Posted by Moonshiner Chuck on

Welcome back this is the website that dares to unlock all those mysteries of home distilling. 

Our intent is to make you as safe and also successful as possible through your endeavors. It doesn't really matter what your process is, whether you're making beer, making wine, a lot of these processes are carryovers into all of those different hobbies. That includes Bakelite ovens in this particular discussion, kilns, anywhere where you are using heat and you need precise control. 

When we talk about precise control, of course, there are many different ways of doing this. One of them is SC RS is silicon controlled rectifiers and the other ones are triack and they're both kind of like the same thing when you when you really fully understand it, it does allow you to control the amount of voltage that travels through a circuit, and thereby you can control the heat source but those are variable variably controlled, which makes them a variable II controller. They work, they're wonderful. The only thing is, is that you've got to control it. You've got a manual input that you've got to mess with and there's nothing wrong with that.

There is also p ID controls and those are the ones that I am more familiar with, well not more familiar with but more favorable to because they are nothing more than really SC RS or triax on steroids because they are proportional integral derivative, and they control precisely the temperature on their own without any other input but a temperature selection made by you. There are folks out there who have tried it In the past, unsuccessfully on my AED, using it like a household dimmer switch.

Remember that the amperage that you're going to draw with a heater element will far exceed an 80 dimmer switch or small potentiometer. If you find a potentiometer on the internet, that will handle the amount of amperage that you're going to try to push through that you're going to pay an arm and a leg for it. Let's get on to this because we're talking about heater elements. Heater elements come in many different varieties and shapes and forms. All three of the heating element are in 240 volt elements. And the reason I bought 240 volt elements is for my purpose. A 4500 watt 240 volt element, and it's a high density element.

What's the difference between a high density and low density? The only difference between these two are the density of the material. Therefore, in a low density or medium density, you'll have more surface area in contact, but you get the same heat. And it's the same thing with a high density, you're going to get the same heat because they are both rated at 4500 watts. And this one is rated at 3000 watts. And we're going to get to that. Interesting to note about heat irrelevance, all heater elements are standard and they've come with a one inch NPT. 

They're easy to replace, and they last a long, long time. They come with a one inch NPT threaded base. And all you need in your still your baseline oven or your kitchen or however you have your heating elements or raid is a means to get that in there. You just need a one inch NPT coupling on the side of the steel screw this into and this comes with a gasket so that when you screw it on there, all you do is turn it one quarter to one half turn additional to seat so that it doesn't leak.

For those of you who want to go and go above and beyond the call of duty, if you want to put Teflon tape around. That's perfectly okay. All elements also, you'll notice on the bottom have only two screws. They are not polarity specific, which means that it doesn't matter which wire you put on there, the screws don't care. You've got 120 volts, you'll have a hot wire going in and you'll have a neutral wire on the other side. If you understand the flow of electricity, alternating current, which means it's high, low, high, low, high low, so it's going in both directions. It makes no difference. 

The 240 volt element. So it requires one hot wire and one hot wire,  therefore you have 120 volts high at the same time that you have 120 volts low and when you have electricity provided in that manner, it is much more efficient. It takes half the amperage, but you've got twice the voltage, add them together, you get 240 volts. Some of you may refer to that as 220. And that's quite alright. Don't just like you'll refer to 120 volts is 110 or 115. What is the difference? It's called RMS root mean square. Don't worry about that. It's just sort of like common terms. What you hear over and over and over again, is what you refer to. So that's it about heater elements at this point, but what I need to explain to you is the following. 

There are times when someone may want to use a larger element on less voltage. It's kind of what we already do, if we're using a variable controller, or we're using a p ID controller of some sort, some method to control the voltage because it's the voltage that goes through the element. A fixed current that allows it to heat up and produce heat. That's where you're at your energy. If we start off with a 240 volt element, and let's say for instance, this one is 4500 watts. The easiest way to figure out what the amperage requirement is for that is to divide 240 volts into the 4500. That's 18.75 amps.

That's when it will draw it 100%. We're not always operating at 100% whether it be the variable controller or be the PD controller, it's going to be somewhere between zero and 100. First  you had a 5500 watt element and you're 240 volts. The amperage draw for that. It's simply 5500 divided by 240, which is 22.91 amps. So that's how we figure that out.  In the first case, a 20 amp circuit. would be sufficient would be getting close. But it would be sufficient. But in this particular case, we would blow that 20 amp circuit, it would be unsafe. We have a 5500 watt element, and we're going to operate that on 240 volts because that's pretty much standard. 500 watt is going to come as a 240 volt element, you're only going to get the largest 120 volt element that you're going to get is going to be in a 2000 watt. That's the largest one that they make. And the reason for that is because this one draws 16.6 amps. 

How do we know that? We know that because we just take 2000 divided by 120? That's the formula to figure out how many answer drawls 100% So what is it for a 5500 watt element? If we divide that by 240 our result is 22.91 amps. So we need a circuit large enough that will handle 22.91 amps. We want to have some fluctuation in playroom. If you work on the verge on the edge of an MO in most cases the electrician will normally tell you 125% of your rate. More than likely place 150 500 watt element on a 30 amp circuit, just in order to be safe.

Now, if you've got a 240 volt element, and you operate that on 120 volts, what happens? We talked about this, if you're using an SCR, or a variable controller or a pulse width modulator or a p ID, whatever you're using is going to control the voltage that's going to the element. So if you're using less voltage, you're going to have less heat. So what does it do is that will reduce the output in the potential in total wattage. 

This is the formula 240 divided by 120 squared. And if you do the math to 40 divided by 120 is gonna be point five square that times point five equals point 250. So, in that case, a 5500 watt element operating on 120 volts will not be half of 5500 it will be 25% of that in what is 25% of 5500 5500 times point two five equals had grabbed the calculator 5500 times point two five equals a total of 1300 and 75 watts.

You've changed, you've changed the element itself. So don't think that you can go with a larger element and just run less voltage through it. And you'd get half of it. No, it actually works out to be 25% of that.

Warning, if you've got 120 volt element 100 and you operate that on 240 volts, what do you think happens? Yes. It's gonna break. What happens in ovens, in most cases is you'll have multiple, you'll have either 468 you'll have a bunch of elements. It all depends again on the size of the oven, and what you're using the oven for. In this particular case, if you hook them in parallel, the Resistance goes down, which means your amperage goes up. 

So you've got to be able to add all of your elements together and know what the wattage is, the overall wattage of your oven is so you can match that appropriately to your circuit. I use the four p IDs on a regular basis and normally they come is 24 Da. And what 25 da means is that it's rated at 25 amps. 

It uses direct current to control this small light here that comes on to control the amperage across these two pins which act as a switch. So it's direct current in alternating current controlled. I normally put in all p IDs, all the way up, unless I'm doing a multiple element p ID controller, I'll always put in a 48 and that is more of a safety margin for you on your end as it is for anything else. 

A 25 amp lm a 25 da will do great wonders for a 2000 watt element. Because remember, a 2000 watt element only draws 16.6 amps and we've got 25 amps of safety margin. But I'll always put a 40 in. Because it's just it's better to have it not need and the need not have you follow me. Failure to do so will cause this thing to heat up and melt and again fail. So that's the result of that. Well, hopefully we've covered everything you really need to know about heater elements. high density, low density, medium density, wiring these things because there's only two screws on here. 

What happens to the ground? Where does the ground go? Because there's ground and all of your cable, the ground is known as an appliance ground. You can either connect that to the outside of the element here on the nut, which is difficult to do, or do like most appliances, they have an appliance ground which is anywhere on your system, on your metal on your kettle on your oven on your kilm that's where your appliance ground goes.

I hope we've covered all of that and until next time!

Happy Distilling!