DIY Sous Vide 2.0




Chef for 28 years, always looking for a new challenge and always looking to make something!!

So this is my upgrade to my first sous vide machine and I learned a lot about this and electricity in my first attempt. My first one was good but it had a few issues and I would like to share what I learned here and hope that with all my mistakes you can learn from what I did and end up with a great product that you are proud of like I am.

If you have any questions please contact me at or look at my food blog at

Have fun with this and hope you enjoy what I have made.

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Step 1: It All Starts With the Parts!!

I was lucky to be able to reuse all the parts from my original Sous Vide except the project box. It was only $8 so no big deal. I have a list of all the parts here and you can get all the parts online and at your local hardware store.

I purchased all my parts on, Ikea, and Ebay because I live in rural Newfoundland, so all of those that live below the 49th Parallel will get this a lot cheaper!!

So lets begin:

Project Box

Digital Thermostat

Hot water tank element

12 Screw Terminal Blocks

Fish Tank Pump

Toggle Switch

Solid State Relay

J.B. Weld or Canadian Tire

Spade Terminals or Canadian Tire

Ordning Cutlery Storage Ikea

1 1/2" galvanized threaded pipe

1 piece of Aluminum that is 1/4" thick by 2" wide and 18" long

3' outdoor extension cord, this will give us enough wiring for the entire project and only $2!!

Gorilla glue

Hot glue gun

Dremel or other rotary tool

Wire Cutters

Wire strippers and crimping tool, optional

Cord from old computer or another outdoor extension cord, your choice


Various drill bits

Hole Bit, same size as your galvanized pipe

Step 2: Prepare the Element

In my first project I didn't like how the element was half out the water. I wanted it submersed for better heat transfer. As well, this would help any heat transfer into the project box.

First thing you will need is to prepare the wiring. Take apart the extension cord and prepare a 1 foot section of black and white wire. Attach these wire to the terminals of the element. This is to give you enough room inside the project box.

Take a piece of JB Weld epoxy about the size of a large marble. Start working it to mix the two compounds and activate the resin. It stays very pliable and easy to work with during this time. When mixed roll it into a sausage shape to fit on the lip of the galvanized pipe. Then take the element, placed the wires in the pipe and then press the element into the JB Weld. With the excess of the epoxy that presses out, use your thumb and press it around the outside of the pipe and element to create a water proof seal. This will take 1 hour to set and 8 hours to cure. Put this aside and we can start the cutting of the project box and wiring.

Step 3: Cutting and Prepping

Take your whole saw and cut into the bottom of the Ikea Cutlery Holder. This will be protect the sous vide bags from touching the hot element.

Lets prepare the project box. We need a few holes of various sizes. This depends on the parts you use.

Measure the hole for the digital thermometer then take the cutting blade on the Dremel to cut it out.

Take the hole saw and decide where you want the element to go. Cut that hole with the hole saw.

Pick the placement for the switch and using a drill bit of the same size make your hole and mount your switch, go ahead and mount your switch.

Take the 12 pin terminal and using gorilla glue mount this to the lid. Use a clamp and this will take up to and hour for a strong bond.

Now time for the SSR, take more JB Weld Epoxy, about the size of a golf ball, and start to mix the epoxy to activate. Divide the mixed Epoxy into 3 pieces and make these into a cigar shape. Place these pieces on the bottom of the SSR, this will mount the SSR to the project box and provide insulation to the project box from the heat created by the SSR. Mount the SSR with a clamp and let set for at least 4 hours. Sorry for the late pics, I realized I didn't take it until after the wires were run.

Now, time to prep the wires. You don't need spade terminals but it does make it easier on wiring.

You will need 6 black wires, two 6" wires, two, 4" wires, two 2" wires. You will also need 4 white wires, one 6", two 4", and one 2". Then take two 4" green wires. Strip all these wires and attach all the spade terminals. You will need to crimp the ends of the spade terminals of the wires that go into the ends of the thermostat so there it looks like a point and not a spade. The thermostat only takes a single prong terminal and not the spade. You can just use the bare wire if you wish.

Take the Aluminum and bend it into a J shape. make it 12" x 3" x 5". This will be bolted to the bottom of the junction box and will act as the support for the entire rig. Try to make the angles as square as possible. Decide where you wish to mount it and drill two holes through the aluminum and project box. Mount this with two bolts and nuts. Tighten and glue with hot glue for a water proof seal.

Take the water pump and cut the cord. Using gorilla glue, glue it to the long end of the aluminum bar that will go in the water. Clamp this and let dry completely. Drill a hole in the project box at the base of the aluminum so that the cord for the pump can go through and thermostat from the digital thermometer can go through.

Step 4: Lets Start Assembly

Now that all the hard work is done it is time to put it together.

Take the pipe and element assembly and screw it into the Ikea holder as shown.

Take that and then screw it into the hole in the bottom of the project box. If it is to snug then use the Dremel to remove just enough so that it is a tight fit.

Insert the digital thermostat and using the orange clips lock it into place. Where the wiring for the pump is put the thermostat wire down there and mount it next to the pump.

I used a 4" x 1/4" bolt with a wing nut for the locking system to tighten against my selected sous vide container. I put the wing nut on backwards and placed it at the end and glued it in place. This gives me a grip when I tighten it.

Now comes the fun part the wiring!!

Step 5: Electrical!!!

This is where I learned the most!!

Last time it worked great but my load was too much for my thermostat. It was rated at 10 Amps but by load was 12.5 Amps.

1500W ÷ 120V = 12.5 Amps

I solved this problem with a Solid State Relay, SSR. They have no moving parts and only activate when a current is passed though it. So, when my thermostat turns on it completes the circuit and then the SSR turns on and activates the element.

Depending on how your thermostat works you might have to wire it differently. Mine does not supply power out, it nearly connects the circuit. So when it turns on its switch it competes the circuit. Others have direct power out. Please look at the circuit diagram for your thermostat.

You can see what a jumbled mess it looks like in the pictures but with the diagram it makes sense.

With my thermostat I had to treat the electrical as two separate circuits.

One supplies the power to the thermostat, pump and SSR.

The other is just completed and supplies the power to the Element when the SSR is on.

You will Notice that the SSR has a positive and negative terminal. this is only important when using DC, we are using AC so we don't have to worry at all.

I would explain all the wiring but the diagram does a much better job then I could and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

If you are lucky to have a thermostat or PID that supplies direct power then just simplify the wiring by hooking up the power the AC Terminals and then the outputs to the SSR.

Step 6: Put It to the Test!!

Simply put the lid on it and put it in your preferred container for sous vide.

Make sure that the element is submersed in the water. Don't place the water up to the level of the JB Weld just in case you don't have a perfect seal. Don't want a short on the first try.

Plug it and throw the switch!!!

If something doesn't turn on please unplug and check the connections for a loose one.

Set it to a selected temperature and let it run for awhile to see if it will cycle on and off. I let mine run for about 3 hrs to test it and no issues. Then I let it run overnight in my garage for the final test!!

Runs great and now to sous vide an egg!!

Please let me know what you think and share with others!!

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17 Discussions


Question 10 months ago

Hi Nice instructable. I have two questions:
1. Have you measured the electric consumption?
2. Wouldn't it be more energy efficient if you had a lid and thermally insulated the box?



3 years ago

I built mine, very similar to your v.1. I however found that the element melted right through the pic junction box that I had everything mounted in. What do you think the issue may be? FYI the element is 1100 watts.


3 years ago

First, thanks for taking the time to publish this design and its predecessor - the information has been very helpful. In studying the design, I'd like to offer some hopefully constructive thoughts.

The solid state relay can
get too hot, if it is on for a long time, for instance if initially heating
cold water to cooking temperature. I ran the SSR25 sitting on a bench in free
air, powering a 1500 watt element, and the bottom of the SSR rapidly exceeded 80°C, the
maximum operating temperature specification. The fix is a small heatsink and
fan, such as one used to cool VGA graphics chips such as this one on ebay: 40x40mm 2 Pins Connector PC VGA Video Card
Heatsink Cooler Cooling Fan Clear

The problem is that these fans need a 12 volt power supply.
There are small modules on ebay that would work fine, like this one: 12V 450mA Isolated Switch Power Module LED
Power AC-DC 220 To 5V/12V

once you have a 12 volt power supply, you no longer need a temperature
controller that can operate from 110v, and instead can use something smaller
like this one: DC 12V 20A Digital LED Thermostat Relay
Temperature Controller w/ Sensor

The final recommendation is to get rid of the mechanical relay
in the temperature controller. If you use the SSR25-DA solid state relay
instead of the SSR25-AA relay, it can be controlled with a 12 volt DC signal.
The 12V temperature controller above applies 12 volts to operate the coil on
its relay. So, remove the relay, and use the signals going to the coil pins on
the relay to operate the SSR. (Be sure to get the polarity right when
wiring the relay drive signal to the SSR!).

Of the
recommendations above, I think the fan/heatsink is pretty important, which also requires the 12 power supply module to power the fan. The other suggestions are how I'm building my cooker, but certainly not essential to success.

2 replies

Reply 3 years ago

I have a DC SSR kicking around the house so it will be an easy upgrade as well, the other thing I am looking at is using a 5v DC motor to run an Impeller so the water moves more gently and no submerged motor. This motor will be mounted in the project box with a driveshaft. Much more elegant design.


Reply 3 years ago

Thanks for the advice. I have run into the heat issue and have a heatsink purchased. As I have started school and don't have a lot of time I am going to rebuild and upgrade the system. I am starting Electronic System Engineering so I may pick up even more ideas. I will post a new Sous Vide when I get it done. Take some time and vote for the Cake I have in the Cake Decorating contest.


3 years ago

if I want to have this kind of performance on a custom sous vide , here are the specs info

  • Maximum Bath Volume: 30 liters / 8 gallons (120V); 45 liters / 12 gallons (240V)
  • Maximum Pump Output: 12 liters (3.2 gallons) per minute
  • Maximum Temperature: 200ºF (93ºC)
  • Temperature Stability: ±0.09ºF (±0.05ºC)
  • Heater Wattage: 1100 Watts (120V); 1600 Watts (240V)
1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Sorry for the late reply. I didn't see the post. What I have is good for that. The water heater will just take a little longer. Water circulation just needs to be low. I am working on a circulation unit. A dc motor with a drive shaft and impeller just to move the water. This pump flow is a little to high.


3 years ago

How is the durability of the fish tank pump so far? Can it withstand high heat for hours and hours?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Sorry I didn't see this post. It can put the flow rate is a little high. I am going to replace the motor with a DC motor and shaft with an impeller on the end. I am working on a new Instructable and will be posting soon.


3 years ago

what do I need


3 years ago

What's the largest volume of water you've tried heating? Does this compete with the professional models, or more in line with the home use ones?

3 replies

Reply 3 years ago

The largest volume I have done would be approximately 12 liters. As it it is a heating element from a hot water tank it is no issue for that. My element is rated at 1500 watts. Most home models are 500 to 800. If the water was room temp it would take about 20 mins to get to 80 degrees C. Hope that helps.


Reply 3 years ago

I got everything assembled according to the diagram, but I'm not getting power to the element for whatever reason. All the same components you're using. I've traced through all the connections and they seem to be correct. Any thoughts?


Reply 3 years ago

Can you take some pictures and send them to me so I can have a look? That way I can have a better look at what is done.



Any idea how low the wattage would have to be on the heating element to not require the relay? How well do you think that amount of heating power would work?


4 years ago

Very detailed and well photographed, thanks for the awesome instructable! ~Momoluv

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Thank you so much. I have learned a lot from my first attempt and I just wanted to pass this knowledge on as well. Hope you make it yourself!!