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Old 08-05-2011, 11:44 PM   #1
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Default temperature control for a heatstick

Evening all,

Just ordered a low density 1650 watt 120 volt heater element from Amazon and plan on making a heat stick for mash and brewing ( to augment the jet burner I use for boiling now.)

What is the least expensive method of setting up temperature control for a heat stick so I can dial in the mash temp range and have the element shut off when temp is attained?

I'm an all grain brewer making 5 gal batches if it matters.

Thanks for any insight, this site is what gave me the initiative to try all grain versus extract and I love being able to tweak each recipe by adjusting grain amount and type.


Regards

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Old 08-06-2011, 12:02 AM   #2
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A PID would be best, but this means getting at least a relay but really an SSR to utalize it to its full capacity (ebay may have a cheaper option, but it's hard to beat Auber's PIDs... I tried... it's only their shipping that stinks). $52.50 for the PID shipped plus wires, SSR, heatsink, temp probe and some kind of project box. You're looking at $85+ (depending on where you source parts), but it can scale up to 240V if you want and would give you precise control.

But you said cheap. This would probably be cheaper: build a temperature controller similar to those used for ferm chambers (Similar to this: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/ebay...-build-163849/).

Since you're doing 120v that would work fine, with limitations. A PID is designed to 'dial in' a temp (pulsing variable output), a temp controller will be ON or OFF, and will (probably) overshoot. But you can adapt to that as you learn the system. Even a PID isn't perfectly precise.

Or you could use an old/new ronco/johnson controller (cheapest option if you have one)... new they're not cheaper than these other options though. I would have done this if I went 120V since I have a johnson controller.

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Old 08-06-2011, 12:42 AM   #3
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If your planning to use the heatstick in the mash, you can't use temp control. You have to keep the heat stick in constant motion stirring the mash while watching the temp. If the heat stick stops moving, it will boil and burn out fairly quickly. I initially started my system with a heating element in the mash tun and quickly learned I needed to get it out of the mash.

Linc

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Old 08-06-2011, 12:51 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. I had been reading the 'aquarium thread', but was not sure if the amps draw of the heatstick would be too much for the temp controller. Does the amps drawn by the heatstick go through the temp controller?

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Old 08-06-2011, 12:52 AM   #5
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Perhaps I should have clarified...I meant using the heat stick to heat the water for the mash.

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Old 08-06-2011, 01:02 AM   #6
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My suggestion? Setup an auberins PID, SSR and temp probe in their project box. This way you will have the absolute control you will be shooting for without throwing cash at a progression of changes as you advance you brewing methods down the road. Do it once so that your process is in place from the start.

If you want, I'd be happy to do a setup diagram for you for the controller.

P-J

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Old 08-06-2011, 01:16 AM   #7
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Thanks for the offer P-J...I'd certainly be interested in seeing a write up of how to wire it.

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Old 08-06-2011, 02:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarponteaser View Post
I had been reading the 'aquarium thread', but was not sure if the amps draw of the heatstick would be too much for the temp controller. Does the amps drawn by the heatstick go through the temp controller?
Glad you caught that since I didn't. PID is better then, since you'd still have to get a separate relay w/ the aquarium controller.

... another low cost option would be to use a remote kitchen thermometer w/ an alarm and simply plug the heat stick in. Unplug and remove the heat stick when you reach temp (not burning yourself... I don't use a heatstick so I'm not sure what just removing it would do). That's a, what, $20 option max? And no additional wiring.
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:52 PM   #9
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Funny you mentioned the kitchen thermometer...my stem thermometer just took a dive,,,the stem now freely rotates along with the temperature needle.

When ordering the heater element, I also ordered a digital thermometer with an alarm. The probe and cable is water proof and heat resistant so I can monitor the temp and unplug the heatstick...and possibly stick the probe in the mash to monitor the temp while mashing.

Ultimately I'd like to have a PID, but did not realize it needed a relay as well as a temp probe of some sort...thougt one just hooked up the temp controller to the heater/frreezer with a temp probe and it cycled the power to the heater/cooler to meet temps.

Time to do some research. Guess most folks with a heatstick just have a shut off switch near the pot or pull the plug.

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