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Weld-in Fitting Size for Elec Elements?

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How should I connect my elements (welded fittings only)?

  • 1" threaded

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1.5" TC

    Votes: 7 87.5%
  • 2" TC

    Votes: 1 12.5%

  • Total voters
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  • Poll closed .

LBussy

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The answer to this probably changes with the seasons, because new stuff comes out all the time. I know I could use 1" threaded, 1.5" TC or 2" TC, but I don't know what it is which might cause me to wish I had chosen differently.

My application will be welded in fittings in SS 1/2 bbl kegs. I will have (I think - unless someone wants to change my mind) 5500 or 6500-watt elements (I assume the rippled ones), one in the HERMS, and one in the kettle. Again, completely open to "you might want to consider ..." statements here, but my general direction is a single element per vessel. I want weld-in because over the years I have had HORRIBLE experience over time with weldless, and I will be paying a welder to do some other work anyway so I may as well do it "right."

It seems like it might be easiest to get the ripple elements oriented correctly with a TC fitting, and there's a fair chance I will want to swap the elements between vessels for other reasons, so again, TC seems desirable but I am wailling to be convinced otherwise.

So, vote, comment, do both, let me know what you think. I believe I want to drop this stuff off next week or so, so maybe I'll leave the poll open for that long.
 

SalParadise

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I'm currently in the process of building my first electric brew setup, so keep in mind that I've not had a chance first-hand to see how my plans will work in practice. My current plan is to go with 1.5" TC for mounting the elements. I wanted something that was easy to service or disassemble for cleaning as needed.

Rather than pay to have the TC fittings welded on my kettles, I opted for the pull-through flare / solder method. Got the pull-through tool and knowledge needed from brewhardware.com. I'm very pleased with how clean the install looks, especially considering it was my first attempt at doing anything like this. I'm still on the hunt for element housings, but am leaning towards something like this. It's certainly not the least expensive route to go with this, but it seems very well built and meets my desire to have something easily serviceable.
 
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LBussy

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There's these two as well:
Of those two housings, the BrewersHardware looks "beefier" but I'm also not sure that's going to be a real issue. Bobby is also out of stock, so depending on when I end up buying that may also color my decision. That set up with the pull-through flare seems pretty nice. I have to get some other things welded anyway so I think it might work out cheaper to just have them do it for the element mounts as well.

The only things I have found discussing the 1.5" and 2" seem to be around getting "some" ripple elements in.

I'm also kicking around the idea of two elements in the keggle.
 

Jtvann

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I'm sure theres plenty of 2 inch TC options out there, but 1.5 seems to be a very standard size in homebrew applications. Lots of options for 1.5 TC premade heating elements.

I have one from both brewershardware.com and brew-boss.com
 

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I would go 1.5" TC because it works well, it's easy to clean and readily available.

I would (and did after trying the Hot Pods) bypass the housings and go this route...

 
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LBussy

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I would (and did after trying the Hot Pods) bypass the housings and go this route
I saw those, and another supplier has one as well. While the price is not bad when you consider the price of the Hot Pods or similar method of sealing the connection, I have some reservations about the one-piece setup:
  • If (when) the element goes bad, I am going to have to spend all of that money over again where just replacing an element is less expensive
  • The wattage of those elements is 50% higher than the Camco models recommended by Kal on another website
It sure would be nice if there was "one best item" for this - but there's not. Always choices. :)
 

jddevinn

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I saw those, and another supplier has one as well. While the price is not bad when you consider the price of the Hot Pods or similar method of sealing the connection, I have some reservations about the one-piece setup:
  • If (when) the element goes bad, I am going to have to spend all of that money over again where just replacing an element is less expensive
  • The wattage of those elements is 50% higher than the Camco models recommended by Kal on another website
It sure would be nice if there was "one best item" for this - but there's not. Always choices. :)
Both are 5500 w. I have the NPT ones and would much prefer the TC at least in the boil kettle. They were not available when I built my system though.... although about once a year when I pull elements out for cleaning I think about changing them over.

FYI about 7 years in and I haven't had to replace an element.
 

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I went with 1.5"TC for my element (4500W Dernord). The TC fittings seem very common for this purpose and options are readily available. I figured if I want to do something different in the future I could always get a 1.5"TC blank and drill/tap any hole I might want so long as it's small enough to not compromise the structure. I didn't even go as far as the soldered pull-through or welded fitting, I just got one of of BrewHardware's weldless 1.5"TC bulkheads.
 

SalParadise

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The only things I have found discussing the 1.5" and 2" seem to be around getting "some" ripple elements in.
I've read about that as well - Both the enclosure from eBrewSupply and Brewershardware state they support ripple elements. I seem to recall reading that a few people had a bit of a struggle getting them in, but were able to make it work. Worst case, I may end up returning it. Best case, this thread will turn up something new and I'll go with that.

I saw those, and another supplier has one as well. While the price is not bad when you consider the price of the Hot Pods or similar method of sealing the connection, I have some reservations about the one-piece setup:
  • If (when) the element goes bad, I am going to have to spend all of that money over again where just replacing an element is less expensive
  • The wattage of those elements is 50% higher than the Camco models recommended by Kal on another website
Agreed on both points. Also, since I'll be packing up my rig and hauling it from the garage to the basement each time I brew, I'm also worried about knocking those pins on the all in one element into something and damaging them.
 

Deric

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  • If (when) the element goes bad, I am going to have to spend all of that money over again where just replacing an element is less expensive
  • The wattage of those elements is 50% higher than the Camco models recommended by Kal on another website
On the first point that was my thought too but after thinking about it.... I didn't spend $35.00 on the Hot Pods - and if I have an element failure (dry fire) I can quickly swap the element with no rewiring needed. (Of course that's assuming I've purchased a spare element to have on hand which I still haven't done...)

As for the second point - isn't 5500 watts 5500 watts?
 
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LBussy

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As for the second point - isn't 5500 watts 5500 watts?
This might cause the thread to go sideways but ... yes, a given amount of energy is added and it's the same in both cases. The Camco elements themselves are either longer or a larger diameter or both, creating more surface area. 50% more in this case. That means for any given part an element, it can (theoretically) be 50% cooler and inject the same energy. The result is (again in theory) less opportunity to scorch a liquid. It is also intended to help protect against momentary accidental dry fires. A thinner element will pop pretty quickly compared to a larger one.
 

crane

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There's these two as well:
Of those two housings, the BrewersHardware looks "beefier" but I'm also not sure that's going to be a real issue. Bobby is also out of stock, so depending on when I end up buying that may also color my decision. That set up with the pull-through flare seems pretty nice. I have to get some other things welded anyway so I think it might work out cheaper to just have them do it for the element mounts as well.

The only things I have found discussing the 1.5" and 2" seem to be around getting "some" ripple elements in.

I'm also kicking around the idea of two elements in the keggle.
From my experience of owning both element housings, go with the more expensive brewers hardware one. The case on bobby's is hard to screw on, and falls off if you bump it. It's also not as water proof as the other.
 

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I know what you mean about using the element enclosuer style heater elements. They seem to protect you from "Hair Dryer Dropped Into The Bath Tub" syndrome.

I looked at the style where the L6 plug is integrated on the heating element and you bring the socket to the heating element. Yeah, there is a crack between the two connectors where water could get into. As Bobby from Brewhardware pointed out, a heating element is very low resistance, typical 10-20 ohms. Water is much higher resistance. So what was I worried about? I could not give him an answer.

I went with the ripple 5500 watt 1.5" TC with the L6 plug integrated. Happy that I did. A quick twist and I am connected or disconnected. I figured if I wanted to make a splash guard, I could can get a sheet of Teflon, roll it into a tube and slip it over the connection.

And I am happy that I do not have 10-12 foot cable dangling off the side of my kettle.


The 1.5" TC is the way to go. Avoid threaded connections if you can. Especially connections that you might want to make and unmake once in a while. If I want to remove the element and use my pot with no element, I am a blank TC away from that.
 
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LBussy

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I think I'm going to go with the 2" simply because it gives me more room. Can't see a downside other than it's a couple of extra bucks.

Again, I like the idea of the integrated connector, I just see an issue with replacing an element vs the whole thing. If the integrated L6 was a serviceable part, that would be a no-brainer. Maybe I can do a "Kal" thing and integrate it.
 

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I have that Brewers Hardware housing in 1.5 TC. It's a beast. Do *not*drop it on your foot!
 

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I know what you mean about using the element enclosuer style heater elements. They seem to protect you from "Hair Dryer Dropped Into The Bath Tub" syndrome.

I looked at the style where the L6 plug is integrated on the heating element and you bring the socket to the heating element. Yeah, there is a crack between the two connectors where water could get into. As Bobby from Brewhardware pointed out, a heating element is very low resistance, typical 10-20 ohms. Water is much higher resistance. So what was I worried about? I could not give him an answer.

I went with the ripple 5500 watt 1.5" TC with the L6 plug integrated. Happy that I did. A quick twist and I am connected or disconnected. I figured if I wanted to make a splash guard, I could can get a sheet of Teflon, roll it into a tube and slip it over the connection.

And I am happy that I do not have 10-12 foot cable dangling off the side of my kettle.


The 1.5" TC is the way to go. Avoid threaded connections if you can. Especially connections that you might want to make and unmake once in a while. If I want to remove the element and use my pot with no element, I am a blank TC away from that.
For what it's worth, I also have this set up. Really like it and went with pull through solder connections. The tool that Brew Hardware sells makes it really simple. Pretty sure its the strongest point on my brew kettle. But if you have access to someone skilled at welding thin wall stainless at a reasonable price, don't see a reason not to go that route. Also getting the element into the 1.5" TC took about 5 seconds.
 

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A few things I wanted to address here. Any negative experiences with weldless fittings are surely tied firmly to the shoddy state of the brewing hardware scene of the early 1990's and 2000's where random plumbing parts are mashed together with some gasket somewhere in the stack. Our bulkheads are actual machined parts that hold the gasket in place and that extends to the big weldless TC bulkheads as well.

That's not to say there is no merit in having something welded in but please please please know that your odds of getting a full hack job are very high. I should start a wall of shame page on my website to have a place to put all the pictures customers send me asking if there's anything that can be done. No matter what, please post pictures of the results you get.

The issue of standard thread in ripple elements vs the new TC integrated.. There's no way the watt density of the threaded ones are 50% lower. I just held them up next to each other and the threaded might have 1-2 extra running inches of tube due to slightly more aggressive curving. It sounds more like a less than perfect calculation perhaps on both elements. It's hard to measure. In any case, scorching is pretty rare.

If you really have to carry your whole brew system up and down stairs, what you really should be doing is replacing the kegs with lighter pots or setting up the brew system in the basement but I'm digressing.
 
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LBussy

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A few things I wanted to address here. Any negative experiences with weldless fittings are surely tied firmly to the shoddy state of the brewing hardware scene of the early 1990's and 2000's where random plumbing parts are mashed together with some gasket somewhere in the stack.
I have several weldless fittings from you around my shop. Can't complain about a one. Let's call it a certain part of my brewery has more robust requirements and I am not in favor of rubber-ish seals. Everywhere else, cool, I have them and love them.

There's no way the watt density of the threaded ones are 50% lower. I just held them up next to each other and the threaded might have 1-2 extra running inches of tube due to slightly more aggressive curving.
Well, you'll have to take that up with Kal who is making that assertion. However, for grins, here are some numbers based on pulling numbers out of the air. If you have measurements, we can plug them in here for real numbers.
  • A 1/4" element has a lateral surface area of 0.785398163 in2 per running inch
  • A 3/8" element has a lateral surface area of 1.17809725 in2 per running inch (exactly 50% less watt/density)
So, a relatively slight difference in element diameter as well as length could account for the 50% decreased watt/density.

That's not to say there is no merit in having something welded in but please please please know that your odds of getting a full hack job are very high. I should start a wall of shame page on my website to have a place to put all the pictures customers send me asking if there's anything that can be done. No matter what, please post pictures of the results you get.
I will be happy to post them. The guy I have lined up does sanitary welds on tanker trucks. Fairly certain he can pull this off. I do know a good weld when I see one (although I can't run a TIG myself) as I used to x-ray them on the pipeline as I was working my way through college to be a Civil Engineer. Wasted effort THAT was as it turns out. :)

I'm always thrilled to find what I am looking for at your shop, Bobby. You're one of the good guys for sure and I appreciate what you do for the community.
 

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If you really have to carry your whole brew system up and down stairs, what you really should be doing is replacing the kegs with lighter pots or setting up the brew system in the basement but I'm digressing.
I'm the klutz lugging my gear up and down stairs - not the OP. It's all 10 gallon kettles, but I'm admittedly accident prone. Also, I often have others helping out on brew day, and they may not be as careful as some. I guess my point was more along the lines of I'm willing to admit I'm clumsy and therefore willing to pay extra for something built like a tank.

A few things I wanted to address here. Any negative experiences with weldless fittings are surely tied firmly to the shoddy state of the brewing hardware scene of the early 1990's and 2000's where random plumbing parts are mashed together with some gasket somewhere in the stack. Our bulkheads are actual machined parts that hold the gasket in place and that extends to the big weldless TC bulkheads as well.
I have several weldless fittings from you around my shop. Can't complain about a one. Let's call it a certain part of my brewery has more robust requirements and I am not in favor of rubber-ish seals. Everywhere else, cool, I have them and love them.
Since I caught the homebrew bug in 2017 I've bought a number of weldless fittings and other parts from @Bobby_M. Brewed 128 5-gallon batch equivalents on various sized systems using gear sourced from his site and others (just reviewed my logs to get an actual batch count). I'm the kind of customer who typically only voices an opinion when something doesn't meet my expectations (but trying to get better about sharing the positive)... Everything I've gotten from brewhardware.com has been top-notch. I've replaced a number of slightly less expensive components sourced elsewhere with their stuff in the few years I've been doing this and had wished I'd bought the right stuff the first time around. Also agree with @LBussy about having more robust requirements for this component - though mine are likely due to different reasons, such as my general clumsiness :D
 

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I bought my elements with fittings from Bobby and had them welded to my pots at a fabrication shop which I knew to do very good work. As for the fittings, I have used them for about 7 years and have never had a leak or any problem what so ever.
IMG_20200825_142933.jpg
 
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LBussy

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I bought my elements with fittings from Bobby and had them welded to my pots at a fabrication shop which I knew to do very good work. As for the fittings, I have used them for about 7 years and have never had a leak or any problem what so ever.
How much wattage is that and what size kettle?
 

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Well, you'll have to take that up with Kal who is making that assertion.

A 1/4" element has a lateral surface area of 0.785398163 in2 per running inch
A 3/8" element has a lateral surface area of 1.17809725 in2 per running inch (exactly 50% less watt/density)
So, a relatively slight difference in element diameter as well as length could account for the 50% decreased watt/density.
The problem is that none of the elements are 1/4" OD tubes. They are all 3/8". I looked on Kal's site for all of 3 minutes to find the reference to 50% lower watt density but didn't see it.

If I thought that the threaded Camco style elements were less scorch prone, I'd be using them on my own rig.
 

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11K watts and 27 gal kettles. I control them with the Ezboil. At 209 F one cuts off and the other I drop to about 55% duty cycle for a nice rolling boil.
I know it's a really cool trick to have one element cut off completely but it would be better to have both elements running 28% duty cycle than to have one element at 55%. Of course, I don't think it's worth it to switch if it will be a major hassle to do so. It's just that you'll have much lower watt density that way.
 
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LBussy

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The problem is that none of the elements are 1/4" OD tubes. They are all 3/8".
As I said, I don't have them to measure. If you have both there and have measured them as exactly the same, I guess that's not where it comes from.

I looked on Kal's site for all of 3 minutes to find the reference to 50% lower watt density but didn't see it.
It took me less time to find it:

From your website:

(75 - 50) / 50 = 0.5 = 75 watts per square inch is 50% more dense than 50 watts per square inch.

All that said, that's not the reason I don't want to use that product. I don't want to use it because if I burn out the TC-integrated element, it will be $75 to replace. If I burn out a Camco it will be about $40 to replace.
 

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All that said, that's not the reason I don't want to use that product. I don't want to use it because if I burn out the TC-integrated element, it will be $75 to replace. If I burn out a Camco it will be about $40 to replace.
Bobby seems to be having a sale on the integrated 5500W 2" TC + L6-30P elements for $69 instead of $75, but if you're looking for cheaper alternatives, even to the Camco elements, you can always deal with Amazon and pick up one of these 5500W Dernord ones for $60 and still have the integrated 2" TC & built-in L6-30P.

If the ones you're looking at have the 1" NSPM thread, you can get the 6500W version for only $30.

Dernord claim these specs:
Tube length: 333mm
Tube diameter: 8mm

I don't think you can use the length to calculate watt density, since that's a dimension, rather than linear length of element which includes the ripple.
 

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As I said, I don't have them to measure. If you have both there and have measured them as exactly the same, I guess that's not where it comes from.

All that said, that's not the reason I don't want to use that product. I don't want to use it because if I burn out the TC-integrated element, it will be $75 to replace. If I burn out a Camco it will be about $40 to replace.
I understand your motive, re: $69 vs. 40. I'm just engaged now to make sure people don't freak out about watt density unnecessarily.

I was looking for his claim that the Camco was 50% lower watt density and I didn't realize that that was a conclusion based on two different quoted specs.

Since we're talking about it, I just measured both types of elements as carefully as possible using masking tape to adhere to all the contours. My integrated elements have some batch variation in length so I'm not relying on previous batch measurements.

CORRECTED WITH EDITS... calibrated calipers and fixed stupid math.... check my math...

Camco: 68.5" of .3145" tube. (.3145" x 3.14) = .98753 circumference x 68.5 = 67.64 square inches. 5500 / 67.64" = 81.31 watts per inch.

Integrated: 61" of (0.33" or 8mm) tube. = 1.03" circumference x 61 = 61.18 square inches. 89WPI.

The strange thing is that I have no idea where the Camco numbers on Kal's website come from. He lists the Camco branded one as 13.7" base to tip while my OEM version of that element actually measures 14.375" base to tip so I know that the one I have in hand and used to calculate 81WPI is lower WPI than the Camco branded one.
 
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Just beware that Dernord elements have a hollow L6-30 connector on the element which allows for blade flex and eventual detachment from the element. I know this because that's what our V1 elements had.
That's good to know, probably explains the cheapness. Short term cost savings? I suppose so, but long term, maybe not so great.
 
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LBussy

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check my math
Thanks for measuring those!

Using: L = 2πrh, where:
  • r = radius
  • h = height
  • L = lateral surface area
  • π = pi = 3.1415926535898
Our math is close except on the area calc on the Camco:
  • Camco = 67.6801159 in/sq = 67.6801159 watts in/sq
  • Integrated = 63.2402601 in/sq = 86.96991428091865 watts sq/in
So, with your actual measurement I get:

(86.96991428091865 - 67.6801159) / 67.6801159 = 0.2217985212519735 (22% higher density in the Integrated). And this is a really good example of the marketing information vs. real-life.

(I think you were doing d * Pi * h instead of 2(Pi * r * h), r being radius which is 1/2 of d)
 

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I sucked at geometry back in the day so I'm not standing on any sort of soap box but I don't think my method was wrong. To find the circumference of a circle, it's Pi * d. To turn that circumference into area (like you're extruding the circle upwards some dimension), you multiply C x H.

That would be the same if you had a line 10" long and then extruded it upwards 10" to create a plane that is 10 x 10 to get an area of 100 square inches. Roll that plane (sheet) into a cylinder with 10" circumference and 10" length.

The only time radius is invoked is when you need the area of a circle... which we don't care about in this case. I know it's included in formulas for volume of a cylinder. There are also formulas for surface area of a tube that can get you in trouble because it's accounting for the outer surface and inner surface.
 

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I know it's a really cool trick to have one element cut off completely but it would be better to have both elements running 28% duty cycle than to have one element at 55%. Of course, I don't think it's worth it to switch if it will be a major hassle to do so. It's just that you'll have much lower watt density that way.
I never thought of that great idea. However, I have never had any scorching or darkening of the wort. It wouldn't be any trouble just change a perimeter for the alarm output. My system can only have two elements powered at the same time so I usually heat water in the HLT for clean up.
 

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I'm
I think I'm going to go with the 2" simply because it gives me more room. Can't see a downside other than it's a couple of extra bucks.

Again, I like the idea of the integrated connector, I just see an issue with replacing an element vs the whole thing. If the integrated L6 was a serviceable part, that would be a no-brainer. Maybe I can do a "Kal" thing and integrate it.
I went with 1.5" TC because I perceive there is a greater selection and better inventory of things that fit 1.5" over the 2.0". And 1.5" accesories seem to be less expensive.

Of course, the choice is yours.

I prefer the 220 vac blades potted into place. Either it works when you get or it doesn't. Epoxy filled, it is well insulated and I do not worry about mechanical failure or things coming loose. Another, but that is just me.
 

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So you pot them in place yourself? Care to share more?
I got mine from brewhardware. The blades look like the plug end of an L6 30 220 vac extension chord. Intead of rubber or plastic, the body looks to be resin epoxy.

The socket & plug mate flat surface to flat surface. There is the possibilty of liquid dribbling into the crack.

If I start to worry, i can make some sort of splash guard and prevent liquid from getting into the crack between the two connectors.

Maybe Bobby can provide a close up photo of the power plug end of his 5500 watt ripple end. He might cover the details in his video.

I could not be happier that I chose the 1.5" TC + integrated plug ripple element combination over all the alternatives.

I have a 5 foot L6-30 extension cord and a 10 foot cord. I can place my Brewcommander 5 or 10 from my power and use the other cord for the element.
 

RufusBrewer

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I am trying real hard to stay away from too much DIY. I am a compulsive tinkerer. If I can tweak and futz with something, I will. This one reason I went with a Brewcommander, not much to adjust, mif or tweak.

That is until some enterprising code writer offers up an aftermarket BC gui upgrade.
 
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LBussy

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I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this thread.

I am going with the 2" TC, simply because I have other TC fittings and parts and pieces and it makes sense not to add a third size even if it's a couple of bucks cheaper. There's going to be some interop between this and a tangential project where 2" is to be used.
 

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