About a year ago I bought myself a nice 26 gallon More Beer kettle and since I brewed in my garage with propane, life was good. Well leases expire and I found new digs in an apartment with less than optimal garage brewing potential. I knew I would have to go electric, but did not want to drill and weld on my nice kettle. I also wanted the ability to boil 20-gallon batches if need be. Standard water heater elements were out of the question. I could of built one of those heat sticks, but wanted something more robust.
Enter my favorite surplus store to the rescue: Ebay!
For $25 each I picked up a couple of industrial stainless cartridge heaters. They are rated at 240 @ 4000 watts. I plan on using two of them for 8000 watts total. These are normally tightly fitted into a die of some type, but I was going to place them in liquid. The o.d. of the heaters was 3/4" of an inch.
I then picked up some swaglock fittings also on ebay and with some 1/2" stainless pipe fittings had a plan:
The heaters are mounted in the fittings in that picture getting ready to assemble the unit.
After some dry fitting it was ready to assemble the unit.
And wire the control switches. I wanted to be able to control each element independently and run it full power on 240V or on 120V.
It sure looks nice fully assembled. Time to take it for a test run:
After the initial test run to 100 degrees, I re-checked the swaglock fittings to ensure they were tight enough not to leak.
Now it was time to put it to the test:
I filled my kettle to 20+ gallons of water. The start temperature was 77 degrees F.
And in 1:06 it came to a rolling boil. Not a bad time to boil given the volume of water.
I am looking forward to my first brew on it this weekend.
Edit: Electric and water is dangerous. Do not attempt this. Do so only at your own risk. Ensure proper safety devices. I'm not responsible for your own darwin-award-winning-stupidity.