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Old 05-01-2012, 05:04 AM   #1
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Default just starting to look at switching electric

I need to start by saying I have no electrical experience so I need a lot of help here. I plan on having a friend (electrician) set this up for me.

I want to build the simplest system I can. Is it possible to run a element with just an on/off switch?

Thanks!

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Old 05-01-2012, 05:35 AM   #2
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I suppose it wouldn't be too difficult to setup a current to a heating element via a simple on/off switch, but that's basically how house fires start. The mechanisms that sit between your wall and the element are there as a safety to prevent the element from damaging itself and it's environment due to a whole host of unfortunate events.
By bypassing those your most likely setting yourself up for trouble. And if your going to retain all those safety systems then what's the point of a on/off switch on the wall?

Unless of course I'm totally misreading your intent.(you didn't provide a lot of details for exactly what your after)

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Old 05-01-2012, 07:42 AM   #3
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what safety systems are you talking about? I'm just looking at installing a 240V outlet in the garage and heating my HLT with an element.

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Old 05-01-2012, 07:52 AM   #4
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Gfci?

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Old 05-02-2012, 04:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killian View Post
I need to start by saying I have no electrical experience so I need a lot of help here. I plan on having a friend (electrician) set this up for me.

I want to build the simplest system I can. Is it possible to run a element with just an on/off switch?

Thanks!
I had two 2000W elements mounted in my keggle. I plugged each into a switched GFCI. I don't think there's anything wrong with this.

But be warned, if you're like me you'll add to your system a lot. Throw in a HLT, two pumps, and exhaust in there and you'll be throwing so many switches you may reconsider.

But it's a great place to start if you're looking to keep it simple. Hence my new panel.

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Old 05-02-2012, 07:43 AM   #6
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thats exactly what I'm looking for do you happen to have a parts list dgonza?

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Old 05-02-2012, 12:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by killian
thats exactly what I'm looking for do you happen to have a parts list dgonza?
Yeah...it looks simple, but if he did it right, there's a GFCI breaker somewhere, more than likely in a spa panel, breakers, fuses, contactors, SSRs, and a bunch of wiring.

Not that all of that is really complicated, but it might seem overwhelming once you see the diagram if you have no experience with electrical stuff.

My experience was pretty limited and I took quite a while to make sure I understood how all the components interact and what their purpose/function is before getting into it at all. Even down to the level I making sure I can properly wire the illuminated switches. There's way more than enough involved in an electric brewery to kill you if you don't know what you're doing or aren't careful.

Doesn't mean you shouldn't tackle the project, just do your homework first and get some knowledgeable folks to help you.
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Old 05-02-2012, 01:00 PM   #8
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First, you really need GFI.

Just putting the elements on a switch is a possibility, but for the BK a PWM control circuit is dead simple to make and even easier to buy online for $15...

A PID or some other temp controller is nice for the MLT control, either HERMS or RIMS if you go that route. You could skip that and just heat the mash and sparge water with electric too. But a temp controller is like $25 if you don't do PID. It would make hitting strike temp easier by not having to watch it constantly (I tend to overshoot temp on that step).

Starting with simple switches is a great way to get going. You can always wire the convenience options in later. Just make sure you are always thinking about safety.

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Old 05-02-2012, 01:59 PM   #9
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A couple things to think about:

How many amps are going to be available on your outlet in your garage?

How many pots/keggles will you be mounting elements in?

If you want multiple elements (in different pots), do you want to be able to turn them both on at the same time? This helps if you're doing back-to-back batches, but is definitely not a requirement and I'd be willing to guess most of us dont have this ability. Not only do you need more amps available at the outlet, but you also need "beefier"/more expensive wiring.

Do you want exact temperature control over any of the elements? If so, you'll need a PID. If no, I recommend a PWM circuit (you'll have a knob to turn up/down to heat your water more/less.


Answer some of these questions and we can help you make better choices

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Old 05-02-2012, 03:41 PM   #10
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Here's what I was suggesting. You use existing 20 amp breakers in your main panel. You run them to switched GFCI outlets. Use two 2000W 120v elements per keggle. This is enough power to do 10 gallon batches if you want to.



This is a good place to get started. I wouldn't recommend tackling a control panel build with no electrical knowledge or experience at all. If you're patient and get help as needed, you could do it. I started by putting in some 20 amp breakers, using switched gfci outlets. It's fine.

I then built a small control box with a PID.


The last step was the big panel. Each step I took was a learning experience.

Hey, there's great resources on this board and many of us come to electric brewing with little knowledge about it. Just be careful, ask questions, use the resources here, and really just take it slow. You could go for a big panel if you want, but my advice is to start smaller with installing a breaker or two in your main panel and using some switched outlets.

The best build thread there is is Kal's thread. You should also read the electrical primer stickied on this thread.

Good luck. It'll be a fun adventure I'm sure.

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