Electric heat controller?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Hawkbox, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    So I'm tinkering around with running 2 1500W heat sticks as possibly being my new boil system and I'm running into a mental block around controlling heat output once I get to the boil. I only have 120v in my garage and I'll just use two circuits but with the way I have it right now they are on/off and I suspect I will overboil with that configuration.

    Google has not been my friend on this but I'm wondering if I were to wire something like a dimmer switch into one of the elements I could then dial the heat in more precisely, has anyone tried something like that? Obviously a Robobrew or Grainfather already has the controller built in, but since I'm Jerry rigging this I am trying to think of a reasonably simple way for me to maintain a boil.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, not my area of expertise, but I wonder if a dimmer switch could even handle the amps that an element would pull...
     
  3. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    That is what is giving me pause too, I mean it's 120V 15A so it "should" as that's standard house wiring, but I doubt you see a dimmer on a circuit that actually draws that much.
     
  4. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    You can make a tiny box with a pid then an outlet, plug both into the same outlet, you would need a 115 relay ssr, they have one cheep online
     
  6. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    A standard dimmer isn't heavy enough, you would have to use something TW posted. An solid state relay with a 20 amp rating would be what you need. Best would be a PID with a thermal loop driving a SSR, but it can get complicated and expensive pretty fast.

    As far as a standard 15 amp circuit to drive 1500 watts is about all the circuit can handle. It can do it, but your at 83% load or 12.5 amps. A 20 amp would be better, but in a pinch......
     
  7. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    I connect my element to a power controller (https://www.kegland.com.au/4000w-power-station-240v-power-controller.html). During mashing that's connected to a simple temp monitor (Inkbird type thing). For the boil I disconnect the temperature monitor and turn the power controller up to full. Once I've got the boil going I turn the power controller down to about 75% and it stays that way until the end.

    There were a bunch of controllers on the usual online suspects. Seems to be widely used for controlling lots of electrical appliances, fans, etc. These guys are close to me and the price was about the same when including shipping.

    I'm just about to add recirculation to the system and it's become obvious I'd have been much better off buying one of the modern all in one systems. Much more of this functionality embedded and much, much cheaper.

    IMG_20191109_082129.jpg
     
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  8. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I use the same as above to control main element when mashing ill have it down to 40% power. Then when hitting the boil I'll hook it up before one of my elements and reduce this down around the same percentage.

    You can by just the "power Watt meter" alone just like a beefy dimmer but the kit kegland provide is hard to beat price wise.

    Because it's a motor speed controller you can also use it the throttle back your pumps rpm without cutting back on the valve.

    I'm looking at getting another Power watt meter to run my other element so on brew day in can have full control on both elements and will reduce both back to 70-80% to reduce scorching.
     
  9. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Oh I know there are purchasable options out there but they're a hassle to get in Canada so I was trying to come up with something simple and inexpensive. I hadn't actually thought about swapping out the breakers for 20A but that might be an option too, I don't intend to stress the system any more than I have to, but there is no 240V option without running lines and major upgrades.

    I wonder if something like this is equivalent to the Kegland one. https://www.amazon.com/MLCS-9410-20...s=120v+speed+controller&qid=1573251926&sr=8-1
     
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  10. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    There ya go for sure all it's gotta do is limit the current to the device your operating be it an element or motor of some sort.

    I know a fair bit of heat get generated in my little power Watt meter so just keep that in mind on let's say a 90minute boil just keep an eye on it the first time or two.

    Il
     
  11. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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  12. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    The other thing to work out is how much you'll overshoot the temp in various scenarios. I generally put in the strike water, turn the power up to full and walk over to get a coffee and a snack. By the time I'm back it's hit the temp I've put into the temp controller and overshot it by 10C. There's no feathering the power like the all in one systems and my element keeps heating for a while after I cut the power. So I just set the temp controller 10 C lower than the strike temp and take my time getting the coffee.

    Though step mashing is a bugger, which is the main reason I'm looking to add recirculation. You really need to watch it closely if you're ramping up during mashing and turn the power down low as Ben said.
     
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  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I find the recirculate key it just evens out the temp through the whole pot. With my STC controlled element I'm getting .5c temp swings. One a brew day once mash liquor is in I set my STC 2c higher than desired mash in temp and turn both elements on full while I go and mill measure and add salts weigh out hops ect ECT by the time I've finished fluffing about I switch off second element and let one bring me to mash temp dough in turn STC down to mash temp and it swings .5 c on mash temp. When I go to second step I set wattage like 30-40% it'll take a good 10 minutes to slowly rise up to 68-9ish C. I usually have my BIAB bag resting on the keg king element through entire mash steps and because I've got wattage so low no scorching on the bag.
     
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  14. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    What is the volume you're looking to boil? If possible, I would for sure go with a 20 amp breaker. Will your wiring accommodate a 20 amp receptacle?
     
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  15. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Active Member

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    A less expensive, but reliable option, is to use “pulse control”. Once you hit the boil, one heating element stays on, and one is “pulsed” on for a period of time. This is done using an inexpensive relay. We use this sort of control frequently in all sorts of industrial applications. The key is to determine what measurement to use to control the pulse. You could use an adjustable time circuit or you could even use a capacitance switch to measure foam height.
     
  16. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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  17. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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  18. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I'm aiming at 5 gallon batches, possibly 10G but I don't think I have enough heat for that.

    That controller looks interesting, I'm pretty sure I can come up with some complex solutions but I'm trying to half ass this as much as possible until I decide to commit to it.
     
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  19. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Remember Hawkbox complex don't = better:)!
     
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  20. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Whenever I look at something like that controller my mind always rolls on to craftbeerpi (http://web.craftbeerpi.com/) and I remember that's the point where I should back out slowly...
     
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