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Old 04-25-2011, 12:11 AM   #1
SenorWanderer
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Default Will these elements work?

Hey all, it's been a while.

I'm starting to do some beginning research on a 1bbl electric HERMS system made from stainless steel drums, mostly following theelectricbrewery.com and the bluto555. Due to the volumes in play and the tendency of regular ol' elements to corrode and rust, I'm looking into the 304 stainless steel elements on McMaster Carr. It's impossible to link to that site, so the part number I'm looking at is 3656K162. It's a 10.5 kW element in 240v 3 phase.

Can I wire this element the same way I would any of the other 240v elements that others are using? The 3 phase is throwing me a bit cause I'm not very well versed in electricity, and there are 240v 1 phase options just above.

If and when I go ahead and pull the electricity I'll need to my brewing space, will the 240 already be 3 phase or will I have to request this from the electrician?

From what I've read and understand, 3 phase is simply both 'hots' from the 240v service and the neutral. Just hoping to confirm this, or (more likely) be corrected!

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!



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Old 04-25-2011, 01:04 AM   #2
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Normal residential electric is single phase. 3 phase is more of an industrial sourced power option.



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Old 04-25-2011, 01:28 AM   #3
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SINGLE phase is simply both 'hots' from the 240v service and the neutral. Like samc said it's the normal residential service. I live in a rural area and there is 3-phase in front of my house, but the house service is single phase. To bring in 3-phase would require a bank of 3 transformers on the pole plus a different service drop, main panel and a lot of money!

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Old 04-25-2011, 01:41 AM   #4
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3 phase power is delivered as 3 hots and then depending on the transformer configuration (delta or wye) a neutral. The phase to phase voltage on a wye system is 208V. The phase to phase voltage on a delta system is 240V. The neutral is completly different with these 2 systems as it is developed in a completely different manner with each.

You will not find 3 phase power delivered to a residential area. (Or a least it would be extremely rare.)

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Old 04-25-2011, 01:52 AM   #5
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I looked in Mcmaster Carr, there's no information about the element.

Three phase is 3 "hot" wires, and, depending on the configuration, maybe a neutral, and it's the presence of the neutral that can make you or break you.

I've never seen a 3 phase element before, and never worked on 3 phase here in the US, or else I'd give you a more direct answer.

In a nutshell, 3 phase can be connected in a "triangle" or "star" configuration (that'd be the names as translated from Spanish. I don't know the English names).

In a triangle configuration, each element will be connected between 2 hot wires, no neutral involved. That means you'll have an element with only 3 wires. If that's the case, you can use it by only using 2 of the contacts (one for each 240V hot), and leaving the third contact disconnected (and properly insulated). In that case, you will have a total of about 5250W, instead of the nominal 10500W. That's because 2 of the elements will be working @ 120V, while the 3rd one will be working @ 240V. Or you can short circuit 2 of the contacts, and connect them to one of the hot wires, and connect the free contact to the other hot. That will give you 7000W, as 2 of the elements will be working on 240V, while the 3rd will not work.

In a star configuration, each element will be connected between one of the hot wires and neutral. In that case, you will have 4 contacts in your element.
If that's the case, you can connect the 3 "hot" contacts together to one of the hot wires, and the neutral contact to the other one, and you will have the full 10500W.

And that's about it, as best as I can explain it. Let me know if there's something you don't understand.

Edit: P-J explained it while I was typing. Looks like "star" is "wye"and "triangle" is "delta"...

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Old 04-25-2011, 01:54 AM   #6
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Hmm, a little more expensive, but check these out:

9,000 watt 240v single phase


They have many types of heaters. This one uses a 2" NPT hole however.

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Old 04-25-2011, 03:27 AM   #7
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Thanks for the explanations and the link! That's exactly what i've been looking for.

those elements are a lot more expensive but they might be worth it in the grand scheme of things.

2 more questions: Anyone have any opinions on using such a freaking expensive element? If it lasts for years and years then it's not such a big deal but if it burns out right away (or even after a year or two) then it's not exactly worth it. The only other option I can think of to make up for the needed wattage is multiple cheap home depot elements, but i don't like the idea of the multiple holes and wiring, not to mention the corrosion and rust from them.

second, the high wattage elements that are useful for my application are 54" long!!! that's way too big for my barrels. does anyone have any experience bending elements? i'm guessing that even if i could bend them in a way that would allow them to fit, the stress on the sheath could become a problem and might lead to them burning out prematurely.

comments and opinions greatly appreciated!!

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Old 04-25-2011, 03:55 AM   #8
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Well, maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't pay that kind of money for a HE if it was made of solid gold.
Now, personally, I never heard about elements getting rust in them. Not only in here, but having been a member of a biodiesel forum for a couple of years. Knew of elements cracking because of the lower thermal conductivity of oil, but that's about it.

About bending the elements, you can do it, if you have a good quality bender. There's always the rick of the heater wire touching the tube, if it has been packed incorrectly, but it's pretty slim.

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Old 04-25-2011, 04:22 AM   #9
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My water heater elements were in my house when I purchased it in 1991 and they are still going. I am not worried that the ones I have in my kettle as being any worse then the standard water heater element. I wouldn't worry too much about it and just go with standard single phase elements.

In all honesty, are you going to use your system 24/7? I don't think its too much work to possibly change an element every 5 years, let alone 20 years. Even if you made a commercial venture out of it, you would probably be either broke or buying a commercial system before you would have to worry about an element failure. Just my .02

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Old 04-25-2011, 04:28 AM   #10
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Is it simply the rust you're worried about with the standard 5500 watt elements? If so, its easy to avoid. Simply make sure you dry them out after each brewing session. In my experience the only time the heating elements rust at the base is if you leave them submerged in water for extended periods of time.
Plus, if you need to replace one, they're cheap!
17 bucks for a brand new 5500 watt heating element at home depot is hard to beat.



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