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Old 01-12-2011, 01:41 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
IMO the easiest way to control the boil w/ heating elements is to simply size the element to the boil and run it 100%. This discussion could lead one to believe that in order to boil w/ electric one needs a controller, pids, heat sinks, BCS 460's and other instruments. While not the best or most sophisticated it will certainly work running 100% as follows.

1. Connect power to proper sized element
2. Boil

Of course the downside here is that it will take longer to reach boil as you can't up the wattage to achieve boil and then reduce, not that big a deal IMO.
No disrespect intended, but isn't that kind of like saying a good way to prevent people from speeding is to remove the accelerator from cars and have them factory configured to run at 55mph?

Even if every time you brew you have the exact same volume, atmospheric conditions will change your boil. Not having the ability to adjust element is likely to lead to frustration.

You could use an over sized element and a simple on/off switch but IMO, that would be a pain.

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Old 01-12-2011, 03:13 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
IMO the easiest way to control the boil w/ heating elements is to simply size the element to the boil and run it 100%. This discussion could lead one to believe that in order to boil w/ electric one needs a controller, pids, heat sinks, BCS 460's and other instruments. While not the best or most sophisticated it will certainly work running 100% as follows.

1. Connect power to proper sized element
2. Boil

Of course the downside here is that it will take longer to reach boil as you can't up the wattage to achieve boil and then reduce, not that big a deal IMO.
Another problem with this approach is that it only gives you a couple of options for finding that "sweet spot" for your boiling needs, essentially you can choose between a 1500, 4500, or 5500 watt element. If none of those are able to acheive and maintain a good rolling boiling at your elevation and atmos. pressure then you're out of luck. I suppose you could get lucky and find that a 4500 watt element run at 100% gives you the perfect boil, but the whole point of a controller is to eliminate the guess work and give you the ability to adjust your boil to exactly where you like it.


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Old 01-12-2011, 03:34 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
IMO the easiest way to control the boil w/ heating elements is to simply size the element to the boil and run it 100%. This discussion could lead one to believe that in order to boil w/ electric one needs a controller, pids, heat sinks, BCS 460's and other instruments. While not the best or most sophisticated it will certainly work running 100% as follows.

1. Connect power to proper sized element
2. Boil

Of course the downside here is that it will take longer to reach boil as you can't up the wattage to achieve boil and then reduce, not that big a deal IMO.
This is the approach many distillers use with their electric kettles, but they have taken it a step further and usually run a 4500W to 5500W element at full bore to get up to a boil and then switch the element from 240V to 120V, effectively quartering the wattage of the element to maintain the boil.
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:21 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
IMO the easiest way to control the boil w/ heating elements is to simply size the element to the boil and run it 100%. This discussion could lead one to believe that in order to boil w/ electric one needs a controller, pids, heat sinks, BCS 460's and other instruments. While not the best or most sophisticated it will certainly work running 100% as follows.

1. Connect power to proper sized element
2. Boil

Of course the downside here is that it will take longer to reach boil as you can't up the wattage to achieve boil and then reduce, not that big a deal IMO.
I've been considering the simplistic approach to a dedicated boil kettle. What would you all consider the proper size element for 5 gallon batches? 6-6.5 gal boils... running at 100% with no PID...
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:34 PM   #25
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OK Guys, I agree completely, that having a controller to precisely power the boiler element works very well I am sure. The point I am trying to make is that I am uncomfortable with it being represented that the only way to make an e-kettle work successfully is to use a controller. I boil around 10 gallons w/ 4000w without a controller. Of course some people have the time, knowledge, money, and technical savy to build a better more sophisticated system, but IMHO a simple e-kettle works pretty darn good for what it is.

Here is a list of various elements available, they're cheap.
http://www.plumbingsupply.com/elements.html

A simple e-kettle w/out a controller can work very well, of course this simple stripped down approach is not for everyone.
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:42 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by bgrubb7 View Post
I've been considering the simplistic approach to a dedicated boil kettle. What would you all consider the proper size element for 5 gallon batches? 6-6.5 gal boils... running at 100% with no PID...
What type of kettle, I have a hunch the heavy keggles will need a bit more power than lighter pots, insulating the kettle will also reduce wattage needs.

3000w (2 elements at 1500w 120v) would be a good place to start for 5 gal. batches IME

http://www.plumbingsupply.com/elements.html

If 240v, the site above lists 3000w, and 3500w as well.
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:49 PM   #27
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I have full intentions on building a control panel eventually, but I don't have the funds or the time to build what I want right now... so in the meantime my thoughts were to use a 5500 watt element @ 240 with no controller to get it close, then switch it to 120 which would drop it down to 1375 to hopefully maintain a boil. Then when I have the money and time to put into a control panel I can.

That being said, I doubt 1375 will maintain my boil though even if I insulate by pot...
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:57 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
OK Guys, I agree completely, that having a controller to precisely power the boiler element works very well I am sure. The point I am trying to make is that I am uncomfortable with it being represented that the only way to make an e-kettle work successfully is to use a controller. I boil around 10 gallons w/ 4000w without a controller. Of course some people have the time, knowledge, money, and technical savy to build a better more sophisticated system, but IMHO a simple e-kettle works pretty darn good for what it is.

Here is a list of various elements available, they're cheap.
http://www.plumbingsupply.com/elements.html

A simple e-kettle w/out a controller can work very well, of course this simple stripped down approach is not for everyone.
Sounds like you hit the sweet spot between batch size, kettle type/size, ambient temp, and element size. I think it's possible for others to do what you've done if they intentionally (slightly) underpower the BK....that way it WILL boil, it'll just sacrifice some time. Insulation helps with this. Alternatively, if you overpower the boil then you're in for trouble....and it could also affect the quality of your beer.
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:57 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by bgrubb7 View Post
I have full intentions on building a control panel eventually, but I don't have the funds or the time to build what I want right now... so in the meantime my thoughts were to use a 5500 watt element @ 240 with no controller to get it close, then switch it to 120 which would drop it down to 1375 to hopefully maintain a boil. Then when I have the money and time to put into a control panel I can.

That being said, I doubt 1375 will maintain my boil though even if I insulate by pot...
70% duty on a 5500w element keeps my 13g boiling just right. That's roughly 4000W. Non-insulated SS keggle outdoors, 60F, on brick pavers.

So, scaling, roughly 2000W would be needed for the 6.5 gallon boil.

Of course, there are a lot of factors at play here. You might get away with 1375 if you have a very well insulated pot, including the bottom and the top.
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Old 01-12-2011, 05:11 PM   #30
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I know this is getting a little complicated but still simple enough. Why not use two separate elements one 2000W and one 5500W both with the capability of switching between 240V and 120V. Surely with the eight possible wattage configurations you could get to a boil quickly and then maintain it and even be able to do different batch sizes.


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