Installing a Water Tank Heating Element in a Polar Ware 321BP 32 Quart Stainless Steel Brewpot




Introduction: Installing a Water Tank Heating Element in a Polar Ware 321BP 32 Quart Stainless Steel Brewpot

I'm a long term homebrewer. I brew outside with gas when the weather is nice but when it's rainy, too cold or too hot I brew inside. It turns out that over half the time I end up brewing inside. The problem with brewing inside is it takes my electric stove over 1-1/2 hours to barely bring 6 gallons of wurt to boil!

So I decided to solve my problem once and for all - I installed a 2000 watt, 120V electric heater element in my new brew pot. Now I can bring my wurt to boil in 50 minutes or if I'm really in a hurry I can put the brew pot on the stove AND plug in the electric heater and bring my wurt to boil in less than 25 minutes! This conversion can be plugged directly into a 20 amp kitchen outlet because it only draws 16.6 amps, or it can be plugged into our soon to be released electric brew pot controller.

I used a 32 quart Polar Ware brew pot because I believe they are an excellent value for the money. They aren't over priced like some of the brewpots on the market today but they aren't flimsy stainless steel like the cheapo Chinese brewpots either.

For more information, see

Step 1: Disclaimer and Parts List

This is a step by step guide for doing your own install but first I need to warn you - Drilling holes in your Polar Ware Brew Pot will VOID YOUR WARRANTY!

Also, don't hold me responsible if you screw up your install. These instructions are as complete as possible but we all have different mechanical abilities. If you are unsure about any of this then please invite a friend to help and celebrate with a few beers after the project is done.

Parts List (most parts available at Lowes and Home Depot):
1 – 2000 watt 120V screw in style water heater element
1 – Water tight electrical box with three 1/2" holes
1 – Water tight electrical box cover
1 – 1/2" cord connector
1 – 1" NPT Pipe Stainless Steel Lock Nut (P/N K419-16, available from our web site for $7.95)
1 – 14 Gauge, 16 Amp rated Power Cord (P/N 109284, available from our web site for $11.95)
3 – Ring terminals
1 - Polar Ware 321BP Brewpot

These parts are also available as a complete kit from

We also offer a 240V version of this kit with a Camco 02962/02963 5500W 240V Screw-In Lime Life Ripple Water Heater Element on

Required Tools:
Drill - To drill holes in your nice new brew pot
Small drill bit - to start hole
3/8" drill bit
1/2" conduit punch
1" conduit punch
Ideal P/N 36-305 Carbide Tipped hole cutter
Drill press - hand drill can be used, but dril press is much easier
Heater element socket
Large slip joint pliers
#2 plillips screwdriver
Wire stripper
Wire crimper
1" adjustable wrench

Step 2: Start With a Perfectly Good, Leak Free Brewpot

Step 3: Drill a Small Hole Where the Element Will Be Mounted.

The hole is started with a small bit because it's less likely to skate around on the side of the pot.

I pre-measured by placing the water tight box on the side then I moved it up about 1/2". This makes sure the box is mounted high enough so that the pot is not straining the box when it's sat on the counter.

Step 4: Oh, and Congratulations, You Just Ruined a Perfectly Good Brewpot

 - now you have no choice but to plug the hole with a heating element!

Step 5: Open the Hole Up With a 3/8" Drill Bit.

Step 6: Insert the 1/2" Greenlee Conduit Punch and Tighten Intil the Punch Pulls Through.

Pic 1 - Punch set
Pic 2 - Punch on outside ready to tighten
Pic 3 - Punch on inside ready to tighten
Pic 4 - Tightening punch with adjustable wrench

Step 7: Now Insert the 1" Greenlee Conduit Punch and Tighten Intil the Punch Pulls Through.

Pic 1 - 1" punch on outside ready to tighten
Pic 2 - 1" punch on inside ready to tighten
Pic 3 - Tightening punch with adjustable wrench

Step 8: A Picture of the Finished Hole

Step 9: Inside of Water Tight Box.

You are going to drill out the raised ridge section in the middle.

Notice the green screw? You will attach the power cord green ground wire to that screw later.

If you drill the hole dead center the boss the green screw is in will be in the way of the water heater element. So you have to drill the hole off center - see below.

Step 10: Here's Where a Drill Press Helps a Lot.

Getting ready to drill the hole - it's hard to see but the box is to the left a little bit so that the hole will be to the right. Just make sure that the drill bit is still drilling out the entire raised area on the inside if the box.

Step 11: Here Is a Better Picture of the Hole Partly Drilled

- you can see that it is not centered.

Step 12: Layout the Parts That Will Be Inserted Into the Brewpot

Step 13: I Originally Thought a O-ring Seal Would Work Better

I originally thought thet a O-ring seal (left side) would work better than the original seal that came with the water heater element (right side) but I was wrong!!!

I assembled everything with the O-ring but no matter what I did the connection leaked water. I pulled the O-ring seal out and installed the original water heater seal and I had no problem making the connection water tight.

Step 14: Drop the Element Into the Inside of the Water Tight Box Then Insert It Into the Brewpot

Step 15: Push the Seal Onto the Threads As Far As It Will Go

Step 16: Thread on the Stainless Steel Nut and Hand Tighten As Tight As You Can

Step 17: Hold the Nut With a Pair of Slip Joint Pliers

Step 18: And Tighten the Water Heater Element With a Water Heater Socket

Depending on how strong you are, you may need help with this step because the element has to be very tight

Step 19: Don't Forget to Leak Test Before You Go Any Further!!!!

Our first and second leak tests failed.

We had to tighten the nut until the stainless steel side was almost flush against the nut before our brewpot was water tight.

Step 20: Straighten the Box

You will see that the box is not straight after all of the tightening. Just use a large screwdriver to straighten the box but make sure you din't damage the water heater element with the screwdriver.

Step 21: For Power, Use a Power Cord Rated at 16 Amps or Higher

We use the 16 amp power cord we stock for resale. If you can't fine one pre-made you can always buy a 6' - 8' length of power cord and a plug end from Lowes or Home Depot.


Step 22: Go Ahead and Feed the Wires Through the 1/2" Cord Connector.

Step 23: Trim the Wire Ends

Then crimp on three blue color coded ring terminals

Step 24: Feed the Wires Into the Box

Step 25: Attach the Wires to the Element

Attach the green ground wire to the green ground screw first.

Then attach the white & black wires to the water heater screws. I put the black on top and white on bottom but the order does not matter.

Step 26: Thread the Cord Connector Into the Box & Tighten

Then tighten the nut on the outside end to compress the rubber seal inside around the power cord.

Step 27: Install the Box Cover

Put the cover gasket on the cover, push through the screws, then install the cover

Step 28: Completed With the Element Starting to Heat!

Step 29: To Use the Pot, Plug It Directly Into a 20 Amp Kitchen Outlet.

Or you can use our new Brew Pot Boil Controller.

With our boil controller, you will be able to adjust the rate of your boil.

Our 240V brew pot boil controller is available through

And our 120V brew pot boil controller is also available through

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    4 years ago

    Wow this is great!! Thanks for sharing. This is exactly what my son and I were looking for. We have a friend who does the electrical but at least we know what parts to get and how to put it together.


    4 years ago

    I built this as a way to bring my BIAB system to mash temp. I used a propane burner to bring to a boil but didn't consider the temp the burner would be putting on the electrical wires and receptacle housing. It didn't turn out well.

    Tom Hargrave
    Tom Hargrave

    Reply 4 years ago

    I guess it would not. The heat flooding around the edge of the pot would melt the wire insulation in a hurry. A much better solution is to use a RIMS tube and still use propane to bring system up to mash temperature.


    8 years ago on Step 29

    Not bad. I would have added a properly rated toggle switch to either the upper side of the box or possibly the box cover. Or, if I were feeling particularly fancy, a variable power control on/off switch. Otherwise, excellent job!

    Tom Hargrave
    Tom Hargrave

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, our boil controllers do just that. Also, do you know how difficult a 30 Amp 240V
    is to find? The 30 Amp switch is easy - from any car parts store, but
    it's rated at 12 VDC. The current highest rating you will find in a 240VAC rated toggle switch is 10 Amps.


    9 years ago on Introduction


    I've been thinking of making my own electric brew kettle with a 40 qt. Polar Ware brew pot. I've purchased the Camco 4500W Ultra LWD fold-back element which was available online through (i'm from Canada).

    Before attempting to punch a hole on the brew pot, I've done a couple test holes on a scrap 16 gauge steel plate with a the 3/4" conduit punch, and the 1" conduit punch (both Greenlee). On the 3/4" test hole, it was too small (1/16" too small and cannot thread through), but with the 1" conduit punch, it was 1/8" larger than the element threads. Was this the same problem with your punch or did you use a different die/punch for a tighter fit.

    I know the electricbrewkettle site, it calls for a 1" greenlee round punch, but that would produce a exactly 1" hole that will not fit either??

    Anyhow, any help will be appreciated. Thanks Tom.


    Tom Hargrave
    Tom Hargrave

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The right size is 1-1/4" but the 1" conduit punch will work. A 1" conduit punch cuts a 1-3/16" hole which is 1/16" too large, but the square gasket that came with your element will squish out enough to cover the extra.


    10 years ago on Introduction


    Having something grounded and having something ground-fault protected are two totally different things. GFCI is meant to save your life. Simple grounding of something is not.

    Let's say current is leaking from the element and into the kettle, and that current is traveling to ground via the standard ground wire. Now let's say you are standing there in your kitchen with your hand on the sink faucet and you reach over to remove the lid from your electric kettle. You have now created a SECOND path for the current to get to ground... right through your heart and to the sink and drain pipes. That can kill you where you stand.

    With GFCI protection, the moment any current begins to leak to ground, the GFCI trips and the power shuts off. The trigger current for GFCI is far below a dangerous level to a person, so the GFCI saves your life.

    Tom Hargrave
    Tom Hargrave

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I understand what you are saying and I understand how GFI breakers work - I was around when they were invented.

    GFI breakers were first installed in front of outside outlets, where it was likely for "Joe homeowner" to cut his electric hedge trimer power cord in half and in the bathroom where "Jane Home-maker" might accidently drop a hair dryer in a sink of water, both with less than pleasant results. I installed many of them in the late 70's when I used to wire houses.

    Much later, and through a lot of lobbying, GFI breakers or outlets were required in kitchens even though the data collected suggested it was a waste of money. It became another one of these "If I don't, someone might sue me" issues. If the trend continues you'll have GFI breakers on your cealing fixtures one day! Now, don't get me wrong. I beleive GFI is a great technology which has saved thousands of lives.

    But I also understand how grounding & a proper chassis ground works from commercial & home wiring experience and a appliance connected the way this pot is connected is as safe as your home wiring, which is why I suggested testing your 3 prong hitchen outlets with a hand held tester. Unless the safety ground (the third, round prong on the plug) is broken, you simply can-not develop enough voltage on the pot for a shock!

    And BTW, your refrigerator and stove and oven and dishwasher and garbage disposal are connected the exact same way - they are all kitchen appliances WITH NO GFI BREAKER!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    A 2000W element will draw 16.7A @ 120V, so a 16A rated cord is insufficient. Combine that with the fact that not everybody gets exactly 120V, and you could have problems. I get 125V from my outlets, so I would be pulling closer to 17.5A with that kind of element. A 20A cord would be a much better/safer idea.

    Also, be sure to plug this into a GFCI outlet (the ones with the little "test/reset" buttons) to avoid being electrocuted in the event of an accident.

    Tom Hargrave
    Tom Hargrave

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I understand your concern about cord wire size and amperage and I need to do some testing with higher voltages.

    As far as GFI is concerned, modern kitchen outlets are already protected by GFI. But even if you are in a older house like mine that does not have a GFI protected kitchen, this setup is safe because the pot itself is bonded to ground through the green wire that's attached to the ground lug inside the box. That green wire runs straight to the power cord round pin which plugs into the outlet's safety ground.

    With this type of grounding, any current that may leak from the element will go straight to ground and not create a dangerous voltage on the pot. The only weak spot is the house wiring itself but you can test the wiring with a relatively low cost plug-in tester.