Using 120v electric to pre heat mash and sparge water

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broconne

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Hey there!

I borrowed a friends sous vide cooker for the last brew and used it to heat my mash and sparge water. I liked the ability to heat water to a specific temperature and not baby sit it on my propane burner. I also really liked have the mash water ready to go in the morning so I could mash in first thing, while I was getting everything else setup (propane burner for boiling), tier setup etc. It let me cut my brew time down by at least 30 minutes and let me accelerate the brew day.

The problem with the sous vide method is that it has a very narrow band of water level it supports attached to a cooler. It also took a long time to heat the water, and I couldn't automate it so that my water was ready in the morning. I ended up having to heat the water up the night before, put the top on and then turn it on again in the morning.

I want to try out some more hybrid brewing and I want a solution where my water is ready for me at roughly the time I specify. At this point I am not ready to move on from my rubbermaid coolers for mash and sparging, yet..

Here is what I am thinking of doing:
1. Purchase a Sonoff TH16
2. Flash the Sonoff with Tasmota and the optional Thermostat module
3. Attach this immersion heater to the Sonoff

I could then specify a start time (using my home automation software) which should kick the system on at the right time. My plan would be to put my mash + sparge water + a little extra into my 10 gallon cooler the night before, set everything up and have it turn on a couple of hours before I plan to brew.

Concerns:
1. Fire
2. Electrocution
2. The element melting the plastic cooler if placed next to it - I think a stainless steel heat shield would be warranted

Has anyone done this before and care to share some experiences? I couldn't find in the forums anyone using a Sonoff for this control.
 

jtratcliff

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Don't sous vide thingies hold the water at a fixed temp once it gets where you want it?

Wouldn't you just set it for your strike temp the night before and then it'll just hold it there once it reaches temp? So it doesn't matter if it's slow. It has all night to heat up and will be ready when you wake up?

Or am I mistaken about how they work? (I don't have one).

Any temp controller should work to reach a set temp and hold it...
Isn't that their purpose? Inkbird ITC-1000, for $16, for example.

The Sonoff is nifty for the "smart" aspect and WiFi, though.... and flashable FW...
 
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broconne

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Wouldn't you just set it for your strike temp the night before and then it'll just hold it there once it reaches temp? So it doesn't matter if it's slow. It has all night to heat up and will be ready when you wake up?
The model I was borrowing had a 4 hour time on it once it hit temperature, so it would start to cool down before I was ready. It also reset on power on/off so it is not like I could automate. The other problem is that there is a very narrow water level band that it will work with which doesn't support heating my strike + sparge water.
 

Carolina_Matt

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Is your water level too high or too low for the narrow level band? If it's too low, by how much? Maybe you can just add a little water, then take it out when you wake up.

I have an Anova that I bought a few years ago, and it will go for much longer than 4 hours. There are some recipes that have 24+ hour cook times so overnight shouldn't be an issue. If I was in your situation, I would have the same concerns that you have.

I have a 120v Digiboil and I set it to strike temperature the night before. I only turn on the 500w heating element because time isn't an issue. I wouldn't feel quite as safe using one of those immersion heaters though.
 

Toxxyc

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STC-1000 on a timer should do the job. Spend a day to see how long it takes your kettle to raise the water to the strike temp, and then use the STC-1000 to heat it up and keep it there. Timer set to kick in at the right time to have it ready on brew day.

Just make sure your STC-1000 can handle the element's current draw, or you'll have to stick it on a relay to keep the STC-1000's magic smoke inside.
 

GoeHaarden

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I get it. With small children, shaving time off brewday is really the only way to make it possible.

I used to use a sous vide to pre-heat the water the night before. I made a S-shaped bracket to hold the sous vide lower in the kettle so it was within water level. It would take about 5-6hrs for that 100w sous vide to heat ~8.5 gal of water to strike temp. So I would just start it before I went to bed.

Now, I use a HotRod (120v immersion heat stick from brewhardware) with an Arduino controller that I programmed with a timer. For additional safety, I have a flow meter attached as well with a pump that kicks on when the timer is up. If no flow is detected (in case all my water leaked out somehow) then the element won't fire. One night I had everything set ready to go for the morning, and for some reason I decided to go triple check everything. And what do I find, one of my 3-piece valves leaking. Needless to say, brew day was cancelled...

I use it in a SS kettle, but honestly I think my 1650w element is gentle enough to be used in a cooler if you ensured it didn't touch the plastic.

Have you ever tried putting near boiling water in your cooler the night before with it's lid on and see how much the temp has dropped? When I was doing cooler infusion mashes that thing would only drop 1-2 degrees over the 1 hr mash. I bet you could get fairly good at getting close to strike temps with some experiementing...
 
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jtratcliff

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Just make sure your STC-1000 can handle the element's current draw, or you'll have to stick it on a relay to keep the STC-1000's magic smoke inside.
That was my one concern after I mentioned the STC-1000.. would a 1500W stick fry a $16 controller?

I found this:

Looks like 10amp rated but components can handle 15
 

tracer bullet

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I've been using this controller:


And this heater:


Quite well together. I pre-heat the mash water with it, and love it. I have not heated sparge water but will probably try it next time around.
 
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broconne

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I ordered the sonoff, will let everyone know how it goes.


And this heater:

JESTOP Anti-scalding Bucket Heater, Electric Immersion Water Heater with Digital LCD Thermometer, Stainless Steel Guard Submersible Heater, Rapid Heating in Minutes - - Amazon.com
JESTOP Anti-scalding Bucket Heater, Electric Immersion Water Heater with Digital LCD Thermometer, Stainless Steel Guard Submersible Heater, Rapid Heating in Minutes - - Amazon.com
www.amazon.com
Any concerns on using that heater that it doesn't specify it is OK to use for heating water for human consumption?
 

Imhoppy

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I use this heat stick. Easy to replace the element, when needed. Note the parts list should include 2 - 2" tri-clamps instead of 1.

 

celging

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I’m very happy with my 120v digiboil for pre heating, worth a look possibly
 
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