How to build a 5 gal, 110v eBIAB kettle

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Disintegr8or

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After a few PM's about my setup, I am creating this thread to help people like me who 3 months ago had no idea where to get started on a simple, cost effective method of brewing 5 gallons of beer with an electric DIY kettle.

There are numerous threads on HBT that cover similar builds, and of course there is Kal’s website that is perfect for 3 vessel, 220v systems, but this covers a simple setup that you can use almost anywhere in your house.
Either BIAB or you can heat strike water in it and mash in a cooler, and transfer back for boil if you'd like to.

You will need to use 2 separate circuits (good extension cord) and they both need to be GFCI. I am not getting into GFCI, you can do it at the breaker, plug, or inline that is up to you.

Parts required for Kettle:

42 qt or larger turkey pot with basket strainer:

42 qt aluminum http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000BXHL3/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

44 qt stainless http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FTLY1K/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20


Element(s):


I am using (2) 1,650 watt elements because I wanted to use existing 20A circuits, and 1,650 watts on 110 volts draws 15 amps allowing me a little room to spare.
http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/EMERSON-APPLIANCE-SOLUTIONS-Electric-Replacement-2E754?Pid=search

Element mounting:

(2) total 18-8 Stainless Steel Wide-Rim Shim .075" Thick, 1-1/2" ID, 2-1/4" OD

http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/118/3250/=g9xtsl

(2) total Type 304 Stainless STL Locknut 1” NPS

http://www.mcmaster.com/#4464K586

(4) total Silicone O-Ring AS568A Dash Number 217

http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/118/3484/=g9xuds

(2) total 1” threaded pvc coupling

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000LNKEPW/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

(2) total 1” threaded pvc plug

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BP7WIC/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

JB Weld-JB Quick

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0006O1ICY/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

Clear Silicone sealant

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0063U2RWU/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

110v 3 wire/3 prong appliance cord at least 15A rating

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000EYHG4A/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20


Step Bit for holes in kettle

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FZ2UOY/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20


Kettle drain parts:


Weldless bulkhead (note you need to add SS valve and valve end, I used a barbed hose adapter for mine)
http://www.bargainfittings.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=46&product_id=91



Now since my kettle is already built, I can only give you a few build pictures. Also, this covers the 44qt stainless kettle from Bayou Classic. You will want to verify any and all dimensions if you buy a different brand or size kettle.

First thing you need to do is drill 3 holes in your kettle. 2 for the elements and 1 for the drain. Element holes are 1-1/4” and the valve hole is 7/8”. Go slow and use lots of cutting oil on the bit, because it will only last one hole if you burn it up.

Mount the valve as seen here: http://www.bargainfittings.com/image/cache/data/kegwedlesskit1-500x500.jpg

You will need to put a slight bend in the elements sideways so that they don’t hit each other when you put them in the kettle. I simply put one on the corner of a piece of lumber and bent it slowly with my hands. They are soft and bend easily. Careful not to go to fast or far because they will break.

Install the elements in the kettle as shown:









(I used bulk wire and extension cord ends for my kettle, but an already made appliance cord works just as well)




This setup allows ~7.5 gallons of boil volume w/o getting scary.
I boil off at exactly 1 gallon per hour with both elements wide open.
1 element will not maintain a rapid boil.
It takes 28 minutes to get 7 gallons of 68 deg water to 160, and 53 to get to rolling boil.

So for $200.00 you can be brewing in an aluminum kettle. $250.00 for SS, and add another $100.00 and you can control mash temps.


My controller is a PID based on jkarp's Countertop Brutus 20 located here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/countertop-brutus-20-a-131411/ This is what I used to build mine. If you can't figure it out I can post some pics.

Here is a link to a picture thread I posted the other day that is a complete all grain brew day. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f85/pictorial-my-brew-day-5-gal-ebiab-303827/
 
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wilserbrewer

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Very nice write up and e-kettle. Did you consider one 2000w element? While excellent documentation has been done on advanced 220v electric brewing using controllers, there is not much information about a simple 120v electric kettle. I suspect with an inexpensive 10 galllon aluminum pot and a 2000w element someone could build a very affordable budget minded e-kettle cheaply and easily. Sort of what the Model T was to the auto industry.
 
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Disintegr8or

Disintegr8or

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Very nice write up and e-kettle. Did you consider one 2000w element? While excellent documentation has been done on advanced 220v electric brewing using controllers, there is not much information about a simple 120v electric kettle. I suspect with an inexpensive 10 galllon aluminum pot and a 2000w element someone could build a very affordable budget minded e-kettle cheaply and easily. Sort of what the Model T was to the auto industry.
When I was doing research, general consensus was that a 2,000w element was not adequate for a 5 gallon all grain (6+ gallon wort) boil.

If you want to do 5 gallon extract batches with a 3, 4, or maybe 5 gallon boil volume, the 2,000w single element should work.
 

cricky101

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Thank you for this! I've been piecing together information for a simple electric BIAB build exactly like this.
 

ApolloSpeed

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very nice!! So you just basic plugin and unplug from the wall to control everything? no fancy controls right?

Also, I'm guessing there are no problems with JB weld while boiling? health concerns or reliability?
 
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Disintegr8or

Disintegr8or

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very nice!! So you just basic plugin and unplug from the wall to control everything? no fancy controls right?

Also, I'm guessing there are no problems with JB weld while boiling? health concerns or reliability?
You don't need a control at all to brew with this setup. This is what you do if you are BIAB.
  1. Fill kettle with water and plug in BOTH elements and heat water to strike temp
  2. At strike temp, unplug BOTH elements and dough-in
  3. Check temp and either add cold water if high, or plug in ONE element to raise temp to mash temp
  4. Once at mash temp, unplug ALL elements and wrap with towel/blanket/sleeping bag/bear skin rug, etc
  5. Plug in one element when you need to raise temperature, then unplug it when you hit it (it will take a few minutes to both lose and gain temp)
  6. After mash is complete, plug in BOTH elements and raise to mash-out temp, then unplug BOTH elements
  7. Once mash-out is complete and grains removed, plug in BOTH elements and bring to a boil, and leave that way until boil is complete


I built a PID controller based on jkarp's design simply to hold my mash temps w/o me needing to babysit the kettle for 60-90 minutes. I set the temp I want, plug in only 1 of the elements to it, and walk away.

Here is a pic of the PID controller. I only need one element to hold mash temp, so one element is plugged into this, and the other one is unplugged completely during mashing.

(In this picture, both elements are plugged in, one directly in the wall, the 2nd into the PID. I am heating the water to strike temp here [currently 77deg], and it goes faster with both elements. I unplug the element that is plugged into the wall about 2 degrees short so that I don't over shoot my strike temps)



Here is a shot of the PID 10 minutes into my 90 minute mash. It will turn the element on and off to hold whatever temperature is set (GREEN numbers)




The JB weld is on the outside of the kettle only. It doesn't come into contact with wort at any point. It simply holds the 1" threaded coupling onto the water heater element.
 

seatbelt123

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@disintegr8or

Awesome build and write up! This is very similar to my design except I am not using a PID yet.

One thing others might consider:
You will be fine with the high density cameco 2000w elements. I use two and have no problem with scorching. They are shorter and you will not need to bend them. Cheap too!

I'll eventually post some pics. I used the same water proof box with two switches, one controlling each element. The elements plug into the box. I also have two small indicator lamps indicating when an element is active.
 

Skelator

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Do you think one 1650w element would be enough to mash AND boil 4 gallons? what do you use to keeo the weight of the basket + grain off of the elements? Thanks for the awesome thread, man!
 
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Disintegr8or

Disintegr8or

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Do you think one 1650w element would be enough to mash AND boil 4 gallons? what do you use to keeo the weight of the basket + grain off of the elements? Thanks for the awesome thread, man!
I've never tried it. I will dump 4 gallons of water in my kettle and try one element and let you know what happens.

The basket sits on a rim made in the pot so the bottom of the basket is actually about 5" from the bottom of the kettle and it doesn't hit the elements.


Edit, One 1,650w element will boil (rolling boil) 4 gallons of 68deg water in 56 minutes in my kettle.

 

Skelator

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excellent, thank you for going out of your way to find out. You're the man! I'm assuming the pot came with the rim. I'll have to check them out.

thanks again!
 
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Disintegr8or

Disintegr8or

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excellent, thank you for going out of your way to find out. You're the man! I'm assuming the pot came with the rim. I'll have to check them out.

thanks again!
No problem. Yes, the pot came with the rim and basket. If you already have a pot and want to add a basket, you could use (3) stainless steel bolts through the bottom of the basket to make legs and that will keep the basket off the element as well.

This is what my pot/basket looked like new. You can see how much shorter the basket is than the pot.
You can also see the indentation in the pot at the handle level that the rim of the basket sits on preventing it from hitting the bottom.

 

Skelator

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fantastic. You're rtd probe is just mounted below the basket on the 'back' side, correct? (i swear this is the last question:p)

:tank:
 

uberg33k

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I like the simplicity of this. Wouldn't it be a bit easier to use a false bottom with legs as opposed to any basket? That way it would keep your bag off your elements while also filtering out hops at the end of your boil.
 
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Disintegr8or

Disintegr8or

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fantastic. You're rtd probe is just mounted below the basket on the 'back' side, correct? (i swear this is the last question:p)

:tank:
What is a rtd probe? Is that the temp probe? If so, I don't mount mine, it is on a 6' lead from the controller and I put it directly in the middle of the mash. I've recorded a 10 degree difference depending on where I had the thermocouple, so I like to just stick it right in the middle of things.



I like the simplicity of this. Wouldn't it be a bit easier to use a false bottom with legs as opposed to any basket? That way it would keep your bag off your elements while also filtering out hops at the end of your boil.
I do brew in a bag, so I like the basket for the grain, and I use a hop chute for hops during the boil, so nothing really gets by. Any sludge stays in the bottom of the kettle after I transfer anyways.

Hop chute:


Sludge:
 

dhickey

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I have a question...Can I use a single 110 element to "supplement" my electric stove? Living in an apartment I don't think that my kitchen 20 amp circuit will handle 2 elements.
 

Skelator

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What is a rtd probe? Is that the temp probe? If so, I don't mount mine, it is on a 6' lead from the controller and I put it directly in the middle of the mash. I've recorded a 10 degree difference depending on where I had the thermocouple, so I like to just stick it right in the middle of things.
Yep, thats it. I'd be interested to see it, i'd be worried about shorting it out..
 

djt17

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I have a question...Can I use a single 110 element to "supplement" my electric stove? Living in an apartment I don't think that my kitchen 20 amp circuit will handle 2 elements.
I use a 1500W heatstick to supplement my stove when it's too cold to brew outside. It works great!
 

Skelator

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Nice. Hey, whatever keeps mash temps within a degree or two! Like the price better than the $30 weldless mount ones. Great find.
 

datamike

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How many pounds of grain can you fit in your system?

Looks good!

Michael
 

Skelator

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Not trying to be a ******, i just want to let people reading this know what Auber told me with regards to the temp probe used in this build..

You can't immerse the tip that deep. This probe is not waterproof at all. Only the very tip (1/8") can be immersed. This probe is designed for measuring metal temperature such as plastic injection mold. The steel braid will rust in water. The water will also get into the tip to cause error reading, and corrode the TC wire. The only thermocouple we have that can be immersed this deep is the WRNK-191 with 10" probe. You should use our PT100S RTD probe for this application. It can be immersed and is much more accurate.
The PT100S rtd he's talking about is completely waterproof (wire included as it has a teflon jacket).
 
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Disintegr8or

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Not trying to be a ******, i just want to let people reading this know what Auber told me with regards to the temp probe used in this build..



The PT100S rtd he's talking about is completely waterproof (wire included as it has a teflon jacket).


For $7.00 I'll keep submersing it till it craps out and report back when it does.
 

jimwright

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this is pretty much exactly what I had in mind for my setup that I'm building, except I'm using a keggle for a brew pot and slightly lower wattage elements. this is great info, thanks!
 

Skelator

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If it aint broke, dont fix it! I wasnt trying to rain on your parade, but info you might like to know.
 
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Disintegr8or

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If it aint broke, dont fix it! I wasnt trying to rain on your parade, but info you might like to know.
Yeah no problem. I'd never think not to submerse it until you told me.


Another member on here has about 30 batches so far submersing his same thermocouple with no problems. I'd be ok with that. That's 2 years of brewing for me.
 

looneybomber

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With the heating elements at the bottom of the pot, how do you stir the LME to keep from burning against those elements? Is there a way to mount high heat density heating elements to the bottom exterior of a pot?
 

tre9er

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You could mount through the bottom allowing you to stir around it. Just need a hole thru the surface it rests on
 
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Disintegr8or

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With the heating elements at the bottom of the pot, how do you stir the LME to keep from burning against those elements? Is there a way to mount high heat density heating elements to the bottom exterior of a pot?
My first brew in this kettle was a 9lb LME recipe.

I heated 6.5 gal of water (5.5 gal batch) to about 170-180 and drained enough into my 1 gallon pitcher to mix in half of the LME. I then stirred that into the kettle. I added another 3/4 gallon to my pitcher and mixed in the rest of the LME, dumped into the kettle and brought to a boil.

No scorching or anything.
 

tre9er

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You can add extract near the very end of the boil to minimize carmelizing. It is fine that way and can actually produce a more clear beer.
 

drocu

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Fantastic walk through! I like that this design allows the use of 110V while skipping some of the complexity of other electric builds. I'll probably even skip the weldless kit since I still use an immersion chiller and siphon which will make this design even simpler.
 

tre9er

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I essentially did this with a 32qt. Aluminum stockpot ($27 on instawares.com), two ULWD Camco 1500W elements (~$15 each, they are only 4" long) and some pvc conduit junction boxes. Total cost was close to $100 because the 12g. extension cord I had to buy to get to my two dedicated outlets. I plan to re-wire those outlets so I don't need extension cords.

Oh, I wired the cords into a double gang switch box so I can switch the elements on and off individually without unplugging them. Takes both to roll a boil but some times I turn one off to slow down sparge water if mash isn't quite done, or to control a very full boil.

I love this setup. Brewing in the basement, cheap, no noxious gasses or open flames.
 
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Disintegr8or

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This setup has been working great so far.

Last brew day I had to do 2 brews, so I decided to mash in a cooler while I was heating strike water in the kettle for the 2nd brew. I'll tell you, that is the way to go if you don't mind moving a little water around. You can skip a PID completely because the cooler is so efficient at maintaining temps.

After the strike water was heated to 190 for the 2nd brew (heated extra high to allow for cooling off until I got the first batch out of the cooler and back into the kettle) I drained grains and water both into the kettle with bag inside and mashed out like normal.

I think I am going to use this method for future brews. Even though it isn't technically BIAB anymore, I have the ability to mash in a cooler and not have to worry about a stuck sparge. :mug:
 

Tinga

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Is there a good solid build thread for the controller? or a post number for a build int he brutus thread? I looked through it a bit but I'm having trouble finding a good plan for the controller.
 
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