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Old 01-31-2011, 02:01 AM   #1
dflipse
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Default My E-Kettle and Toolbox Control Panel

I can't thank many of the other members here enough for their informative posts, creative ideas, and careful documentation of their electric brewing projects. I've recently completed a 3000W e-kettle and toolbox control panel with portability in mind. That goal led to me using two 1500W elements, and feeding the whole thing with two separate household circuits. I don't think I've broken any real ground here, but if anyone has questions of any kind, I'd be happy to answer them.

Kal, especially, will see that many of the best elements of my project were stolen directly from him. When it came time to choose lights and switches, I had some others picked out, but I felt like I owed him the honor of copying "the look."

Apologies in advance for the iPhone pics. Didn't have the digital camera handy when I thought of taking the pictures.


Toolbox control panel.


Power in side. Used those way oversized plugs, with recessed male locking outlets both due to availability and because they look kinda badass.


Power out side. The switches do line up, normally. I think I'd just been showing my brewing partner how they install, and I'd loosened that middle one. The outlets are color-coded with electrical tape, which felt like a temporary solution but now I kind of like.


The guts. You can see little orange and green tags of electrical tape. Those were to help me keep the A and B circuits straight and separate as I wired the thing up.

Power comes in on the left, goes through one of the relays (controlled by the Main Power switch) in the middle, to the Hot bars on the left, then to the various bits. The second relay is controlled by the Heat switch, and allows power to the red outlets. Solid state relays are also in play, mounted on the back panel, and controlled by the PID.

The blue and yellow outlets are simply controlled through the corresponding switches. On the right, there is a Neutral bar for each circuit.

It's not the neatest wiring in the world, but it's good enough for government work. I also recognize that it's not as idiot proof as some of the best designs here, but I've been very pleased with the functionality and ease of use up to this point.

There is of course Ground Fault protection available. If not wherever I plug it in, I've got the portable (GFCI adapters.


Oversized heat sink. Again, a combination of aesthetics and what was available to me.


The kettle itself. A whole other project. Used the Bayou Classic 44qt from Amazon, and couldn't be happier with that choice, except that the fairly small diameter made getting good seals with the weldless fittings somewhat tedious. We're completely drip-free now through several brews, knock on wood. That's a Bobby M sight tee, Auber RTD, most other bits from Bargain Fittings.


Post-cleanup. I just used a street elbow for my pickup tube and have been very happy with that. The return port is just a plain elbow. Those are two 1500W ELD elements from Plumbing Supply.

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Old 01-31-2011, 02:04 AM   #2
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Very nice build!

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Old 01-31-2011, 04:08 AM   #3
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Looks great! I'm working on something very similar. How do you cool?

Also, why did you choose to put the return/whirlpool port so low? Not criticizing - it all looks fantastic! - just wondering.

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Old 01-31-2011, 10:17 AM   #4
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Great design.

I'm looking at doing basically the same thing in the future and I was wondering if you had the wiring diagram available, if you could post it?

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Old 01-31-2011, 12:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palefire View Post
Looks great! I'm working on something very similar. How do you cool?

Also, why did you choose to put the return/whirlpool port so low? Not criticizing - it all looks fantastic! - just wondering.
We cool with a Bobby M Counterflow Chiller. Several configurations are currently possible with our current setup, but I essentially built this to make a Countertop Brutus capable of full five gallon batches. Post-boil, we can recirc with the CFC if needed to get down to our temps, as well as optionally using the fountain pump to chill with ice water.

No particular logic for the return port placement. Wanted it above the drain (which I'd like to be 1/4" or so lower) but definitely below the level of the liquid.

The only wiring diagrams I had were scrawled on scraps of paper. The two parallel circuits did take some thinking to make sure I got it right the first time. I may be able to come up with something legible in a little while.
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:52 PM   #6
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Very, very nice! I'm doing one that's very similar....in fact, my hands are all cut up from doing the wiring in the box! Boerderij Kabouter, Kal, and Gabrew (who simplified things) have heavily influenced my control box.

I really dig that color choice, as well as the color coded receptacles. Looking back, I wish I used the real estate on the lid...it makes wiring way easier....but I was adamant about having nothing on top so I could stack things on the box.

Congrats, that thing is beautiful!

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Old 01-31-2011, 03:02 PM   #7
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I have to admit I love the toolbox control panels. Now you really have me debating on a NEMA watertight enclsoure or a more portable toolbox. Habor Freight has a "stainless" box for under $20. Haven't seen it in person to confrim it's actually stainless.

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Old 01-31-2011, 03:15 PM   #8
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Homak makes some decent stuff. I got a Kobalt toolbox at Lowe's. Just remember to go as big as possible....it fills up quick!

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Old 01-31-2011, 04:07 PM   #9
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VERY nice. Few questions..

1. Why ELD elements? Advantage over LD or HD? At only 1500 watt each scorching can't be an issue right?

2. Where did you get the lights and toggle switches?

3. What did you label with?

I am planning a 2 1500w heatstick build with a toolbox control, but much much simpler. Will move the heatsticks from HLT to Kettle.

I plan on having 2 gfci outlets, 2 on/off switches and 2 indicator lights. No temp control as I will just use the kettle thermometers to tell me when to flick switches on and off. I do not mind watching my temps.

Mainly this is because I barely know enough to play with 110 =)

If you are interested in a little side cash, I'd love someone to help diagram a simple layout for this. I could sketch up my ideas..

Again, great build!

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Old 01-31-2011, 04:49 PM   #10
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Got any more pics/details of your element mounting and connections outside the kettle. I'm adding the same and I'm wondering how you mounted it all. What are the big nuts you used? Can you just add a nut and grommet to seal. inside?
Looks great! Nice job.

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