Originally Posted by pvtschultz
Perfectly suitable, I do it all the time but I can boil down to 3 gallons w/o uncovering the element. For a 5.5 gallon batch, you'll need an additional 1 gallon for boil off, 1/2 gallon for grain absorption, and about 1/4 gallon for misc losses for an initial volume of 7-1/4 gallons. You'll find that to be quite typical for 60 min 15% boils.
ETA - Don't use the element during mashing, you'll never get good results IME. I wrap mine with a quilt during the mash but adding reflectex or similar insulative wrap would be equally effective.
Same numbers I end up with for BIAB and it works great.
I do used the element to maintain temps and To ramp up the temps for mash out. With no other insulation other than a lid.
I keep my pump running the whole time and it does very well for giving me even temps. I use A LOVE controller on that system and I have great results. If I had it to do again I would use a PID with Manual Mode as an option.
Bottled: Honey Wheat, American Wheat, Kolsch, Chocolate Porter, Oatmeal Stout
Kegged: Falconer's APA, Honey Brown Ale, Guinness Draught