Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

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Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Pamulli » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:04 am

I've read a number of posts regarding installing an electric hot water heating element in a 15.5 gal keg and wondered what the pros and cons are of this route? I really like the idea of being able to run it in my basement since I have plenty of room, but I plan on running all grain washes and have also heard they can scorch on the element.

I'll be fermenting off the grain and will definitely rack everything, but would prefer to not have to filter everything before I put it in so would scorching be a likely problem? Also, as far as time would a 5500W element perform comparably to a gas burner as far as heat up time? Time isn't something I have a lot of these days so it's an important consideration. I guess I'm asking if I am sacrificing anything with this type of setup compared to gas heat?

I'm not really sure what the heating differences are between pot and reflux, but from what I have read a good setup would be to get a high density incoloy 5500W element since I have access to a 240V outlet. I found this post http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8410&hilit=no+weld which explains installing the element, but haven't found anything on how you control the temp? Any links or advice on temp control would be appreciated.

If anyone has direct experience with both gas and a similar electric setup, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the two options.

Sorry if these have already been answered, but I appreciate your input.

Thanks,
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby WalkingWolf » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:46 am

Here are two links that should give you all of the info you could possibly need. I'm exactly where your at at this time and I am waiting on one of my guys to get back from a hitch to give me the electrial how-to to not fry my own arse. I bought the 5500w low density element. If you do a search on "triac control" you will a load of responses to read through

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3342&p=6808209&hilit=triac+control#p6808209

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12246&p=6806846&hilit=triac+control#p6806846
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby HookLine » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:56 am

but from what I have read a good setup would be to get a high density incoloy 5500W element

Presume you mean low density?
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Pamulli » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:05 am

Yes sorry...low density.

After doing a lot more research on here I'm definitely leaning toward internal electric since I have lots of close neighbors, however I'm pretty confused on the switch build. I'll have to read through that long post again and see if it makes more sense today. After reading through all 19 pages yesterday it just made me a bit frustrated. I guess I now know that I'm illiterate in yet another language...electrical diagrams.

I also wonder about reactions between the alcohol and the heating element? Everyone is very concerned about material safety on this board, but I haven't seen any real mention of the makeup of these hot water heater elements and if there is any danger with them being in direct contact with the alcohol?

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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby rad14701 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:52 am

Pamulli wrote:I also wonder about reactions between the alcohol and the heating element? Everyone is very concerned about material safety on this board, but I haven't seen any real mention of the makeup of these hot water heater elements and if there is any danger with them being in direct contact with the alcohol?

Those every elements heat the water some of us drink every day... And considering the low %ABV of the wash and low wines we distill, there is virtually no concern with reactions... The very highest %ABV that an element should ever come into contact with is a 40% initial low wines charge... That percentage goes down throughout the run and the alcohol at the element is never in true vapor form...
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Pamulli » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:02 am

Thanks Rad.

Now I just need to figure out how to actually make a 240v controller.... Even after reading that thread again the part about modifying the dimmer switch itself has me pretty confused. Maybe if I had the dimmer switch in front of me it would make sense?
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby LWTCS » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:11 pm

Maybe mulekicker will put you om his mailing list?
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby newerbrewer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:31 pm

Also illiterate in the art of electrical diagrams, also looking for a 220/240 internal element setup. That being said, wiling to learn and never met a challenge I couldn't beat. Also read through many pages of posts... still work'n on it. If there is a 'mailing list', i'd love to be on it. Cheers,
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby HookLine » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:46 pm

I also wonder about reactions between the alcohol and the heating element?

Incoloy is a type of stainless steel. It is as safe as any material we use. I have a low density Incoloy element.
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby newerbrewer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:21 pm

So I think I have the schematic figured out for the 120V here:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3342&p=6808209&hilit=triac+control#p6808209

My assumption is that for a 240 setup, things get substantially more complicated. Correct? So, here is what I am thinking...

Run 2 seperate elements in the keg, one from a simple light switch and one from a dimmer/triac setup above. When heating up the wash, turn on the switch and turn up the dimmer. After it has been heated, turn off the switch and use the dimmer/triac setup for controlling temp. Sound like a good plan?
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby HookLine » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:04 am

My assumption is that for a 240 setup, things get substantially more complicated. Correct?

240 a/c operates the same as 120 a/c, it is just bigger, so you have to use 240v rated components.

So, here is what I am thinking...

Run 2 seperate elements in the keg, one from a simple light switch and one from a dimmer/triac setup above. When heating up the wash, turn on the switch and turn up the dimmer. After it has been heated, turn off the switch and use the dimmer/triac setup for controlling temp. Sound like a good plan?

Yes, that will work. Some here use that set up. Though for the heat up you do not need to use the triac controller at all, just plug both elements straight into a power socket. Then switch one off, and plug the other into the triac controller.

•••••••••

Seravitae reports on his experiments with internal elements.

Guys after some experimentation with my heating elements I have come to the conclusion that two factors are involved. One is thermal convection and the other is element surface area.

For those that find they are burning their beer, they can either get an element with a greater surface area, or for those like me who are stuck with what they got - simply ramp up the heat slowly at the beginning of warm-up to allow beer around the element to heat up and convect. If you put it on full blast the stuff around the element doesnt mix and gets really hot and burns. So i heat up with a 'power curve' now.. all good
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby newerbrewer » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:35 pm

240 a/c operates the same as 120 a/c, it is just bigger, so you have to use 240v rated components.

Hmmm, does anyone have a schematic drawn up for a 220 setup instead of the 110? Would I use a different triac? Different resistor? Obviously, I'd use a bigger load dimmer and wire gauge.

I can only seem to find the lower voltage drawings. Could someone point me in the right direction?
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby rad14701 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:23 am

newerbrewer wrote:
240 a/c operates the same as 120 a/c, it is just bigger, so you have to use 240v rated components.

Hmmm, does anyone have a schematic drawn up for a 220 setup instead of the 110? Would I use a different triac? Different resistor? Obviously, I'd use a bigger load dimmer and wire gauge.

I can only seem to find the lower voltage drawings. Could someone point me in the right direction?

Same high power triac (40A), same quadrac from the dimmer, 75 ohm 25W resistor, and a 500K Ohm potentiometer instead of the 250K Ohm in the dimmer... I take it you've read this topic forward and backward already...
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Andy239 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:55 pm

If you have a standard keg, how are you getting inside to hold the nuts from the bolts that go through the flange? Am I missing something?

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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Samohon » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:54 am

Andy239 wrote:If you have a standard keg, how are you getting inside to hold the nuts from the bolts that go through the flange? Am I missing something?

Andy


Welcome to HD Andy...

In the UK we have a connection called an Essex Flange. Very easy to install, the hardest part is cutting the hole in the SS...
Maybe something similar exists stateside?

Heres a piccie...
essex.jpg
essex.jpg (8.09 KiB) Viewed 4994 times


ps:Credit to myles for putting me onto them... Thanks myles...
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Dnderhead » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:20 am

balk head fittings..
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Bushman » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:16 am

I drilled a hole at the bottom and welded a 1" half coupler on the 5500 w element threads in.
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Andy239 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:17 am

Bushman unfortunately I don't have the equipment to weld stainless steel. Bulkhead fittings? Aren't those plastic?
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby bellybuster » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:37 am

You can solder the stainless half coupling, it's easy and solid
I put up a video how will find it later
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby varocketry » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:27 pm

-Just need something else to build. -
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby tobben79 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:52 am

They have $20 digital controler.
And a $30 relay
Wire controler to relay switch
Wire 220 to the in posts and the element to the out posts
Then add 220 to the controler
Poof you have a fully controled temp to about a half degree
If need one built let me know
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Prairiepiss » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:53 am

tobben79 wrote:They have $20 digital controler.
And a $30 relay
Wire controler to relay switch
Wire 220 to the in posts and the element to the out posts
Then add 220 to the controler
Poof you have a fully controled temp to about a half degree
If need one built let me know

:?:
Why would you want fully controlled temp to about a half degree? On a still boiler?
This post is very vague? And doesn't sound like good advice to me? Unless you can enlighten us further?
Maybe you should read this thread.
Why you need a controller and what kind. (Electric heat)
viewtopic.php?f=62&t=43024
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby tobben79 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:52 pm

It is definitely not that you need one to that degree. But some of us over build things. I looked all over for controling heat to accomplish a all most self running still.
I look at it this way if I can set the set points for either turn off at a certain temep ie alcohol st ops coming and water starts 190deg just say it turns off. Or to set it to get up to magic temp of say 175 and hold for x amount of time. This takes a hobby to a next level of control.
I will say im new to distilling but no were new to brewing or heating and cooling. And yes my brain dose not stop untill it builds things to the fullest capability of that object at hand.
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby tobben79 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:54 pm

And if need a diagram can be given
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Prairiepiss » Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:10 pm

tobben79 wrote:It is definitely not that you need one to that degree. But some of us over build things. I looked all over for controling heat to accomplish a all most self running still.
I look at it this way if I can set the set points for either turn off at a certain temep ie alcohol st ops coming and water starts 190deg just say it turns off. Or to set it to get up to magic temp of say 175 and hold for x amount of time. This takes a hobby to a next level of control.
I will say im new to distilling but no were new to brewing or heating and cooling. And yes my brain dose not stop untill it builds things to the fullest capability of that object at hand.


You may know brewing and temp control. But you don't know distilling and heat control. In brewing temp control is used. In distilling heat control is used. Big difference between temp control and heat control. And if you hold you still temp at 173 fn you won't get a damn thing. And probably wouldn't get anything til it hit the 190 f where you want to shut it off at. The temps are dictated by the ABV of the boiler charge. And change from charge to charge. And during the run.

You should read this thread.
Why you need a controller and what kind. (Electric heat
viewtopic.php?f=62&t=43024
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby BDF » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:27 am

When a chemical changes phases it stops increasing in temperature until enough energy is absorbed to change it from liquid to gas or solid to liquid, once it change phases it will resume increasing in temperature...

But this is why you need to keep adding energy to liquid to keep boiling off liquid, because you're pumping in heat to allow the ethanol molecules escape. So if you just hold the temp at the boiling point, nothing will happen unless you add enough additional energy to launch a molecule out of the liquid.
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby tobben79 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:11 am

Yes you are all right. And I have read it. I guess I am looking at it differently than the mass. Reason 1 it is a plug n play set up reason 2 the cost its cheap and reliable reason 3 its set able set it for any temp as you say you must continue to increase heat untill you get reaction. Bump up the temp 1 or 5 or 100 deg at a time.
As I have read many times there is sweet spot temps for stableizing in colloms and sweet spot temps for pots. Its not the idea of its all you need is to beable to increase temp its the idea of more control over how when you want to or to as some say set it and for get it.

Example I set mine at 185deg that is were I like to have mine cycle on n off. At my alitude if I dont get any more at that temp any hotter I get mostly ho2 so it works grate once no more flows off it goes cool down reload. Or in my freinds it controls 4 5 gal pots. So for the douters out there some of us think out side of the box and in a larger scale then just add heat. No offence to any one that im sincere about. You all have valid arguments I just look at it differently. And thank all of you for this board I have learnd lots for it.
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby Prairiepiss » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:32 am

If you say so. Let US know how that works out for you?

I want to see you get a 10% wash to boil at 173 deg f. To give you enough vapors to distill. Please please show US a video.

And plug and play is not a reason to not sit and watch a still. A still needs to be watched at all times. Just stating this for safety reasons.
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby tobben79 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:56 am

Ok I may be wrong. But if I set a controler to highest valus based on this graf there would be no need for ajust ment just a set temp. Or am I wrong
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Re: Internal Electric heat Element for Keg Pot Still?

Postby bellybuster » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:04 am

why not just go for it and prove everyone wrong? Thousands before you have tried, maybe you have figured out the magic required to fractionally distill via temps.
Mr P is simply trying to save you time effort and money.
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