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Longevity of Coolers as HLT ?

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nebben

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I'm thinking about building a compact brew-rig that takes up little real-estate on the ground, including an HLT, mash tun, and a boil-pot. I'm imagining a scenario where I can have a pump + manifold that would allow me to move water from the HLT on bottom to the mash tun on the rack above (or vice versa- I'm just thinking about ease of access on the top).

I also have my eyes on a couple of 10 gallon round coolers from Home Depot for $37 each.

So far what I've deducted is that electric heat with a temp controller is all there really is as far as heating up water to a precise temp and staying there. These coolers seem to lend themselves nicely to such a setup, with electric elements, valves, and so on. Plus, their insulation means the water will heat up quicker, stay there longer, and I'm looking at brewing outside in inclement weather sometimes. Seriously.

One concern I have about these coolers is how they perform after long term use. With the mash tun, I'd expect it to be fine with little exposure to temperatures above 170F, mostly in the 150F range only. But with the HLT, I would hope to be able to use it to heat up water adequately for cleaning tubes, pipes, the mash-tun, etc. So it would see 190F + on occasion. Can anybody attest to the long term survivability of these puppies, or any flavor contributions after that much hot water? Or am I just paranoid thinking that they will slowly degrade, or just fail at a moment's notice?

Or on the other side of the coin....is there a burner controller device that will allow me to use propane and dial in a temp for a metal-pot type HLT?
 

kevin9167

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wilserbrewer

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I think the key to avoid warping the cooler liner is avoiding sudden temperature changes. I have read reports of people warping coolers with the addition of boiling water to preheat the tun.

At $37 each, I feel they will certainly last long enough to be a good value, barring misuse or abuse of course.
 

ajf

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I have 2 5g Rubbermaid coolers that I have been using for years as an HLT and MLT. Never had a problem with either of them.
I also have a 10g Rubbermaid from Home depot. The lining warped while pre-heating it with 150 degree water for the first time. Although it has warped, it hasn't split.

-a.
 
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