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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Safely setting up 120v. Old Apartment.
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Old 03-07-2012, 04:12 PM   #1
Vendrixfly
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Default Safely setting up 120v. Old Apartment.

Hey guys!

Ive spent the greater part of the last three weeks grooming forums and researching 120v ebiab to apply to my current situation, thanks for all the awesome builds and tutorials! I am still confused and concerned about a couple things in regards to applying this method to my brewing lifestyle, so I bit the bullet (trying not to beat a dead horse here) and came to you.

I live in a three story apartment building that was likely built pre-50's so I cant be to sure of the condition of the wiring in the walls or how long its been since the last electrical inspection. Been doing partial boil all grain biab's for a while now in my 20qt kettle on gas range, but recently picked up the 44qt Bayou Classic to get into full boils. Tested the kettle with 6 gallons of cold tap, split between two burners, and was able to get a very light boil going with lid off in 70 mins. I'm afraid even that would be pushing it with additions and such during a brew session so I want to add an element to the kettle to help. Did a breaker test (which is located in the basement three floors below) with the help of a friend upstairs and found out that the GFCI 15a outlet located near the gas stove is on a 20a breaker but have no idea of the gauge/condition of the wire, and the outlet has been there a long time, probably 5+ years without certification/recheck of the GFCI. The outlet is also 15a, not 20 so that probably tells me the wiring is only capable of 15a right? It seems to be a separate designated circuit as well. I only want to drill one element hole in my new kettle as I plan to one day install a 240v element, but how high do you think I could safely go? Its a rental, so I feel weird replacing the outlet with 20a even if I know the breaker is 20a although could probably do it without anyone noticing. Nevertheless there's still the wiring...wouldn't want to set this old building aflame.

What do you guys think?

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Old 03-07-2012, 04:40 PM   #2
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I'd say you should get yourself a 1500W element & maybe a PWM.
(Although the PWM might not be needed in this case.)
Don't mess with the apartment wiring or outlets.

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Old 03-07-2012, 05:30 PM   #3
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Thanks KitB. Yeah, I was thinking 1500 was as high as I should go too. Wont get me the results a 1650 would but it'd help my peace of mind. BTW, has anyone had any experience with these?

http://www.amazon.com/Columbia-Sinks.../dp/B002C30MD8


It looks like an all-inclusive deal for someone who doesn't feel great about jb welding and splicing wires. Its pricey, but for my purposes wouldn't be affected by the heat from the stove like a pvc connection would and has a dial. Thanks for the feedback.

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Old 03-07-2012, 08:05 PM   #4
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Well if it is 20 amp circuit, with 12 gauge wire...I would think you have 20 amps available...what size wire is in the basement / kitchen?

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Old 03-07-2012, 08:23 PM   #5
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I know the breaker is 20 amps, but the outlet is 15 and has a few thick layers of paint caked on it so I'm relictant to even pry it off the wall to check. I think I'm better off going 1500 watts. Makes me nervous to push the line any more than I have to, plus its a rental. If I go ahead and spend the cash on that 1500 watt element and housing above id be able to dial down the current I'm pulling right? Heck, I may just drill another hole and make it 2x 1500, one with the dial in case boils got too strong. Then I could do full batches anywhere there's two separate 15-20 amp circuits.

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Old 03-07-2012, 09:40 PM   #6
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UPDATE on the above Columbia Sinks 1500 watt heating element:

Just got off the phone with a representative from Columbia Sinks and ALL the elements they sell have an auto-cutoff at 200 degrees, which would make them useless for brewing. Since I posted the link I thought everyone should know!

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Old 03-07-2012, 09:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vendrixfly View Post
UPDATE on the above Columbia Sinks 1500 watt heating element:

Just got off the phone with a representative from Columbia Sinks and ALL the elements they sell have an auto-cutoff at 200 degrees, which would make them useless for brewing. Since I posted the link I thought everyone should know!
However...
They could be useful for a mash tun or HLT.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:03 PM   #8
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Ahhhh! Yes, they certainly could. I correct my statement to "useless to single vessel BIAB brewers"!

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