Would this be a good 120 volt boil controller?

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slayer021175666

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I have a 120 volt electric hot liquor tank that I use sometimes as a boiler for 5 gallon runs. The problem is, the 1600 watt element in it barely brings it to a boil so I have to use a drop in bucket heater style element, too. Running one of them directly off the wall is not a problem but when I plug the other one into my Anvil controller, it either makes it boil to vigorously or not enough. I think it's because it's more of a PID than it is a boil controller. What do you guys think of this: https://www.amazon.com/Controller-50-220V-High-power-Electronic-Regulator/dp/B07WV92CHJ/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?crid=2PTHLWGE4XZJJ&keywords=high+power+scr&qid=1643309851&sprefix=high+power+scr,aps,240&sr=8-5
I was thinking of maybe, making a box for it so that it has its own cord on the box and then, you plug the element into the box. Anybody got any idea how to wire it up?
Thanks.
 

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What Anvil controller are you referring to?

PID's are usually pretty sweet, they can see a temperature coming and compensate for it. My espresso maker has one and it's so much better than a normal thermostat type controller. I also don't think you're going to want to control a heater with that little thing from Amazon, I see 2000W listed but wouldn't trust it.

Also somewhat related, as an Anvil owner having read like a bajillion Anvil related posts, I'll mention that some folks use an external helper heating rod to get to a boil, and then let the Anvil own it from there. You don't have to have a rolling vigorous boil, or boil off a ton of water, to accomplish most of the things you want to accomplish. That may not be true all the time for all people for all brews but it might be something to consider.
 

doug293cz

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What Anvil controller are you referring to?

PID's are usually pretty sweet, they can see a temperature coming and compensate for it. My espresso maker has one and it's so much better than a normal thermostat type controller. I also don't think you're going to want to control a heater with that little thing from Amazon, I see 2000W listed but wouldn't trust it.

Also somewhat related, as an Anvil owner having read like a bajillion Anvil related posts, I'll mention that some folks use an external helper heating rod to get to a boil, and then let the Anvil own it from there. You don't have to have a rolling vigorous boil, or boil off a ton of water, to accomplish most of the things you want to accomplish. That may not be true all the time for all people for all brews but it might be something to consider.
To use a PID to control boil power, it has to have a manual power setting mode. Not all PIDs have these (The MyPin TD4 does, but the TA4 does not, for example.)

I also would not use the linked device to control a 1600W heating element. These cheap units are typically very optimistically rated. That device also needs to be put in an enclosure (which needs to be grounded if metal), but doing so will make the heatsink almost useless unless you put a fan in the enclosure (along with air input and output vents.)

A better choice would be this unit. It is not marginal on power, is already almost fully enclosed, and has a much more substantial heatsink. It still needs to have the enclosure grounded, and should have a sheet metal cover fabricated to cover the terminal area. It should be operated with the heatsink up if mounted horizontally.

Brew on :mug:
 
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slayer021175666

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To use a PID to control boil power, it has to have a manual power setting mode. Not all PIDs have these (The MyPin TD4 does, but the TA4 does not, for example.)

I also would not use the linked device to control a 1600W heating element. These cheap units are typically very optimistically rated. That device also needs to be put in an enclosure (which needs to be grounded if metal), but doing so will make the heatsink almost useless unless you put a fan in the enclosure (along with air input and output vents.)

A better choice would be this unit. It is not marginal on power, is already almost fully enclosed, and has a much more substantial heatsink. It still needs to have the enclosure grounded, and should have a sheet metal cover fabricated to cover the terminal area. It should be operated with the heatsink up if mounted horizontally.

Brew on :mug:

Thank you.
Can you show me how you would wire it up? My element has a plug on it's cord. I'd like to make it so I plug the controller into the wall, then plug the element into the controller. If need be, I'll build a box for it or whatever to house plugins, fuses, fans etc .
 

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Sorry, did that make sense? It's OK if it didn't.

In & out are the hot wire, the one it's attenuating. Black.
Com is the neutral. White.
The copper ground would go through.

I still suggest considering that heater be full on until you reach boil and then going without it the next hour. Do you have a situation where that's not enough? Could be if you want to drive like 2 gallons off an Imperial Stout. But if it's a pale ale, ESB, Kolsch, NEIPA, etc. "normal" gravity beer then you could maybe use 1/2 gallon less water, the setup you have as-is, and be pretty much A-OK without any extra work or wiring or anything else.
 
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slayer021175666

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Ya. I got what you meant about the wiring. Thank you for that.
I guess I just want a little more active boil. It boils on one element but just barely. When the Anvil controller isn't on, it barely boils. When it senses the drop in temp and turns on, it boils to hard.
This is with one element plugged directly into the wall and the other element running off the Anvil controller.
Here is the controller I have:
 

doug293cz

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Ya. I got what you meant about the wiring. Thank you for that.
I guess I just want a little more active boil. It boils on one element but just barely. When the Anvil controller isn't on, it barely boils. When it senses the drop in temp and turns on, it boils to hard.
This is with one element plugged directly into the wall and the other element running off the Anvil controller.
Here is the controller I have:
That controller is not designed for controlling a rapid on-off cycle process (like mash or boil control) - you will likely wear out the mechanical relay contacts in a short amount of time. Temperature controllers are also inappropriate for controlling a boil process, because boiling happens at a fixed temp (depending on solution composition and atmospheric pressure/altitude.) You need a power controller (like the ones we have been discussing) for boil vigor control.

Brew on :mug:
 
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slayer021175666

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That controller is not designed for controlling a rapid on-off cycle process (like mash or boil control) - you will likely wear out the mechanical relay contacts in a short amount of time. Temperature controllers are also inappropriate for controlling a boil process, because boiling happens at a fixed temp (depending on solution composition and atmospheric pressure/altitude.) You need a power controller (like the ones we have been discussing) for boil vigor control.

Brew on :mug:
Right. I realize that. I think I might just cut the bucket heater cord somewhere and splice in the unit you suggested. Unless, it needs a fan to cool it. In that case, all I can personally think of is to put it in a box with vent holes and a fan inside. Correct? Or, is there a better way to go about it?
 

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I was thinking, if you don't want to chop the heater's cord you could do a similar thing with an extension cord. Get a fat one i.e. 12 gauge (I like overhead) that is also short. It can be the thing that gets cut. The hot BLACK wire is in & out, the WHITE goes to com (could just cut it and stick both ends under the screw), the green ground just passes by. "In" would be the plug connected to your house, "Out" goes to the receptacle the heater plugs into. Same thing in the end but leaves the heater alone if you care.

Doug's 100x the expert on it but for me I'd probably start with the Amazon piece, mock things up with the heater and some water, let it run a while at various settings, and carefully touch the heatsink (not accidentally the exposed wires or anything inside obviously) and see what you have. If it's hot you go one direction, if it's cool to the touch go another. Maybe a little hobby box with a bunch of holes is enough. Otherwise yeah something with a fan, but then of course you need a 120V fan or a PC fan and a transformer, and things get to be a little more of a project. At some point you start looking for something pre-made. Depends on budget perhaps, how fun it sounds (or not), if you like building and tinkering or if you just want it to work!

Something more like this:

 
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odie

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I have a 120 volt electric hot liquor tank that I use sometimes as a boiler for 5 gallon runs. The problem is, the 1600 watt element in it barely brings it to a boil so I have to use a drop in bucket heater style element, too.
What gauge is your power cord? You want 12, 10 would be better. Too small a gauge creates resistance and reduces voltage to the element. Too long a power cord will also result in a voltage drop.

My homemade kettle does just fine boiling with a single 120v/1600w element.
 
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slayer021175666

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I was thinking, if you don't want to chop the heater's cord you could do a similar thing with an extension cord. Get a fat one i.e. 12 gauge (I like overhead) that is also short. It can be the thing that gets cut. The hot white wire is in & out, the black goes to com (could just cut it and stick both ends under the screw), the green ground just passes by. "In" would be the plug connected to your house, "Out" goes to the receptacle the heater plugs into. Same thing in the end but leaves the heater alone if you care.

Doug's 100x the expert on it but for me I'd probably start with the Amazon piece, mock things up with the heater and some water, let it run a while at various settings, and carefully touch the heatsink (not accidentally the exposed wires or anything inside obviously) and see what you have. If it's hot you go one direction, if it's cool to the touch go another. Maybe a little hobby box with a bunch of holes is enough. Otherwise yeah something with a fan, but then of course you need a 120V fan or a PC fan and a transformer, and things get to be a little more of a project. At some point you start looking for something pre-made. Depends on budget perhaps, how fun it sounds (or not), if you like building and tinkering or if you just want it to work!

Something more like this:


Wouldn't the black wire be hot and the white wire be neutral?
And, yes. I do like to do my own projects and experiments. For the small price they are, I'll probably try a few different ones just to check them out. 😁
 
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slayer021175666

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D'OH! Yes. Wrote that before I had my coffee. Sorry. That's embarrassing.
I figured you just got mixed up for a second. Happens to me all the time. I had to ask though because, what if there was some reason I was supposed to wire it like that? I figured I better make sure.
And, thanks for helping me with this. I appreciate it.
I think I'm going to get a couple and mess around with them. Take a look at this one:
It's got a bigger heatsink. Guy says it works fine and I read the comments and questions that people asked him and, he said that it had been working fine for all the time he had had it. I don't see him using a fan, either. It's starting to make me think I went way too far on the 240 volt one that I built.
 
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slayer021175666

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Something else I like about the one I just showed you a video of is, how simple it is to wire. Just cut your hot wire and put it on the two screws. Done!
He mentions in the video that in australia, the brown wire is the hot wire. Like, our black wire.
 

doug293cz

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I figured you just got mixed up for a second. Happens to me all the time. I had to ask though because, what if there was some reason I was supposed to wire it like that? I figured I better make sure.
And, thanks for helping me with this. I appreciate it.
I think I'm going to get a couple and mess around with them. Take a look at this one:
It's got a bigger heatsink. Guy says it works fine and I read the comments and questions that people asked him and, he said that it had been working fine for all the time he had had it. I don't see him using a fan, either. It's starting to make me think I went way too far on the 240 volt one that I built.

The problem with this simple device is the same as the one you linked in the first post. You have to put it in a box, and then the heatsink doesn't do its job anymore. To get around that you need to add a fan and inlet and outlet vents.

The controller I linked is pretty well boxed up already, but should have a cover fitted over the terminal area. It also has a large heatsink that will be out in the open air, so shouldn't need a fan. Even with a cover over the terminals, it still shouldn't be placed where it could get splashed on.

Finally, you should connect the ground wire in the cord to the metal enclosure. There don't appear to be any convenient pre-existing screws for this, but you could drill a hole in the heatsink base, and use a #8x1/2" self-tapping screw (with star washer) to make the ground connection.

Brew on :mug:
 
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