Brewing Topics > Equipment

Brewzilla 3.1.1 - 110 volt

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LazyDogBrew:
Recently got back into brewing after a long time.  Since winter is approaching, I sprung for  the Brewzilla 35L - 110 volt system off of MoreBeer.  All the reviews have led me to believe that this was a decent system.  However, I'm not so sure as I've had issues.  I tried using the unit to brew an extract kit (its what I had laying around at the time) with a 6.5 gallon boil using LME.

My first gripe is that the temperature readout is 4 - 6 degrees F off.  The temperature display on the Brewzilla never makes it above 206 and fluctuates between 204 and 206 degrees F. 

My second gripe is that the boil seem overly weak to me.  It took 45 minutes to get 3 gallons of water to 206 degrees F.  That's just 3 gallons.  And with both 1000W and 500W elements on.  I can't imagine how long it takes to get 7 gallons boiling. 

Am I expecting to hard of a boil for a 110 volt brew system?  And is it normal to have discrepancies in temps on the brewzilla?  For the money that the system costed me, I just thought the unit should function way better than it is.  I'm highly disappointed.  I can send the unit back for a refund minus shipping.  But that box went out with the garbage already so I shot myself there.

Oginme:
Not sure about the Brewzilla, but I have an early Anvil 6.5 gal model.  The Anvil temperature is calibrated to be most accurate at mash temperatures (since this is what is most critical) and is off by several degrees at boiling temperatures, similar to what you are experiencing.  Since I recognize that the fluid is boiling, I really don't need to have the temperature read out be accurate at that condition.

Next, the boil at 110v may be a slow rolling boil.  If the top of the wort is turning over, that is all I ever look for.  A vigorous boil is really not necessary and some studies relate a low level boil to better beer stability. (I really have to go back and index some of the 100's of studies I downloaded and note which have what information -- like I will ever really take the time to do that.) 

Did you measure the time to boil with the lid off the unit?  It may take a long time with the lid off because you are losing heat during the temperature rise which will slow down the ramp in temperature.  I usually put the lid back on my Anvil when running it at 110v leaving it just a bit ajar to avoid sudden boil overs.  The system beeps as it reaches boiling temperatures which tells me to take the lid off before the foam builds and I get a boil over, which can happen with the lid on even at 110v.

In the end, the performance of the unit either meets your expectations or not and you need to decide if it is suitable for what/how you want to brew.

BOB357:
As Oginme stated, it's mash temperature that's critical. When the wort boils, the temperature is 212 F minus the necessary adjustment for your altitude. (~2 degrees/1,000 ft.)So there's really no need for accuracy at boiling temperature. Either it's boiling, or it's not.

All of the AIO systems have their idiosyncrasies, as do other systems. Just something you need to get used to. I'd suggest getting a floating dairy thermometer and putting it in the middle of the grain bed to monitor the actual temperature. Comparing that reading to the average of the digital readout will give you some perspective on how the control system works and the parameters it operates within.

LazyDogBrew:
Thanks for the replies.  I guess maybe I was expecting too much maybe coming from a propane burner to an electric system.   I guess my main concern was making sure the unit is functioning properly or not.  And if I need to send it back for a new one. 

Another question though... why does the 110 volt unit come with two heating elements?  The 1000W alone isn't enough to maintain a boil, and the 500W doesn't seem powerful enough to maintain mash temp.

Oginme:
If the 500W element is not enough to hold temperature during the mash, then I would suspect either you are losing too much heat in your system or there is something wrong with the output of that element.  Generally, if there are two elements, they are both used for the boil.  The higher one is used for bringing the temperature up quicker and the lower one is used for maintaining the hold temperatures during the mash steps.  You might want to write to Brewzilla directly with your specific concerns and questions.  They can probably give you an idea of what to expect for boil off rate and boil vigor as well as the functions of each element and expectations from them.
 

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