I LOVE waking up to hot strike water. Easy as 1-2-3.

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

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

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Subscribing to this post, because it seems like a brilliant idea, even for a propane and cooler guy. I will continue to monitor everyone's results. This may be worth a shot.
 
When I know that I am going to brew the next morning, I just crank up the hot water tank the night before. Generally that will put me about 5 degrees +/- of my strike temp.

Good enough for me

Don't they say you generally shouldn't use hot water for consumption?
 
This is an awesome idea! In fact, I liked it so much that I added it to my control panel. I had all the parts except I had to change out one switch. I have tested it and it works, but I haven't done a brew since I added it.
 
Don't they say you generally shouldn't use hot water for consumption?

Generally, yes. But my house has a new-ish HWT and PEX piping so not really a big deal. I'd be using regular room-temp water for the sparge anyway, so things should still be okay.
 
Awesome find. Do you think this could be used to step mash also? I use jkarps 2 vessel method with a ten gallon cooler and 15 gallon bk on propane.
This would be great to use to maintain temp while I'm recirculating. Save some cash on propane and don't have to worry about the flame blowing out when running it so low.

txinga
 
Oh, forgot. I have a controller too for the electric part. If this will work that is
 
I can see this as useful for those that brew with electric rigs or have a system that takes forever to heat water. I like many heat my water on a propane burner (I use a turkey fryer burner) and it takes less than 10 minutes to get my strike water to 170 degrees.
 
My cheapo analog timer worked great! Rather than combing sparge and strike water, I only preheated strike water (5 gallons) to see how it fared with the predicted 1.5 hours.

I was only off by about 15 degrees, so it was mere minutes before my mash tun was preheated, and my strike water ready. I'd rather aim low than high like this anyhow.

Made my brewday that much easier, thanks for sharing.

And for those considering the cheap analog timers (with proper current ratings), then consider this a positive review. Cheap 'n easy.
 
Maybe I'm missing something but this seems like a lot of work for a marginal gain. At least go the extra step and combine this with a thermostat of some kind.

The ST-1000cost me $25 to purchase and to get all wired up. If you plug the STC-1000 into a $10 analog timer that turns say 2 hours before hand you could have strike water at the exact temp and not have to worry about changing ambient temps etc... theres a lot of factors here. A thermostat elimates them and instead of something close you get something exactly right.

Also with the way I brew the first thing I do is fill the HLT and put it on the burner. By the time I carry all my other equipment out, clean it and put the grain in the mash tun the water is within 5-10 degress of where it is. So this wouldn't really save me much....
 
Also whoever asked the STC-1000 probe is waterproof, its advertised as an aquarium thermostat, how could it not be waterproof?

If thats not enough just google STC-1000 waterproof and you will find many testmanents from those who have submerged the STC-1000 probe.
 
I had one of these bucket heaters I used to help do a full-boil on my small gas stove-top. After 4 or 5 brews it stopped working. I was about to just buy another one but was looking at some of the amazon reviews and saw one where the guy emailed the manufacturer to ask if it was safe to use for heating beer or drinking water.
http://www.amazon.com/review/RJTQGTM1FXNDI/ref=cm_srch_res_rtr_alt_1

He got this response:
"It is not approved for heating drinking water. While the solder that we use is RoHS compliant, thus containing no lead, there has been no testing to determine compliance for use with potable water. Also, the units are manufactured in an industrial environment as opposed to a clean room, therefore, we do not condone their use for heating water for human consumption... It is probably not dangerous but not necessarily safe either. I do not know what sort of chemicals are used in process the metal parts."

I don't know anything about this stuff, but does this worry any of you??
 
No. What would you expect them to say?

I dunno, do you really want to use brew equipment that isn't rated food-safe? Again, I don't know if it's something that we should worry about, just asking.
 
I dunno, do you really want to use brew equipment that isn't rated food-safe? Again, I don't know if it's something that we should worry about, just asking.

YOu ever smell a bbq the first time you fire it up? NASTY.

I would just run this thing for an hour or so in some water then dump it. After that it should be okay.
 
Forgive me if I missed this, but has anyone had luck using that stick in a cooler? Do those metal foils keep the main element far enough away from everything so as to not melt the plastic?
 
Forgive me if I missed this, but has anyone had luck using that stick in a cooler? Do those metal foils keep the main element far enough away from everything so as to not melt the plastic?

Yes it should be fine in a cooler, it is designed to be used in a plastic bucket afaik.
 
@stoneBriar: The heating element does not get *HOT* when it is submerged in water like it needs to be. I have touched it with my finger underwater.

@kopher - I would expect the manufacturer to say something very CYA like that. As someone else said, test it out in some water that you throw away, and you're good.

Also @JonnyJumpUp - there is no single technique or method that works for everybody, since everybody's process is a bit different. This saves me a ****LOAD of propane heating 12 gallons to strike temp and gets me close to that temp while I'm doing something else (sleeping). Also, I am trying to work within SWMBO limitations on how long a brew day should take, since I am pretty much JUST brewing when I brew. This shortens my day by getting some stuff set up the night before so in the AM I can let 'er rip. From the time I get up, my 10 gallons is in the fermenter and equipment is all cleaned and put away in 4 1/2 hours. This works very nicely for me. I don't personally see the need to complicate things with a temp controller, as this gets me very close and I can just run the burner for 5 mins to dial it in exactly.
 
Also @JonnyJumpUp - there is no single technique or method that works for everybody, since everybody's process is a bit different. This saves me a ****LOAD of propane heating 12 gallons to strike temp and gets me close to that temp while I'm doing something else (sleeping). Also, I am trying to work within SWMBO limitations on how long a brew day should take, since I am pretty much JUST brewing when I brew. This shortens my day by getting some stuff set up the night before so in the AM I can let 'er rip. From the time I get up, my 10 gallons is in the fermenter and equipment is all cleaned and put away in 4 1/2 hours. This works very nicely for me. I don't personally see the need to complicate things with a temp controller, as this gets me very close and I can just run the burner for 5 mins to dial it in exactly.

This is what sold me. After the family goes to sleep, i can measure my water, grains etc and prep most of my brew day. Having the temp controller for me means not having to keep a constant eye on the strike/sparge water temp and frees me up to feed the kids, relax etc. I'm guilty of overshooting the water temps because i didn't babysit my kettle on the propane burner.
 
So I am using this now in a converted keg heating up 7 gallons of water. Temp at the bottom of the keg where the probe was resting was 19C but the keg felt hot so i tested the water at the top.. it was 47C!!!!! That is a HUGE difference.. anyone having similar results? I'm thinking if I insulate and use with my STC1000 temp controller there will be much less of a temperature gradient.

Thoughts?
 
So I am using this now in a converted keg heating up 7 gallons of water. Temp at the bottom of the keg where the probe was resting was 19C but the keg felt hot so i tested the water at the top.. it was 47C!!!!! That is a HUGE difference.. anyone having similar results? I'm thinking if I insulate and use with my STC1000 temp controller there will be much less of a temperature gradient.

Thoughts?

Regardless of how well you insulate, unless you are constantly recirculating, you are going to get a temperature gradient from the bottom to the top because heat rises. But it's not a big deal. Just use your mash paddle/spoon/whatever to stir the water up when you are ready to dough in, and it should be pretty close to your intended strike temp.
 
So I am using this now in a converted keg heating up 7 gallons of water. Temp at the bottom of the keg where the probe was resting was 19C but the keg felt hot so i tested the water at the top.. it was 47C!!!!! That is a HUGE difference.. anyone having similar results? I'm thinking if I insulate and use with my STC1000 temp controller there will be much less of a temperature gradient.

Thoughts?

I believe most have found that in order to automate an HLT, some form of agitiation is required, with either a mechanical stirrer, a recirculating pump, or even a small air pump bubbler will move the water around for even heat. Unfoutunately it is not as easy as an element and temp control, unless you stir occasionally.
 
@Eyedoctodd: Thanks for posting this!

I purchased one of the Marshalltown 742g heaters a few weeks ago and had time today to play around with it prior to brew day. I plan on using it with a timer and temp controller to heat mash water to appropriate temp the morning before brew day. It looks like it should be able to heat water to the appropriate mash temp for for a 10 gallon batch well.

Here are the results:
Heated 8 gallons of 45F water in coleman cooler to 170F under 3 hours, about 3 degrees every 4 minutes.
heater001.jpg

Hit 170F around 2 hours 45 minutes (started timer at 5 hours counting down)
heater002.jpg

The cooler was slightly ajar due to the power cord. The cooler I have is the 62 qt coleman xtreme.
heater003.jpg

Was able to have the heater submerged on its side with the top/cord out of the water. Thermometer is on the right side of cooler.
heater004.jpg

Thanks again!
:mug:
I'll let you know how it goes on brew day!
 
@iamjonsharp did you measure the temps around your cooler to see if they were inline? I'm curious to see how the temps vary in a flatter cooler (yours) compared to my converted keg. I got a huge difference in temps depending on where my probe was.
 
ilikeguns said:
@iamjonsharp did you measure the temps around your cooler to see if they were inline? I'm curious to see how the temps vary in a flatter cooler (yours) compared to my converted keg. I got a huge difference in temps depending on where my probe was.

I did not, as I was mainly interested in getting up to high enough temps to add grain to get to mash temp, and I put my temp probe as far away from the heater as possible. For what it's worth, it has prob been about an hour since I finished the test and the water in the cooler is reading 162F after stirring the water. The lid on the cooler has been closed.
 
I forgot to mention, that my test results comported very well with Todd's spreadsheet (within 10 minutes assuming a Thermal Loss of 1.05).
-Jon
 
What's the advantage over any other timer, except that it costs 5 times as much?

I saw it for 20 bucks and i want an outlet style timer so it fits flush into my project box next to my stc-1000.

EDIT: The ratings had me a little confused.. is this rated for 8 amps? or 15? The bucket heater draws 8 and from my limited understanding of electricity, I'd rather not run full capacity. Correct?

Ratings:
Resistive: 15 A, 120-277 VAC
Tungsten: 15 A, 120 VAC, 6 A, 208-277 VAC
Ballast: 8 A, 120 VAC, 4 A, 208-277 VAC
Motor: 1 HP, 120 VAC, 2 HP, 240 VAC
DC Loads: 4 A, 12 VDS, 2 A, 28 VDS
 
Close. The bucket heater draws 8.333A, so just in case you were thinking of feeding it with 8A, don't! I am thinking of adding a second one because I have a 20A circuit available right where I brew in the garage, so I could do some faster heating (like sparge water during the mash), but I might build a heat stick that will go higher than 2kW instead. Obviously going with 2 of these will heat twice as fast but I don't know if that will be fast enough for my sparge water during mash. (Although it would still help reduce propane usage and replace it with cheaper electrical power.)
 
Also - to all those noting they have a temp gradient in their tuns..

That will only matter if you're using a temp controller probe to act as the brains of when the heater is receiving power or not (which was never my intent).

If you have a heater with a certain power rating (kW), you are getting the same number of kWh or joules of energy into that mass of water - regardless of whether it's going in evenly or if there's a gradient or if heat rises (or whatever). As someone else said, one quick stir and it all evens out quickly.

So for my intended use of the bucket heater in my original post, this does indeed work like a charm.

For Jon Sharp - you can easily calculate what your shortfall was in your cooler (figure out how many percent short your temp rise was). If you got only 90% of your intended rise, your shortfall is 10% Add that to 100% and you have 110% or 1.100

Enter 1.100 in your thermal loss box in the spreadsheet for future brews.

If you were looking for a 100 degree rise and only got 95, your thermal loss is 1.05. Does that make sense?

Another way to say this is if it took for example 15% longer than expected to hit your desired temp, you should adjust the thermal loss to 1.15
 
I saw it for 20 bucks and i want an outlet style timer so it fits flush into my project box next to my stc-1000.

EDIT: The ratings had me a little confused.. is this rated for 8 amps? or 15? The bucket heater draws 8 and from my limited understanding of electricity, I'd rather not run full capacity. Correct?

Ratings:
Resistive: 15 A, 120-277 VAC
Tungsten: 15 A, 120 VAC, 6 A, 208-277 VAC
Ballast: 8 A, 120 VAC, 4 A, 208-277 VAC
Motor: 1 HP, 120 VAC, 2 HP, 240 VAC
DC Loads: 4 A, 12 VDS, 2 A, 28 VDS

You need to use the resistive rating for a bucket heater, so 15 amps.

The ballast and motor rating is lower because you'll get a spike initially when it's first turned on. The motor rating is about 7 amps (1 hp = 745 watts = ~7 amps).
 
This is a really cool idea. Thanks for the post Todd. My heater and timer came in the mail yesterday - stoked to start doing some testing to dial in my times for the next brew session. My plan is to use this setup to heat mash water in a 10gal Home Depot mash tun, so I'll post my findings in case folks are interested. Thanks again. Mighty fine.
 
ilikeguns said:

Hey there, I was interested in this so I looked it up to see how it's programmed.

I noticed it's got a lithium battery to preserve settings when the power's off. I remember reading reviews of the DT620 (that I used) and most of the negatives centered around dead batteries from people not leaving them connected to a power supply. I would imagine it's the same for this one.

Just something to consider if you're going to put it into a project box that isn't powered all the time versus a hardwired installation in the wall.
 
I just used this setup to heat my strike water while I was at work yoday so I could brew when I got home.

18 gallons of 40 degree water for six hours of heating time and it was 135 when I got home. I need to figure the times better. But it still saved 40 minutes off my brewday
 
I just used this setup to heat my strike water while I was at work yoday so I could brew when I got home.

18 gallons of 40 degree water for six hours of heating time and it was 135 when I got home. I need to figure the times better. But it still saved 40 minutes off my brewday

As you likely have figured out, it is better in my opinion to aim to overheat your brewing water, as the temp increases thermal losses will also increase, so max temp out of these low wattage elements will not be that high. Very easy to temper down in temperature, a couple quarts of cold water or a little bit of ice will work easily.
 
I'm heading to the USA this weekend. Does anyone know a store where I could grab one of these heaters somewhere between Buffalo-Syracuse-Philadelphia?

Everywhere in Canada seems to be out of stock!
 
I bought mine from Amazon. Do they ship to Canada?

If I want to pay outrageous shipping fees, wait for weeks, then pay taxes and duty when I go to the post office, then yeah - they ship to Canada.

These things cost $60 locally here. In the USA they are $30. Figured I could just grab one somewhere since I'm driving 700km (434 miles) through the USA. There's gotta be SOMEWHERE that sells these. Checking TSC stores...
 
Back
Top