Plastic barrel for electric HLT

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sohara

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Hi All,

I'm planning to convert an HDPE plastic drum into and electric HLT using a 5500 watt element. I have two questions about this.

First, what would be the best way to secure the element to the drum. I know the element comes with a rubber gasket and I could use a simple locking nut on the inside of the drum, but I am wondering if the wall thickness of the drum would make that difficult (not enough of the element's threads protruding past the wall for the locking nut to thread on to). Kal's setup here looks good, but again, I don't know if it would work with a thicker wall compared to his stainless vessels.

My second question is about the placement of my temperature probe... any ideas about the best place to put it to get an accurate reading? Would I need some kind of circulation pump to avoid stratification of the liquid temps? I think the maximum temps I would be looking at would be 75° C or 170° F.

Thanks,
Sean
 

Bsquared

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I did this a long time ago, and I'm not sure about recommending it...but I put a heating element in to a picnic cooler using a universal adapter and a $hit ton of silicon. It never leaked after three years of use and abuse.

Put your probe inline with the pump.
 
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sohara

sohara

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I did this a long time ago, and I'm not sure about recommending it...but I put a heating element in to a picnic cooler using a universal adapter and a $hit ton of silicon. It never leaked after three years of use and abuse.

Put your probe inline with the pump.
Thanks, that's an idea. I'll have to see if I can find one of those adapters.

What is the logic in putting the probe in-line with the pump? Is that what people usually do for their HLTs?
 

Bsquared

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Thats the way Kal has it, I did the same.

I guess I am assuming you will be recirculating the water in you HLT when you are heating. But if you are just heating the water with out mixing it, the current can create warm an cooler spots. by recirculating you can avoid this, and by adding a TEE on your out let you don't need an extra hole in your HLT.
 

skipper1953

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I had a 15 gallon HDPE carboy that I used for a HLT. The walls of the carboy were thich enouch that I was able to thread the heater element hole. I installed my temp probe in the side of the carboy the same way. I didn't use any gaskets and I never had a leak. Just don't get carried away when you tighten things up and you won't strip the threads. I used the heating element to make the threads in the hole.

If you're using a closed head drum, you will probably just cut out and throw away the top. Use it for practicing threading the element hole.
 

CidahMastah

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why plastic though? is it really not worth the investment for a proper kettle? That 5500w element get very hot. And 55gallons... ugh Better you than me
 

audger

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It's 55 gallon.
no way would i suggest putting 55 gallons of 170 degree water in a plastic container. 456 pounds of water hot enough to fatally burn you isnt something to play with.
 
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sohara

sohara

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no way would i suggest putting 55 gallons of 170 degree water in a plastic container. 456 pounds of water hot enough to fatally burn you isnt something to play with.
I appreciate the safety concerns, but I've already used the barrel as an HLT without any issues. I couldn't detect any softening of the plastic at that temperature, or anything like that. The only difference will be that I'll be heating the water directly in the barrel, while currently I heat in the boil kettle and then transfer to HLT for sparge.
 

wilserbrewer

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no way would i suggest putting 55 gallons of 170 degree water in a plastic container. 456 pounds of water hot enough to fatally burn you isnt something to play with.
Most of the large HDPE barrels are pretty thick and strong as hell, and can handle mash and even boil temps without issue. I think some products are even "hot packed" in HDPE. A while back there was a long thread whereby a guy in Norway built a pretty nice 3 vessel, 1B electric rig w/ HDPE barrels.
 
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sohara

sohara

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Most of the large HDPE barrels are pretty thick and strong as hell, and can handle mash and even boil temps without issue. I think some products are even "hot packed" in HDPE. A while back there was a long thread whereby a guy in Norway built a pretty nice 3 vessel, 1B electric rig w/ HDPE barrels.
I think this is the the thread you're referring to (the poster was in Sweden though). I'll read that for a while. Cheers.
 
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