a hole in your brewpot and if you are willing to do some (well, actually, quite a bit of) work, you can do what I did. I got an old drop in range top from CL, cut it up, and built my own stove and mounted it on a cart. I can easily get 8 gallons up to a rolling boil with this thing and have continuous manual temp. control - I haven't tried to automate it and don't plan to, but it could be done. It works really well - the only problem is that if I haven't used it for a while I have to turn on the elements for about 10 minutes without the GFCI to bake out the moisture so that it doesn't trip the GFCI off. I just mounted a regular 30 amp relay in my spa panel and wired it in parallel with the GFI breaker so I can easily select with/without GFCI. Of course after I bake the moisture out of the elements I reenable the GFCI before I brew.

It works well with my 10 gallon Megapot, but if you have a taller, narrow pot, you probably won't be able to get the elements close enough together to avoid a lot of unused element area.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/live...a-born-177317/
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shroomzofdoom View Post
Induction =~84% efficiency
Electric cooktop=~74% efficiency
Hot water heater elements=~90% efficiency
ive seen that 84% number for induction cookers in a few places, but have never seen anywhere near that in the real world. the 1998 dept of energy report that that number comes from isnt very specific on how they calculated it... somewhere near 60-70% efficiency is probably a more realistic estimate, especially when not using induction-specific pots. if your pot is off center on the cooktop, or isnt well electrically coupled to the induction coil, the efficiency goes down quickly. it also highly depends on the quality of the stove. a $30 1800w cooktop from amazon is never going to be 84% efficient.

immersion elements are normally 98% or higher (not counting losses from evaporating out of the top of the pot; just the path the heat travels into the liquid). nearly 100% of the heating element contacts the water, so there is nowhere to lose energy to.
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:55 PM   #9
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... somewhere near 60-70% efficiency is probably a more realistic estimate, especially when not using induction-specific pots.
Dunno. I think a magnet will either be attracted and it works or if not it won't. If you're using one of those adapter plates and a non-magnetic pot (300 grade stainless or aluminum), efficiency is a whole different story.

I have a 3500W induction plate and there is almost no heat loss. The only heat at the glass surface is what is radiated from the temperature inside the pot.

It'll get 11+ gallons to a boil.
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:12 PM   #10
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I just bought the 1800W Burton. It comes with a refrigerator-type magnet. If the magnet sticks to your pot, you're good to go.

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