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need to power a bubbas barrels 100gal kettle

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  • need to power a bubbas barrels 100gal kettle

    we have a 100gallon bubbas barrels setup as a temporary brewhouse until we get back on our feet after covid. i wanted to use direct fire but upon getting the gear it seems that the bottom is only like 1.4m thick and my partner is insistent that we're gonna scorch everything with direct fire. we also scored some small 2bbl fermenters, so ideally i like to have ~75 gals in kettle to fill the ferms before losses in hx, trub/etc.

    as for controls, we really dont need any to be honest. we have a tankless that does 180f so there's our strike and sparge water. we just need to worry about getting to a boil and then backing it off by unplugging an element to keep a hard simmer.

    the boil kettle has two 2" element ports. we could add a third if need be. we have 3phase 208 power.

    im seeing that we really just have two options- easy to get 240v type elements , or some 6kw or 9kw elements at 3phase.

    for the 240 stuff, all the ripple ultra low density elements seem to be 1.5" tc sized, so that's a pain and something we'd have to swap out. and they're typically 240v rated at 5500w, so for us at 208 we're down to roughly 4k instead per element. seems like we'd definitely need three? but wiring up these would be way easier vs 3phase.

    as for the 3phase gear. glacier tanks sells 6kw 208 wye gear. two 6kw elements should probably fit in the kettle if we can sorta bend them so they dont hit each other. but then we gotta wire them, figure out grounding/safety, etc. i know some 3phase basics, but definitely would need some direction here. not sure how you ground 3phase stuff like this (resistive), or where you would/could add gfci type safety, etc etc.

    worth it to pursue the 3phase route? or just go with multiple smaller elements?

  • #2
    This is a little late but I'll throw in my two penneth: I have a 5bbl 3-vessel system (HLT/MT/BK). It is all electric and single phase. I have 5 x 5500w 240v volt elements in the BK and 4 of the same in the HLT. I am located on the lower level of a winery tasting room and I had to get my own power meter installed. The difference between single and three phase was shocking (yep, pun intended). To run 3-phase was $11,000 (or was it $17k...can't remember) single phase was about $2k. This is someone else's building and I had already spent quite a bit of my money in his building and was not about to spend more. Then there was the expense of the massive panels inside plus the control panel from the brewery. None of the electric stuff other than the brewery control panel would go with me if I leave. I was very afraid of my power bills, but they've been surprisingly low. My tanks are all double-walled and insulated so they hold temps quite well and I'm glad I did not pay for 3-phase.

    Anther thing to consider is pumps and glycol chillers: If you want to use a VFD, you'll need 3-phase. I have a 1HP pump from CPE and I use a diaphragm valve to control the flow when needed. I have 3 FVs and 2 BBTs and I use a glycol chiller that runs on single phase. My cooler uses a CoolBot which also uses standard voltage.


    • #3
      The controllers and elements that bubba's sells themselves are pretty much the best bang for your buck that i've found.
      And they're sized correctly to fit their equipment.

      On another note, a brewery friend of mine runs a 3bbl bubba's system that's direct fire, and they don't have significant scorching issues, so i wouldn't be too afraid of just going that route and saving the hastle.