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Old 04-14-2010, 03:50 PM   #1
avaserfi
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Default Electrical question (heat stick related)

I want to move toward an electric brewery and am planning on building a couple heat sticks (http://www.cedarcreeknetworks.com/heatstick.htm) to this end. I have been reading over the forum and came up with a question for the more electrically inclined among us.

I will brew in my garage with this setup, right now there is one 20 amp outlet near my water heater on its own circuit. There are also two 15 amp outlets on the same circuit.

From what I understand, it will be beneficial to have two 2000W elements on separate 20 amp circuits for a good quick boil. Right now I do 5 gallon batches, but might move to 10 soon enough.

I went to my breaker box and noticed that every breaker is rated 20 amp, can I just switch one of the extra outlets in the garage to a 20 amp and then build two 2000W elements? I am guessing since the breaker is rated 20 amps, there should be no problems, is this correct?

Also, are there any extra precautions (aside from opening the garage door) I need note while brewing electric in the garage?



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Old 04-14-2010, 04:14 PM   #2
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the most important thing is the wire size of the circuit. That's why the breaker is there in the first place, to protect the wire. For 12 awg wire it must be a 20A breaker or smaller and for 14 awg wire it must be 15A breaker.

First question, what's the wire size of the circuits? If it's all 12 awg then your breakers are OK. However you should upgrade the recepticles to a 20A type (about $9 at HD).

Second question, do you have an GFCI's? This is a MUST for brewing with electric. Water and electricity don't play well together and can kill you. Make sure the breaker, the outlet or a seperate plugin GFCI device is used. Remember, one GFCI outlet will protect every recepticle on that branch circuit.



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Old 04-14-2010, 04:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjornbrewer View Post
the most important thing is the wire size of the circuit. That's why the breaker is there in the first place, to protect the wire. For 12 awg wire it must be a 20A breaker or smaller and for 14 awg wire it must be 15A breaker.

First question, what's the wire size of the circuits? If it's all 12 awg then your breakers are OK. However you should upgrade the recepticles to a 20A type (about $9 at HD).
Okay, so I need to pull off the receptacle and measure wire size? Easy enough.

Quote:
Second question, do you have an GFCI's? This is a MUST for brewing with electric. Water and electricity don't play well together and can kill you. Make sure the breaker, the outlet or a seperate plugin GFCI device is used.
There are no GFCI's on the plugs right now, but I was planning on adding them. I haven't decided if I want to put it in the wall or have it in between the wall and the stick, just in case I brew elsewhere.
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:36 PM   #4
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if you can see the jacketing the covers the wire (all three wires, not the red, black or white coverings, it will have the gauge printed on it.

this is likely easiest to check at the load center (breaker panel). the jacket will say 14/2 or 12/2

http://www.make-my-own-house.com/images/romex.jpg

Also, if your wiring is new, 14 gauge is white, while 12 gauge is yellow.

post a picture if you need help.

Oh yeah, be careful, don't kill yourself

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Old 04-14-2010, 04:43 PM   #5
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I just turned off the breaker to the garage and pulled out the receptacle. Solid wire, there was paint all over the jackets so I pulled out my wire strippers* (no not to cut anything). They have a solid side and a stranded side for what looks like measuring wire, the hot wire was 12 gauge and the ground was 14 gauge.

Seems like I would be fine switching the receptacle then, right?

* Something like these, the wire fit very tightly in the 12awg solid side, but wouldn't fit into the 14awg: http://gsmserver.com/newshop/images/large/Heavy_Duty_Wire_Strippers_Crim_pers_CP_412.jpg

I can't get to the wires at the breaker panel, the breaker is outside on the brick wall. Also, the wiring is from 2001, I didn't pay attention to wire colors, but everything seemed white, I think there was some black too. It could have been from paint though, there was a lot of white spray in the box.

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Old 04-14-2010, 05:32 PM   #6
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I made special extension cords for my 2kw heatsticks. I used 12AWG cable, with heavy plugs, and a outlet box with a 20A switch and a 20A GFCI installed.

That gives me protection no matter where I plug them in, and I can switch the stick on and off without unplugging.

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Old 04-14-2010, 05:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avaserfi View Post
the hot wire was 12 gauge and the ground was 14 gauge.

...

I can't get to the wires at the breaker panel, the breaker is outside on the brick wall. Also, the wiring is from 2001, I didn't pay attention to wire colors, but everything seemed white, I think there was some black too. It could have been from paint though, there was a lot of white spray in the box.
Check that again. you won't have 12 awg hot and neutral and 14 awg ground. Better safe than sorry...sorry as in having your house burn down because the wire overheated inside the walls.

Take the front panel off the breaker box and check the wire size. That should be nice clean wire to read numbers from.


I like Cpt_Kirks idea. Very cool idea having a GFCI and switch all in one.
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Old 04-14-2010, 05:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpt_Kirks View Post
I made special extension cords for my 2kw heatsticks. I used 12AWG cable, with heavy plugs, and a outlet box with a 20A switch and a 20A GFCI installed.

That gives me protection no matter where I plug them in, and I can switch the stick on and off without unplugging.

Yeah, I saw your build and really like the idea. I was thinking about doing something similar. Do you by any chance have a parts list for the lazy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjornbrewer View Post
Check that again. you won't have 12 awg hot and neutral and 14 awg ground. Better safe than sorry...sorry as in having your house burn down because the wire overheated inside the walls.

I like Cpt_Kirks idea. Very cool idea having a GFCI and switch all in one.
There were three wires, I think a white one and a black one , both were 12awg. The third was 14awg and didn't have any sort of insulation. The wires were clearly different in size.

I don't really know what to look for here. The breaker switched off is the breaker relevant to this discussion. The only two marked cables are the two white ones on the right that are twisted, the are stranded 12 gauge cables for the kitchen. The yellow one on the left is marked 12awg as well, but doesn't hook up to anything.




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Last edited by avaserfi; 04-15-2010 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:47 PM   #9
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Extension Cord Parts:

20A GFCI
20A Switch
25' 12GA rubber coated cable (3 wire)
GFCI and Switch switch plate
cheap double outlet box
heavy duty plug

Some extra 12GA wire to connect switch and GFCI

All parts from Home Depot.

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Old 04-15-2010, 12:21 PM   #10
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Just bumping this up to see if anyone has any advice about determining wire gauge based on the pictures I posted. Or if I need to get more information.

Thanks.



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