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Old 05-14-2011, 04:28 PM   #1
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Default Hybrid Gas/Electric 3 Tier System?

I currently use a little 28 qt. cooler as my mash tun, but I am thinking about using a 30 qt. aluminum turkey fryer pot instead. I have three kettles (1 SS, 2 Al) and two burners.

I like the cooler for the mash tun because it is fairly well insulated and allows me to maintain a consistent temperature over the hour or so it is in service. However, the biggest problem I have is trying to adjust the temperature if I miss my target mash temp. Having to add hot or chilled water to the mash tun is a pain.

Since I have an extra aluminum kettle on my hands I'm thinking about how I could use it for my mash tun instead of the cooler. I would like to install a small water heater element (2,000w, 120v, $10 at Home Depot) in the bottom of it. I would still heat my strike and sparge water with one of my propane burners, but the electric element would allow me to add heat if it gets too cool without adding more water. And since it's aluminum, if it's too hot by a degree or two when I dough in I would guess it will shed the extra heat pretty quickly.

This seems like a pretty easy project, especially if I don't bother with adding an automatic thermostat. But, before I get started, I thought I'd see if anyone had done this before and/or if anyone thinks having a heating element in contact with the grain bed would be a bad idea.

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Old 05-15-2011, 01:27 AM   #2
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Check out my hybrid system in my signature. I have an electric HLT (cooler with heating element), a mash tun cooler, and I boil with propane. I am very happy with this set up. I can program my temps in the hlt and when I add to the mash, I know my equipment well enough now to know what my temps will be within 1 or 2 degrees. I usually do not lose any heat in my cooler during the mash. Very easy.
I cannot speak to heating the grainbed directly, but I have heard this may not be a great idea. I know some use a RIMS or HERMS system to keep mash temps constant, but I have no problems with loosing heat in my cooler.
You may want to consider a temp controller if you are going to add a heating element. It may end up being a pain trying to controll the temp manually. Remember, the element will heat the water in its immediate vicinity. If you don't circulate, you will get uneven temps.
Hope that helps. good luck
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