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Old 02-04-2013, 01:46 AM   #1
KatCowMan
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Default TC-9102 Temp Controller for an eBIAB build

Promise I searched the forums for an answer. My question upfront is to anyone with experience with an electric kettle. In place of building a control box, with a PID and what not to control an electric kettle/mash tun, what if I just plugged a mounted element into a TC-9102 HV Series Temperature Controller. I really want to make a small batch sized e-BIAB setup. I’m really inspired by all the other builds I see on here, and from many of others parts lists, I have gleaned a couple websites where I can buy 90 percent of the parts in kit form (minus the control box) reducing the sourcing parts and build time. I get a limited allowance from the boss so trying to stay minimalistic.

What does anyone think about running a 1650W element with one of these basic temp controllers? Is there any glaring safety issues? Will this even be worth my time?

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Old 02-04-2013, 12:21 PM   #2
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Not ideal. Let's say you want to mash at 152F. A PID quickly cycles power on and off and if properly tuned will "slow down" the heating as it approaches 152F, so as not to overshoot. Then it will cycle as needed to maintain a fairly constant temp.

I don't know how fine a differential you can set with the temp controller above, but let's say it is 1F. So you set it for 152F and the element runs at 100% until it reaches 152F, then shuts off. The mash temp continues to climb from residual heat, and the element stays off until the temp drops to 151F, at which point it goes to 100% and overshoots again.

For a boil, it will not be useful. Anything 212F or over (at sea level) will be a boil, anything under will not.

And unless you already own it, it does not look like you would be saving money over a simple PID or PWM solution.

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Old 02-04-2013, 01:29 PM   #3
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Thanks much Jeff. That will sets me off on a couple more things to research. I do have one, got it for 50 bucks. I did sort of a test with it plugged into a marshal town bucket heater and I checked it with my CDN thermometer; set at 150, it did not go over 152. But could be different ballgame when trying to do actual brew. Not as concerned with boiling, as boiling is boiling in my book.

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Old 02-04-2013, 02:58 PM   #4
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You are quite welcome.

The only concern with boiling is that if the element at 100% provides more power than you need for a rolling boil, it will be violent and more prone to boilovers.

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Old 02-04-2013, 03:24 PM   #5
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Depending on kettle volume and element power, simple on/off control for the boil might be adequate. To control element power you could add a phase angle SSR or PWM ckt + SSR.

In my experience the PID fuzzy logic is not necessary to hit and maintain the mash temp on 5 gallon batches. I use relay on/off mode on my PID and hit strike temp within 1 deg F by recirculating the strike water.

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Old 02-04-2013, 05:08 PM   #6
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I am planning on doing 2.5 gallon batches (was gifted some small corny kegs). I think I will give this basic controller a shot, and in the mean time plan out what I would build with a PID. I do plan on recirculating to help maintain the temp, just need to chose a pump. I know this is also a debatable topic. Good point on boiling. What I have been doing lately is using both my gas stove and a bucket heater to get to boiling, and then once there cutting either the gas or the bucket heater off to keep boiling. Both options has worked okay thus far.

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Old 02-07-2013, 08:22 PM   #7
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The probe is not waterproof so you will need to come up with some type of thermowell for it. I just used this type of setup to run an e-BIAB test batch two nights ago. I snaked the probe into the mash through my barbed fitting on the lid and put it in thermoplastic tubing with a brass butt end barbed fitting on the other end. It worked well and kept temps within 2+/- degrees once it ramped up. I recirculated the mash and it only had to kick on a few times during the hour.

That all being said, a PID controller is really the way to go for an end game solution. A PID can turn on and off in split seconds. The TC only cycles on and off with a 2 degree swing, even set at its narrowest offset setting. Since you have it, go for it. It will work.

As others have mentioned 1500w or 1650w element will really get a 3.5 gallon pre boil volume (2.5 gallon finished volume) rocking and rolling during the boil. You will not be able to really control the boil with this TC and will have a pretty big boil off rate. It can be done though.

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Old 03-23-2013, 05:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarkinBanks View Post
I snaked the probe into the mash through my barbed fitting on the lid and put it in thermoplastic tubing with a brass butt end barbed fitting on the other end.
I ended up doing almost the same thing. I found one of those Electric Brew Heater elements online that has the infinite power control. It worked well enough, but Im coming to terms that it is still not ideal. Search continues for either a water tight probe that will work with the TC, or the right thermowell.
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