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Need advice from a sparky please.

Hi, and greetings from Wellington NZ. I have been discussing setting up a keg boiler with Punkin but need some electrical advice regarding what elements I can use. There is one 20amp circuit for the power points in the house, so I'm assuming that I should be able to use 2 x 2400 watt elements (2400w/240v = 10amps each, x2 = 20amps). But there is also what I think is a seperate 20amp circuit for the garage, so if I run a lead from the garage as well as the house would I be able to go for 2 X 3600w elements at 15amps each???

Any advice anyone can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers. Gee


800 x 600 - 71K

Best Answer

  • edited January 2014 Answer ✓

    @Gee, I'm not a sparkie but have done a fair bit of work with the bitey invisible stuff over many years (professionally & personally) so take what I say with a grain of salt & pay a sparkie a couple of beers to sus it out for sure, but here is my opinion:

    1. It does look like you have a 20A cct to the garage, however it has to run everything in the shed ie lights, beer fridge, radio, disco ball etc. so whilst theoretically you could run 2 x 2400w elements off the garage supply, but you'd be stretching the friendship IMHO as the wiring to the shed is not likely to be heavier gauge.
    2. You could run 1 x 2400w element off the garage supply & a long lead from the house for another as they are on separate ccts, however watch you don't draw too much off the house supply eg fridge, stereo, computer, clock radio etc etc all also run off that 1 x 20A "plugs" breaker.
    3. To run a 3600W element you will need a 15A outlet & ideally heavier cable. As you are renting & don't want to modify anything, I don't think its an option. Added to that if you wanted to run 1 x 3600W element from the house as well you'd need a 15A outlet inside + run even more risk of not only tripping the 20A house poser, but overloading the cabling to the outlets & risking a fire. It is definitely something I would STRONGLY advise AGAINST.

    My suggestion is to go with # 2 run 1 x 2400w element off the house via an extension lead & another off the shed supply.


  • edited December 2013

    i'm not an electrician but I just had something similar done for mine and my box looks very similar to yours.

    you'll want one dedicated circuit for the two elements then just run one cable over to the location. I had a new 32A breaker installed that was protected for wet environments (we call them GFI or Ground Fault Interrupt circuits in the States). you will want that for sure. also have the electrician check that your grounding system is working properly. (I actually get some tingles when my feet are wet and I'm touching the still while running. it's freaky. I should ground the still I suppose.)

    We checked the incoming feed wires were sufficient for the task, and looked at the voltage drop (how much the volts decrease under load) with everything running. then we installed the new breaker and plugged the element in and ran it along with everything again, then checked voltage drop a second time. We also measured actual amp draw. It was in spec so it was all good. I didnt go cheap on the wire tho, I got one that was a bit larger than I actually needed to avoid voltage drop.

    your box looks like if you moved that one breaker on the right down into that empty slot, that you could fit another full sized protected breaker. I cant tell you which element to choose or if it'll run on your existing circuits, but I'd want a new dedicated one for the still in any event. I'd be very surprised if your electrician didnt insist on it actually.

    I took the time to run the wire along the outside of the house, leaving plenty of extra at both ends. this saved a bunch of money on his time, and all he ad to do was hook up the outlet and breaker and make the penetrations. you know... electrician stuff.

    Hope that helps. Sorry if I'm out of order here.

  • GeeGee
    edited December 2013

    Thanks for your reply @Fiji_Spirits, very interesting. However as we are renting this house I don't want to have to modify anything electrical if I can avoid it, I'd just like to know what would be safe to run on the present setup.

    Cheers and all the best for the new year! Gee

  • edited January 2014

    Sounds sensible advice @crozdog, thanks. The good thing is the elements are upgradable in our housing, just screw a 2400 watter out and screw a 3600 watter in if you move somewhere with more power available.

    The controller and everything else will still work just fine.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • GeeGee
    edited January 2014

    @crozdog, much appreciate your comments. And its pretty much what I thought was the case, so in light of your very good info I'll take your advice and go for the 2400w elements. Cheers.

  • Gotta love a sparky scratching his noggin at the meter box:( I finally got 2x 20A circuits installed for 2x 3600w elements. They work great. Problem is the 63A saftey switch for another circuit in the house goes off. The 20A circuit breakers and elements keep working.

    Me- "How hard can it be mate?? You colour blind? Sparky - Shrugs shouldersI think you need 3 phase!!

    Does that sound right? Should I be worried now my house is going to burn down? lol

  • Prolly best to manage other appliances within the structure while running......No cooking and no clothes drying.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited January 2014

    Thanks @Smaug. I finally got my mate around who is licensed and he re-wired the 2 circuits at the box after it had been butchered.. He basically said the same thing. I just cant run the oven. They are both running well and not tripping anything out.

    I was a little frustrated the other day because I got my sisters 4th year apprentice sparky knobend boyfriend who owed me a days labour to put in the circuits. Turns out he had no idea. He cut the electrical companies tamper ties on the meter/valve for some unknown reason and now I basically have to lie to the company when they see they have been cut with some BS story...This kid should quit while he is still alive apparently.

    Anyway all sorted now. My girlfriend can finally go to bed without sharing with a fire extinguisher, and I can finally get some sleep

  • GeeGee
    edited January 2014

    Thanks guys, I have ordered the elements from @punkin so I'll let you know how it goes. Gota find someone to do the welding yet though! Cheers.

  • edited January 2014

    Did my first real run today with the new boiler set up with a 4 plate 4" Crystal Dragon.
    Jimminy it worked great except the breaker kept tripping so I was limited to only 2 of the 3 2400w elements (also purchased from @punkin). Next time its a long extension cord to reach a socket where the other 2 elements are not tied to the same breaker.
    Can't complain though, added 10L of 65% hearts to inventory today, on @punkin's oak dominoes now.
    Gotta get the power sorted soon because the new boiler is destined to sport a 5" Crystal Dragon in the next few weeks and I plan to push it really hard to see what it can do. The 4" did 4L per hour at 92% and slowly petered down to about half that rate before touching into tails. All very typical of 4 plates.

    For clarity, the third element was only for boil up and was not needed for the run. One element wide on and the other about 50% on a DIY controller was just about right.
    And it's winter here and we had a small space heater plugged in that probably was just enough to help trip the breaker.

    If 4" can average about 3L per hour over the course of a spirit run, anyone venture a guess what a 5" will do? Logic says about 30% more (5 distilling hours becomes 3.5 hours) but we'll know in a few weeks - with videos!


    lookin for 5inch.JPG
    450 x 800 - 76K
  • @Lloyd, just beautiful! :-bd

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  • @Lloyd that is one sweet rig. Why do I suddenly feel boiler, super deph. shiny new toy envy?

  • @captainshooch it was so sweet to run.
    The super dephlem used so little water it was a bit difficult to regulate at first but after barely cracking the needle valves they settled in and the exit water was steaming hot. A tiny trickle of water that produces copious amounts of steam is disconcerting until you get used to it.

    After two years of promising to insulate my keg boiler, and never doing it, somehow led to an insulated boiler :))

    Hum... this thread is about advice from a sparky?? I did mention a longer extension cord :)

  • edited January 2014

    @Lloyd nice setup but may i suggest you move your extinguisher away from where combustion is most likely? in that location it might be a bit hard to reach if you need it.

    Sorry for going off topic, so to bring it back on track - i realize the chance of fire is reduced by running electric elements. *-:)

  • @crozdog said: Lloyd nice setup but may i suggest you move your extinguisher away from where combustion is most likely? in that location it might be a bit hard to reach if you need it. Sorry for going off topic, so to bring it back on track - i realize the chance of fire is reduced by running electric elements. *-:)

    Very good catch, didn't even see that one! Of course the call for safety should never be left out:

    SAFETY FIRST: In the Distillery

    And right fitting this discussion's topic:

    Please always keep the possible risks in mind when dealing with electricity, which makes me quote our disclaimer from our Terms of Service again:

    DISCLAIMER: Any advice given here reflects the personal opinion of individual forum members, which may not necessarily be correct and is meant to be addressed to someone who exactly knows and understands how to perform the necessary tasks. If in any doubt please seek help from a professional. Neither the StillDragon User Group nor the StillDragon Distribution Network or their individual members can be held responsible in case you encounter problems, damages or injuries when following any given instructions.

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  • @Lloyd that beauty calls for it's own thread once you get the 5" CD on it.

  • Yeah, the extinguisher needs to be mounted on the wall, and not behind a wall of fire :)

    I figure the 5" will come together over the next 2 to 3 weeks and will start a thread for it then. In the meantime I'll drag this thread away from topic =))

  • GeeGee
    edited January 2014

    Well finally all sorted, the elements run without any dramas at all, even with normal household power usage happening in the background, such as the stove & kettle, in fact I went out of my way to try and overload it but couldn't. I had 1 element plugged into a wall socket and one into an outlet on the stove (the stove is on a 30amp circuit, not sure if this applies to the 2 power outlets). So happy with the set up and very impressed with the service and gear provided by @punkin and StillDragon! Also thanks to @crozdog for the sage advice :)


    450 x 800 - 53K
  • So nice @Gee. It's swill making time!!!

    That keg sure polished up nice :-bd

    The SGK might be a pain to assemble but it sure looks good when its done.
    And just so you know, I personally assembled and boxed it (and every other SGK ever made) before you received it so I KNOW they are a pain. Same for your element guards but compared to SGKs they are easy.

    @Gee, I seem to have a habit of hijacking your thread, why is that? >:)

  • nice @Gee! Looks the part!

    It is what you make it!

  • You are very welcome mate. Looks excellent and sounds like you have plenty of power.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • nice setup mate, it will give you many years of service. Happy to help. Now go and fill some fermenters so you can run it!

  • GeeGee
    edited January 2014

    @crozdog, already ran a 42L wash through it as a stripping run. From the time I flicked on the elements it took 2 hours and 45 minutes in total. Way, way faster than my old setup, and far better looking. Absolutely stoked!!!

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