ULWD element dry firing and element lifespan - Home Brew Forums
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:54 PM   #1
Ajgeo
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Aug 2010
Columbus, Ohio
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I used Kal's method for installing a Camco ULWD 5500W ripple element in a 20 gallon Boilermaker. It is controlled with a simple single PID/SSR/GFCI setup. I tested everything twice and it worked great. I brewed with it last weekend. As I was pumping the mash water water to the tun, I forget to cut the power to the element. The element fired once the water level dropped below the RTD. I heard a "pop" from the element just before I cut the power and I was worried that I had fried the element. I tested the resistance of the element and it was 11 ohms. I thought it should be around 10.5 using volts^2 ÷ watts = Ω. I figured that was close enough. I added the sparge water and fired it up. It worked just fine for heating the sparge water and throughout the boil. Other than the dry fire incident, the brew day went pretty well and electro-brewing is awesome!

I know that these elements can withstand being dry fired (thankfully) and that is why they are often used, but does it shorten the element lifespan? And for those that use these elements, how often have you had to replace them? Thanks!



 
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Old 08-04-2011, 02:21 PM   #2
JKoravos
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Chelmsford, MA
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I'm sure it does shorten the lifespan, but probably not enough for it to matter for us. Our typical duty cycle on these elements is probably less than 1% of what they are designed for. We treat them with kid gloves compared to a typical application.



 
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:34 PM   #3
Bobby_M
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I wonder if it would be worth putting an interlock feature that makes it impossible to run the HLT element while Pump 1 was running. If that is too extreme (maybe you need the HLT temp maintained during a slow sparge for example), maybe when both are energized, a very bright indicator light comes on to warn you to be more careful?
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Old 08-04-2011, 04:53 PM   #4
Ajgeo
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Aug 2010
Columbus, Ohio
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My pump is not currently controlled with my control panel. I suppose a float switch connected to the element relay would be the best way to make sure I don't dry fire again. I run both the element and the pump at the same time when I am pre-heating my tun. Or I could just be more careful.

 
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:37 PM   #5
Maxkling
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Atlanta, Georgia
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Brewmation uses float switches, http://www.brewmation.com/Panels.html

A simple switch like this will work.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:42 PM   #6
onthekeg
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Feb 2009
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Wire this in between the SSR and the PID
http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/MAD...554?Pid=search



 
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