Plastic Electric Boilers

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G'day all,

I've been reading through the forum for the last week or so gathering knowledge for my impeding leap onto ag brewing.

I've got;

1. 35lt hot water urn for my HLT ($5 from a garage sale and only a small amount of scale in the bottom, the rest is shiny new!),

2. a 30lt esky and hardware to be converted into a mash tun (I'll be using a SS braid for my manifold),

But I'm stuck on what to use to build my boiler. The only vessels I have that are large enough are a standard 30lt or a 60lt plastic fermenter.

What I'd really like is to see pictures of others plastic electric boilers to get some ideas.

Can anyone help me out with this at all? Any pics appreciated. :unsure:


I was thinking this route, but struggled to get a appropriate size for a boil ie 40L. There used to pictures of a guy who did it, using a coopers fermenter and it worked well apparently.

I gave up on the search for a plastic boiled and forked for a aluminium stockpot. Have you possibly considered, heating up in the urn, transfering to a temporary HLT ie a fermenter and then boiling in the urn. I only have a Boil kettle, and mash tun, and using my secondary fermenter as my HLT. This works well for me as i have a immersion element which to ramp temps up if they fall in my fermenter

OK I go 2 buckets of death boilers and both rock about 25 30 min to get up to temp I have a HLT with a kettle element and a 2000watt Hot water tank element in it and the boiler has 2 kettle elments and that runs a nice boil on one element and only use 2 to get it up to temp the elemnts i got from Big W for $12 each belle kettles
One thing NOT to do is to use a element thats to big and to close to the bottom I had one of those 30lt cube from bunnings with the HWS element low in the bucket and once it got to the boil it melted the sides of the cube and colapsed in a heap of boiling water, the reason I mounted the element low was you get a termal layer happening below the element so I thought just put it low to fix that did not work so all i do is give it a stir ever now and then and the elements are mounted about 150mm height and never had any other problems.Have also seen a 20 l bucket with anther inserted into it and silicon around it to get more heigth will post a Few photos of mine.
I struggled using a fermenter for an HLT - the plastic goes real soft at high temps, I reckon you could easily end up with wort all over the floor if you tried to get a rolling boil happening in one. It may well have been done before, but it strikes me as a really inappropriate tool for the job! You really need a metal kettle.
Look around at garage sales and on ebay for the old electric copper washers - i use one - it is 75ltrs - 2 elements and works well.
You plastic guys might find this site interesting

Nice looking 45 and 60 litre vessels

30 litre plastic fantastic in action with rolling boil. Didn't have a problem using plastic, but I now have a big SS boiler. My main concern when using plastic was the tap, as they can pop out if not screwed in well when the plastic heats up.

Good Day
I have used two old standard plastic fermenters with immersion elements for over 100 batches each with no problems.
I used a 25 litre plastic Rheem bucket with an element for a couple of years.

They work OK. Only problem is over time the hops and darker malts stain the plastic and they begin to look a bit on the ugly side and develop an ordinary smell.

That aside it never seemed to affect the flavour or infect any batches while cooling. My own opinion would be always think about plastic as temporary. Better to use stainless as soon as you can.

Warren -
Barry and Nonicman,

You used the plastic tap that comes with the fermenter? I was thinking of using a ball valve fitted with bulkhead type fittings. Although I'm not sure where the best place to fit it is due to that funny band that runs around the bottom of the fermenter.

I'm interested in finding out how the plastic tap works with boiling liquid. No leaks? Doesn't get too hot? You'd get a bit of dead space at the bottom of the boiler then wouldn't you?

Thanks for eveyone's feedback so far.
Even has its own anti-theft device.

Just leave it plugged in with that wiring exposed, full of water and I'm picking nobody would lay a hand on it. :D

Warren -
Good Day
I don't use the tap because it can become loose at high temps. I cool, whirlpool then syphon leaving the hot and cold break in the boiler.
Joel said:
Barry and Nonicman,

You used the plastic tap that comes with the fermenter? I was thinking of using a ball valve fitted with bulkhead type fittings.


For the kettle I used a yellow plastic flip top tap that had it's own nut on the inside of the fermenter. For the HLT, the taps that come with the fermenters were used. Barry is spot on though, they can come loose. Never had one come out (had a close call), but only did around 15 brews in plastic and was consenious of where the tap were facing.
Great pics Sintax.

What's the volume of the Bucket of Death? And why are the elements mounted one above the other? (I didn't think of doing it that way).

Anyway, thanks. Now I've got a bit more of an idea for my boiler.
Even has its own anti-theft device.

Just leave it plugged in with that wiring exposed, full of water and I'm picking nobody would lay a hand on it. biggrin.gif

Warren -
To think I work as a sparky and admit to making these and as well when Iam using the bucket of death there are 2 kidz under 5 running around, watt you dont see is a earth leakage break sitting to the side

Joel the buckets are 40 lts and 30 lts the reason for on on to each other is as I said earlier I had a bucket melt so I tought it would keep the heat away from the bottom and they are on one side just to keep away from kids

With the silicon around the mount hole they can get wet (boil overs) and it does not trip the breaker (happend once before thus silcon mod)
I actually saw one on ebay a few months back but can't remember the brand. It was a commercial job with propper box etc but was essentially a screw top carboy with thermostated element. Was temped to get it and put it in a bigger carboy for a HLT but the tempatation passed.

Borret :blink:
I'd be looking for a way to use the urn as a boiler. I have a 30L and a 20L. I have a little room off the carport that I can do what I like in so I put a shelf in about 2 metres from the floor and sat the 20L up there, that's the HLT. The 30L works well as a boiler for 25L batches.
Plastic fermenters are definitely not intended to withstand the temps required for a boil (I speak from experience having put boiling water into one a seen a decided decrease in structural integrity).

Thanks for tip re plastic drums & pic. It ain't easy finding a drum somewhere between 30l and 60l. I've been using the 30l cube from bunnings but its a tad small.

I'm in Sydeny so emailed the supplier you posted about, to see if they had an agent in Sydney as the heavy duty 45L drum looked exactly whats needed. Got this email back which may help others:


We are the manufacturers of the drum in question and we have our factory at Rydalmere.

Team Systems are our Melbourne distributor. The bin and lid trades at $48.00 each plus gst.

We keep natural (white) in stock of this product. You may also consider the CS45 which has a heavier wall section

but is tapered. This bin trades at $31.00 each and the lid another $14.00 ea. plus gst in both cases.

Our telephone number here is 96384071 addressed at 11 Euston Street, Rydalmere, NSW 2116.

David Stephen

General Manager

Dex Australia Pty. Ltd.

Also - if anyone just wants a plastic drum for an HLT, the 25l drum from Bunnings and a Belle kettle from woolies are perfect. The drum has a 20mm threaded opening in it for a standard plastic tap. But - walk down to plumbing and buy a 20mm/15mm metal reducer, screw it in the tap hole, and then a 15mm ball valve screws right on no dramas. Buy a $10 Belle corded jug from Woolies, install the element in the side of the drum, and you have a good, simple HLT.

Usual disclaimer about Electricity and water. be careful, use earth leakage protection, and don't come looking for me if you kill yourself... last time I was on the Oatley electronics Web site they were selling earth leakage protection devices that could be wired into a standard kettle cord, (or extension cord) for $20 (from memory). looked like they had been cut off a pile of extension cords.

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