Hot plates

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NevilleWickenshire
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Hot plates

Post by NevilleWickenshire » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:38 pm

Hi all,

I'm finally having some success with my still but there's still quite a lot of room for improvement. One thing I'd really like to address is my hot plate. I bought a cheap one from Walmart that flips on and off every five minutes once it gets hot and it seems to make everything go way slower. Does anyone have any recommendations for hot plates that will consistently run for several hours? I have to imagine I could complete a run in a fraction of the time with one.

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NZChris
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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:16 pm

Build, or buy, a voltage controller, set the plate to full on and control it with your new controller. There are plenty of threads here on controllers. I use a cheap 4000W SCR controller from Ebay.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by BDF » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:43 am

Like NZChris said you would need to assembly your own way of controlling the power to the hot plate as the typical thermostat control cheap hot-plates come with are appropriate for cooking, but not distilling.

In the interim, adding a large heatsink, like a big block of metal, can smooth out the spikes, but it will not fix the underlying issue of the tool not being appropriate for the application.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by der wo » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:55 am

BDF wrote:In the interim, adding a large heatsink, like a big block of metal, can smooth out the spikes, but it will not fix the underlying issue of the tool not being appropriate for the application.
Perhaps it will make it worse. Today the switching on and off of most hotplates is controlled with a temperature sensor. A "big block of metal" has to be copper or aluminium (good heat conductors) or the off-phase of the hotplate will be very long.
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Re: Hot plates

Post by Pikey » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:50 am

Really it's not an option for most of us - If you're heating electric a power controller is an essential piece of kit. Bimetallic strip type thermostats / controllers just do have that long "off phase" which will drive you crazy.

You're stuck with buying a gas ring and bottles or a controller - I've not heard of any other options being succesful. I think my one from china works on a Triac but all I really know is you turn the knob one way it goes up, the other it goes down.

I also think you may need to actually bypass the electric knob on your ring completely, to prevent it switching off.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by Mikey-moo » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:29 pm

Induction works fairly well :-)
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Re: Hot plates

Post by Ma Flodder » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:52 pm

I have indeed had reasonable succes with induction, combined with a metal plate to smooth temperature changes out. However a SCR or similar controller with an element rules.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:50 pm

I took a faulty solid hot plate element apart for a look and it had a bimetal switch built in to prevent overheating, making this style of element useless for all but the tiniest of stills. I doubt there is an easy way to safely bypass the switch.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by der wo » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:58 pm

NZChris wrote:I took a faulty solid hot plate element apart for a look and it had a bimetal switch built in to prevent overheating, making this style of element useless for all but the tiniest of stills. I doubt there is an easy way to safely bypass the switch.
Why not bypassing? What do you think could happen? If you fear the case melts, simply take the hotplate out of the case and mount it on a thick wooden board.
http://homedistiller.org/forum/download ... &mode=view
http://homedistiller.org/forum/download ... &mode=view

Edit: Edited the link to the second picture.
Last edited by der wo on Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hot plates

Post by Pikey » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:37 pm

NZChris wrote:I took a faulty solid hot plate element apart for a look and it had a bimetal switch built in to prevent overheating, making this style of element useless for all but the tiniest of stills. I doubt there is an easy way to safely bypass the switch.

I think you may be right NZC

The ring types do not have the cut out built in, the bimetallic is in the switch so there must be a resistance current dependent and a movement apart of the contacts , depending on what "temperature" you set.

I tried to use one of these switches off a scrap cooker to control the element in my still at my first attempt and got the "on-off" - but my abv went up by nearly 10% (pot still) from what I get now with steady current.

I never made a ring run steady - I just bypassed the switch on my still, which I had put in there in the first place. If the resistance control is in the switch, then the ring without the resistance would probably run to an unsafe heat level if it was bypassed.

A power controller would easily be able to limit the heating of the ring of course, by limiting the input.
Edit:
I would be happy that I could judge the right level, starting from "Low" and trying "a bit hotter" - But I am C&G level 3 in electronic control and used to repair TVs and VCRs to component level - when they were "mendable" - And I know what to expect from my kit.

For a complete newbie, without some electrical knowledge - Mikey moo's contribution above might be a way forward - else - Run propane.

[Edit 2 - der wo I think we need a little more info about that picture you posted, to discuss it logically. - I melt steel all the time with my arc welder running dc 24 Volts - by just turning the amps up]

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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:08 pm

der wo wrote:
NZChris wrote:I took a faulty solid hot plate element apart for a look and it had a bimetal switch built in to prevent overheating, making this style of element useless for all but the tiniest of stills. I doubt there is an easy way to safely bypass the switch.
Why not bypassing? What do you think could happen? If you fear the case melts, simply take the hotplate out of the case and mount it on a thick wooden board.
http://homedistiller.org/forum/download ... &mode=view
http://homedistiller.org/forum/download ... &mode=view
On this one the switch is in the center. There is no way access it without butchering it, or cutting the contacts, which would then need to be reconnected. Solder would not be suitable.

The switch has nothing to do with the heating control and is not externally adjustable, Pikey.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by der wo » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:39 pm

NZChris wrote:On this one the switch is in the center.
Yes. But it doesn't switch unless your still runs dry.

Simply buy a hotplate like this:
index.jpg
index.jpg (4.62 KiB) Viewed 1326 times
and mount it on a board (BTW I repaired the second link I posted).
You don't even need a controler. Such a hotplate has 3 heating rings. There are many options to connect them. This way you get 2.6kW, 2kW 1.6kW 1.2kW, 1.1kW, 800W and lower too, but this is useless.
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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:24 pm

The one I took apart switches off the largest internal element. It does that well before the still reaches boiling point, leaving you with half of the Watts to work with.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by der wo » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:42 am

NZChris wrote:The one I took apart switches off the largest internal element. It does that well before the still reaches boiling point, leaving you with half of the Watts to work with.
I know, every hotplate with this red circle in the center has this safety switch, which shuts down the largest element temperature controlled. This is a safety function. Not related to the normal cycling function many hotplates have.
I never recognized it switching. I have a wattage-meter connected almost always, so I am pretty sure that it never switchs.

Probably it depends on the boiler if it switchs. If you have a boiler with a flat sandwich bottom, the heat is transfered fast enough. But if you have a thin ss bain marie, the bottom expands and forms a bowl when you heat it. Or a KEG of course doesn't work with a hotplate. A copper alembic? I don't know. NZChris, what boiler did you use with the hotplate?
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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:17 am

The plate that I need to replace for distilling is under an SS boiler, but I have another in a hot smoker that isn't suitable for that job either as it cuts out before all the chips are finished smoking. I have recently obtained an old stove top with much more suitable elements, so I will replace all of my solid plates except for the one I use at 100W-240W under a mini gin still.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by der wo » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:30 am

I don't have a smoker. But I think smoking is much over 100°C. It's no surprise that the safety switch shuts down here.

"SS boiler": I had one without sandwich bottom and it started to dance on the hotplate. The hotplate started to glow (my old smaller hotplate without safety switch), the heat transfer was so bad, it was heating more the kitchen than the boiler. Then I buyed a boiler with better bottom and the problem was solved.
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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:17 am

This boiler is a small multi purpose tool for aging and distilling experiments, so there is no incentive to replace it when sitting it on a more suitable element will do.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by OtisT » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:36 am

NevilleWickenshire wrote:Hi all,

I'm finally having some success with my still but there's still quite a lot of room for improvement. One thing I'd really like to address is my hot plate. I bought a cheap one from Walmart that flips on and off every five minutes once it gets hot and it seems to make everything go way slower. Does anyone have any recommendations for hot plates that will consistently run for several hours? I have to imagine I could complete a run in a fraction of the time with one.
Hi NW. I have a high end hot plate and it still surges the heat, giving a 3 to 4 degree F fluxiation in temp once I'm at equilibrium. To smooth this out I use a 3 lb Aliminum plate between the hot plate and pan, and I have no more heat surges. You do loose some power due to heat loss, but it's not that significant. 3 lb of aluminum is a 9" x 9" x 1/4" plate.

Bit of warning to you. When using a hot plate, with or w/o the heat sync, make sure you are getting good surface to surface contact. The plate/pan/hotplate element must be flat and free of high spots, and no debris on anything. Any little gap, like a small bit of plant debris stuck to the bottom of your pan, and you will not only leak power (heat) but you are likely to scorch your wash too.
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Re: Hot plates

Post by Seanjohn19 » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:31 pm

How can I hack a hotplate?

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Re: Hot plates

Post by NZChris » Thu Jan 07, 2021 11:45 pm

Seanjohn19 wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:31 pm
How can I hack a hotplate?
That depends on what hotplate you've got. Many modern hotplates would be unsafe if hacked by someone who had to ask how to do it. Use one that doesn't need hacking.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by Demy » Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:05 am

I use such a plate when distilling small quantities. Just a voltage regulator closed in a ventilated box, in the box also insert a socket. You raise the hot plate to the maximum, plug the regulator and take care of this to give you constant power. I have been using it for years so I can recommend. If you need, I'll make you a drawing.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by still_stirrin » Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:27 am

Seanjohn19 wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:31 pm
How can I hack a hotplate?
Look at the hotlink in my signature for my hotplate build thread.
ss
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Re: Hot plates

Post by Seanjohn19 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:28 pm

Alright sweet thanks I'm actually going to pick one up second hand tonight for 5$ but it's actually an expensive unit 1500w full stainless steel housing and looks to have good heat control if it can't be modified. I also have a heat controller. I will post a picture later on if one of you could let me know if it's possible.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by still_stirrin » Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:26 pm

Seanjohn19 wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:28 pm
Alright sweet thanks I'm actually going to pick one up second hand tonight for 5$ but it's actually an expensive unit 1500w full stainless steel housing and looks to have good heat control if it can't be modified. I also have a heat controller. I will post a picture later on if one of you could let me know if it's possible.
Chances are that it has a thermostatic control, not a power controller. Most, if not all, residential electric stoves use temperature control regulation. Same thing for most consumer hotplates. I would be surprised if your 2nd hand store hotplate is otherwise.

But, with proper modifications, it can work as a boiler heat source....at least for small (< 4 gallon) stock pot style boilers. Most hotplates are 1800 watts, or more commonly, 1500 watts. If you find a commercial hotplate, like used in a concessionaire’s business, which might have a higher wattage, but quite often is 220VAC, it would be more versatile.
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Re: Hot plates

Post by Seanjohn19 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:12 pm

Alright guys this is what I'm working with.. the temperature controllers I got for free from a friend so I'm not sure if they will work. I also picked up the hotplate second hand for 5$ so I'm not out much at all.. hoping I can use this hotplate it seems pretty decent 1500w has a cast iron plate, yesterday I tested it and after I unplugged it it stayed hot for a long time. If you guys think it will work and can give me some insight on how if possible to use the heat controller with it your help would be greatly appreciated.
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IMG_20210109_115453972.jpg
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Re: Hot plates

Post by SaltyStaves » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:28 pm

Seanjohn19 wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:12 pm
If you guys think it will work and can give me some insight on how if possible to use the heat controller with it your help would be greatly appreciated.
I had one. Now scrap.

It is booby-trapped. I suspect a bi-metal switch that is part of the element and cannot be defeated. I made a few gins with it that were drawn off at a moderate drip, but trying to do anything more with it would ultimately stop it from working. Then, after a long cool-down period, it would magically work again.

I replaced it with a 1000W one from ebay which doesn't have the same safety feature.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by Seanjohn19 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:31 pm

SaltyStaves wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:28 pm
Seanjohn19 wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:12 pm
If you guys think it will work and can give me some insight on how if possible to use the heat controller with it your help would be greatly appreciated.
I had one. Now scrap.

It is booby-trapped. I suspect a bi-metal switch that is part of the element and cannot be defeated. I made a few gins with it that were drawn off at a moderate drip, but trying to do anything more with it would ultimately stop it from working. Then, after a long cool-down period, it would magically work again.

I replaced it with a 1000W one from ebay which doesn't have the same safety feature.

You had the same hotplate? And heat controller? And it didn't work?

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Re: Hot plates

Post by SaltyStaves » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:33 pm

Seanjohn19 wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:31 pm
You had the same hotplate? And heat controller? And it didn't work?
Same hotplate. The controller was different, but that doesn't matter. It won't bypass the built-in issue with the plate itself.

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Re: Hot plates

Post by Seanjohn19 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:40 pm

Ic do you know why that is? I know there's 2 versions of this hotplate one was 1200w with completely different controls... But so your pretty much saying I've got to get a different hotplate and this one won't work?? This hotplate in stores isnt the cheap ones either.. maybe they added some weird switch I don't understand why I can't bypass this one there only a few wires. No offense but if someone else can verify it won't work for me it's not the end of the world I paid 5$

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Re: Hot plates

Post by Seanjohn19 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:43 pm

Couldn't I just attach the two wires that go to the thermostat together and they would run hot all the time? I don't know I feel like their too simple to not be able to make it run full throttle.. I might be wrong

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