“It’s Alive!” I said as I turned on my electric kettle. 2 minutes later “Crap, why isn’t this piece of $@!? working!”
I decided to move to electric for several reasons. Firstly as an apartment brewer my sources of heat are limited, and my stove top burner was not allowing me to get achieve a strong rolling boil. Secondly the heat coming from my burners would quickly raise the temperature of my poorly ventilated kitchen well into the low 100° F. While I love a good sauna, during a long brew session, I would prefer a more comfortable environment. With the electric brew kettle, all of the heat is focused inside the kettle and although some radiates from the pot, the temperature of the kitchen remains mercifully low. Finally brewing with electric allows much more control over the brewing process. It allows me to set my strike water temp first think in the morning and later in the day, I have my water at the perfect temperature. Additionally having temperature control in an electric brewing set up gives me the option of doing a HERMS system in the future, allowing even more mash precision and options for brewing.
Instead of trying to create my own exterior shell for the heat coil, I decided to purchase the pre-made model from Brew Hardware. They have created a great design and a very elegant solution to the electrical container problem. I obtained my heat element from the same location. For my power cord, I altered a Husky 14-3 15 foot Extension Cord. I chose a 14 gauge over a 16 since I wanted a the additional volt capacity that the larger size would offer me.
For my HLT, I went with a single 1500 watt element. In my initial tests it was able to boil 4 gallons of water as long as the lid was on. Also in the HLT I’ve installed a thermowell to monitor temperatures and regulate the strike and spurge temperatures.
For my boil kettle I decided on 2 1500 watt elements. At a total of 3000 watts, this should give me a solid rolling boil. My tests showed that this system could heat up 7 gallons from 160° to 212° in 45 min and sustain a rolling boil. My boil off during a 60 min boil was 1.25 gallons. Overall I am very happy with how this system has come together. It provides me with more control over my brewing process, a much easier brew day, and better beer in the end.
If your interested in more information on how to put together and electric brew kettle you can read my article here: Building an Electric Kettle
P.S. The HLT mentioned in the beginning was not working because I never reset the Ground Fault Interrupter after doing a safety check. Worked amazingly after I figured this out.