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Old 07-01-2011, 05:40 AM   #1
rollinred
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Default What would you do?

So I have been AG brewing for only a few batches and realized that with moderate electrical knowledge I should be brewing or at least supplementing with electric heat. So I have decided to go one of two routes...

1. Build a dedicated HLT from a rubbermaid or similar cooler that will be used for heating strike and sparge water.

2. Putting an element in my Blichmann 10 gallon to be used for heating strike/sparge and boil


Money is a huge concern for me. As in money used on propane. I know I will benefit money wise from using electric. I will only be using 120v on a 15 A circuit for now but I feel that should be sufficient for at least helping get to strike/sparge temps.



My issues are:

1. Drilling a hole in my Blingmann... I really should not even worry about this since it is not a big deal, but hey, when you spend 3+ bones on a kettle you don't want to mess it up.

2. After element is installed in Blichmann my wort chiller won't go all the way in to wort and will make chill times longer.

3. Rubbermaid cooler would require sight glass install and would not be able to supplement heat from LP thus taking far longer to heat.


I guess I intend to go full electric anyway so I am leaning toward putting the element in the Blichmann and acquiring a keg or another Blingmann along the way.

So what would you do?

Can someone also point me in the right direction for a weldless fitting for putting a heating element in this kettle? I actually would prefer a welded fitting with a plug in case I choose to pull the element out or switch to 115v when at a friends house.

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Old 07-01-2011, 08:13 AM   #2
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I bought 3 30g Blingmanns and had to drill 5 holes total (3 temp sensor 2 elements) We were a bit nervous to drill but we did it using a really good hole saw like this http://www.holepro.com/tctmetalpro.html Just went slow with pressure and cutting oil. The other option is a Greenlee punch.
As for element mounting I and lots of others have used this method.
http://theelectricbrewery.com/heating-elements

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Old 07-01-2011, 12:46 PM   #3
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15A will support a 1500w element. Drilling a 10 gal pot for a 1500w element is not worth it IMO. I would suggest either a heat stick or mounting the element in a large cooler or HDPE bucket. Set the HLT up in advance and use a timer to theat your strike and sparge water. 1500w is way to small unless you run it a long time...works well on a timer....but to wait...ouch

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Old 07-01-2011, 01:44 PM   #4
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as bullywee wrote check out kal's theelectricbrewery.com. I recommend wearing a bib as you will drool all over yourself.

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Old 07-01-2011, 02:35 PM   #5
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I would ask yourself a series of question before you proceed.

like:

1. do I ever want to do 10G batches
2. do I have enough money to invest in making an electrical system that will perform well, safely and that I can grow into?
3. Since money is a potential barrier - am I comfortable building an ebrew system (buying Kals will be too much $$ for you)?

Electric builds are investments, though worth it. However from my perspective you need to build a system you are going to grow into. That means I personally would:

1. Sell your 10G MT/kettle and upgrade to two kettles that are at least 15G (20G for me would be perfect).
2. Start building collecting your larger pots and saving for electric if you want to go that route. I would guess a simple, safe well made set up with element installation on your kettles, you being the DIYer would be $400-$600. That number can fly upward depending on what you add to it.

but these are tough questions only you can answer. Personally I would never consider building a system that is less than 5500w that can do at least a 10g batch. I would never use a non-professionally made heat stick. I would never use a plastic cooler MT either. But hey, that is just my preference.

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Old 07-01-2011, 03:32 PM   #6
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Well here is my future thought process and what I have ironed out.

I will be using a PID to control the element so if I understand them correctly I can switch from 120v to 240v easily. Right now I simply intended to use a 1500w element as Supplimental heat source, not the primary heat source. When I am able to switch to 240v I will do so simply by changing the element.

I do plan on going to 10g batches but will only do it with electric. What I would do then is use the 10 gallon pot as my HLT and get a 15g for the boil kettle.

As mentioned I want something that I can grow in to. This would be a PID control system and getting a new kettle for boil. I also have no problem having to fill up the smaller 10g while mashing. I could still supplement with LP if needed for quickly raising the temps.

It is all just a thought process. The only thing that would wreck my plans is if the 10g blichmann would not be a big enough HLT for 10g batches. Which if my calculations are right, it will be.

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Old 07-01-2011, 04:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rollinred View Post
I will be using a PID to control the element so if I understand them correctly I can switch from 120v to 240v easily.
I am choosing not to advise you on the electrical build aspects, unless it is personal experience with function/use, etc. The technical wiring and electrical stuff I will leave to the guys who know more than me so I don't accidentally advise you incorrectly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rollinred View Post
I do plan on going to 10g batches but will only do it with electric. What I would do then is use the 10 gallon pot as my HLT and get a 15g for the boil kettle.
10G will be just big enough to support 10G batches. Consider looking at the 20G for MT. From my experience I thought 15G MT would be perfect, and it is until I wanted to try to brew a triple batch of a lower ABV brew (lagers, hefes etc). If I could do it again I would go at least 15G-20G HLT, 20G MT, 25G BK (currently I have 15G HLT/BK and 15G MT ; plan on buying a 25G BK soon).

Quote:
Originally Posted by rollinred View Post
It is all just a thought process.
Definitely take your time and think things out. You will be happier with the end result. All in all, in my opinion, electric is well worth it. Not needed, but well worth it.

Good luck!
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:54 PM   #8
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I won't be using a pot for my MT. I converted a cooler this spring and I will use that for many years to come.

Right now all I do is heat my strike/sparge water in my Blichmann 10g and drain the MT in to a bucket. Then I pour the bucket back in to the Blichmann and boil there.

All I want right now is a way to reduce my propane usage. Idealy I would be using a large element that would easily boil and heat water, but I do not have 240v available since I am renting this place. I thought it might be a good idea to get started with building the system so that when I do get a place I just need to rewire the PID and relays for 240 and replace the element.

If I did start building now I could put in a 1500w element and turn it on while the LP burner is on to get it to temp. After it is at temp the element will hold it there. I would still use LP for the boil

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