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Old 11-28-2011, 01:06 PM   #1
birvine
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Default Some Guidance, Please

Over the past few months I have been building up my equipment. Now with a keggle and HLT with SS valves, a cooler-MLT. All with QD hoses. Working towards more automation.

I now find myself at the stage of wanting to brew indoors. Where I live it can easily get down to -40°C in mid-January. So, I am looking to e-brewing.

I currently brew 5 gallons or less and don't really foresee 10 gallon batches. I just can't drink that much beer!!

In general, I know I have to choose between 240v and 120v. I am choosing 120v.

Please correct me or add to anything in the following:

1. The circuits in my new panel all have 15A circuits; thus, I will call the electrician in to add a couple of 110v 20A circuits. It will be a small job since the room where I will brew has the electrical panel in it.

2. Since the circuits will be new, I will have the electrician install GFCI sockets. Are they sized somehow?

3. In theory, using these two circuits, I should be able to use two 120v 2.4kW threaded elements for the BK (120v x 20A x 2 circuits). In practice, likely two 2kW elements to bring it to a boil and one to maintain the boil. It seems I should use low-density elements to prevent overheating wort. I will use a third element in the HLT, though not at the same time as the other two unless I have a third 20A circuit.

4. Installing the elements into the BK (SS keg) and HLT (aluminum turkey fryer). I don't have the elements yet, but it seems they are 1" threads, come with a gasket but no SS nut. Would HD carry such a nut? Or Fastenal? Do I also need a silicone o-ring on the inside of the pots?

5. Wiring the elements. Since I will have the GFCI sockets where I'll plug in the cords for the elements, am I good to simply wire the elements to the proper gauge cable, attach an outdoor box around the leads to prevent water leakage to the wires, and attach the ground in the cable to the outdoor box? And to ground the keggle/HLT do I make sure the outdoor box is metal and touches the SS or aluminum to make sure the ground is continuous? Is that covering all grounding issues?

6. At the moment I want to be able to control the elements by either plugging/unplugging or with an appropriate in-line switch. Does that mean what people call PID or SSR are not yet needed?

The combination of electricity and "just enough knowledge to hurt myself" make me want to cover all of the bases. I have been reading threads on HBT and all over the net, but I don't seem to be able to find a thread of what I would like to do.

Please advise.

Thanks.

B

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Old 11-28-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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4. You can get the nut online. I think that either BargainFittings or BrewHardware, (or both?), sell nuts with a slot to hold an O-Ring. Me, I figured the O-ring was unnecessary, (it's a water heater element, it's MEANT to be water tight!), so I just bought a 1" SS nut from McMaster for $5. Drilled a hole, left the gasket on the element, put it through, and tightened the nut. Seals perfectly, (water tested it this past week). I think you don't need the o-ring, so any 1" nut should work, (Mine is Mcmaster part # 4464K586).

5. Just make sure your ground wire touches something metal on the pot, or on the element...(the element contacts the pot, so you're good there). Again, you can follow Kal's advice here, but I found that overly complex! I just mounted the element to the pot, as described above, then glued on one of these, a 1" conduit box. The 1" opening is slightly larger than the element plastic outside bit, but a bit of 5-min epoxy fixes that. Then, I drilled a hole in the side of the conduit box and put a 1/4" bolt through. On the inside, the ground wire is attached to the bolt. On the outside of the box, I have a ground wire going from the pot to the bolt, (on a normal pot, you can just clamp a wire onto anything metal, like the pot handle, and run it to the bolt...with a keggle I drilled a 1/8" hole in the base skirt and used a sheet metal screw to attach the wire there). This is perfectly safe, but a bit more hillbilly looking than Kal's setup.

6. Switches mean you won't need a PID or SSR. PIDs and SSRs are nice because it gives you precise control, temp feedback, and all the rest. With 2x 2kW elements though, you can probably get by by using both elements to come up to a boil, and then switching off one element, (the other 2kW is probably enough for your boil). I know a lot of people do that. Note that maintaining mash temp during recirculation, or hitting an exact mash temp or HLT temp, is a lot tougher (but not impossible), without the automation of PID/SSR.

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Old 11-28-2011, 02:22 PM   #3
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Shorty,

Thanks for the info. It helps a lot.

The control issues you mention are as I thought, then. I will eventually add more control, but for the time being, I wanted to just get an electric setup going so I could actually brew. With the cold coming not only will it be uncomfortable but the hose for my IC is un-useable.

Again for the sake of my safety, do you mind showing me some photos of the conduit box/bolt/groundwire setup? A picture is worth...


Thanks

B

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Old 11-28-2011, 03:03 PM   #4
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I'll take some pictures of mine tonight.

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Old 11-28-2011, 03:23 PM   #5
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Take a look at this thread - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/element-cover-282145/

simple method of enclosing your element.

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Old 11-28-2011, 04:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samc View Post
Take a look at this thread - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/element-cover-282145/

simple method of enclosing your element.
I like!

B
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:25 PM   #7
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Looking into what is available here in my small town... will two 1500 w elements bring 5-6 gallons to boil and hold the boil?

B

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:16 AM   #8
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I went to Canadian Tire today and picked up an element and rigged up an ABS collar to cover the lugs and feed in the power cord. I got some marine JB Weld to attach the element to the ABS - it is curing overnight tonight. Then I bought a piece of CPVC conduit to run the cord to the lugs. I'll silicone the lugs once the power cord is attached then silicone inside the CPVC so no liquid can work its way inside.

I read the link where a hole was drilled into the housing through which I'll put a steel bolt to which I'll attach the ground wire inside the housing. On the outside, I'll run a ground wire from the bolt to the skirt of the keg. Not sure what I'll do for the turkey fryer/HLT.

B

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Old 11-29-2011, 01:20 AM   #9
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lol, I guess I should have read before I took pics. In any case, sounds like you have it covered. Here's the pics I took FWIW:



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Old 11-29-2011, 01:36 AM   #10
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Silicone and certain metals don't always do well together. Check before doing with silicone manufacturers specs.

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