Author Topic: Electricity  (Read 6650 times)

Offline Sremed60

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Electricity
« on: August 26, 2016, 03:10:29 PM »
Not completely off topic, but I wasn't sure where else to post it.

I'm making the jump from my 5 gallon system to a 3 keggle 1/2 barrel system, (gravity fed for now). I have two Bayou Classic SP-10 propane burners that I was going to use, but then I got to thinking about maybe going electric. I'm not electricity savvy. I know just enough to leave it alone and let someone else mess with it. I started surfing around the web to get some ideas, but it seems like I could spend several months researching this and still only understand about 80% of what I'm reading.

Before I even worry about anything my initial questions were these. I have three 220v outlets in my house: one in the kitchen for the range, one in the laundry room for the dryer, and one in the garage for the water heater, and the breaker box, or electrical panel, is located on the outside wall of my garage. So question One:
(1) How hard would it be to put another 220v outlet in my garage on the opposite side of the wall from the breaker box?
(2) Can I run two 220v heating elements, (one for the HLT and one for the boil), from one 220v outlet? (at the same time if needed?)

Those are the immediate questions I have before I even consider looking into equipment. If it's going to cost me thousands of dollars to convert to electric then that ends the debate for me right there. If it's not too costly and it actually saves money in the long run using electric vs gas, then it's worth considering.

I'm just in the exploratory stage so I'm interested in any and all comments or opinions from anyone who has made the switch, or at least has more knowledge than I about it. 

KellerBrauer

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2016, 06:41:29 AM »
Greetings  Sremed60,

There are several variables that would need to be answered by you before your actual questions can be answered:

Questions
1) what is the total amperage of the service coming to your house?
2) what is the amperage draw of each of the three 220v appliances already being served?
3) is there the physical room in your main circuit breaker panel for the additional two pole breakers?
4) what is the total circuit breaker count in your main panel and what is the rated amperage of each?

To answer your question about running two 220v devices from one outlet, the simple answer is no. National Electrical Cone (NEC) requires each 220v device to be served by its own protection device.  Unless of coarse you plan on unplugging one heater and plugging in the other each time you need to change your heat source....and that is something I would not recommend.

Consider these questions.  I'll be following this topic and will attempt to help as much as I can.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2016, 07:48:25 AM by KellerBrauer »

Offline Sremed60

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2016, 07:36:51 PM »
Thanks, I'll have to do a bit of research to provide the additional info. But with what you've said so far - if it takes two 220v outlets to run two heating elements, what is the advantage to going electric?

Right now my system is a 9 gallon Bayou Classic 1036 pot and a converted 48 qt ice chest/mash tun. It takes a bit of creativity but I've done okay on 5 gallon batches. I have to get real creative on big beers with 90 minute boils where my pre-boil volume is 8.5 gallons or better. I'm not that impressed with the Bayou Classic. It's kind of thin and it's not a tri-clad bottom and I'm not so sure my propane burner might not burn right thru the bottom eventually. Not to mention the extra caution I have to use to keep from scorching anything.

I looked into heavier 10 gallon pots, but can't justify spending that kind of money. I can get 3 used kegs for $45 each, so for $135 I have three heavy duty 15 gallon stainless steel vessels for less than I can buy one 10 gallon brew pot. Being the cheapskate I am, that's the way I'm leaning. I also like the concave bottom of a keg and the idea of a bottom drain. But the bottom drain makes more sense with an electric heating element rather than direct fire gas.

And [THAT] brings me to why I was considering electric at all.

I brew 4, (maybe 5), batches a year during the winter months. I like the option that I could brew 10 gallon batches occasionally with the keggles. I like the idea of getting away from a plastic mash tun. So I'm really leaning toward the 3 kegs.

I'll get back with the info you requested but at this point it doesn't look like electric brewing is an option. Sounds like WAY too much work and expense for hobby brewing 4 or 5 batches a year.

KellerBrauer

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2016, 06:28:51 AM »
Greetings Sremed60,

Everything you have mentioned make sense.  However, I would like to make a couple points, if I may.

1) electric (providing you have the capacity to install it) is much cleaner than gas and that's quite important if you're brewing indoors.  On the other hand, i brew indoors and I have a gas burner for my boil kettle.  That said, I also have an exhaust hood and proper ventilation for this burner.  I also have a carbon monoxide detector within two feet of my burner exhaust column and to date (nearly three years) I have no incidents. However, I am an HVAC service tech and Pipefitter so I have my burner running as clean as possible.

2) you have said you are looking at a 10 gallon boil kettle.  My recommendation is to go with a 15 gallon instead.  I typically collect 8.43 gallons of extract.  Allowing for expansion, I'm pushing 8.75 gallons.  Once it starts boiling, I would have a mess everywhere with a 10 gallon kettle.  If I had a recipe that called for a 90 minute boil, forget it.  Just a thought.

3) you mentioned you want to move away from the plastic cooler mash tun.  My question to you is: how will you maintain accurate temperature using a beer keg unless there is some way of insulating it. I've seen pictures and videos of people using kegs, but it's always made me wonder how they maintain temperature.

4) you mention you are currently brewing 4-5 batches per year.  I was doing the same.  However, for me it got to the point where I wanted to produce more .  Therefore, I designed a system that simplified the brewing process as much as possible.  So my point is: you may wish to consider the possibility of brewing more at some point in the future.  I'm currently brewing 18-24 batches per year because my system allows for simplicity.  Just a thought.  I'll attach a pic of my brewery.

I hope everything works out in your favor!  Good luck and let me know if I can be of further assistance!!!  :)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 06:35:36 AM by KellerBrauer »

Offline brewfun

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2016, 09:09:48 AM »
My question to you is: how will you maintain accurate temperature using a beer keg unless there is some way of insulating it. I've seen pictures and videos of people using kegs, but it's always made me wonder how they maintain temperature.

Short answer: Thermal mass and a reasonable ambient temperature. It doesn't take much insulation, if any is needed at all. In your basement setup, I'd wager none would be needed to maintain a 60 to 90 minute mash within 3 degrees.

That said, your current setup is pretty eff'n cool.
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Offline Sremed60

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2016, 09:14:16 AM »
Good morning Keller Brauer,

To address the points you made:
1) Yes, I brew outside. I live in Phoenix, AZ so rain is never an issue . . . EVER. I have a sliding glass door that opens up from the kitchen to the back patio. That part of the patio has a roof and ceiling, (so it's kind of half inside half outside). From there it opens up into a garden/patio area without a roof where my outside kitchen/BBQ area is. So my brew area is inside, semi-inside and outside.

2) I am leaning more and more toward keggles. When I first got into this I thought having 3 kegs was the kind of severe overkill reserved for those obsessed fanatics on youtube who brew 2 barrels a week (as a hobby).  :) However now that I've brewed for awhile the three keggle system is looking better and better. Not because I want to increase production and compete with Budweiser on my output, but because when it comes to brewing, "Bigger [IS] Better." I'm sure there's advantages to an actual "brew kettle" vs a converted keg, but at $45 for a used keg compared to 8 times that amount for a decent kettle, the advantages don't even come into play in my cheapskate world.

3) I'm still mulling over different ideas for a keggle mash tun. I don't like mashing in plastic - probably just a mental thing. I can buy a brand new 55 gallon drum, (also for $45), so I'm thinking about putting the sanke keg inside the drum, running all the plumbing to the outside of the drum, and then filling in the space with some kind of high heat insulation material. Building a big metal version of a plastic ice chest in other words. If I don't insulate the bottom I can even direct fire heat it if I need to. I was also looking at a 120 qt heavy duty aluminum stock pot, (they're about $100). I was thinking about setting the keg in that, raised up off the bottom, filling the aluminum pot with water and heating the mash like a big double boiler. That would solve any scorching issues but I'm not sure how easy it would be to maintain a constant temp using water as the heat source.

4) I'm the other way around. I started out brewing a lot more. But as I said, I live in Phoenix. From about May until October the temperature is brutal here and trying to maintain optimal fermentation temps becomes a HUGE hassle and expense, so I just gave up brewing during the summer months. I have two refrigerated temp controlled fermentation chambers, (one for primary and one for secondary and conditioning). But when it's 115 degrees outside it's too expensive and hard on the equipment to try and maintain temps in the 60-75 degree range. I could bring them in the house where the temp is a constant 78 year round, but again, this is just a hobby. I don't want to start turning my living room or family room into a fermentation room with big bulky eye sore equipment humming away. It stays in the garage, (which is not climate controlled). So it's just easier not to brew during the summer. That gives me 6 months a year to research, adjust my equipment, tweak my recipes. Then when October hits I'm cocked and loaded and ready to hit the ground running. 

KellerBrauer

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2016, 10:45:58 AM »
This all makes sense.  I suppose living in Arizona, while beautiful, can be challenging for a home brewer.  Sounds to me like you have a pretty good handle on your problems and solutions.  Again, I'm more than happy to offer assistance where ever I can.  Good luck and stay in touch!!

PS- Thank, Brewfun, for the kind words! And you're probably right on the mash tun temperature loss question.  I guess I never tried using anything but an insulated cooler. 

Offline Sremed60

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Re: Electricity
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2016, 08:36:26 PM »
Thanks Keller Brauer,
The idea of electric brewing is very appealing, (solar brewing would be even better). But at the end of the day brewing is just a part-time hobby I like to tinker around with, and not something I want to take out a second mortgage to fund. They used to brew beer with firewood so I guess I should be thankful for my little propane burner.

 

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