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Old 04-08-2010, 07:11 PM   #1
gregdech
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Default Using 2 simmerstats to control 4500W/5500W element

I am in the process of building an electric kettle (converted keg). I plan on using a 240V/4500W (maybe 5500W) element in the kettle and I am in the process of planning out my control strategy. I really like the idea of using a simmerstat to control the element. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a source for a 240V simmerstat rated for more than 15A (4500W = 18.8A, 5500W = 22.9A). So I was thinking, what if I used 2 simmerstats in parallel, one for each hot leg of the incoming power, to control the 240V element? Is this even remotely feasible or am I barking up the wrong tree? I realize I can use a PID setup to control the kettle, but I am hoping to build a more contained kettle like the one done by tdiowa in this thread http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/elec...ctions-100737/ so no need to post with a response like "just use a PID...". Thanks for any and all input.

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Greg

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Old 04-08-2010, 10:10 PM   #2
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Hmmm, I don't think it would work unless you could keep both of the simmerstats at the EXACT same setting all the time. I believe that would trip the GFCI.

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Old 04-08-2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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it won't work. each hot leg sees the full current. using 2 simmerstats doesn't divide the current in half. if you haven't read it, there's an electrical primer on here somewhere that will help you out a lot.

p.d.

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Old 04-08-2010, 11:08 PM   #4
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You could use 2 2500watt 240V elements and use a separate simmerstat for each element.

I think bargainfittings has a thread somewhere on here where he uses 3 stove elements on one pot with each having its own simmerstat. You'd do the same thing except your elements would be immersed.

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Old 04-09-2010, 02:13 AM   #5
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I have been thinking about using simmerstats for an electric kettle also. I also have not been able to find anything above 15A. Using them in parallel will not work so I have been leaning toward the idea that "leboeuf" posted - using two elements.

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Old 04-09-2010, 02:14 AM   #6
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What is more cost effective, 2 elements and 2 simmerstats, or one element and one PID?

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Old 04-09-2010, 03:24 PM   #7
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Yea, that always seems to be the final conclusion. As it stands, the current most economical method is 1 element and 1 pid.

And, with controllers like the Brewtroller available for under 100 bucks, its even cheaper as you implement more than one element or bit of control!

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Old 04-09-2010, 04:19 PM   #8
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Really for a boil kettle, PID temperature control is completely useless.
You can make/buy a pwm controller for really cheap and use it to control an SSR. In essence you would make your own high power simmerstat.

It's common to see people use an expensive PID controller in "manual mode" to control their boil kettle. "Manual mode" takes the unit out of PID control and puts it to user defined pwm. Kind of an expensive work around....

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Old 04-11-2010, 04:10 AM   #9
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If you can find a rotary-knob, 120V-based PWM controller with an LED display for less than the cost of the PID, I'd like to see it. The only thing the PID lacks is the rotary knob.

And if you use the PID on both the HLT and BK, it's like getting the PWM controller built into the PID for free. Bonus - you can keep your control box 120-240V without fiddling with 12V adapters.

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Old 04-15-2010, 03:31 PM   #10
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Saw the post today. I guess I have a couple of questions. How big a kettle are you using? My element that I use is 3200w which matches the amperage of the simmerstat. Do you really need 2 elements?

I am currently on my fourth generation of this design. I have upgrade from a 7 gallon kettle to a 12 gallon kettle. Which means I have gone from 5 gallon batches to 7.5 gallon batches. My boil time for my big kettle (70 degrees to 212) and with 9.5 gallons of water to start is 40 - 50 minutes. With the smaller kettle (70 - 212) was 30 minutes.

I am a all grain brewer who batch sparges and with a larger batch I am at 3 1/2 - 4 hours.

If you have any other questions let me know and I will try to help.

TD

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