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Old 03-26-2009, 08:57 PM   #1
gregdech
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Default Cheap method for throttling and electric element

I am in the planning stages for making an electric boiler (for 5 gallon batches, 6.5-7 gallon boil volume) and I'm stuck on the control aspects. I am planning on going with 2-1500Wx120V elements (on seperate GFCI circuits) for the boiler. I suspect that one element won't quite be enough for the boil, but that both elements firing full blast will be a little too much. So, I was thinking of running one element full blast and throttling the second element to get the desired boil rate.

So, my question is, what is the simplest way to throttle the second element to control the boil rate? Cost is a major issue and as such I don't really want to invest in a PID/SSR setup at this time. So, does anyone have any simple ideas for throttling the power for a single 1500Wx120V element? Some of the ideas I was considering:

1) Using a kitchen range surface element control (as per CD's OLD Electric Wort Boiler). The local eco-station always has a few dead ranges kicking around that I suspect I could hack out one of the contollers.

2) Using a light dimmer switch. Not sure if these dimmers can handle the amperage (~12.5 A) that these elements will require.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Which of the above 2 ideas is the most likely to work? Are there any other cheap solutions that any of you have come up with to accomplish this task?

Thanks a bunch.

Cheers,

Greg

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Old 03-26-2009, 10:23 PM   #2
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you would have to use an old coil style range thermistor for this to work if you used an old range control. i dont see why it wouldnt work. they operate off of 220 so you might consider using a 220 element. you could wire 2 of these elements in parallel, they do have varying wattage elements. you could use 2 different size elements such as how an electric water heater works. you can buy those elements at your local ace or other hardware store fairly cheap. there are duty cycle controllers out there that you could buy to vary the output. if you bought 2 220 volt elements of the same rating, and used a 110 volt duty cycle phaser module, you could theoretically run your elements at full duty cycle and attain a 60% output and this would definitely control your heat absorption. just brainstorming though. ive never looked into building a system like this, but just giving ideas for you to possibly build something like this.

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Old 03-27-2009, 12:41 AM   #3
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I generally use about 3200W of my available 5500W to maintain a boil in my kettle... you will more than likely be able to keep both running full power.

Now, realize that you are talking about using high watt density elements, which I have never seen anyone do in a boil kettle because of the sugars and concerns over scorching wort.

I have some experience with electric.. 3000W will probably be needed to maintain a good boil in an uninsualted kettle... and high watt density elements may not give you desireable results.

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Old 03-27-2009, 01:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
if you bought 2 220 volt elements of the same rating, and used a 110 volt duty cycle phaser module, you could theoretically run your elements at full duty cycle and attain a 60% output and this would definitely control your heat absorption. just
25% is the max you can get if you use a 220 V rated element on 110 V.
Simple formula to calculate effective wattage for any applied voltage.

Effective Wattage= Element Wattage * Applied Voltage²/ Rated Voltage²
Example:
Element Wattage: 2000W
Rated Voltage: 220V
Applied Voltage: 110V

110²=12100 / 220²=48400= 0.25 or 25%
Effective wattage= 2000*.25 = 500W

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Old 03-27-2009, 12:02 PM   #5
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you need one of these:

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Old 03-27-2009, 12:23 PM   #6
The Pol
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Yeah, the red "x" is the key to completing this project

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Old 03-27-2009, 01:50 PM   #7
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ugh! I guess the direct link didn't work. (It was a shot of a Variac, BTW)

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Old 03-27-2009, 02:55 PM   #8
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im pretty sure that if you disable the 3rd leg of the input to the 110v modulator, that rule would apply, but if you run the commons parallel you should be able to achieve the 60% i referred too. or electrocute yourself, not sure which one.

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Old 03-27-2009, 07:30 PM   #9
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bump. Interested in going electric. I can only use 110v.

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Old 03-27-2009, 07:31 PM   #10
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What ya wanna know? You can get up to maybe 2000W with 110VAC... but that is high watt density I am sure. What sort of system do you want? RIMS? HERMS? Which? Neither?

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