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HLT with water heater element: control

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mike_g08

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Hello.

I posted something like this on the greenboard, but I thought I would try it here, after seeing all of the good DIY stuff on your site. BTW, I like this forum a lot....

Anyway, what I would like to do is convert a simple kettle, say an AL turkey fryer pot to an HLT which would allow me to turn it on a few hours before brewing, and turn off automatically, when it reaches, say 170 degrees. I would like to use a 120V heating element, with say 12-20 amps of draw.

I am comfortable with electricity, but don't know much about electronics beyond the function of resistors, capacitors, potentiometers.

I am thinking, based on threads I have seen here and there, that a person could make a stainless or copper temp probe, which would send a voltage to an amplifier chip, which would trigger at a certain voltage? current?, closing or opening a relay to shut off the heating element.

People on the greenboard suggested a Love controller, PIC controller, Ranco, etc. These are good ideas, but I am looking for something more, DIY (and cheap for that matter) The reason I got thinking about this is I am planning a parts order from Mouser or similar to assemble the stir plate control circuit (as featured on this forum, thanks), and was fascinated by LM34 sensors, and the like.

Thoughts?? Thanks in advance.
 

Bobby_M

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Look at the various temp controllers on Ebay. You can get one for under $30 shipped and you'll be that much closer to not killing yourself. Of course, if you try really hard you could still probably kill yourself in the process of working with these currents but....

If you find any potential candidates, you can post the link in this thread and we might be able to determine if it's appropriate for your application. If you find a controller that can't hand 18a, you can decouple with a 120v relay(with 120v coil trigger). By the way, 18 amps is 20x higher than what you'd deal with in a stirplate controller. Apples and oranges.

Welcome to the site!

Something like this might work for you even though the max temp is 175F. You might want to wire in a controllerl over-ride switch so you could manually bump the temp higher when desired. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190193153773
 
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mike_g08

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Bobby,

Thanks for the input. I am comfortable working with 120 and 240 volt AC current, and realize the difference in amperages you mentioned. It's just that I don't have much knowledge about electronics design.
 

Bobby_M

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This is just one of those areas where I feel there are cheap enough off the shelf surplus parts for this task to negate messing around with DIY controller circuits.
 

Fingers

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Why not just use the same contact thermostats your hot water tank uses? They can handle the current and they are cheap.
 

Fingers

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Hmmm. You may be right; I can't recall offhand. Anyway, it shouldn't be too hard to put some insulating material in between the thermostat and the body of the kettle to bias the thermostat a little. A guy would have to experiment with different materials to find something that performs consistantly.

You would have to come up with a way to cover up the thermostat too because the wires are exposed on those things. You wouldn't want to get them wet either.
 

wilserbrewer

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In my opinion I wouldn't bother. I used a 2000w element this past weekend to heat 6-7 gal of sparge water and what I noticed is that it will heat to around 180-190 max., at this point the heat loss equals the input of the element.

What I do is just let it heat for a couple hours and then temper w/ a little cool water or just stir the tun w/ the top open and the temp will drop quick.

If I wanted to do it, a ranco would work well. Not sure how many amps these things can handle but I think you'd be ok w/ a 1500 w, not sure about a 2000w.

see links for decent priced units on ebay.


new ranco

http://cgi.ebay.com/RANCO-ETC-11100...ryZ41988QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem



ranco????
http://cgi.ebay.com/Electronic-Temp...ryZ50974QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
 

Bobby_M

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kladue is right. Pass on that one. It's tricky to find ones in the right temp range with switched terminals but I've found a few. Keep looking. I would suggest going with 220 if you can swing it.
 
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mike_g08

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Thanks, everyone.

I think for now, anyway, I will use the low-tech method:

turn on burner or element 1 hour ahead of time, if it is at 180, I will just add cold water or ice cubes, as necessary. (thanks wilserbrewer).

Up to this point, I have been heating it and watching closely, killing the heat at the magic temp. That's too much wasted time.
 
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I use serial communication between a computer and an Arduino microcontroller board hooked up to some solid state relays, an LM34 temperature sensor, and an industrial pressure sensor to control a 6000W 240VAC water heater heating element in my steam boiler.

Is that the kind of DIY you're looking for?

All of the parts for the setup (minus the computer) cost less than about $60.
 

Fingers

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Yuri_Rage said:
I use serial communication between a computer and an Arduino microcontroller board
Hmmmm. Tell me more about that microcontroller board. Is it an off the shelf thing?
 

wilserbrewer

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Mike g08,

If you are gonna go low tech, and there is nothing wrong w/ that, my reccomendation would be to build a heat stick. I use one all the time!!

I have an array of kettles and mash tuns, electric and propane but typically a session might go something like this:

Heat strike water in tun w/ heat stick and dough in.
Heat sparge water in hlt w/ heat stick or electric turkey fryer or both.
Bring wort to boil w/ propane turkey fryer and heat stick.
Maintain boil w/ propane burner.

For me and my "low tech" brewing, I love the heat stick. Somehow I feel more comfortable setting a stick in a pot, or cooler full of water and "doing other things around the house". When running a propane burner I feel more obligated / nervous and feel the need to tend the open flame.

Years ago I had an element mounted in a heavy duty plastic drum and have since favored the heat stick method.

here is a pretty good link, i like the method used for grounding...simple, efffective and easy.

http://alfter.us/heatstick/heatstick/

The only thing I would add is that if you are gonna run the stick in a plastic vessel, protect the end of the stick by winding copper wire around it so it cannot touch any plastic. I never had a problem in a heavier plastic drum, but I notice the hod stick put a small dimle in the inside wall of my cooler where it was resting. Also, some use JB Weld in lieu of the casting resin.
ALWAYS USE GFI AND NEVER RUN A STICK DRY!!

I would also be checking and adjusting the temp of your strike water in the tun prior to adding grains. Temp. in the hlt doesnt really mean much...what actually hits and rests w/ the grain is what matters.

Good luck
Mike
 
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mike_g08

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Wilserbrewer,

Thanks! For now, I am a stovetop brewer. If I ever migrate to a garage or similar, I think I will go the heatstick-route.
 

scoates

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FWIW, Fingers (and other Canadians), Robot Shop (.ca) carries the Arduino (and family).. here.

Price is within a few dollars of SparkFun, and there's no annoying border to deal with.

S
 

wilserbrewer

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mike go8,

Heatstick is a perfect supplement for stovetop brewing!! Hello full boils. Sorry, I guess I just can't stop praising the heatsticks. Sorta like a turbo charger on the stove.
 

2ndstorey

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+1 for the heatstick! With my keggle over both burners on the stove and my heatstick plugged in, I can boil 12+ gallons.
 

WortMonger

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I just wanted to post because I am in the middle of a HLT revamp project myself. I went with a 240V 5500W element ran on 120V for 1375W. I have no data yet for how fast it heats or anything, but here is my thread if you want it. I also did a DIY thermowell for my temperature sensor, and Ranco ETC's are cheap enough and do a damn good job.
 

wilserbrewer

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2ndstorey said:
+1 for the heatstick! With my keggle over both burners on the stove and my heatstick plugged in, I can boil 12+ gallons.

I tip my hat!!! Indoor stovetopping a keggle w/ 12 gal. boil. That might just be a record. Well done lad, HOO HAH!!
 

Germey

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2ndstorey said:
+1 for the heatstick! With my keggle over both burners on the stove and my heatstick plugged in, I can boil 12+ gallons.
You've GOT to take a picture of that!. If nothing else, I could show my wife and say "see, at least I not doing that"
 

2ndstorey

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I might brew on monday. I'll take some pics. Its AWESOME. Tonight I'm picking up my 10g HLT and will have myself a fully functional HERMS. I love brew days.
 

2ndstorey

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Here is my keggle on my poor little stove. The heat stick with the two burners will bring 12 gallons to a rolling boil with about a 10% evap rate.
 

missing link

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My only concern with boiling 12 gallons indoors would be the massive amount of moisture put into the air. My garage ceiling was dripping with water after after boiling off 1 gallon the other day. I'm not sure I want that much moisture in my house..... Of course I've never done it so I may be wrong.

I am using 2 coolers heated with 1500 watt elements. my brew day goes like this.

1. Fill MT with hot tap water. in my case it's about 125 degrees. Set alarm on thermometer for strike temp from beer smith and plug in cooler. go about measuring sparge water, filling HLT, hooking up hoses etc. When alarm on MT goes off (about 10-15 minutes), stir vigorously and wait for alarm again. One MT stabalizes I dough in and unplug cooler. I then plug in the HLT and set alarm for strike temp. I can then wander off for 15 - 20 minutes. I then stir the Mash real well, stir the HLT and unplug. If my mash has dropped, I plug the MT back in and stir until I am 1 degree over desired mash temp and unplug MT. I continue to go back and forth plugging in the MT or the HLT until it is time to sparge. I think I am going to build an outlet and switch system so instead of unplugging, I can just switch them on and off.

2. For me the biggest difference is no need to heat runnings and re-add in an attempt to bring my mash back up to temp.

Linc
 

2ndstorey

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Humidity is a definite issue. I open all windows in the place to vent moisture and I still get ~95% according to a little gauge I have.
 
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