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Old 01-05-2012, 05:30 AM   #1
cimirie
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Default Moving to electric

I have just purchased a new house in the metro Detroit area (well, 1930 isn't exactly a NEW house, but it's new to me). As most of my brewing to this point has been done in Florida, I'm not looking forward to the prospect of brewing outside in Detroit in February. Because of that, I'm looking to going electric.

I've been doing a ton of reading on this site and elsewhere and I'm a bit overwhelmed. I'm reading about PID and hot tub controllers and control boxes and....

So here's the deal. I'm not looking for fancy. I'm not looking for automated. I want to convert two kegs - one for use as a HLT and one as a BK. I'll still use my cooler as a mash tun. I'll gravity drain (or perhaps at some point use a pump) everything for now. I want to use a screw in heating element in both. I plan on having an electrician run a dedicated 240 line to my basement brew room (so that it doesn't take forever to boil). I've read about controllers and the like, but I'm wondering if I can simply wire the heating elements directly to a wire and plug that in to the 240. When it's time to switch or stop the temp increase, I'll simply unplug.

I have read nothing in the hundreds of pages about doing just this, but I can't tell if that's because it can't (shouldn't) be done, or if it's just brew geeks doing what we do and having way to much fun and overdoing things.

I have a decent amount of experience wiring easy household things, but I'm not an electrical expert and the vast array of electrical diagrams can make my head spin.

I'm just looking for the electrical equivalent of a propane turkey fryer so I can brew in the basement. Thanks for helping me sift through the vast knowledge dump I've gone through in the past week.

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Old 01-05-2012, 05:42 AM   #2
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You can do it but you loose the ability to control just how much heat is applied. Running your boil kettle element at full blast may give you a much more vigorous boil and higher evaporation rate than you want. By installing the PID or at least a variable resistor (dimmer switch) in the line you can adjust the power output to where it needs to be. The advantage to a PID on the HLT is you can set it and walk away to do something else without it going past your mash in temp but if you don't mind having a beer and watching water boil by all means hit it full blast and turn it off when you hit temp.

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Old 01-05-2012, 05:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cimirie View Post
I have read nothing in the hundreds of pages about doing just this, but I can't tell if that's because it can't (shouldn't) be done, or if it's just brew geeks doing what we do and having way to much fun and overdoing things.
What your proposing can be done and will work. You will give up convenience and bragging rights as to your sexy system.

http://www.amazon.com/Reliance-90001...ref=pd_cp_hi_13800w element, install in keggle, make beer

Depending on batch size and other variables, I would imagine 3500 to 4500 watts would power a keggle nicely w/ no controller, depending on how you like your eggs.
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:59 PM   #4
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What about a slightly more involved situation? I found online today a 220v dimmer switch. Nothing fancy, but could I install that in the power line to the BK element to control the intensity of heat or would something like that require a panel controller and wiring diagram?

Wilser - Thanks for the amazon link! And while I appreciate bragging rights with regards to brew porn, I really am just looking for an indoor equivalent to a propane burner. If I can't brag about it, I'm not crushed.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuporMan View Post
You guys joke around with this all you want, but let me tell you something: I tried making my own beer one time and wound up with herpes!


Primary: Billy Corrigan Ale, malted cider experiment, Optimator clone
Secondary: Sorachi Ace IPA
Bottled: Dark Lord Clone Imperial Stout, Winter 2010 Spiced Ale Ambassador Brown Ale, Michigan Berry pLambic
Kegged: Old Woodward ESB, Strawberry Blonde
On Deck: Honey brown ale, dry stout
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:57 PM   #5
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don't think most dimmer switches are rated for the watts required by these electric heaters.

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