# Electric Range parts to control element?

### Help Support Homebrew Talk:

#### wyoohio

##### Well-Known Member
My parents just had their oven element burnout in their electric stove.

My mom leveraged this to get my dad to get her a new stove, seeing as how he likes to eat, he agreed ha.

Now there is a perfectly functioning electric stove in the basement of their house taking up space.

I had mentioned to my dad I was thinking about an electric setup for winter brewing and he asked if I could use any of the parts in that stove.

My question to all of you is this, can I put and element in my boil kettle an just control it in a more manual manner by using one of the range controllers?
When I want to bring it to boil I turn the knob to high, when it reaches boil turn the knob down until it is to the level I want.

Just like I would if I had a pot on the range itself.

Parts are free other than the element that I would need, so I figured it is worth looking into.

Thanks

#### Walker

##### I use secondaries. :p
The knobs on an electric stove work by turning on and off the heat. When the element is on, it is 100% on. When the element is off, it is 100% off. If you look at it over time, the on/off behavior gives you an effective power of somwhere between 0% and 100%. This is the same principle behind using a pulse width modulator to control the boil the strength.

Unfortunately, the infinite switches don't cycle very rapidly. They turn on the element for a good long while, and then they turn off the element for a good long while.

This works fine on a range top because the pan and the surface of the burner retains heat and that heat continues to conduct to the cooking pan even when the element is off.

When you have a heating element directly in the liquid, the transfer of heat is essentially instantaneous. The water pulls the heat away from the element immediately, and no reat is retained by the element.

So, if you use an electric range's infinite switch, you will end up with a kettle that boils for a while, and then stops boiling for a while, and repeats this pattern. You need much more rapid on/off switching with an immersed heating element in order to control a boil.

#### BargainFittings

##### Vendor / Owner
Walker, have you tested an immersion heater with a stove controller?

With standard elements I don't see this happening. I guess I'll have to hook up an immersion element and test this idea.

#### Walker

##### I use secondaries. :p
Walker, have you tested an immersion heater with a stove controller?

With standard elements I don't see this happening. I guess I'll have to hook up an immersion element and test this idea.
I have not tested it, but all the evidence is there.

I have a flat-top range and can easily see (and hear) see how frequently the element turns on and off when I have the power dialed down to something other than high heat. It turns off for more than 15 seconds. In fact, even on the "HI" setting, the element does not run constantly. It turns off for periods of time.

And I know that when I kill the power to the heater element in my kettle, the boil completely stops within 2 seconds.

So, though I have not tested it: boiling stops in my e-kettle within 2 seconds of the power shutting off, and the stove controller turns the element off for much longer than 2 seconds, so....

#### Homercidal

I think the question BargainFittings is asking is whether an electric element used for brewing would even be compatible with a stove control.

#### Walker

##### I use secondaries. :p
I think the question BargainFittings is asking is whether an electric element used for brewing would even be compatible with a stove control.
Oh. Maybe I misunderstood.

The infinite switches for a range top are rated for 240V, but the amp rating is what might get you. The larger elements on a range top are usually 3000W or less, so the switches probably only handle 15A at a max. So, you wouldn't be able to control a 5500W element, but you could do a 3000W element.

And at that point, you probably just want to run the element at full power to boil a pot with 6 gallons of liquid in it.

OP
W

#### wyoohio

##### Well-Known Member
Good info thanks. That would have been my next question if they could even support the kettle elements.

Since those are out. Is there any infinite switch or rheostat type controller that could handle what I am trying to do?
Not sure if it is worth going the full auto temperature control route, just want to keep it simple.

#### Walker

##### I use secondaries. :p
Good info thanks. That would have been my next question if they could even support the kettle elements.

Since those are out. Is there any infinite switch or rheostat type controller that could handle what I am trying to do?
Not sure if it is worth going the full auto temperature control route, just want to keep it simple.
search for "PWM" or "pulse width modulator".

It's basically a fast-cycling on/off pulse that would control an SSR to pass power through to your element.

#### Lost

##### Well-Known Member
PWM's are inexpensive and can evidently be built using a 555 timer which can be bought for a few bucks off ebay.

I haven't done this and am not an electrician or an engineer. I have seen others here mentioning doing this - you should do a search. I'm just trying to point you in the right direction.

The auber pid that everyone uses (including me) is a pwm that is operated automatically with the input of the the temperature probe. Evidently the pid can do more than that but the operation I have described is how we all use it for brewing.

The pid route isn't that pricey either, it gets there though when you build a control box full of expensive switches and install a spa panel for gfci protection. The latter would be a necessity on any electric build (pwm or pid) and the former gets only as expensive as you let it. I would personally do pid as you could use it to control both the HLT and then the boil kettle and do a full electric build. The PWM would be fine for boiling but, I think, would leave a little to be desired for hitting and maintaining particular temps needed for sparge/strike water and (if you want) a HERMS setup.

OP
W

#### wyoohio

##### Well-Known Member
Thank you sir, I appreciate the guidance.