Going electric, heating element question.

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

jmp138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Messages
328
Reaction score
7
Location
Pittsboro, NC
I am tired of buying propane all the time so I've started really thinking about going electric. I'm wondering if you can just use a water heater element that you can buy at lowes or if I need something different. They seem really cheap, I just figured it would be more expensive.

http://http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=26357-000000135-6900386&lpage=none

Would this element work to bring 10 gallon batches to a boil? Also do you really see your energy cost go up with electric systems or is it pretty negligable. Thanks for the help!
 

chenwood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2009
Messages
63
Reaction score
0
no prob, unfortunately that's all I can help you with.
 

lamarguy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2008
Messages
1,652
Reaction score
33
Location
Austin, TX
Electric heating is way cheaper than propane in most areas. I boil ~6.5 gallons using a 1650 watt 110v element (at full power) in an insulated aluminum kettle and it costs me less than $0.50 per batch in TX.

So yes, a single 4500 watt 240v element should be sufficient to boil 10 gallons of wort. You'll need a PID and SSR to control the heat output.
 
OP
jmp138

jmp138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Messages
328
Reaction score
7
Location
Pittsboro, NC
PID and SSR? Sorry I am an electrical retard. Can you just weld the element in?
 

conpewter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
5,076
Reaction score
59
Location
East Dundee, Illinois
I had issues with the element's faceplate rusting in the HLT if left for any extended period of time. The PID and SSR make it really easy to either go by temp (for the HLT) Or switch to a percentage (100% to get to boiling 55% to maintain) for the boil kettle. This is all with a 5500W element on 220V. I bought the PID/SSR from Auburn.
 

tipicreeper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
191
Reaction score
4
Location
Arizona
PID and SSR? Sorry I am an electrical retard. Can you just weld the element in?
Hi,
A PID is a Proportional, Integral, derivative controller that has a temperature sensor that it uses for feedback to tell the controller what to do with the SSR. An SSR is a Solid State Relay that actually connects and/or breaks power to your heating element.
In essence, the PID will look at the temperature sensor and compare the actual temperature to the set point that you have entered and if the actual temp is below the set point temp then it will turn on the SSR 100% of the time, thus supplying full power to your heating element, until it approaches the set point then it will begin to cycle the SSR to maintain that set point.
This is not precisely how all PID loops occur but it does give a very watered down explanation.

Not trying to sound condescending. Just trying to give a general explanation.
Hope it helps.
Cheers
-David
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
To install the element, drill a 1.375" hole and insert the element. Use the supplied seal and use a 1" straight thread SS nut from Bargain Brew Fitting Home Page

Simple, cheap, effective.

Id go with a 5500W element they are no more expensive than a 4500W and will provide more power for a 10 gallon boil.

In an un-insualted vessel, you will require about 3500W to maintain a vigorous boil with about a 1.5gal/hr boil off rate with a 7 gallon volume or wort. This has been my experience with my electric rig, and we even proved it using mathematical equations in another thread! Pretty sweet.

PID and SSR are totally necessary. You can MAYBE jerry rig something, but you will waste time and money doing it.
 

Yorg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
Messages
168
Reaction score
1
So Pol,
When you talk about the Watss, are you talking about the nominal rating for these elements as, for example, 5,500 Watts when used with 240V?
Are you in fact using them at 240V, or at 110V?

What I am trying to do is get a comparison between your situation in the US, and mine here in Australia. We have 240V standard from the wall.
Am I going to get the same practical results as you, using a nominal 5,000 Watt rated element. or are you getting a lower heat density and power output by using them with 110V?
I am concerned both about getting an appropriate amount of power into the setup, and also about scorching my wort with a regular heat density that I would expect from using an element designed for 240V with 240V.

Cheers.
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
I am using a 5500W element at 240VAC... so I am getting 5500W. If you use a 5500W element at 110VAC, it will never boil wort.

The nominal wattage is not what will cause scorching, though no one I have ever talked to has ever seen scorching. It is the watt density. I use an ULWD 5500W Ripp element. I operate it at 5500W to achieve a boil and turn it down to 3500W to maintain a boil with my PID.
 

DeafSmith

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
1,444
Reaction score
40
Location
Richardson, TX
So Pol,
When you talk about the Watss, are you talking about the nominal rating for these elements as, for example, 5,500 Watts when used with 240V?
Are you in fact using them at 240V, or at 110V?

What I am trying to do is get a comparison between your situation in the US, and mine here in Australia. We have 240V standard from the wall.
Am I going to get the same practical results as you, using a nominal 5,000 Watt rated element. or are you getting a lower heat density and power output by using them with 110V?
I am concerned both about getting an appropriate amount of power into the setup, and also about scorching my wort with a regular heat density that I would expect from using an element designed for 240V with 240V.

Cheers.

While 120 volts is the normally used voltage in the US (hot line to neutral), we also have another hot line available which is 180 degrees out of phase with the other, so by taking power between the two hot lines, instead of between hot and neutral, we have 240 volts available for high power draw appliances, such as stoves, clothes dryers, and A/C compressors.
 

Yorg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
Messages
168
Reaction score
1
While 120 volts is the normally used voltage in the US (hot line to neutral), we also have another hot line available which is 180 degrees out of phase with the other, so by taking power between the two hot lines, instead of between hot and neutral, we have 240 volts available for high power draw appliances, such as stoves, clothes dryers, and A/C compressors.
Thanks for that.
Still, which one is Pol or folks generally using for this application - is the nominal wattage and heat density the actual one, or lower via the 120V?
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
Thanks for that.
Still, which one is Pol or folks generally using for this application - is the nominal wattage and heat density the actual one, or lower via the 120V?
I answered your question above, but I will do it again.

You cannot boil wort with a 5500W element running on 120VAC. Not possible. I myself and others all use 240VAC for these elements in the boil kettles, it is a must if you are doing full boils for 5 gallons and up.

I use a 5500W/240VAC element at 240VAC, thus I am getting 5500W. It takes 3500W alone to keep a vigorous boil in my kettle with a 7 gallon volume. You cannot get 3500W out of a 120VAC element.

I use 240VAC in my kettle, that is customary.
 

drewbrew82

Active Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2008
Messages
40
Reaction score
0
Location
Des Moines, IA
I am using a 5500W element at 240VAC... so I am getting 5500W. If you use a 5500W element at 110VAC, it will never boil wort.

The nominal wattage is not what will cause scorching, though no one I have ever talked to has ever seen scorching. It is the watt density. I use an ULWD 5500W Ripp element. I operate it at 5500W to achieve a boil and turn it down to 3500W to maintain a boil with my PID.
How do you turn it down to 3500w to maintain a boil with you PID?
What do you use to control the current of you heating element?
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
My PID has % duty cycle manual mode. So I turn it down to 65% or so after I reach a boil, I have a 1 second cycle time. So it is ON for 65% of that ONE second and OFF for 35% of it. This is why people use PIDs on boil kettles. We do not need the smart part of the PID, but the manual % output mode, the dummy mode.
 

Yorg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
Messages
168
Reaction score
1
Sorry Pol, I must have scrolled past your answer the first time.
Is your PID from Auber? Which one is it?
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
It is from Auber, if you look at my parts list in my electric HERMS build thread, it gives the model number. That thread details how to do much of the electric kettle work, gives part numbers, suppliers and prices.
 

conpewter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
5,076
Reaction score
59
Location
East Dundee, Illinois
Definitely get the PID from Auber. I bought one on ebay that was cheaper... but didn't have a manual mode. I still gotta figure out what to do with that one...
 

limulus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
1,526
Reaction score
122
Location
ATL Burbs
Instead of starting a new thread on this, I'll revive this one. I just purchased a 4500 watt ULD element at HD. Unlike most I have seen this one does not have the shiny coating on the element. I assume that is just a coating and is not stainless. This one basically is the color of an electric stove coiled element. Is that OK?

Edit:
After reading the back of the package, it says it is a Lime Life Element and it works best in water with high mineral content. This is the one I bought:
http://www.camco.net/Menu.cfm?SupCategoryId=10200&SubCategoryId=233&ProductId=2343
 

conpewter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
5,076
Reaction score
59
Location
East Dundee, Illinois
Instead of starting a new thread on this, I'll revive this one. I just purchased a 4500 watt ULD element at HD. Unlike most I have seen this one does not have the shiny coating on the element. I assume that is just a coating and is not stainless. This one basically is the color of an electric stove coiled element. Is that OK?

Edit:
After reading the back of the package, it says it is a Lime Life Element and it works best in water with high mineral content. This is the one I bought:
http://www.camco.net/Menu.cfm?SupCategoryId=10200&SubCategoryId=233&ProductId=2343
All the ones I have bought were not shiny. Said they were stainless, but must be some weird mix. They've worked fine for me.
 

Fingers

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2007
Messages
4,178
Reaction score
50
Location
Lac du Bonnet
To install the element, drill a 1.375" hole and insert the element. Use the supplied seal and use a 1" straight thread SS nut from Bargain Brew Fitting Home Page
Pol, how did you seal it against the curve of the pot? I want to convert my 3/8" thick aluminum pots to electric and I was looking at drilling the pot and welding aluminum tapped inserts in place. Since I don't have the equipment for that and must rely on others, I'd like to avoid it if there is a solution that works equally well without.
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
Pol, how did you seal it against the curve of the pot? I want to convert my 3/8" thick aluminum pots to electric and I was looking at drilling the pot and welding aluminum tapped inserts in place. Since I don't have the equipment for that and must rely on others, I'd like to avoid it if there is a solution that works equally well without.
Really, it is easy.

Drill the hole. Place the element through the hole with the supplied rubber seal in place. Hand tighten the SS nut on the inside of the kettle. It seals perfectly every time, no leaks... even if you bang it around. There is really no trick, it is REALLY that simple.
 

Fingers

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2007
Messages
4,178
Reaction score
50
Location
Lac du Bonnet
Really, it is easy.

Drill the hole. Place the element through the hole with the supplied rubber seal in place. Hand tighten the SS nut on the inside of the kettle. It seals perfectly every time, no leaks... even if you bang it around. There is really no trick, it is REALLY that simple.

I had dismissed that as unfeasible given the curved surface of the pot mating with the flat surface of the nut and element. I suppose I'll have to give it a shot. I think I'll give it a try it on my $50 eight gallon pot first before giving it a go on the big boys.

I'm getting an Arduino board for Christmas so it looks like all I'll need is an SSR and a thermocouple and I'm pretty much in business. I'd love to be brewing indoors come January.
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,390
Reaction score
117
Yeah, it works excellent on the keggle. Before I had my CIP set up, I would remove the element and remove the kettle each time I brewed... did that many times and NEVER had it not seal perfectly when I re-installed it.

The key is FINGER TIGHT, if you use a wrench, you will roll that stock seal (it is not round, it is square) So, the key is to finger tighten and run with it. It is really simple considering some of the complex and convoluted solutions out there.
 

Hermit

fuddle
Joined
Nov 2, 2009
Messages
2,316
Reaction score
83
Location
Alternate Universe
While 120 volts is the normally used voltage in the US (hot line to neutral), we also have another hot line available which is 180 degrees out of phase with the other, so by taking power between the two hot lines, instead of between hot and neutral, we have 240 volts available for high power draw appliances, such as stoves, clothes dryers, and A/C compressors.
Actually it is 240 volt single phase that is center tapped at the transformer to provide the neutral.
 

BayerischBier

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2009
Messages
96
Reaction score
1
Location
Boise
another e-question.

The pol says... 120V won't bring it due to low wattage?
What about two elements for 120V on different circuits and let's say 1500W each?
One on a simple (high amp) switch (as booster), the other one on a SSR/PID combo for manual control; and both get introduced to ~7gal of wort to boil it down to a 5gal batch.

Would a combo of 3000W (on 2x 120V) be sufficient to boil ~7gal for a final 5gal batch? If so, this is a perfect match for brewers in an apartment with 15A breakers.
 

enid

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
97
Reaction score
1
Location
WI
another e-question.

Would a combo of 3000W (on 2x 120V) be sufficient to boil ~7gal for a final 5gal batch? If so, this is a perfect match for brewers in an apartment with 15A breakers.
Yes it would. You wont need the one on a controller, 3000W gives you a good rolling boil with out being overpowering.
 

McCuckerson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
Messages
654
Reaction score
13
Location
Zebulon
Disagree... Try boiling with a 5500W/240V high density element. Been there done that...
Sounds overpowered, and under-attenuated. Where you throttling back at all or running full bore? How long of a boil? You know, you are the first person that actually admits to scorching wort. Everyone else just regurgitates the myth. That's why I am interested. Some brewers claim to get brighter wort after switching from LPG to ELE.

Either way, whatever works for you is prime!:rockin:
 
Top