Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: tomsawyer on January 30, 2012, 05:55:25 PM

Title: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: tomsawyer on January 30, 2012, 05:55:25 PM
Due to the purchase of a new glass top stove that is too wimpy for a rolling boil on 4gal of wort, I was forced to use propane outdoors.  This has probably been good for my beer, however during poor weather it is inconvenient.  I recently saw a 2200W/115V electric heating element online, then ran across the thing in The Homebrew Shop in St Charles IL (shout out to Ed and his crew).  According to the kid working at the shop, he's getting a rolling boil on 5gal batches in 45min, good enough for my purposes.  The thing has temp control and can be dropped in a plastic MLT for mash temp regulation as well.  I'm already envisioning a no-sparge step mash.

In any case, its now part of my brewing paraphernalia.  I haven't tried it yet, might throw it in a pot of water tonight just to see how quickly it works.  This will keep me from having to open the garage door to brew in winter.  The garage sits under two bedrooms in the house (including mine) and its hard to recover proper temperature when you let the heat out.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: hamiltont on January 30, 2012, 07:33:19 PM
Looking forward to your product review.  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: tomsawyer on January 30, 2012, 07:35:36 PM
Will do, and thanks.  The item is a Brewers Best brand, distributed by LD Carlson.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: tomsawyer on February 01, 2012, 02:53:47 PM
I got the chance to test out the element this morning.  I used my 8gal SS kettle, sitting on a cast iron trivet of sorts.  I started with 6.5gal of warm water, 110F.  This is s common preboil volume for a 5gal AG batch.  I took the following measurements:

20min = 155F
30min = 175F
40min = 185F
50min = 195F
60min = 205F
70min = 212F

The 155F is the average temp of a mash runoff so that might be considered time zero for purposes of boiling.  It therefore took about 50minutes to bring this to a boil.  The boil was moderately vigorous, I would have liked it to be stronger but I'll have to judge that with wort rather than water.  It was adequate though. 

One thing that did concern me, was that right at the end of the test the unit tripped the 20amp breaker.  The outlet is in the kitchen and the breaker serves the kitchen and den.  Its not where I'm wanting to use this, so I suppose I'll just have to watch what items are on the circuit I'm wanting to use
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: gymrat on February 01, 2012, 03:25:19 PM
2200 watts is pretty much the maximum that breaker can handle. If anything else at all is running on that circuit the breaker will trip. Personally I would also be concerned about what gauge of wiring you have in your home. If it is 14 like a lot of older houses used it might be getting awfully hot inside your walls. With that kind of current even 12 might be getting rather warm. I know some hair dryers pull this kind of current but you aren't using a hair dryer for a couple hours on end. I believe I will stick with my propane burner.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: tomsawyer on February 01, 2012, 03:46:24 PM
Yes in thinking about it this element is pulling 20amps so I really don't want anything else on when I'm using it.  The outlet in my garage has a wire jut tacked to a post so I can feel it to see if there is heat being generated.  If it gets warm I guess I'll run a dedicated line to a separate breaker.  We just replaced the 100amp service with 200 so I think I have some extra slots.  If I go that route I might put the plug in the kitchen and use the stove to boost the boil.

Either that or I can buy a 220v element with weldless fitting and install it in the kettle and use the dryer plug to boil.  It'd be less convenient but doable.

Thanks for the advice by the way.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: euge on February 01, 2012, 06:45:16 PM
A big mistake was not considering your homebrewing when buying a new stove! Well it may have been but SWMBO might had executive privileges on that decision... ;)

Try insulating the outside if the kettle. When I was electric it helped a great deal.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: tomsawyer on February 01, 2012, 07:27:08 PM
You got it Euge, executive made the decision and I hoped for the best and got the worst.  Actually, I just saw someone's electric system with an insulated pot and I think if I did that the glass top stove might just work.  It would certainly help the stick heater accomplish the goal.  So that is definitely on my list.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: tomsawyer on February 05, 2012, 01:19:12 AM
I'm going to wire up a 40 amp circuit for brewing, but in the meantime I tried an alternate path that consisted of a Max Burton 6000 1800W portable induction cooktop.  It works about as well as the heat stick for small batches, I brewed 3.5gal of APA today and everything went well.  Heaed the mash water in the kettle then poured the sparge water in another pan and lautered into the kettle.  My kettle from Morewine has a triple sandwich bottom that is magnetic and works fine with this heater.  I chilled with IC, then stirred to whirlpool and ran off the cleared wort.  The APA was done with only Pacific Jade hops.
Title: Re: Going Electric in Winter
Post by: weithman5 on February 14, 2012, 10:31:11 PM
for those of you who have gone electric i am pondering this.  on various builds i have seen i see referenced various control equipment  PID, PWM etc.  is it possible to start with just a 2000kw 120 volt heater with a single two pole switch and just watch the boil, or are these controllers necessary. would an old fashioned rheostat not work due to the amperage?  what has worked well for people.  (most brews will be 2-3 gallons, in size). i like the system demonstrated on the byo web site countertop brewery.