Convert an older 10g Blichmann to electric?

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zacster

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I did my first brew in a number of years yesterday and it was a frustrating experience. I use a Blichmann kettle on top of my stove burner, a high-output Bosch stove, but still just a kitchen stove not a commercial type. I'd been doing it that way without much trouble in the past but yesterday it just took forever and the boil was barely happening. I would get a rolling boil with the lid on, but when I'd take it off it would die down, and you don't want the lid on. I don't want a propane outdoor burner because that will keep me outdoors watching it, and that's no fun in the winter.

I see Blichmann has an electric coil that they sell, and controllers, but that gets very expensive very fast. The coil itself seems reasonable. Is that something worth doing? I need some kind of control, so what other less expensive options are there? I just never thought I'd want more than a stovetop setup but I'm at a point where if I'm going to do this I want to make it easier.

In the meantime I have 5 gallons of lager in the fermentation fridge...
 

day_trippr

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Would you consider adding an immersion heater (ala heat stick/bucket heater/etc) to your current stove-top situation?
You can get them up to 1500 watts fairly inexpensively...

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Cheers!
 
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zacster

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Would that be enough to bring 7-8 gallons to a boil?
 

day_trippr

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It'll be enough with your stove for sure. It's a fairly common, lost-cost go-to solution for stove-top folks in the same situation.
As there's no actual control for it (unless you $pring for one) you would keep the immersion heater powered and modulate the boil rate with the stove control...

Cheers!
 
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zacster

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OIC, this is in addition to the stove. I'm looking to remove the stove from the process.

The Blichmann coil has a twist lock plug for a 20amp outlet. Does that mean I need to have a dedicated line run for it? That would more than triple the cost if I need an electrician.
 

day_trippr

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Twist lock or not, most likely you would need a dedicated 20A 120VAC circuit for the Boil Coil solution...
 

jdudek

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I use a regular kitchen outlet. I checked that the circuit is 20AMPs (most likely is, in most kitchens) by 1) measuring the wire gauge out of the socket 2) checking the breaker in the box (20A). Beyond that you can just replace the standard 15 amp socket with a 20 amp one, gfci of course. You can get an electrician to a) confirm you have a 20A circuit, b) replace the socket. Will be way cheaper than installing a new dedicated circuit.
 
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zacster

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Maybe the microwave has a dedicated 20a outlet. I'd have to check. It's an old house.
 
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zacster

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The more I look at this the less interested I am. It sounds like without doing electrical work I would only get marginal benefits from going electric since the 120v line limits the power. Maybe I'll look at propane instead. That's an easier solution except that puts me outside and watching the pot while it does its thing. I would never leave something like that unattended.
 

augiedoggy

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The more I look at this the less interested I am. It sounds like without doing electrical work I would only get marginal benefits from going electric since the 120v line limits the power. Maybe I'll look at propane instead. That's an easier solution except that puts me outside and watching the pot while it does its thing. I would never leave something like that unattended.
if its setup right you can leave it unattended without worry though... just like an electric hot water tank... It just needs to be wired right with the right element density and control.
 

jdudek

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IMHO, the one-time hassle of setting up the electrics far far outweighs the continuous hassle of having to deal with propane tanks, burners and being forced to brew outside. If your kitchen has a 20A circuit, replacing the socket is a half hour job. That'll let you use a 2250 W element which is adequate for 5G batches.
 
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zacster

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Getting 2250w out of a 120v/20a line is pushing it to the limit. It's an old house, although I think all the kitchen wiring is relatively new, with new properly grounded conduit (with a grounding strip). Still, I don't want to mess with wiring for something I haven't done in 3-4 years. And with a controller it all gets expensive.
 
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zacster

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As I said to my wife this morning when she saw me looking at burners online, I'm not buying anything until I'm convinced that I'll brew another batch.
 

Sammy86

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FWIW, and this could be just my opinion but going the electric route is definitely worth if you're planning to continue brewing in the long term. From what you've said, it seems like a simple solution to your problem would be the 120V heat stick which from what others have said is easy enough to check.

I personally just went electric. I went a full year without brewing and when I finally ran my brand new electric system it was like a dream. Heated the water in about 20 minutes, didn't have to lug around 163 degree water just dropped my grain in, turned on pump and let the grain and water do its thing. Even the cooling with my new counterflow chiller made life so much easier.

If you want to continue brewing the heatstick is definitely something I would go with. Cheap, easy and makes your life so much easier.
 
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