Element Or Gas

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slimy frog

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Hi guys

I have just finished modifying 2 kegs to serve as a HLT and a Kettle. Before I go and start drilling holes in them, I'd like some feedback as to the pros and cons of using electricity (via an installed element).

Originally I bought some 3in SS Brumometers which I was going to mount, and I had planned on using a gas burner. However, I have since come across a couple of microprocessor-type temperature controllers which I would prefer to use. I was thinking about using them to control a heating element. In other words you set a desired temperature and the controller will switch the heating element on and off so as to maintain the set temperature.

The problem is that I've read in a couple of places that you can scorch the wort using the heating element method. What are peoples experiences and what size/rating element should I use?

As an aside: The kegs are imported german beer kegs. They had a plastic-type outer skin which I "peeled" off and exposed the stainless steel vessel on the inside. I believe they are 45L. can post some pics if anyone is interested. Also if I can get the temp controllers working, I will need to unload 2 brumometers, they are brand new and still in the box. Any takers

Cheers

SF
 

Gout

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I have a 2400W electric in my boiler now, it hold a great rolling boil, i do also use some gas to get it boiling quicker.

Adv. for me - power works out cheaper than gas., my gas always runs out when i dont want it to. and if pure electric you can insulate the keg ;) hence even better efficency

i have not found it burns the wort, even with a pills and kolsch i brewed where i should have picked it up if it did. And it was mostly clean when the boil was finished (nothing burnt onto it)

Dis: power kills, not good around liquid, almost limited to 2400W per circuit (10A) and hece only run one "heater" per circuit at one time..
 

BigAl

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Frog,

You can still use the microprocessor temp control to control a gas burner, you can use the signal to control a solenoid valve which turns the gas on to the burner. You will need a pilot light but thats not difficult. See Ashers Brewery pics.

Cant beat the click of the solenoid valve followed by the roar from the gas burners.....

Cheers
Alan.
 

slimy frog

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Thanks Gout.

I'm glad to hear you haven't had any issues with scorching. That was my primary concern.

I hear what you're saying regarding saftey issues. My brother is an electrical engineer and he has volunteered with all the electrical side of things. What he's planning on doing is running the setup off a single circuit which currently only services a spa bath (which is never used). This circuit also has a saftey switch.

Finally, where did you get the 2400W element. Is it a hot water element? Also do you have a SS boiler. If so how did you drill the hole for the element.

Cheers

SF
 

warrenlw63

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Gout said:
i have not found it burns the wort, even with a pills and kolsch i brewed where i should have picked it up if it did. And it was mostly clean when the boil was finished (nothing burnt onto it)

Dis: power kills, not good around liquid, almost limited to 2400W per circuit (10A) and hece only run one "heater" per circuit at one time..
I've boiled for a few years with an element now. Got to agree with Gout. Electric boilers have their advtantages and don't scorch the wort whatsoever. I've boiled CAPs and Kolsches in them.

However the big disadvantage is the fact that you can really only have one on at once. I'm seriously thinking of relegating my boiler to use as a HLT and going over to gas for boiling the wort.

It's a easier to control the temp on a HLT with electricity and a capilliary thermostat. It allows you to start your brewing liquor during the night on a timer and walk out the next morning to 40 litres of 75c water.

Warren -
 

slimy frog

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Cheers BigAl. Food for thought.


Warren,
I can only envisage a scenario where I would have only the HLT or the boiler on at any one time. For example once strike and sparge water have been used (and mash complete), I switch off the HLT element, and when I am ready to boil, I switch on the boiler element.

cheers

SF
 

warrenlw63

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slimy frog said:
Cheers BigAl. Food for thought.


Warren,
I can only envisage a scenario where I would have only the HLT or the boiler on at any one time. For example once strike and sparge water have been used (and mash complete), I switch off the HLT element, and when I am ready to boil, I switch on the boiler element.

cheers

SF
SF,

Assuming you're doing a 40 litre batch and you're sparging about 8kg of grains you'd be starting your boiler whilst you're still sparging.

Boil of course can be started after the sparge is complete however wort in the boiler will cool and take longer for the boil to start. Of course HLT could be turned off given reasonable insulation and sparge water temp. would most likely be maintained over this time.

All that aside you could of course batch sparge. This would complement the situation perfectly.

Another luxury is 2 elements in your boiler. This would get the wort to the boil faster, then the 2nd element can be turned off once the boil is reached. My boiler actually has 2 elements but of course stupid me did this before I realised they'd trip out the cirucuits. :(

Warren -
 

Justin

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Hey, having two elements is no problems. All you need to do is plug them into different circuits in your house (I just have some longish extension leads). Trust me you house will have more than one circuit ;). I have two elements in my HLT, I just use extension leads to different parts of the house, and anyway where you brew you may actually be lucky enough to have both circuits relatively close together.

To find out what circuits are where just throw a circuit breaker or pull a fuse in your power box and walk around the house with an appliance (eg. lamp) and see what's still on, you'll soon work out what's on what.

As I said, I run two elements with no problems.

Cheers, Justin
 

slimy frog

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Thanks for all the info. What sort of heating elements do you guys have (rating) and where have you got them from?

Cheers

SF
 

Justin

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An 1800W and a 2200W as they were what I could get for free (would have preferred two 2400W ones, but it makes absolutely no difference in my HLT-it is easily quick enough anyway).

Both I got out of bench top plastic kettles. You will find some have a better fitting on them than others to accept the lead. Mine have a nice built in unit to hold and support the plug, so my recommendation is to try and find the elements that do not rely on the body of the kettle to hold and support the lead, but instead the element and lead plug are one unit. Kind of hard to describe but once you see it you'll know.

Cheers, Justin
 

slimy frog

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hey Justin,

How did you drill the hole to install the element. I'm assuming you have a SS boiler, right??

cheers

SF
 

Gout

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I have a Water element from Helios it is the better Alloy and is large, great in a keg.

LBY24 $54.00
i think its www.helios.com.au or similar...
mine is in a SS keg that i bought legaly
It is a biach to bolt on and seal to a extent, but it saves me the SS welding.

I have a kettle element in the HLT but note it needs to have a stire as the bottom water is cold, and needs a mix to keep the temp even etc

I cut the hole in my keg with a good hole saw, with cutting fluid, very slow, not letting the cutter "slip" as SS work hardens

good luck and may the beer gods be with you
 

Justin

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I drilled the biggest hole I could (after drilling a smaller pilot hole) and then had to file it out to the right size with a largish round file. It was slow, about 20-30mins per hole but I got there in the end. Cheers, Justin
 
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