Two 5500 watt 240v heating elements not heating up.

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LoganBrew

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Just wondering if anyone has any ideas on what my problem could be. Recently I bought a used 1bbl Colorado brewing system (didn't do my research before to find out they are out of business). Hooked everything up and it doesn't heat the elements. I have tested the power all the way down to where the plug and the element are connected and am getting power. I thought maybe the elements had been broken or fired up without water so I bought a couple new ones and still no heat. Any ideas with what could be wrong? Any help would be appreciated!
 

doug293cz

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Is there a schematic available for the control panel? If not, can you post a bunch of high resolution, well focused, pics of the insides of the control panel enclosure. The more angles the better.

Brew on :mug:
 

Bobby_M

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The tricky part is that SSRs will pass voltage even if they are not getting a signal to "fire". You can look inside at the SSRs and see if they are getting the control signal as the red LED on the relay itself will be on or flashing. If it's dark, the control signal is not hitting it.
 
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LoganBrew

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Thanks guys I'll post picks tonight. The relay is flashing when the element switch is on. I'm having a hard time finding any schematics for this system because the company closed.
 
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LoganBrew

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Hope these help
 

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RufusBrewer

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Putting a meter across two terminals can be misleading. You can read 240 VAC, but the signal might not be able to provide the current to do the work.

The best thing to do is put the meter probes on the terminals while a heating element is connected. Known as testing/measuring under load conditions. You may or may not be able to do this in a safe manor. Depends on the mechanical design of your rig.

Other things to look for is that somebody confused an SSR (Solid State Relay) with an SSVR (Solid State Voltage Regulator).

You can take a 9 volt battery and apply it to input terminals of the SSR as an alternative to using the PID. Disconnect the PID first and know that you could be running the heating element @ 100%.

Good luck.
 
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LoganBrew

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I don't really know a lot about electrical stuff but we have the two elements and they are 240v 5500w and have it hooked up to a 40 amp breaker. In my head I would think that the elements would be heating up a little bit or blow the breaker if it was trying to pull to much power. But not since it's not doing anything I'm stumped.
 

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5,500W 240V will be fine on a 40A breaker. Have you tried wiring up the elements to a simple extension (make sure it's thick enough) and plugging it into the breaker directly, without the control box in the middle?
 

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Sounds like you are going to have to do some good old trouble shooting. Suggest starting with simple things first. Unplug your controller and check that you have continuity on all wires starting with the load side of the SSR. SSRs, if failed, can fail open or closed; if this is the case it will show it is firing but either stay on all the time or not allow any current to pass. I have also seen PIDs that fail that contribute to electrical issues. A thread above mentioned a way to test the SSRs. Kal has schematics available but for the system he designed.
 

Bobby_M

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5,500W 240V will be fine on a 40A breaker. Have you tried wiring up the elements to a simple extension (make sure it's thick enough) and plugging it into the breaker directly, without the control box in the middle?
He wrote "TWO" 5500 watt elements and that requires 50 amps, not 40. When it's working, it will trip the breaker..
 

Toxxyc

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He wrote "TWO" 5500 watt elements and that requires 50 amps, not 40. When it's working, it will trip the breaker..
Yup but I said one. He can plug one directly into a breaker and see where the problem lies. If it works, elements are fine. If it doesn't problem is somewhere in the control box.

Also, an inline coil ammeter will also work well on the feedline to one or both of the elements, you'll be able to see what current goes to the elements and see where the issue lies.
 
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LoganBrew

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Thanks for all the help guys I'll start giving some of these a try and see what I can find out!
 

doug293cz

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What is the lighted test probe you are using? Specifically, what is it testing for? Also, the pictures you provided are very good - much better than a lot of others that ask for help often provide.

I think I have figured out the basic design of this controller.
  • The "brains" are a Unitronics PLC+HMI (Programable Logic Controller + Human Machine Interface [the touch screen LCD.] The PLC provides the PID function for the system (and probably other things as well.)
  • It is a single vessel controller that controls two elements which always fire simultaneously. Since each element draws 5500/240 = 22.9A, the box needs to be feed from a minimum 50A circuit, and 60A would be better.
  • It also controls a single pump thru a mechanical relay controlled by the PLC, with a mechanical enable switch between the PLC and the pump relay.
  • One of the hot lines goes from the input power thru two element relays and then to the two elements.
  • The other hot line goes from the input power to two SSRs, then to the two element relays, and then to the two elements.
  • A single (lighted) mechanical switch controls both element relays simultaneously. This provides galvanic isolation of the input power from the elements when this switch is off. This switch lights up when the switch is on.
  • The PLC drives both SSRs with a single control input, so both SSRs are on and off at the same time.
So, on to what we know about debugging so far:

There are two SSRs - do the LEDs on both of them flash (you said at least one flashed)? The LED flashing indicates that the SSR is receiving a signal to turn on. If the SSRs are receiving a modulated control signal, that indicates that the PLC output to the SSRs is working. You will have voltage at the elements whether the SSRs are working or not. If the SSRs are not working, then you will have no current or power at the elements (even if you have voltage.)

If the element contactors (mechanical relays) are malfunctioning such that none of the contacts close, then there will be no voltage at the elements. If some, but not all, of the contacts close, then you will have voltage at the elements, but no current or power.

That's what I have so far.

Brew on :mug:
 
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doug293cz

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How are your elements connected to the control panel? Do you have the TC base elements with integral L6-30 plug, or are the element cords hard wired (screwed) to the element terminals?

You can do a lot better with diagnosing problems if you get a digital volt/ohm meter, than with the probe you are using.

Brew on :mug:
 

Bobby_M

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Can you get a closeup of the specs on those mechanical relays? It's the pair of off white rectangular units next to each other. It looks like the incoming neutral "white" wire may be just wirenutted off. I'm wondering if those relay coils might be 120v and in that case, the disconnected neutral would explain why it's not closing those relays.
 

doug293cz

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Can you get a closeup of the specs on those mechanical relays? It's the pair of off white rectangular units next to each other. It looks like the incoming neutral "white" wire may be just wirenutted off. I'm wondering if those relay coils might be 120v and in that case, the disconnected neutral would explain why it's not closing those relays.
The neutral on the 240V feed cable is indeed dead ended at a wire nut. However, I'm assuming the relays have 24V DC coils. The white wires with blue stripe seem to all be connected back to the negative output of the 24V DC power supply.

The panel also appears to have a separate 120V power feed, which is used for the pump, and maybe the 24V power supply.

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

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@LoganBrew There is a white two wire zip cord with black line that exits the bottom of the control panel. Where does this go? It appears to have something to do with the pump control.

Also, did you receive any operating instructions with the unit? Are they in pdf format (or can you create a pdf from them) that you can upload?

Brew on :mug:
 
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ITV

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I suggest starting with the basics since it never worked. I would measure the voltage at the power distribution block (Red & Black wires). You should read 240VAC, if not then check the power feed from your breaker panel.
 

doug293cz

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Ok, here is what I have reverse engineered about the high current control circuits. The failure must be somewhere in this section of circuitry, or the elements are bad or connected incorrectly.

Capture.PNG


That's it for tonight.

Brew on :mug:
 

bruce_the_loon

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Looking at the 2nd photo, that upper connector bank seems to be partially unplugged from the PID controller. See if you can push it deeper into the sockets, just push downwards. It might just be that the socket bank below it is mounted skew, but it might also be unplugged on the one side.
 

doug293cz

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Looking at the 2nd photo, that upper connector bank seems to be partially unplugged from the PID controller. See if you can push it deeper into the sockets, just push downwards. It might just be that the socket bank below it is mounted skew, but it might also be unplugged on the one side.
The end that appears to be least well plugged in contains the power feed to the PLC and the Pt100 temp probe. If this connector were the problem, the PLC display would not even light up.

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

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If you get a proper multi-meter, the next step would be to measure the two coil terminals on the relays to see if they are getting 24 VDC.
The relays/contactors you want to check are outlined in yellow below. The one on the right side is for the pump. Coil terminals are on the top. The blue wires are positive and the white with blue stripe are negative. In the schematic a few posts above, the blue wires are represented by blue lines and the white with blue stripe represented by cyan lines.

To check the voltage at the relay coils, power up the system and turn the element switch on. Set the multimeter to read DC volts, and place the red probe on the positive (left) coil terminal, and the black probe on the negative (right) terminal. If you reverse the probe you should read -24V rather than +24V.

CO Brewing Systems Element Contactors.png


Brew on :mug:
 
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LoganBrew

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sorry guys, i really appreciate all your help ive just been busy. The elements plug into the L6-30 plug and i just got a multi meter to start testing some of these things the right way
 
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LoganBrew

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@LoganBrew There is a white two wire zip cord with black line that exits the bottom of the control panel. Where does this go? It appears to have something to do with the pump control.

Also, did you receive any operating instructions with the unit? Are they in pdf format (or can you create a pdf from them) that you can upload?

Brew on :mug:
the white two wire zip cord goes to the solenoid for the water pump
 
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LoganBrew

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i havent switched my 40amp breaker with a 50 yet, could there be some sort of safety in the system that if there's not enough power that the elements just wont turn on?
 

doug293cz

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i havent switched my 40amp breaker with a 50 yet, could there be some sort of safety in the system that if there's not enough power that the elements just wont turn on?
I don't think so. Two elements on should heat just fine until the breaker trips.

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

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Now that you have a multimeter, set it for AC volts, and at least a 250V full scale, then check the power at the 240V outlet you are using. Assuming you have a 14-50 receptacle for an outlet:

1621198904626.png

If you test between the left and right slots, you should read ~240V. Left to top or bottom should read ~120V, Right to top or bottom should read ~120V, and top to bottom should read ~0V. If any of these readings are way off, then your outlet is wired incorrectly.

Brew on :mug:
 
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LoganBrew

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The bottom circuit breaker is the one that we have it hooked to, maybe we didn't do it right?
 

doug293cz

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This is our wire set up, we aren't plugging the pid into an outlet they are I just wired directly in
That left main bus bar in the breaker panel looks like it has broken loose of its moorings. It may not be making contact with the back of the breaker. This could be the cause of your problem. I'd look into this first. The breaker itself seems to be connected correctly. But, this is not a GFCI breaker, and you really want GFCI for your own protection. Regular breakers just protect the wiring from overload - they do nothing to protect you.

The wire connections at the "outlet" box look like they are correct. However, it is my understanding that the National Electrical Code (NEC) no longer allows appliances to be hard wired to the structure wiring. Technically what you are doing is a "no-no."

Brew on :mug:
 

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What is the Awg of that wire in breaker box? Looks like #10 Gauge THHN Copper Stranded Wire, if so that is not going to cut it. You could put a spa panel where you hardwired into the wall, or just take the breaker out of a spa panel and put it in the breaker box( as others have stated a 50 amp minimum but a 60 amp would be better) but wire size is in question. None of this is related to why your elements aren't working but this also would need addressed.
 
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LoganBrew

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@doug293cz you were right we fiddled with it for a bit and got it all hooked up right. Now the elements are heating up!! This is just a temporary setup in the garage to make sure everything is working. we will be moving into a commercial location this summer and I'm sure we will have to get everything inspected when that happens. Thank you guys for all your input and help!!
 

Bobby_M

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That left main bus bar in the breaker panel looks like it has broken loose of its moorings. It may not be making contact with the back of the breaker. This could be the cause of your problem. I'd look into this first. The breaker itself seems to be connected correctly. But, this is not a GFCI breaker, and you really want GFCI for your own protection. Regular breakers just protect the wiring from overload - they do nothing to protect you.

The wire connections at the "outlet" box look like they are correct. However, it is my understanding that the National Electrical Code (NEC) no longer allows appliances to be hard wired to the structure wiring. Technically what you are doing is a "no-no."

Brew on :mug:
Once that portable cord is hard wired to the building, it falls under the purview of the electrical inspector. Putting a receptacle in the box and a plug on the cable is the way to do it legally.
 

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Are the relays actually contactors and not mechanical relays? The later can't handle the fast switching of a digital controller. Not sure if they aren't heating at all or just getting warm.
 
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