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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: MrNate on December 23, 2010, 05:30:53 PM

Title: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 23, 2010, 05:30:53 PM
As some of you may or may not know, I am going through some changes and will likely have to move into an apartment for a year or so. I haven't had a chance to brew recently, but I was wondering how feasible electric systems are for apartments.

If I'm thinking about this right, any apartment with an electric stove or dryer is going to have a 220v outlet. I used to have a 2000w 110v AC HLT, which took quite a while to heat up. I am working on a 110v electric RIMS MLT, which I think would be suited perfectly once I get it together. Question is, how well do 220v boil kettles work? Could one be used on a dryer or stove circuit? Are there 5 gal and 10 gal versions?

Anyone who brews AG on an electric system in their apartment, stop on by and let me know what you think is a good setup.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: dj99 on December 23, 2010, 05:40:03 PM
I don't use it anymore, but I have a 5 gallon 240V electric element in a plastic bucket.  When I did use it years ago, I would unplug the dryer, and plug this beast in there with an extended piece of wire.  I just found I didn't like messing with it in the basement with all the extra moisture, cleaning, etc.

I did just run across this, if you have the inclination and cash:

http://theelectricbrewery.com/
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 23, 2010, 06:04:18 PM
Yeah, I've seen that setup before! A bit overboard for my needs and abilities, though.  ;D

Also, I have issues with boiling in HDPE buckets, but maybe that's just me.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: dj99 on December 23, 2010, 06:44:48 PM
I didn't like that part much either.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: tumarkin on December 23, 2010, 07:36:38 PM
a couple of the brewers in my club use electric boil kettles with good success. they both use keggles, not plastic.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: tomsawyer on December 23, 2010, 08:00:28 PM
I brew 3gal batches in the kitchen on my electric stove (conventional coil element).  Works great if you can keep up with yourself.  I like brewing often (as in weekly) and this gives me a chance to brew lots of styles.  I have a 5gal kettle, I cool in the sink with cold water changes.

As an aside, I have fond memories of apartment living.  They crop up every time I have a clogged drain line or a yard to mow.  I've found that no matter how much room you have, you will fill that with "stuff" and need more.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 23, 2010, 08:21:51 PM
I have a keggle I was thinking about having a heating element half coupling welded onto. Do people just use the 220v water heater elements? Anyone know how much amperage they draw vs what an electric stove draws?
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 23, 2010, 08:25:40 PM
I brew 3gal batches in the kitchen on my electric stove (conventional coil element).  Works great if you can keep up with yourself.  I like brewing often (as in weekly) and this gives me a chance to brew lots of styles.  I have a 5gal kettle, I cool in the sink with cold water changes.
I assume you can't do a full 5+ gallon boil on the electric cooktop, right? I don't want to brew that often, but I was thinking I could probably split the boil into 2 kettles if I had to.

As an aside, I have fond memories of apartment living.  They crop up every time I have a clogged drain line or a yard to mow.  I've found that no matter how much room you have, you will fill that with "stuff" and need more.
I hate apartment living. But I agree with you about filling space.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: noonancm on December 23, 2010, 08:55:20 PM
I use heatsticks in the basement. Two in fact; both 110 volts. The sockets are near the washer and dryer. I won awards using them but the only drawback is one I experienced today as I was brewing today. It seems that wheat will leave a buildup on the heating elements.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: weithman5 on December 23, 2010, 09:33:52 PM
something i have been toying with but haven't done which may be useful for small batches is the electric roaster. these are varied in size but i have seen 20+ quarts for 40 bucks. i have thought you could do complete step mashes in the thing with the grain in a bag, similar to boil in a bag.  easy to change and control temperature.  then crank it up for the boil.  I have gas burner stove and is simple enough for small batches but i am intrigued by trying this. 
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 24, 2010, 12:12:12 AM
Not sure how I feel about combining the mash tun and boil kettle in one unit. For some reason I'm just not a fan of the "bre in a Bag" idea.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: narcout on December 24, 2010, 01:38:56 AM
I assume you can't do a full 5+ gallon boil on the electric cooktop, right? I don't want to brew that often, but I was thinking I could probably split the boil into 2 kettles if I had to.

When I lived in Nashville, I had an old electric cooktop that could do full boils no problem.  Then I moved to an apartment in Brooklyn that had one of those tiny gas stoves so I had to split the boil between two kettles - it worked totally fine though.

Now I've got a nice big stove in my place here in LA and can do full boils in one pot on the stovetop once again (straddling two burners). 
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: kgs on December 24, 2010, 04:46:10 PM
While apartment-hunting a year ago, I admit that when it came down to choosing between two apartments, I chose the one with the great kitchen appliances over the one with better parking. I have not regretted that decision. I can brew 3-gallon all-grain batches on the range, no problem, and can also do the kind of cooking I was used to in our house several thousand miles away (now rented out). There's always parking around the corner...
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: beerocd on December 24, 2010, 05:21:07 PM
Here ya go. Lonnie approved!

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/countertop-brutus-20-a-131411/ (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/countertop-brutus-20-a-131411/)
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 26, 2010, 06:14:25 PM
Here ya go. Lonnie approved!

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/countertop-brutus-20-a-131411/ (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/countertop-brutus-20-a-131411/)

I immediately questioned the single 110v element for a boil kettle, having run a 110v HLT for a season. Sure enough, he's doing 3.5 gallon batches. What I'm looking to do will be very similar, I just want to do 5 gallon batches and I'm hoping that 1) a 220v element will be able to do a full boil, and 2) I will have enough amperage on your average electric stove circuit to run it.

Assuming that I can't boil on the stovetop, that is.
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: beerocd on December 26, 2010, 06:28:49 PM
I just want to do 5 gallon batches and I'm hoping that 1) a 220v element will be able to do a full boil, and 2) I will have enough amperage on your average electric stove circuit to run it.

Assuming that I can't boil on the stovetop, that is.

You can do a 110 heatstick assist if your stovetop is weak. But if you've got the juice, just go all the way.
How much of your old setup is salvageable? That will probably guide your final direction. Are you starting from scratch?
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: MrNate on December 26, 2010, 06:55:44 PM
There are a lot of unknowns here. I just started my apartment hunt. There's a chance that I will be able to score a place that allows me to use my old outdoor setup, but part of me wants to go electric even if that happens. So really, I'm trying to see what my options are so I can factor that into my search. Of course, there are a few other concerns that take priority.

I'm not exactly starting from scratch. I have a lot of the components I need for my RIMS mash tun, but it's far from finished. I'm hoping I'll be able to do no-sparge with that, eliminating the need for a seperate HLT, just like the guy in the link you posted. The boil is the real concern - If I end up with no 220v service, and a gas stove that can't do a full boil, I'm kind of dead in the water. Unless I did twin 110v elements run to different circuits, or a heatstick booster.

Anyway, I'm reading up a bit on a few sites, and I think a stove breaker should be able to handle a 220v element. Everybody else is doing it, anyway. What could possibly go wrong?  ;)
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: Mont on December 26, 2010, 11:53:09 PM
A 4500 watt water heater element will pull a little over 20 amps at 220V and about 19 at 240V. Electric dryer outlets are rated 30 amps and electric stove outlets are rated an 50 amps I believe.

I use a 28 quart electric turkey fryer to heat my mash and sparge water for 5 gallon batches. It will get up to 180° in around 40 minutes. It would be tough to do 5 gallon batches in it, but 4 would be feasible.

This one's $120 at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002JQ3KQ4/ref=asc_df_B002JQ3KQ41368719?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=shopzilla_rev_136-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395093&creativeASIN=B002JQ3KQ4)
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41CTfe570ZL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Electric Apartment Brewers... I have questions for you.
Post by: theoman on December 28, 2010, 08:06:12 PM
I use one of these:
http://www.brouwland.com/shop/product.asp?cfid=4&id=2398&cat=396&dt=24&l=2

I did a quick search and couldn't find it in the USA. It's a Weck kettle made for making jams and stuff, with a hole drilled in it and a tap added. Now it's a brew kettle. Works great.