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Old 03-11-2009, 11:46 PM   #1
hayabusa
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Default Best controller for a 4500 Watt Element

So I am looking to make my HLT electric and convert over to a HERMS system and I was looking at this heater element atLowes and I have read a few threads on wiring this up to a standard 120V vs the 220.

I am a little confused on how to wire it to 120 (do I just go +/- and Ground) and if so what is the formula I can use to figure out the expected watts on 120? Everything I read says "you shouldn't do this" and I know that is just hogwash and I will simply lose some output watts (so this becomes a 3000 Element or something)

I also want to wire my controller to a gangbox and plug the HLT into that; I see Ranco and Love controllers being used - is this more of a ford-chevy argument or does one outweigh the other for any special reason?

My internal will be 50ft copper w/ quick disconnects and my goal is to control the water temp up to 180F-190F but no more than that (in the HLT anyway)

Thanks for any input.

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Old 03-12-2009, 12:53 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hayabusa View Post
So I am looking to make my HLT electric and convert over to a HERMS system and I was looking at this heater element atLowes and I have read a few threads on wiring this up to a standard 120V vs the 220.

I am a little confused on how to wire it to 120 (do I just go +/- and Ground) and if so what is the formula I can use to figure out the expected watts on 120? Everything I read says "you shouldn't do this" and I know that is just hogwash and I will simply lose some output watts (so this becomes a 3000 Element or something)

I also want to wire my controller to a gangbox and plug the HLT into that; I see Ranco and Love controllers being used - is this more of a ford-chevy argument or does one outweigh the other for any special reason?

My internal will be 50ft copper w/ quick disconnects and my goal is to control the water temp up to 180F-190F but no more than that (in the HLT anyway)

Thanks for any input.
At 120v, you will produce approx 1/4 rated wattage at 240, so you are looking at just over 1100 watts. IMO, you are much better off just getting something like a 1500 120v element.
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:35 AM   #3
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Just for those who want to know the background on those numbers.

Most heating elements are purely resistive components.
By cutting the voltage, you also cut the wattage.
Now if you measure the resistance of the element we can calculate it out exactly. But for a round about stab at this…
Watts = Volts*Amps
In your case, a 4500-watt element at 220 Volts will draw 20.4 Amps

Ohm's Law: Amps = Volts/Resistance
So, 220 volts / 20.4 amps = 10.78 Ohms. (Your element)

110 Volts / 10.78 Ohms = 10.2 Amps
110 Volts * 10.2 Amps = 1122 watts

I hope this helps. (Clear as mud?)
Cheers
-David

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Old 03-12-2009, 01:44 AM   #4
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Also if you want to actually control it at 220v you won't be able to use a johnson or ranco controller, you'll need to use a PID or some sort of controller off an electric oven (infinite switch)

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Old 03-12-2009, 01:57 AM   #5
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Also if you want to actually control it at 220v you won't be able to use a johnson or ranco controller, you'll need to use a PID or some sort of controller off an electric oven (infinite switch)
Actually an isolation relay will do the trick.
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Everything I read says "you shouldn't do this" and I know that is just hogwash and I will simply lose some output watts (so this becomes a 3000 Element or something)
Have you changed your mind?

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Old 03-12-2009, 02:53 AM   #7
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Actually an isolation relay will do the trick.
please elaborate. I don't know what an isolation relay is specifically. The PID usually controls an SSR or just a regular mechanical relay to switch the element on and off to simiulate a lower power. You won't want 4500W continually on for the boil (especially 5 gallons). It is useful to modulate how much heat you are putting into the wort to keep the boil under control.
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:56 AM   #8
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Ranco and Love both make controllers rated to at least 220VAC. Love probably has a controller that will do exactly what you want. I'm not certain that the probes on the Ranco units are capable of withstanding boiling temperatures.

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Old 03-12-2009, 03:16 AM   #9
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My goal is to use 110v, I just assumed that I would use a 220 element and hit it with 110... mostly becuase at Lowes they said they didn't have 110v hot water heater elements. I am going to search for a 120 and pair it up with a controller. Any pro/con on love v. ranco?

Thanks for the feedback, especially the formulas!

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Old 03-12-2009, 03:25 AM   #10
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I'm not the best with thermodynamics formulas, and I can't find the one that applies at the moment, but I don't think 1100W is enough to bring five gallons to a boil in any reasonable amount of time.

EDIT - let me try my hand:

5 gallons of water is approximately 41.5 lbs of water (8.3 lbs / gallon)
Assume a temperature delta of 144°F (a starting temp of 68°F)
41.5 lbs x 144°F = 5976 BTU
5976 / 3412 = 1.75 KWH

So, if I have the concepts correct, it will take you well over an hour to get 5 gallons of water to boil with an 1100W element, assuming no system losses. A 1500W element is only marginally better but still won't be adequate.

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