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Old 09-23-2008, 08:04 PM   #1
RoosterCogburn
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Default Heating Elements?

Hey everyone,

Im looking into using a 5500 watt heating element intended for use in water heaters to boil 5 gallon batches.

The reason for looking at heating elements, is that this is part of a process automation and instrumentation class project and I want to be able to do a closed loop control for the boil.

I have no experience brewing outside of research and would appreciate any feedback.

thanks

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Old 10-23-2008, 07:05 PM   #2
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after a bit of searching, I came across this website:

Cedar Creek Brewing Company - Homebrewing Electric Heatstick

I am now waiting for parts to arrive and will be trying a few variations.

Also ordered a USB Arduino microcontroller and will be attempting to interface the heating elements using relays.
Also looking at building an HMI.

thanks for the overwhelming responses

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Old 10-23-2008, 07:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoosterCogburn View Post
thanks for the overwhelming responses
After reading your original post again, you didn't post an actual question, so I'm don't know what kind of response you were looking for. Also, you're in a sub-forum that might not get much traffic.

Will they work? Sure.
Do people use them? Yes.
What pieces of equipment are they used in? Electric HLT (hot liquor tank), Electric Keggle (keg made into a brew kettle), possibly others.
How do I regulate temperatures? External thermostat controller, or via your microcontroller.

Just take some time to browse the projects and equipment sections and you'll find a lot of people have done exactly what you're trying to do. There is a wealth of knowledge on this board already, just look a little.

Yep - look for more "heat stick" setups...

Do you have enough power available for a 5500 watt element? It's probably needs 240v. If this is just a "proof of concept", then just use a 120v 1500 watt element. It will work on a standard 15amp outlet. Just my 2cents...

Also - I've come to realize that the search function is not that great, so just use google like so "electric hlt site:homebrewtalk.com".

Have fun!
Kevin
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ballistic View Post
I have a heating question which is somewhat different. I am thinking of getting a heating base mat to sit under the stage one fermenter bucket (pail) in order to raise the temperature up to around 20 degrees C as it gets cold at this time of year in England - this is dark ale. What do you think about this idea?
Yes - others have suggested this. It may be hard to regulate to a spefic temperature.
Look up brew belt. There's another product that's like a heated blanket, I forget what it's called.
Another common suggestion is to put your fermentor in a cooler filled with water. Drop in an aquarium heater and regulate that to your desired temp.

I'm opting for the cooler + aquarium heater setup. It shoud run me US$40 when I'm done.
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:42 AM   #5
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Just take some time to browse the projects and equipment sections and you'll find a lot of people have done exactly what you're trying to do. There is a wealth of knowledge on this board already, just look a little.
I had searched the forums extensively previous to posting this thread. I couldn't find anyone using heating elements for boiling.

It seems that every time I look through the forums I come across different material previously missed. you're right though, I didn't really post any specific question and was a bit vague.

Until I get the heatsticks built and working my main concern is scorching. I don't want to have to continuously stir the wort with the heatsticks.

Anyways, sincere thanks for your reply
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Old 10-24-2008, 02:37 AM   #6
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Rooster,

Take into account that if you were to get a low, or ultra low density element, you can have wort in direct contact without caramelizing the wort. The actual heating will also cause the wort to circulate bringing new wort into contact with the element through out the boil. The heat will create a current. Thermodynamics at its best. Good luck. S.

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Old 10-24-2008, 03:00 AM   #7
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Fair enough. Reading everything again, I missed that you wanted to use them for the boil as opposed to in the "overall process." With that said, I can't think of any threads that specifically mentioned their use in the boil...

However, there are several threads that discuss results of different element sizes (or multiple elements) and their ability to bring certain certain volumes to specific temperatures and how long it took. I assume that timing information would be of interest in planning the automation.


Are you planning on brewing a batch on the side? By hand? I'm just curious.

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Old 10-24-2008, 01:38 PM   #8
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Are you planning on brewing a batch on the side? By hand? I'm just curious.
Yes, though as a college student my funds for ingredients are limited. We received a few hundred dollars in lab fees for this project and I've quickly used most of that trying to acquire all the components.

I definitely plan on continuing brewing beyond this project.

you're exactly right about the timing- I was throwing around the idea of using a pressure sensor to indicate cold break of the wort, but as for now will just be watching for it.
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Old 10-24-2008, 05:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by slnies View Post
Rooster,

Take into account that if you were to get a low, or ultra low density element, you can have wort in direct contact without caramelizing the wort.
I did a search to find out the explanation of what a low density element is. Thought I would put it here for future searches/reference:

Q) "What is the difference between High and Low-density elements?"

A) A low density element tends to last longer. If you are filling a water heater make sure to let all of the air out of the water heater before turning on the electricity to it. It is a good idea to let the hot sides of faucets run for at least a few minute without seeing any air coming from the faucets before turning the electricity back on to the heater.


Q) "What does high, low, and extra low density refer to?"

A) The density refers to the amount of watts per square inch. For example, high density is rated at 150+ watts per square inch, low density is rated at 75+ watts per square inch, and extra low density is rated at 50+ watts per square inch.


I found those, along with some other Frequently Asked Questions answered as well.


Hmm... I'm wondering if a Water Heater Thermostats could be hacked/mod'd to be used as a cheap 240v relay.

/tg
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimGrz View Post
I did a search to find out the explanation of what a low density element is. Thought I would put it here for future searches/reference:

Q) "What is the difference between High and Low-density elements?"

A) A low density element tends to last longer. If you are filling a water heater make sure to let all of the air out of the water heater before turning on the electricity to it. It is a good idea to let the hot sides of faucets run for at least a few minute without seeing any air coming from the faucets before turning the electricity back on to the heater.


Q) "What does high, low, and extra low density refer to?"

A) The density refers to the amount of watts per square inch. For example, high density is rated at 150+ watts per square inch, low density is rated at 75+ watts per square inch, and extra low density is rated at 50+ watts per square inch.


I found those, along with some other Frequently Asked Questions answered as well.


Hmm... I'm wondering if a Water Heater Thermostats could be hacked/mod'd to be used as a cheap 240v relay.

/tg
Excellent post. I didn't even think of explaining the differences. Thanks. S
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