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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Kettles, Mash Tuns, & Hot Liquor Tanks > My 20 gallon electric kettle
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Old 07-05-2009, 12:33 AM   #1
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Default My 20 gallon electric kettle

Here's the latest in my quest to eliminate propane/natural gas from my brew day. This kettle will accompany my big ass boiler in a yet-to-be-constructed rig. The welded fitting came from Bargain Fittings, and the element is a 5500W Camco ultra low watt density unit that I found at Amazon. Here are the test results with approximately 18 gallons of water in the kettle:

0 mins - 85° F (tap water in south Texas is WARM!)
10 mins - 108° F
20 mins - 130 ° F
30 mins - 149° F
40 mins - 168° F
50 mins - 183° F
60 mins - 196° F
70 mins - 204° F
80 mins - 209° F
82 mins - 210° F (boiling at 1,000' MSL)

Though the test case took an hour to get to boiling, it will take significantly less time to achieve a boil in practice, as the mash will hit the kettle at 160-180° F. Also, the inefficiency of an uninsulated kettle is obvious in my test results. The heating rate decreases dramatically as the water temperature increases above room temperature. A little insulation should really help. I plan to control the element with a microcontroller, a solid state relay, and a simple algorithm using pulse-width-modulation.





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Old 07-05-2009, 02:38 AM   #2
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Is that ground well water or city water at that high of a temperature?
I just checked yesterday the well water as I changed the water in the Coi pond and my well water at 32' deep it's up to 63.2*F and drops down in the winter to 60.7*F maximum. Some years less of a swing in temps by 1 to 1 1/4*F.
This test of yours was done with 240 volts I assume not 122 volts this correct Yuri?

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Old 07-05-2009, 02:46 AM   #3
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It's city water through a hose that sat in the sun all day (no, I don't use the garden hose for brewing, but for a simple test, it was the easiest thing to use).

It's plugged into a 220VAC, 50A outlet.

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Old 07-05-2009, 06:15 AM   #4
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Looks very promising. Think I have the same element in my BK which makes me interested. Do you think the steel table it was sitting on affected boil times?

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Old 07-05-2009, 06:37 AM   #5
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I'm going with 3/4" Buna-N closed cell foam insulation from McMaster (#9349K3) for my electric kettles. I believe Bobby found it.

It's rated to 220F, the insulation factor is very good, and, since it's closed cell, it won't absorb stray wort. One $26 sheet should insulate two kettles with the help of some aluminum foil tape.

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Old 07-05-2009, 07:03 AM   #6
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It was sitting on two silicone mats to minimize heat transfer to the workbench.

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Old 07-05-2009, 09:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage View Post
Here's the latest in my quest to eliminate propane/natural gas from my brew day. This kettle will accompany my big ass boiler in a yet-to-be-constructed rig. The welded fitting came from Bargain Fittings, and the element is a 5500W Camco ultra low watt density unit that I found at Amazon. Here are the test results with approximately 18 gallons of water in the kettle:

0 mins - 85° F (tap water in south Texas is WARM!)
10 mins - 108° F
20 mins - 130 ° F
30 mins - 149° F
40 mins - 168° F
50 mins - 183° F
60 mins - 196° F
70 mins - 204° F
80 mins - 209° F
82 mins - 210° F (boiling at 1,000' MSL)

Though the test case took an hour to get to boiling, it will take significantly less time to achieve a boil in practice, as the mash will hit the kettle at 160-180° F. Also, the inefficiency of an uninsulated kettle is obvious in my test results.
I hope you don't mind Yuri as I want to use your times to temps for my two 5.5KW elements each in my HLT, MLT and Boil keggles in the future as I will have 19 plus gallons at the start of the boil. Your times will answer my heating times more accuractly plus I will insulate a three keggles.
The only difference i'll be starting off with lower water temps out of the well hence longer times to strike temps.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage View Post
I plan to control the element with a microcontroller, a solid state relay, and a simple algorithm using pulse-width-modulation.

Hi Yuri,

I am working on a similar project in which I hope to control a 5.5kw element with an arduino board and relays. My question is how will you control the element with just 1 relay? Won't you need one for both legs?
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:27 AM   #9
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Sorry, that was a misspeak on my part. Proper control will require two relays as psyber describes.

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Old 07-06-2009, 03:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage View Post
Sorry, that was a misspeak on my part. Proper control will require two relays as psyber describes.

Drat! I was hoping you knew some kind of trick.
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