Electric Hot Water Heater as a Brew Kettle

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Electric Hot Water Heater as a Brew Kettle

Postby nocluebruer » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:13 pm

I'm new to the sport and hate to see propane prices contiinuing to rise. Any body have any thoughts about converting an electric hot water heater to an electirc brew kettle? I'm an all grain brewer and don't think this would work with extract, not sure though.

I was thinking about cutting the top off from a 20-30gallon 220V hot water heater, revising the controls to be able to jump up the temp. I'm a little concerned about element response time, especially for heat reduction in the event of a boil over. Would the elements get all gunked up with cooked wort and become insulated? Would the porcelain liner (or whatever is in there) be able to withstand the acidity of the wort?

Any body doing this currently? Thanks for the help, bottoms up!!
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RE: Electric Hot Water Heater as a Brew Kettle

Postby wottaguy » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:11 pm

nocluebruer...

Welcome to the board....!

I have thought about using one of those for a HLT but not for a boil kettle. I never heard of anyone thats actually uses one for a boil kettle. If you try this out, please be careful as electricty is not very forgiving, especially at 240 volts! (i know...its the amps that get ya)

Have you considered using your hot water heater as a HLT and set up a HERMS system from it?

I also thought about using one of those on demand hot water heaters, but after looking at their capabitities, i decided that it wouldn't heat up enough water fast enough or hot enough to warrent the price of installing one. I wish I had one for my kitchen tho...LOL! :D

Let us know what you decide to do...i'm sure that the other's would like to know more too.

Thanks!

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electric kettle

Postby slothrob » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:48 pm

I've never heard of anyone using an actual water heater, but a lot of people use water heater elements to make electric brew rigs. I think they are popular with people who want to brew indoors without asphyxiating.
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Re: RE: Electric Hot Water Heater as a Brew Kettle

Postby ColoradoBrewer » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:28 am

wottaguy wrote:I also thought about using one of those on demand hot water heaters, but after looking at their capabitities, i decided that it wouldn't heat up enough water fast enough or hot enough to warrent the price of installing one. I wish I had one for my kitchen tho...LOL! :D (_)3
I know this is a little off topic, but a local microbrewery, Dry Dock Brewing, uses two of those to heat strike water for their 7 BBL brewery. There's a tour of the brewery showing that on the Basic Brewing Websiite. Scroll down the list to 12/13/06. Dry Dock makes some great beers, and they're also my LHBS.
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Re: electric kettle

Postby billvelek » Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:05 pm

slothrob wrote:I've never heard of anyone using an actual water heater, but a lot of people use water heater elements to make electric brew rigs. I think they are popular with people who want to brew indoors without asphyxiating.
Exactly. I can't imagine anyone cutting open a still functioning water heater when all you really want/need are the elements. You can pick them up for about fifteen bucks at Lowe's or other hardware stores. You can then mount them in keggles or make heat sticks with them; heat sticks are heating elements mounted with the electrical connection contained inside plastic or copper tubing that forms a handle. You can just hang them over the side of a kettle with the element in the wort, or you can also stir with them.

On another topic, here's a picture of my future brewing apprentice:
http://home.alltel.net/billvelek/sawyer-1.jpg
He's 'Sawyer', my seven-month old grandson.

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Postby mule » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:14 am

I thought I would resurrect this to add/ask a couple things.

In the auto world, we use the electric coils and temp controls for making hot tanks to clean parts. We use a false bottom to keep parts off the element. How do you guys set the elements up for boiling wort?

If I had a choice, I would use gas for out doors. It's still cheaper than electric. That being said, I would rather be in doors anyway. Do you guys have any links to "how to" on these setups? I'm assuming you would want a false bottom?????
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Postby BRYAN C » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:01 pm

i have not done it and am only just starting to brew.
But i like the hot water heater idea.
i found this post looking to see if someone else had already done this.
Here are my thought if you care to read.

Hot water tanks have sediment rust and an anode stick but other wise they are potable for water. I suspect the small amount of chlorine in the water haelp keep bacteria in a safe limit. But for brewing there can be no bacteria.
Considering the price of brew kettles a new heater might be worth it.
If using an old one sawing off the top and cleaning it out might be neccesary.
Perhaps there is a high temperature food safe coating that could be applied to the inside of the tank.

Mabey it could just be flushed out enough.
Some tanks are coated just by rolling them around so the top wouldnt have to be cut off.

I think that the thermostat would have to be disabled to get it to boil. And it might have to be a gas water heater to get a high enough temperature.
BUT HERES THE PROBLEM SOMETHING LIKE THIS BACK IN THE DAY USED TO EXPLODE. IT WASNT UNHEARD OF FOR A TANK TO BUILD SO MUCH PRESSURE THAT IT ACTUALLY RUPTURED AT THE BOTTOM AND LITERALLY PROPELLED ITSELF THROUGH THE ROOF AND SEVERAL HUNDRED FEET AWAY. ITS BASICALLY A STEM ROCKET AT THAT POINT!!!!! which is why it is illegal to modify a hot water heater in some places. Now the law requires a safty shut off valve to let steam escape.
But if you were brewing with it i would assume that both the inlet and outlet pipes would be open and not hiiked up to a municipal haose ( at 80psi) . Also it would be a good idea to remove the overload valve for more venting. it cant explode with three holes in it right?

i dont think it would be necessary to cut the top off just clean it, bleach it rinse alot more with clean water.
now the kettle will boil. The hops would have to be boiled in a seperate container and the liquid added through the hole. Then so many cans of extract. after cooling overnight, the yeast. Then cap off the holes and add a big bubble lock to one hole. When its done drain from the hose fitting at the bottom. Maybey it will be ok. mabey it will be contaminated.
Or you could cut the top off and find some way to have a sealed lid in it. mabey a wax or gasket seal

another option that would probably be a lot eaiser would be to cut the top, disable the thermostat, brew the wort and then fill the whole 60 gallons int five gallon buckets with their own airlocks. Could probably usew different additives for different stuff. I suppose the boling would sterilize the inside of the tank as well. Mabey the pilot light would keep the yeast a t a good temperature. i wonder how an electric thermostat would be disabled and how hot it could get? I suppose it could be direct wired?

so im long winded and dont check my typos but hey its the internet nobodys going to read this anyway right and if they do they probably think im an idiot and if they dont they probably are. Brewing beer with a hot water heater is nuts. Everybody knows your supposed to spend 1000$ on beer equipmnt right! Anyway tahnks for listening if you make this let us know mabey a video on you tube. Its probably not illigal to alter a hot water heater unless you installed it into a plumbing system. its the building codes not the thing seperated as a brew keg that the law is concerned with. But hey if your Australian evreythings illegal and you do it anyway right?
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Postby BRYAN C » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:11 pm

heres a european sit if found where they do this.
i dont see why it would matter if the tank was glass http://www.homebrewtalk.com/
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Postby BRYAN C » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:20 pm

.homebrewtalk
the search box is kinda hidden in a beer mug at the top left
the article is titled "scrap water heater as brewery?
couldnt get a link to go right there sorry :? :D :( :? :x :roll: :idea: :arrow: :| :?: :cry: :lol: :o :D these are all the guys i got drunk with? the green one got sick
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Postby csting » Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:55 am

I am not familiar with someone who has tried it yet but I myself would not be too convinced to try it out as that amount of electricity will surely hurt.

I don't think it would be as effective though as there are some limitations by how much time they require to boil and only up to certain degrees they are allowed to work with, anything more will prove to be very dangerous.
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Postby ColoradoBrewer » Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:20 am

csting wrote:I am not familiar with someone who has tried it yet but I myself would not be too convinced to try it out as that amount of electricity will surely hurt.

I don't think it would be as effective though as there are some limitations by how much time they require to boil and only up to certain degrees they are allowed to work with, anything more will prove to be very dangerous.
Well, I suppose the cost depends on where you live. For me the cost of brewing with electricity would be significantly lower than propane. Given the current price of propane in my area a batch of beer cost me about $2.75 for propane. Compare that to about $0.50 for electricity. This assumes a properly configured system and not an electric hot water heater.

As for efficiency, electricity is more efficient because the element is in the wort so there is no wasted heat. Burners waste a lot heat because a portion of it goes up the sides of the brewpot where it does little or no good. I've done some calculations and in my system electricity would win hands down getting strike water to temperature or wort to boil. For these reasons I intend to switch to electricity this spring.
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Postby zymurgist05 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:10 am

I've been brewing 10 gallon batches with an electric system that I designed for about the past 3 years. I converted a used 15.5 gallon keg into a brew kettle. I had a 1 inch coupling welded into the side of the keg; about 2 inches from the bottom. I use a 2400 watt low density electric heating element to heat all water and the wort. I don't have the numbers to back up my statement, but I have found that electric is very efficient compared to propane. As someone stated in an earlier post, there is no loss of heat transfer since the element is immursed in liquid. My system can bring 11.5 gallons of wort (from approximately 150 degrees) to boil in just under 15 minutes. I can precisely control power to the heating element using a rheostat device. There is no scorching of the wort.
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