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Uncle Puck
01-13-2016, 07:39 AM
Hello all, I'm new here, but you should all be commended for this incredibly helpful forum. I can't tell you how many questions I've already had answered by you folks (without even having to ask).

I'm in the early development stage of a brewery and taproom on a remote Lake Michigan island where I live. Propane comes in trucks on the ferry or on a barge, and electricity comes 19 miles across through an underwater cable. The LP cost is marked up through the roof, but our electric rates are no different from the mainland, which leads me to think that for this particular situation, an electric brew house is the way to go. However, I also really like the steam setups I've seen. SABCO is the only supplier I've found so far that offers an electric boiler steam system, and it is only 2bbl. Anyone heard of or used a 5-7bbl steam system with an electric boiler? I'm just not sure I want to deal with elements in the tanks if I don't have to.

I'm currently working on an apples to apples comparison of the actual 3-phase electric rate/BTU to the current LP cost/BTU, of course, and I can share that when I have it.

Thanks for any input!

Ted Briggs
01-13-2016, 02:28 PM
Yes they make electric boilers that can power a system that size. The elements will be in the boiler, not your brewtanks. They are prone to breakdowns and suck power, I wouldn't want one but in you situation it might work economically.
https://www.fulton.com/product-profile.php?ptc=st&uid=8

Uncle Puck
01-14-2016, 03:54 PM
Thanks much! I just got a quote from Portland Kettleworks with an electric boiler. I haven't been able to find a BTU/Kwh comparison of a system with an electric boiler to an electric system with elements right in the vessels, but it seems like it would use a similar amount of power to keep the steam going as to directly heat the liquid in the tanks. I suppose the heat in the steam isn't applied as directly, though, which might result in some loss. Thanks again Ted.


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nohandslance
01-15-2016, 03:36 PM
Uncle Puck,
Check PM

TGTimm
01-19-2016, 12:45 PM
Sussman Boiler makes a fine line of small electric steam boilers. Break out of the box of thinking "brewery supplier".

Work with your kettle/HL tank makers, and determine how much steam you need, at what pressure--most states consider anything over 15 psi to be a "high pressure" steam system a,d the regulations and inspections are much more vigorous for those.

Consider the costs of replacing electric heating elements every few years into your costs. The little Sussman we used to run ate elements about every three years, with a replacement cost of about $1500 for all three elements.

idylldon
01-19-2016, 01:00 PM
I just received my 5BBL electric boiler steam system from Portland Kettle Works; unfortunately, I'm quite a few months out from actually firing it up. The boiler I got was made by Sussman and they have an excellent reputation. We went with electric because we live in a rural mountain town where propane prices can increase dramatically during the winter months, we get less efficiency at the this altitude with gas due to less oxygen (11% less), and didn't want to have to deal with all the CA air quality/hood requirements. To offset our electricity bill, we installed a 60,000kW solar system on the roof, which is basically facing dead south with no obstructions. Time will tell, but I think we made the right choice for our situation.

Cheers,
--
Don

Uncle Puck
01-19-2016, 01:10 PM
Thanks TGTimm. For the system I'm eyeing, 11 psi seems to be the minimum, so hopefully it will keep us out of the high-pressure range. So the elements are more pricey than those that would be installed directly in a vessel, correct? I believe I saw a discussion implying that at least some of those are pretty cheap because they are standard sizes/types and can be found anywhere. I appreciate the heads-up about them being an ongoing cost. Do they burn out more quickly than the ones in vessels, I wonder, or are they just more pricey to replace?

idylldon, I hope it works out well for you. It sounds like your reasons are similar to ours. That solar array ought to pay for itself quickly. Best of luck as the big day draws near!


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TGTimm
01-20-2016, 02:43 PM
Uncle Puck--I think the elements used in direct-heated kettles vary widely, from pretty much the same as the boilers to high-wattage, low-density home water heater elements (which work quite well--we use them in our HL tank).

Check out the regulations for your state regarding low/high pressure boilers. Here in Oregon, the cut off is 15 psi--meaning 15 is high pressure. 11 psi doesn't give you much of a boost, temperature-wise, 'though there's still the latent hear of steam. I'd run with whatever the maximum you can safely and legally get away with. Usually the difference between high/low pressure systems is more frequent and detailed inspections, and requiring a licensed boiler welder/installer to do most anything with the system. Here, at least, with low-pressure we can get away with doing most of the work--both install and maintenance--ourselves.

idylldon--Check out those elements for your Sussman--we may have some compatible, unused to barely used spares sitting around after we decommissioned our Sussman. I know we have a full set (4) of 208V 3-phase elements that we bought and installed by accident--we have 240V service--ran 'em once, popped the breakers, and removed and boxed 'em. Just sitting on a shelf taking up space.

Oh, yeah, if you're using electric boilers or direct-heat--check your service voltage before you order! 240V elements on a 208V service just won't heat as fast (might last a long, long, time), but 208V elements on 240V service will pop breakers and burn wires and contactors.

idylldon
01-20-2016, 09:20 PM
idylldon--Check out those elements for your Sussman--we may have some compatible, unused to barely used spares sitting around after we decommissioned our Sussman. I know we have a full set (4) of 208V 3-phase elements that we bought and installed by accident--we have 240V service--ran 'em once, popped the breakers, and removed and boxed 'em. Just sitting on a shelf taking up space.

Oh, yeah, if you're using electric boilers or direct-heat--check your service voltage before you order! 240V elements on a 208V service just won't heat as fast (might last a long, long, time), but 208V elements on 240V service will pop breakers and burn wires and contactors.

I haven't unboxed the Sussman yet since we're still a ways away from having the brewing area redone, but we did order it 208V 3-phase. I'll touch base once I've had a chance to verify that it's correct.

Cheers,
--
Don