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Old 05-10-2012, 05:50 PM   #1
sohara
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Default Question on watts/voltage

Hi there,

I don't have much electrical background so I was hoping I could ask a question about wattage and voltage of heater elements. I have a ~25 gallon kettle that is powered by a single 4500 watt element (rated at 240). As you can imagine, the kettle is seriously under-powered. Toda we checked the line using a voltage meter and when touching the two lines it read 211. Does this mean it is basically 208? I am thinking of trying to get an element that is rated 5500 watts at 208 volts. Make sense?

Thanks,
Sean


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Old 05-10-2012, 07:07 PM   #2
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211V on a 240V circuit seems really low. Sometimes it'll sag a bit when power is at peak usage (like in the summer with A/C units running) but usually not that much.

208V (3-phase) is usually for industrial stuff where large motors are used. If you're in a regular house, you likely do not have 3-phase. Nothing normal works on 3-phase. You can't buy something and plug it in.

Getting a 5500W element will help. I know lots of people that do 20+ gallon boils with a single 5500W element just fine.

You'd use the same 30A / 240V circuit.

Kal


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Old 05-10-2012, 07:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kal View Post
211V on a 240V circuit seems really low. Sometimes it'll sag a bit when power is at peak usage (like in the summer with A/C units running) but usually not that much.

208V (3-phase) is usually for industrial stuff where large motors are used. If you're in a regular house, you likely do not have 3-phase. Nothing normal works on 3-phase. You can't buy something and plug it in.

Getting a 5500W element will help. I know lots of people that do 20+ gallon boils with a single 5500W element just fine.

You'd use the same 30A / 240V circuit.

Kal
It's an industrial location. But I gather from what you're saying that the kettle wouldn't have worked if the power source was 3 phase? The label on the element gives a rating for 240 (4500) and another for 208 (around 3700). Is 208 always 3-phase?

Also, since you're in Canada, do you know a good source for these elements? They seem kind of hard to track down. The higher wattage ones seem hard to find.

Thanks,
Sean

Reason: typos
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:30 PM   #4
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Oh, one more question for you. How long does it usually take for the people you know doing 20+ gallons on 5500w to get a boil going? Yesterday I did a test and after 2 hours starting from 11C water I was in the mid 90s, not quite boiling yet.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:38 PM   #5
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Also keep in mind when you have your voltmeter between lines, you are seeing AC voltage, so it will be jumping up and down. A consumer voltmeter will not allow you to step thru the waveform, so you would not see the peaks (the 240v). You just see snapshots of where the voltage is.
It is not like DC, where the voltage is stable.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sohara View Post
It's an industrial location. But I gather from what you're saying that the kettle wouldn't have worked if the power source was 3 phase? The label on the element gives a rating for 240 (4500) and another for 208 (around 3700). Is 208 always 3-phase?

Also, since you're in Canada, do you know a good source for these elements? They seem kind of hard to track down. The higher wattage ones seem hard to find.

Thanks,
Sean
I looked long and hard for a 5500W ULWD and was unable to find any in Ontario. I ended up having two shipped from the US.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:50 PM   #7
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I looked long and hard for a 5500W ULWD and was unable to find any in Ontario. I ended up having two shipped from the US.
Yeah, I'll probably order from the US too. I have some stuff to pick up at the border anyway, so I'll pick up the elements at the same time.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sohara View Post
It's an industrial location. But I gather from what you're saying that the kettle wouldn't have worked if the power source was 3 phase? The label on the element gives a rating for 240 (4500) and another for 208 (around 3700). Is 208 always 3-phase?[
Still works, just ~208V instead of ~240V.
I don't know of any countries that offer 208V on single phase so I'd say that yes, if it's 208V, it's most likely 3-phase.

Quote:
Also, since you're in Canada, do you know a good source for these elements? They seem kind of hard to track down. The higher wattage ones seem hard to find.
Sorry, no. Amazon.com ships them to Canada. Probably your best bet.

Kal
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:18 PM   #9
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Just ordered from amazon.com

This is what wikipedia says that I think applies to my situation:

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If heating equipment designed for the 240-volt three-wire single phase system is connected to two phases of a 208 volt supply, it will only produce 75% of its rated heating effect.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquenne View Post
Also keep in mind when you have your voltmeter between lines, you are seeing AC voltage, so it will be jumping up and down. A consumer voltmeter will not allow you to step thru the waveform, so you would not see the peaks (the 240v). You just see snapshots of where the voltage is.
It is not like DC, where the voltage is stable.
This is not true. Most digital meters have an AC measuring mode that measures the peaks rather accurately. If you were trying to measure AC in DC mode, I can see what you're saying.

I don't know what the typical variance is in Canada but it's common that I measure 107-115 on a 120v circuit and 214-230 on a "240".


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