Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Easing into Electric?

I’m setting a long-term goal of converting my propane setup to electric. But the notion of plunking down all the $ at once to convert is a bit daunting. So I want to see if it’s possible to slowly add on pieces, working toward a fully electric setup.

Has anyone slowly transitioned from propane to electric? It seems like the most expensive component is the control panel. Is it possible to start by installing a heating element into one of your kettles and just plugging that sucker into a 110V outlet (sans-control panel)?

Why not just use the heating element with a digital controller?

Here is one for $17.99.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008KV ... mbrefin-20

OK. But is 110V sufficient to bring say 11 gals to a boil in a reasonable amount of time? Or do I really need to have the 220v hookup?

If you are at lower elevations, will that controller get the wort up to a boil?

I can’t imagine a temperature controller really adds much for a boil kettle, anyway. For the actual boil bit, its not going to be able to do much of anything. Unless you’re boiling it dry, the temperature probe is just going to keep reading 212-ish through the whole boil. There’s not really anything the temperature controller can do with that that you can’t do for yourself. (i.e., keep applying the heat so that it keeps boiling.)

You would get a fun LCD telling you what temperature the wort is while it’s working its way up to boiling, but if you can survive without that on a propane setup you can survive without it on an electric one. And it sure is a lot of money to spend on saving yourself the effort of manually sticking a thermometer in the wort. Not that it wouldn’t be nice to have, but I think the folks who run theelectricbrewery.com might be a lot wealthier than I am.

I don’t think there’s any reason that you can’t plug a heating element that’s rated for 240V into a 120V power source. The worst that’ll happen is it generates half as much heat as it’s capable of producing. It might even be a nice feature to have a setup that lets you use 240 for getting up to a boil, and then switch down to 120 for maintaining it so you can save some electricity.

Ok, as a person with some experience with this, I think I should step in here and give some advice/safety information. First of all, if you use a 240V heating element plugged into a 120V line, then its power is reduced by a factor of 4. The highest power heating element on the market that’s available to the average person is 5500W, so if you divide that by 4, then the power is 1375W. If you go this route I would suggest getting an ultra low density (ULD) heating element to prevent scorching. For the purposes of boiling wort while not using a temperature controller, I would highly suggest that you:

  1. ground the heating element and your kettle
  2. use a ground fault connection interrupt outlet
  3. use 10 gauge wire
  4. have a switch on that outlet so that you can turn off the heating element without having to actually physically unplug it

A lot of these items can be made yourself or purchased here:

http://www.highgravitybrew.com/productc ... s-c306.htm

Good luck and don’t electrocute yourself.

Enjoy.

Yes, you can ease into electric brewing.

Check http://theelectricbrewery.com/ for instructions and parts lists to add a water heater element to an existing kettle. You don’t have to have the control panel, although they can be built inexpensively also. You also do not need the hole punch Electric Brewery recommends; you can use a hole saw VERY Carefully!

You can wire the element to use both 240 V, to get your water or wort up to temperature quickly, then switch it off and unplug from the 240 V and plug into 120 V, with a digital controller, to maintain your temperature. The Johnsom digital has a max load of 10 Amps, so get a water heater element that will not draw more than 8 or 10 amps - I use a 4800 W element.

If you’re not very familiar with electrical wiring and safety, bribe an electrician with a couple of six-packs.

you will not maintain a boil with 10 amp 120v for 11 gallons. you will need 2 120v heating elements, running on two independent circuits. Its probably just simpler to bite the bullet and build a 240v control box. You can find a good and reasonably priced controller at www.auberins.com

I have a 2000W element that will run on a 20amp 110v circuit. This pushes the limit of that circuit. I don’t think it’d bring 10gal to a boil very fast though. I go with the 5500W on a 240v circuit.

[quote=“sonex”]you will not maintain a boil with 10 amp 120v for 11 gallons. you will need 2 120v heating elements, running on two independent circuits. Its probably just simpler to bite the bullet and build a 240v control box. You can find a good and reasonably priced controller at http://www.auberins.com[/quote] That has been my experience, and I’m at an altitude of 6700’ and only need to get to 200ºF to achieve a boil. So I’d go with a 240V system.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com