Most fully electric home breweries are based on a 5500 Watt water heating element for the brew kettle, a 5500 Watt water heater element for the hot liqour tank and a 1650 Watt to 5500 Watt water heating element for the mash tun or RIMS tube. Add all of these together and you could easily be at 16500 Watts just for heat and to run all three of these at once would require 68.5 Amps at 240 VAC.
But as shown in the picture above, you really only need one of these elements on at a time.
One 5500 Watt heating element only draws 22.9 Amps, making an existing 30 Amp dryer outlet or a new install dryer type outlet the ideal power source for an Electric Home brewery. The 7.1 Amps left over leaves plenty of room for other accessories like electric pumps and electric valves.
Tom - www.kegkits.com
Step 1: Voltages Delivered to Your House
Voltage is a measurement from one location to another that have a common electrical connection. For example a common flashlight battery is 1.5 volts - that's the measurement from one end of the battery to the other end of the battery. But if you were to measure from the top of one flashlight battery to the top of another flashlight battery you would not read any voltage because they are not connected together. Line the batteries up end to end & facing the same way and measure the voltage from one end to the other. You will measure 3 Volts because 1.5 Volts + 1.5 Volts = 3 Volts. This is called a series connection - the two batteries are connected in series.
The power connection to your house is no different. The voltage from the center - earth ground to either power lead coming off your transformer is 120 VAC but just like the battery example I showed earler, the voltage across the two in series, the two outside wires is 240 VAC.
Step 2: Power Options Available at Your House
120 Volts X 10 Amps = 1200 Watts
240 Volts X 5 Amps = 1200 Watts
The watts or wattage is the same even though the voltage changed!
This is because when I doubled the voltage I halved the current.
1200 Watts X 1 Hr = 1200 Watt/Hr
600 Watts X 2 Hr = 1200 Watt/Hr
2400 Watts X 30 Min (1/2 Hr) = 1200 Watt/Hr
The Watt/Hr is the same even though the Watts changes!
This is because when I changed the Watts I changed the time in the other direction.
So, knowing all this we can see what's available in most homes to power your home brewery.
Most home non-kitchen outlets are on 120 Volt, 15 Amp circuits. Knowing that Volts X Amps = Watts it's easy to see that 120 Volts X 15 Amps = a maximum of 1800 Watts and this is not near enough power to run a home brewery.
Most home kitchen outlets are on 120 Volt, 20 Amp circuits. Knowing that Volts X Amps = Watts it's easy to see that 120 Volts X 20 Amps = a maximum of 2400 Watts. While 2400 Watts is not enough power to run a full home brewery this is enough power to bring 5 gallons to boil. Also, modern kitchens are wired with two 20 Amp circuits and you can use both together to boil 10 gallon batches and even setup a mash tun. But brewing this way means invading the kitchen every time you brew beer.
This is where your dryer outlet or a new 30 Amp "dryer like" outlet comes in. A dryer outlet is wired across 240 VAC, plus it's a 30 Amp circuit. This makes your dryer outlet a 240V X 30 Amp, or a 7200 Watt power source! And with 7200 available Watts you can run a 5500 Watt Water Heater element and have plenty of Watts left over to run circulation pumps and electric valves.
Step 3: GFI Protection
But get your body in between power and GFI ground the GFI breaker will not trip. This is because the GFI does not know the difference between current passing through a heating element, through a pump motor or through you. It's all the same because all of the current being delivered through you would still be returning through the GFI. In other words a GFI outlet or breaker will not protect us from "stupid"!!!!
Regardless it's a good idea to use GFI for your home brewery. If you will be using an existing non-GFI dryer outlet there are several extension cord style GFI breakers avalable that you should consider using.
Step 4: The 120V Outlets in Your House
Then the outlets are connected together until the maximim number are installed by code, in most houses up to 7 outlets are connected together to one breaker in your main panel.
The third bare wire connected to your outlets is a safety ground.
Step 5: Existing 3 Wire Dryer Outlets
With a 3 wire system anything needing 240 Volts like your main heating element is wired across the two hot wires. And anything needing 120 Volts is wired across one of the hot wires, it does not matter which one, and ground. The ground carries the difference current back to the main panel while still serving as a safety ground.
Step 6: Newer 4 Wire Dryer Outlets and Any New Installs
With a 4 wire system anything needing 240 Volts like your main heating element is wired across the two hot wires. And anything needing 120 Volts is wired across one of the hot wires, it does not matter which one, and neutral. The neutral wire carries the difference current back to the main panel and the safety ground stays separate.
Any new power installs like a new outlet for your home brewery should use 4 wires.
More info can be found at www.kegkits.com. - Tom