Best controller for a 4500 Watt Element

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hayabusa

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So I am looking to make my HLT electric and convert over to a HERMS system and I was looking at this heater element atLowes and I have read a few threads on wiring this up to a standard 120V vs the 220.

I am a little confused on how to wire it to 120 (do I just go +/- and Ground) and if so what is the formula I can use to figure out the expected watts on 120? Everything I read says "you shouldn't do this" and I know that is just hogwash and I will simply lose some output watts (so this becomes a 3000 Element or something)

I also want to wire my controller to a gangbox and plug the HLT into that; I see Ranco and Love controllers being used - is this more of a ford-chevy argument or does one outweigh the other for any special reason?

My internal will be 50ft copper w/ quick disconnects and my goal is to control the water temp up to 180F-190F but no more than that (in the HLT anyway)

Thanks for any input.
 

HomebrewJeff

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So I am looking to make my HLT electric and convert over to a HERMS system and I was looking at this heater element atLowes and I have read a few threads on wiring this up to a standard 120V vs the 220.

I am a little confused on how to wire it to 120 (do I just go +/- and Ground) and if so what is the formula I can use to figure out the expected watts on 120? Everything I read says "you shouldn't do this" and I know that is just hogwash and I will simply lose some output watts (so this becomes a 3000 Element or something)

I also want to wire my controller to a gangbox and plug the HLT into that; I see Ranco and Love controllers being used - is this more of a ford-chevy argument or does one outweigh the other for any special reason?

My internal will be 50ft copper w/ quick disconnects and my goal is to control the water temp up to 180F-190F but no more than that (in the HLT anyway)

Thanks for any input.
At 120v, you will produce approx 1/4 rated wattage at 240, so you are looking at just over 1100 watts. IMO, you are much better off just getting something like a 1500 120v element.
 

tipicreeper

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Just for those who want to know the background on those numbers.

Most heating elements are purely resistive components.
By cutting the voltage, you also cut the wattage.
Now if you measure the resistance of the element we can calculate it out exactly. But for a round about stab at this…
Watts = Volts*Amps
In your case, a 4500-watt element at 220 Volts will draw 20.4 Amps

Ohm's Law: Amps = Volts/Resistance
So, 220 volts / 20.4 amps = 10.78 Ohms. (Your element)

110 Volts / 10.78 Ohms = 10.2 Amps
110 Volts * 10.2 Amps = 1122 watts

I hope this helps. (Clear as mud?)
Cheers
-David
 

conpewter

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Also if you want to actually control it at 220v you won't be able to use a johnson or ranco controller, you'll need to use a PID or some sort of controller off an electric oven (infinite switch)
 

tipicreeper

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Also if you want to actually control it at 220v you won't be able to use a johnson or ranco controller, you'll need to use a PID or some sort of controller off an electric oven (infinite switch)
Actually an isolation relay will do the trick.
 

ClaudiusB

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Everything I read says "you shouldn't do this" and I know that is just hogwash and I will simply lose some output watts (so this becomes a 3000 Element or something)
Have you changed your mind?

Cheers,
ClaudiusB
 

conpewter

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Actually an isolation relay will do the trick.
please elaborate. I don't know what an isolation relay is specifically. The PID usually controls an SSR or just a regular mechanical relay to switch the element on and off to simiulate a lower power. You won't want 4500W continually on for the boil (especially 5 gallons). It is useful to modulate how much heat you are putting into the wort to keep the boil under control.
 
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Ranco and Love both make controllers rated to at least 220VAC. Love probably has a controller that will do exactly what you want. I'm not certain that the probes on the Ranco units are capable of withstanding boiling temperatures.
 
OP
H

hayabusa

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My goal is to use 110v, I just assumed that I would use a 220 element and hit it with 110... mostly becuase at Lowes they said they didn't have 110v hot water heater elements. I am going to search for a 120 and pair it up with a controller. Any pro/con on love v. ranco?

Thanks for the feedback, especially the formulas!
 
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I'm not the best with thermodynamics formulas, and I can't find the one that applies at the moment, but I don't think 1100W is enough to bring five gallons to a boil in any reasonable amount of time.

EDIT - let me try my hand:

5 gallons of water is approximately 41.5 lbs of water (8.3 lbs / gallon)
Assume a temperature delta of 144°F (a starting temp of 68°F)
41.5 lbs x 144°F = 5976 BTU
5976 / 3412 = 1.75 KWH

So, if I have the concepts correct, it will take you well over an hour to get 5 gallons of water to boil with an 1100W element, assuming no system losses. A 1500W element is only marginally better but still won't be adequate.
 

missing link

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Lowes has to sell 110v elements. I think I have bought close to 20 of them from lowes for the heat exchangers I make. Though I don't think a 1500 watt element would actually get water to boil. I think I read on this site somewhere that some have tried and the temp seems to stop rising at 208 degrees - 210 degrees. I don't know if there some type of extra power requirement to make the water change state over to boiling but that is what it seems like.

Linc
 

tipicreeper

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please elaborate. I don't know what an isolation relay is specifically. The PID usually controls an SSR or just a regular mechanical relay to switch the element on and off to simiulate a lower power. You won't want 4500W continually on for the boil (especially 5 gallons). It is useful to modulate how much heat you are putting into the wort to keep the boil under control.
A PID style temperature controller with a SSR output is absolutely the proper tool for our theoretical job. Spot on.

Well, there are many ways to skin a cat but an isolation relay is any relay used to separate different voltages. Nothing special, in our case it would be 1 or 2 Solid State Relays. A 12-30 Volts passes through the contact on the Ranco, love, or your pleasure, and energizes the SSR(s). Not exactly optimal but, it will work.
Cheers
-David
 

conpewter

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Ah ok so you'd use a ranco or love to control a SSR. The SSR would need to be the right one to handle the output of the controller. I love my PID system and it is very configurable on how quickly it responds.

For a boil kettle make sure you get a PID with a manual control. I have a 5500W element in my boil kettle (and HLT...) so once I get it to boiling I can knock it down to 45% or so and keep a nice boil.
 

The Pol

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Ranco and Love both make controllers rated to at least 220VAC. Love probably has a controller that will do exactly what you want. I'm not certain that the probes on the Ranco units are capable of withstanding boiling temperatures.
It isnt the voltage, it is the amps, how many amps can they switch? Many stand alone temp controllers can only swith about 15A... so you are limited on the size of your element if that is the case.

Id either get a 1650W 120VAC element, or a 4500-5500W 240VAC element. The smaller element could use a JC A419, Ranco etc. alone. Or use a PID and SSR for the larger element.

PIDs and SSRs are pretty cheap too... cheaper than my JC A419 was for my HLT.
 

The Pol

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You can also get 120V 2000W elements at Ace Hardware.
Yup, in which case you will still need a PID ans SSR... no Ranco or JC controller will switch that.
 

Gordie

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Quick question... from ClaudiusB, Durstanos and Bad Coffee's help on another thread I've actually been inspired to try and use Ohm's law.

From my calculations, a 2000w element at 120v will draw 16.6A and is at 7.2 Ohms. My Love TS Controller is rated for 16A. A 1500w element at 120v is drawing 12.5A. so the 1500W appears within the range of what you could wire to my Love TS directly, without the need for a SSR and the 2000w would need one. Right?

I haven't done the math for the 240v elements but assuming my math (I'm not a math guy, avoid it when I can...) and theory is kosher, the same analysis would apply for those elements. The next logical question is half the SSR's I see have heat sinks. If I'm wiring a 1500w element to my Love TS directly and placing it in a RIMS heat exchanger, am I going to have heat issues? If I'm boiling I'm assuming any heat issues would be less since the switch isn't going to be working as hard or cycling on and off as much. If so, it seems to make sense to use a SSR and heat sink to protect the controller.

Assuming no heat issues, it sounds like the OP could avoid the PID and SSR wiring and just wire a 1500w element to a Johnston/Ranco/Love (Johnston a419 is also 16A, not sure of Ranco) like a basic switch and throw the temp sensor in a thermowell at the outflow of his HERMS and call it a day. (And possibly wait an hour for the wort to come to a boil.) Sounds like that would be the simplest solution.

Of course - I'm new at this... and what fun is simple...

Gordie
 

onejdn

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This is for a HLT right? not a BK. You should be able to use a 110V, 1200 or 1500W element since your not concerned about scorching any wort.
 

The Pol

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Correct, 1500W can be controlled by a Love, Ranco...etc.

2000W cannot, the amp draw is too great.

Heat... when you are boiling there is a lot of heat from switching, because your element is not ON all the time. Your element is in a 1-2 second duty cycle and is running at about 60% ON... so it is switching A LOT.

For an HLT, a bigger element would be nice, faster heating... but is not necessary. My HLT HERMS HEX uses a 1500W element and it works fine. I control it with an A419.
 

conpewter

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You'll have a hard time controlling a boil with a temp controller. I had to buy a different PID that had a manual control (% of time on/off) to control the boil.

I think the issue is that you can use a 1500W 110V element with a love controller... but it will take forever to heat water with it. I love my 5500W 220V elements in my brew pot and HLT. As I'm batch sparging my first runnings and 1st batch sparge get to boiling before my 2nd runnings are even in the pot.

EDIT: Ah ok so 1500W is doable in a HLT, but I don't think it would work in the boil.

EDIT Edit: A nice thing about a big HLT element is I can boil a couple gallons of water while I'm chilling the wort so I can pump boiled water through my pump and chiller to get the last of the wort out into the fermenter.
 

tipicreeper

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Hi Gordie,
Everything you state is correct.
The main reasons for upgrading to Solid State Relays are the current draw of the element but also the duty cycle.
One can find mechanical relays that will indeed handle whatever current draw that's required (like the ones found in the common on/off controllers) but, they grow in size and have a limited cycle life.
Particularly when changing from an on/off to PID controlled situation, where cycle times can exceed 100 cycles a minute an SSR is more appropriate because there is no actual mechanical contact closure that takes place so, the cycle life is considerably extended.
Hope this helps
Cheers
-David

Edit: looks like The Pol chimed in. I type too slow
 

ClaudiusB

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Gordie,
Just to add to the good info given above.
If you have to use a controller with relay out read on.

Electro mechanical relays have two ratings.
Mechanical service life & electrical at rated load.

Here is an example 782 series Magnacraft relay.
10,000,000. Mechanical cycles
200,000. Electrical cycles at rated resistive load

16A rated relay used with a 14 A load won’t last to long in a temp control application.

If you use the same relay to drive a SSR which requires a few mA, the service life gets close to the mechanical cycles, big improvement.


Cheers,
ClaudiusB
 

HomebrewJeff

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Just to clarify, a 1500 watt element can work for 5 gallon batches, it just takes a while. It works much better for fly sparging as you can start the heat as soon as the element is immersed. You also need to make sure your kettles are well insulated, but it can work.
 

Gordie

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thanks CaludiusB and Tipicreeper. The wear and tear on the controller kinda swings the balance of the SSR/no SSR decision...
 

paullymb

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As a reference point I use 2 3000 watt elements in my kettle.

However, I usually don't ramp them up to full power. I aslo have them controlled with some SSRs.

Hope that helps.
 

Philsc

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As a reference point I use 2 3000 watt elements in my kettle.

However, I usually don't ramp them up to full power. I aslo have them controlled with some SSRs.
Do you have a stainless steel kettle or do you use a plastic barrel?

I'd really love an electric brew kettle, and am following this thread avidly. However, a lot is beyond me.

From where did you get the 3kw elements?

Where does one buy SSRs and PIDs? Are they simple to set up? Where might one find the info to do this? If someone is asking these questions is he way out of his depth and should buy the ready made article from High Gravity?
 
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