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Old 10-01-2011, 06:16 PM   #1
Feb 2010
Brandon, FL
Posts: 32
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Thanks to this message board, I have switched to electric brewing using two 1500 watt heat sticks which has made brewing more fun and easy compared to the turkey fryer.

I would like to upgrade to a 10 gallon brew system using 5500w heating elements in my HLT and kettle, and keeping my 48qt cooler MT (which should be large enough since I rarely make high gravity beer).

My questions are:
Since I won't be using a RIMS/HERMS system, is a controller necessary? Right now I just plug in my heatsticks and unplug them when I reach my temp on the HLT and finish my boil.

Will 5500w in the brew kettle be too vigorous of a boil and cause excessive evaporation? If so, is there a way to dial down the voltage to the element using a variable resistor?


Reason: spelling

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Old 10-06-2011, 07:57 AM   #2
Aug 2010
Great White North
Posts: 227
Liked 18 Times on 9 Posts

I am under the impression that you need to control either using pulse-width modulation or a PID. A variable resistor at that amperage would not be good. A cheap alternative would be to have two elements: both fired to bring to boil, and the smaller one fired to maintain boil. There is a way of calculating the wattages needed on each element, but that is not something I have really explored yet.

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Old 10-06-2011, 08:57 AM   #3
devilbrewer75's Avatar
Dec 2009
Racine, WI
Posts: 112

I tried keeping my cooler mash tun but the pump sucked the false bottom down. I have 5500 watt elements in both hlt and kettle and in my opinion it's perfect. Auber pids are cheap and they work great I have one for each element.

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Old 10-06-2011, 12:11 PM   #4
TommyB's Avatar
Dec 2010
Pontiac, Michigan
Posts: 97
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I use a 4500w 220v element in a 20 gallon bayou classic pot and I can get 18 gallons boiling in an hour. and the boil is just fine. I use a little fermcap and havent had any problems. I just unplug it when Im done. I loose a gallon an hour boil off.
20 gallon PRIMARY 1 - 15g XTRA HARD SKEETER PEE (13%)
SECONDARY 1 - XTRA HARD Apfelwein (15%) w/fruit
BOTTLED - Bourbon Barrel Porter
KEG 1 - XTRA HARD Apfelwein (15%)
KEG 2 - XTRA HARD Apfelwein (15%)
KEG 3 - XTRA HARD Apfelwein (15%)

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Old 10-06-2011, 01:24 PM   #5
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Bobby_M's Avatar
Aug 2006
Whitehouse Station, NJ
Posts: 23,296
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I'm sure it COULD be done with an unregulated element but for the HLT, even having a simple analog on/off controller will make your life easier so that you could walk away and not risk boiling your strike water.

On the BK side, you can try to size the wattage just right for a good steady boil, but the ramp time would be increased. I'd rather have 9000 watts available and have the ability to run it at 50% pulse width after boil is achieved.
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Old 10-06-2011, 01:28 PM   #6
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Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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I have a 5500 w in my HLT and a 4500 w in my BK. It's really nice to be able to turn down the power on the BK, and to have a PID with the HLT. You can ramp up temperatures, for example, for sparging by turning up the HLT but not risking it going to high.

I can boil 12 gallons with my 4500 w element, and need to dial it down a bit once the hot break is over!
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:09 PM   #7
Feb 2010
Brandon, FL
Posts: 32
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Thanks all for the replies. I will look into building a control box. Will I need two PIDs, one for the HLT and one for the BK?

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Old 10-06-2011, 03:01 PM   #8
Nov 2010
ellensburg, washington
Posts: 378
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Originally Posted by Lou1998 View Post
Thanks all for the replies. I will look into building a control box. Will I need two PIDs, one for the HLT and one for the BK?
This depends on what you want to do with it.
I run a single PID on a 3 element 120v system (2 elements in BK, 1 in rims tube).
When I need to run two elements at a time I run the one that needs to be heat regulated on the PID loop and then use a simple on/off switch to operate the other loop. I can keep a rolling boil in 6 gallons of water with the PID in manual mode and set at 70%.

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Old 10-06-2011, 03:34 PM   #9
Oct 2008
Posts: 66
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I only use 1 3500watt element @ 220.( only 20 amp breaker required)in my kettle. Then you don`t need any control but on/off as it will need to be going 100%. I always start with my water a room temp. and use my counterflow chiller with hot tap water to pre heat the water to 125F as it enters the kettle.This saves a lot of waiting.I can do a 14 gallon all grain in 6 hours and I fly sparge very slowly.

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