Hybrid Electric/Gas BIAB using heatstick

Post #1 made 1 year ago
Hi there,

Just considering ways to simplify and shorten my brewday. I have a big 100lt stainless steel pot that I brew 50lt batches in using gas and a propane burner but it takes a long time to get it to boil and to mash temp. I can speed it up a bit by using hot water from my hotwater cylinder but then I don't have any hotwater for the rest of the day.

So I was thinking about getting a heatstick like this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/Portable-Quick- ... 1093057840.

Specifications if the link goes down:

WOOJU Quick Boiling Water Heater

Automatic power off when water running out
Overall length: 58cm 23in / Cable length: 80cm 32in / Weight: 1.3kg
Temp. control: 20-120℃, 68 ~ 248℉
220V 60Hz 3,000W
Material: Stainless Steel
Made in Korea

I checked the wiring in my house (in Europe with 230V) and they are 5mm2 wires so they should be able to handle 3,000W easily.
I think the advantages of this system would be:
1) more efficient heating of water for mashing - I can insulate the vessel with the heat stick inside which I can't do with the gas
2) After removing the bag, I can put the heat stick back in to speed up reaching the boil
3) I could set it up to a timer and put water in the night before so it is at mash temp by time I have had breakfast (if I can find a timer that will handle 3,000W)
4) If I want to do a batch sparge I can use it to preheat the sparge water in a bucket.
5) I use less gas.
6) I cut down on my chances of poisoning myself with carbon monoxide myself by brewing with less gas.
7) Possibly if I made a shield to go around the element I could use it for maintaining the mash temperature so I don't have to take off the insulation when I fire up the burner. Of course I would still stir it while it is turned on.

Has anyone had experience with using heatsticks with BIAB and propane. Would you recommend it? Keep in mind that I have to heat about 70-80lt for a full brew.

Do you know of any suppliers who sell them in Europe? Ideally with a thermostat but not absolutely essential.

Many thanks,

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Post #2 made 1 year ago
I don't see any reason for advising against it. I used to have an underpowered electric stove (hob?) and had to use something similar to get a boil working.

It's not recommended to use hot water from your residential water heater as the quality of the water comes into question after it has sat in that tank for a length of time (typically) gathering mineral deposits, etc. I think PP posted advice on this once but I don't have time to perform a thorough search at the moment (sorry).

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Post #3 made 1 year ago
[Todd, posted while I was posting - looks like we agree but his post is much shorter :lol:.]

Lol jube, I was actually looking at the same element (and many others) a few days ago but for different reasons :).

Before we get to that, be careful of using hot water from your hot water tank. Unless it is instantaneous (and maybe solar - not sure), your tank will have a sacrificial diode in it which throws your water chemistry right out. It's why hot water tastes a bit funny from many systems.

Okay, that's a big mother of a pot/kettle!!!

(Quick question - what's your 'normal' ambient/air temperature when brewing?)

Re the immersion element you have linked/pictured, that was one that struck me as well - great to have the thermo and I wouldn't bother with one that doesn't. Might as well get what you want. I think there was another one on eBay with a thermostat that was grey in colour - Google Images should find it. I also think there was a great price difference between suppliers on exactly the same product so definitely do some eBaying etc.

I think your plan sounds great but be aware of how long the immersion heater will take to heat up water on it's own - check out this calculator. You'll see there that to heat up 80L of water from ambient (20 °C) to boiling (100 °C) in an hour would need 7.5kw's or...

With a 3 kw element (as is the one linked) it will take 2.5 hours. Still pretty good though when considering your plan.

Also great to see you have worked out if your house current can handle it :thumbs:,
Last edited by PistolPatch on 22 May 2016, 21:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #4 made 1 year ago
Thanks. Ambient temp is about 18-23 Celsius. Heating from 15 to 68 or so is about 80 minutes according to your calculator.

It should speed things up to the boil if I use the 8Kw gas (It's a guess I'm can't really remember) + the nuclear powered heat stick ;-) previously it took an hour to reach a good boil.

I won't use water from the hot water cylinder although I think my sacrificial diode had probably sacrificed itself and I need to replace it asap. Ie I haven't replaced it is 9 years :-(

Incidentally I just bought a heat stick from Bulgaria which didn't have the thermostat but was a quarter of the price.
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Post #5 made 1 year ago
As I wrote previously I bought a 3kW heat stick to help speed up my brew day using it in combination with the gas that I previously had. And ...it rocks :thumbs:

The advantages are:
- I can get the kettle to mash temperature using just electricity which means I can insulate the kettle saving energy (for me it is a BIG 95 lt pot).
- I don't have to get rid of the insulation when maintaining the mash temp, I don't even have to lift up the bag or anything, I just stir the mash with the heat stick - after a couple minutes it gets the mash back to the desired mash temp.
- Increasing the temperature to boil is also much quicker - once I've pulled out the bag I put the heat stick in and switch on the gas as well and it gets 70 litres of wort to a boil in about half the time it used to just using the gas.

The other thing I like is I didn't have to drill any holes in my kettle, and it is really easy to clean both the kettle and the heat stick. I have the heat stick hang on the same pulley that I use to hoist up the bag.

The only thing disadvantage of this hybrid is that it is likely that sometime I will absentmindedly pull the heat stick out of the liquid and fry the element in it. :idiot:
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