Electric brewing keggle build

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nrjones89

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Hi all,

I am an extract homebrewer doing partial boils on the stovetop and I want to get into all grain using a single vessel system. I'm looking at buying a used keg for $50 to convert into a keggle. I figured a basic conversion with thermometer/sightglass and fittings with spigot would cost me about $100 with keg. No false bottom yet because I plan to do BIAB first. I am not sure if I want to go welded or weldless for fittings or if I want to go 120 vs 240. What do you recommend? I would have to buy a butane torch and I would use silver solder if I went with welded fittings. I also live in an apartment, so custom electrician work is not an option... but I would like to stick to using one heating element, so I am leaning toward using 200+. I think I might just use my range outlet for now. Would that work?

I guess one final question would be whether drop in heat sticks would be better than building the element into the keggle? At this point I am thinking the Keggle will become my main vessel with no future upgrades, so I am leaning toward a build-in element. I would just need to make it easy to swap out if it burns out. With the electric heating, I am planning on spending an additional $100-$150 for GFCI, components, wires, and grounding.
 
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wilserbrewer

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Jmo, I don’t like keggles, I feel they are too bulky heavy poorly shaped and result in an inconvenience.

My suggestion if on a budget look for a used 15-20 used kettle on Craigslist, or a shiny new concord kettle on eBay w lid is $90-100. Jmo
 
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nrjones89

nrjones89

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Well I think Kegs are great and they're half the price of your basic 15 gallon brew kettle. Furthermore, there aren't any used kettles of that size in my area. My questions are about the type of fittings to use and how to build the heating element - built in vs heat stick.
 

golfindia

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One of the big home brew supply places occasionally has keggles on sale for $99 with a fitting already on it.... If you don't have equipment to alter kegs, that's your best option.

Drilling kegs sucks. You need cobalt bits and willpower. Drilling bigger holes in kegs is not fun either, bimetal bits and oil. Or use greenlee punches ($$). Then you have to cut the top off some how.

Solder triclamp fittings are the way to go. I just did some yesterday..... I can swap my triclamp heating elements around to different kegs.
 

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Br3w4u

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I just bought a 15 gallon stainless steel kettle from adventures in home brewing with a welded port for a ball valve. It was 100 plus free shipping. I like it a lot.
 

mirthfuldragon

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I'm right about where you are, making plans to build an electric BIAB keggle. My general plan is as follows:
(1) tri-clamp element for easy removal and cleaning (probalby a hot pod or something similar), using a 5500w element
(2) Auber EZ Boil controller and a related controller build

If you have an electric stove, it should be 240v so that should work. However, it is almost certainly not a ground fault interrupter circuit. GFICs are a necessity and will save your life if something goes wrong - and 240v at brewing amps is more than enough to kill you several times over. There are a couple of ways to handle it, which is where I am stuck at.

If you have the panel space, I would look to add a GFIC breaker and a separate dedicated line. There are other options, like a spa panel or an in-line GFIC cord, all of which have pros and cons and the best course of action depends on how much you want to spend and what you currently have in your house.

Also, brewing large batches in the kitchen is going to put a lot of moisture in the air - 3g batches overwhelm my exhaust fans. When I go bigger in the house, it is going to require a dedicated high volume external exhaust as well.
 
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nrjones89

nrjones89

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I am going the keggle route and I got my keg last week.

I decided to go with 240v and do a spa panel unless I can find an inline GFCI. Whatever is cheapest. So far I haven't been able to find a panel of >=40A for under $80, nor an inline cable for cheaper. No other options available as I am renting. I am building a PID box and have most of the parts ordered and on the way.

I was also able to get a 4500w ULWD element for $15 because the guy at Ace rang it up wrong and was too lazy to correct.

I purchased a set of cobalt step bits for $20 on Amazon. Not really worried about drilling the holes, and my friend is going to let me borrow his angle grinder. For me buying a prebuilt keggle or kettle is not really an option because I don't have the money for that. Furthermore, if you're going to go electric, you will still have to modify the keggle yourself, so why not just get the stuff and do it yourself and save some money. I am trying to save as much money as possible - no cutting corners, though, especially on the safety stuff.
 
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Br3w4u

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I have been looking for an in-line GFCI device also but all the ones that I have found are a 3 wire cable which makes no sense to me. If you are running on a 3 wire then you aren’t really grounded so how could the GFCI work? Good luck with your build, sounds like you are off to a good start.
 
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nrjones89

nrjones89

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I have been looking for an in-line GFCI device also but all the ones that I have found are a 3 wire cable which makes no sense to me. If you are running on a 3 wire then you aren’t really grounded so how could the GFCI work? Good luck with your build, sounds like you are off to a good start.
Thanks, I haven't really found a good GFCI inline device, either. Most of the ones I am finding are rated for 30A, so I haven't really looked at any yet. I haven't calculated how much current I will need for the element, PID, plus pump circuitry yet, so I don't know if that will be sufficient. I actually don't even know if it's a 3-prong or 4-prong back there yet. Haven't started doing my circuit diagram or anything yet.
 

golfindia

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A $20 amazon step bit is going to cause you frustration trying to go through a keg. Note that step bits have only 1 or 2 cutting surfaces at each circumference. OK for thin/soft things, not stainless kegs. Also, keep in mind that once you get a hole bigger than an arbor Drill bit size, you're committed to the step bit approach.... I use these to drill 1-3/8" triclamp fitting holes (you have to buy the arbor separately):

https://m.lowes.com/pd/LENOX-1-3-8-in-Bi-Metal-Non-Arbored-Hole-Saw/3361226

If you don't overheat them, they'll do 5-6 holes in kegs before they wear out. I use 3-1 oil, and squirt It several times once I get a groove going in the metal. A needle file to clean up burrs, and then MEK to degrease the surface. Speed is your enemy, If your Drill is going fast, and no chips are being created, you are work hardening the steel. Work hardening is bad.....
 
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nrjones89

nrjones89

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I figured if I used cutting oil, drill a pilot hole, and go slow with my 7-amp multispeed drill, it should work just fine
 

ancientmariner52

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If you are going to use a hole saw, I strongly recommend you remove the pilot drill and replace it with a hardened dowel pin or at least a piece of steel rod. You will get a cleaner hole, closer to the size you want. Good luck!
 

Br3w4u

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I bought all of my equipment before even thinking about how I would plug it in. I spent about 500 dollars and haven’t even wired it up yet. Now I have to re wire my 240v receptacle from the breaker panel just to use it because my house was built in 1969 and it looks like 10 year olds did the wiring. It will be worth it when I’m done though because brewing outside with a propane burner in Oklahoma winds sucks.
 

Br3w4u

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Do you have to set the burner 3 feet upwind of the kettle?

Brewing outside in any weather extreme is for the birds imho.
The last time I brewed outside I had my burner up all the way and it took an hour to get to a boil from 160 and it was a light boil. The winds were 25 mph. IDK how that compares to other states but it’s pretty normal here. Also I live in Moore Oklahoma so......yeah wind can really suck....
 

ancientmariner52

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Back to the original discussion, going electric doesn't mean you MUST brew indoors, just that you CAN brew indoors. I still plan to brew mostly outdoors with my electric rig. As luck would have it, my outdoor 50amp outlet and my indoor 50amp outlet are on opposite sides of the same wall, and will never be used simultaneously, so one breaker serves both. Most situations are probably not so convenient.
 

Br3w4u

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Back to the original discussion, going electric doesn't mean you MUST brew indoors, just that you CAN brew indoors. I still plan to brew mostly outdoors with my electric rig. As luck would have it, my outdoor 50amp outlet and my indoor 50amp outlet are on opposite sides of the same wall, and will never be used simultaneously, so one breaker serves both. Most situations are probably not so convenient.
That’s a pretty cool set up.
 
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