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Element for keg-based BIAB rig

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voodoobrew

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Having fully fleshed out a 3V gas fired rig over the last few years I now plan to create a second, more compact rig (and also just to experience another brewing method). My thoughts had turned to a single vessel BIAB system that was heated using both electricity and gas. The thought was to do the 'heavy heating' with gas (ie from mains temperature to strike and then from mashout to the boil) and have the controllability of an electrical element available for step mashes.

Anyway, that's the overall plan - so onto the nitty gritty of my post...

Basically I'm wondering about which element would be best for mounting in the side of a keggle. My concern is that elements that require a big hole will not seat particularly well against the curved surface of the keg wall (I'm using the wall, because the base is not available due to the fact that this is going to be my gas heating surface). In a non-keg vessel the metal is often thin enough that it can be flattened out as the two flanged backnuts are tightened against each other - but kegs have much thicker walls.

My current keggle has standard 15mm threaded pipe running through the bulkhead, sporting a flanged backnut on either side compressing a home made silicone cupcake tin washer (you know, a very standard weldless keggle setup). These fittings seal fine, with no leaks. But many electric elements require bigger holes and with a bigger hole comes a bigger gap due to the curve - hence my concern.

I have made a shortlist of possible cheap elements. So far I have:

1. Circular Ebay stainless element (2.5kW, $16) - biggish hole



2. U-shaped Ebay stainless element (2kW, $17) - two small holes

3. K-mart/Big-W $8 kettle element - big hole. Also don't know how well the supplied gasket works with this either.


Do any people have experience with mounting an $8 kettle element in a thick walled keggle? And what, generally, are people's suggestions?
 

Truman42

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Ive just made a HLT using a keg and a uxcell element like in your picture above. The good thing about these is that you can bend them out to match the curvature of the keg wall. It seals really well.

Check out the Uxcell element thread. Qldkev gave me the idea and he has some photos of his on there.

Here is the inside view with the element spread apart and slightly bent to match the keg wall.

element_zpse591e1df.jpg

And here is how I did the wiring on the outside using two junction boxes.

junctionboxes_zps6090e9e4.jpg
 

Crusty

The Electric Brewery
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voodoobrew said:
Having fully fleshed out a 3V gas fired rig over the last few years I now plan to create a second, more compact rig (and also just to experience another brewing method). My thoughts had turned to a single vessel BIAB system that was heated using both electricity and gas. The thought was to do the 'heavy heating' with gas (ie from mains temperature to strike and then from mashout to the boil) and have the controllability of an electrical element available for step mashes.

Anyway, that's the overall plan - so onto the nitty gritty of my post...

Basically I'm wondering about which element would be best for mounting in the side of a keggle. My concern is that elements that require a big hole will not seat particularly well against the curved surface of the keg wall (I'm using the wall, because the base is not available due to the fact that this is going to be my gas heating surface). In a non-keg vessel the metal is often thin enough that it can be flattened out as the two flanged backnuts are tightened against each other - but kegs have much thicker walls.

My current keggle has standard 15mm threaded pipe running through the bulkhead, sporting a flanged backnut on either side compressing a home made silicone cupcake tin washer (you know, a very standard weldless keggle setup). These fittings seal fine, with no leaks. But many electric elements require bigger holes and with a bigger hole comes a bigger gap due to the curve - hence my concern.

I have made a shortlist of possible cheap elements. So far I have:

1. Circular Ebay stainless element (2.5kW, $16) - biggish hole



2. U-shaped Ebay stainless element (2kW, $17) - two small holes

3. K-mart/Big-W $8 kettle element - big hole. Also don't know how well the supplied gasket works with this either.


Do any people have experience with mounting an $8 kettle element in a thick walled keggle? And what, generally, are people's suggestions?
Make sure you do a bit of research on this one.
I Biab in a Crown exposed element urn & with single infusion, I have never struck a problem with the auto cut out switch on my urn due to excees crud on the element. When they get an excess of gunk on them, the auto cut out switches off the element thinking it is boiling dry. As you won't have this feature, you won't know about excess crud on your element & will only find out when you drain the keggle & will see burnt on black crud all over the element. If this happens, chances are you have a burnt wort & you'll be spittin chips. I think step mashes are a bit difficult with exposed elements ( protein rest temps ) being particularly nasty as the wort settles for the required time, 5-10mins. When the element fires up for the next temp rise, burnt crud on the element. I'm not saying it will happen for sure but I know of a few people that have struck that problem.
Maybe just something to consider.
 

kahlerisms

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I have one of the big KegKing elements through the side of my keg for BIAB.

It's not perfect, but I make it work. I have a heat shield on it (old cake cooling tray or something) to prevent bag burns and I've never had one, despite doing stepped mashes and stuff.

The element does tend to have some black shit on it after each brew that rubs off pretty easily.

I would like to stay electric but I'm really not sure how to make an electric BIAB system that isn't going to compromise in some area. My element is up too high for me to do double batches, others get stuff caught in theirs, or you need to worry about the bag not touching the element or something. You crazy kids converting kettle elements interest me, but I think you still have a lot of the same problems :(

I think if I were to do it again I'd go an over the side element. Benefits:
1) no modification to vessel
2) Doesn't touch your bag
3) Can be used as a paddle to stir your mash around for even heating
4) Can go with you when you upgrade to a bigger vessel

It's more expensive than all other electric options, but it'd still pay for itself in ten brews compared to gas I reckon. If/when I make another BIAB system it'll be an over the side I reckon and this keg will end up being a HLT if I ever get around to that 3V system.
 

QldKev

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As crusty has mentioned, with direct heating your wort with any RIMS style element you need to be concerned about crap burning onto the element. The first and last option both have coils close to each other so in my book are out of the question for wort (but are ok for a HLT or HERMS) I prefer and use the middle option, the U bend Uxcell ones (you can get cheaper than $17 too). I use 3 of them in my kettle of my 3V setup. Also I have a 1V system with one in it, and I recirculate some wort directly at the element to prevent crap getting stuck to it. Even at protein rest temps I don't have issues, but at Acid rest temps I have had minimal scorching on the element once, which cleaned off easily afterwards. Also as a bonus as you can see in Tryman's pic you can bend the U shapre element to spread the heat further apart, and also to conform to the shape of the vessel better.

Here's my 1V showing the return at the bottom (and also the top)
[sharedmedia=core:attachments:58470]
 

spog

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voodoobrew,just a tip,as you said you are plannig on using both gas and electricity.remember when mounting elements/connections/leads/thermometers in the keggle to keep the mounting points away from the "slots" in the base ring of the keggle.
these "slots" obviously will be where the heat from the gas burner will be a problem for anything flammable or plastic.
cheers.....spog......
 

voodoobrew

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Absolutely! I've seen the flames the fire through those holes on my current keggle. :)

spog said:
voodoobrew,just a tip,as you said you are plannig on using both gas and electricity.remember when mounting elements/connections/leads/thermometers in the keggle to keep the mounting points away from the "slots" in the base ring of the keggle.
 

voodoobrew

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So this weekend I went to check out a mate's new BM. A pretty swanky bit of kit, and certainly good food for thought.

I have taken note of all your warnings about scorching wort onto the element. This made me wonder - is scorching less of an issue with a BIAB setup than compared to the BM due to the fact that it's a full volume mash? I was quite surprised at how thick the liquor in the BM was at 50C. Surely this would be less of an issue with the super loose mash in a full volume BIAB?

Thanks for the replies so far. The input of those that have real-world experience of some of the design choices I'm weighing up is really appreciated.
 

Diesel80

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i use an ots element and 3 ring gas burner and 80l pot. keep cord of element up high, no dramas in 15 months.

cheers,
D80
 

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