Heating Element Kits
We use premium stainless steel Camco heating elements specifically made for beer brewing. They will not rust when left in water for extended periods.
These heating elements include important features a brewer should look for:
- UL listed for use in the US and Canada.
- Ultra low watt density (ULWD) or low watt density (LWD).
- A stainless steel base that will not rust.
- Better sheath (tube) material made from a high performance nickel-chromium stainless steel (804) alloy with much better temperature and corrosion resistance than standard shiny 2xx/3xx stainless steel.
ULWD elements prevent the wort from being scorched or caramelized as the heat output is only 50W per square inch (7.8W per square cm) or less. ULWD also provides added safety as the element will not break instantaneously if fired "dry" (not immersed in water) by accident. Mistakes do happen so we recommend that ULWD elements be used whenever possible instead of LWD, especially when the element is in contact with wort. The high performance nickel-chromium stainless steel alloy sheath used on these elements provides additional strength to resist dry firing.
One of the most challenging parts in creating our Electric Brewery was how to attach the heating elements to the kettles in a safe and secure manner. Our heating element kits ensure that the entire kettle is electrically grounded in the same way any power tool or appliance chassis is grounded, with all wires well protected.
Our heating element kits include parts to fit in any kettle wall using the same 100% weldless principles used by our Blichmann Boilermaker kettles. There are no screw-on threaded fittings that need to be welded to your kettle. When done right weldless connections are tight fitting, never leak, never require any adjustments, and are perfectly safe. For more information see our heating elements article.
The heating element may also be used in kettles that already have NPS or Tri-Clover (Tri-Clamp) fittings attached.
How many heating elements do I need? Straight or Ripple? What wattage?
Four stainless steel heating elements are available:
- Camco 02955: 4500W (240V), ripple, ultra low watt density (ULWD). 13.7" long from flange base to tip. For kettles approximately 13.5" in diameter or larger.
- Camco 02965: 5500W (240V), ripple, ultra low watt density (ULWD). 13.7" long from flange base to tip. For kettles approximately 13.5" in diameter or larger.
- Camco 02929: 4500W (240V), straight, low watt density (LWD), 10.375" long from flange base to tip (9.875" long from end of threads).
- Camco 02935: 5500W (240V), straight, low watt density (LWD), 12.25" long from flange base to tip (11.875" long from end of threads).
If following our design, we recommend that the ripple (ULWD) elements be used. They fit in any Blichmann Boilermaker kettle (10 gallons up to 55 gallons) and 'keggles' (15 gallon converted Sanke kegs used by many homebrewers).
The straight elements are useful for very small kettles, for RIMS based setups where they are installed in a tube, or where ripple elements simply will not fit. Straight elements may also be used in the HLT where only water is heated as the ultra low watt density of the ripple elements is of no benefit when heating water.
All heating elements are somewhat flexible and can be carefully bent a bit if required. This is especially true of the ripple elements given that they come pre-bent with a wave.
Elements are used as follows:
- The Standard 30A control panel controls two (2) 5500W heating elements.
- The 50A control panel for back to back batches controls two (2) 4500-5500W* heating elements.
- The 50A control panel for 30+ gallons controls four (4) 4500-5500W* heating elements.
One 5500W element provides enough heat to bring a typical 10-20 gallon batch to boil within a reasonable time frame. Two elements is recommended when boiling more than 30 gallons. For more information see our control panel order page.
*Before using two 5500W elements at the same time, check with your local electrical authority or your electrician to confirm that the additional power draw is allowed on your 50 amp circuit. The electrical code varies from location to location.
What are the heating elements made of?
The base of the heating elements is made of 304 stainless steel and will not rust. The grey/charcoal heating rods are made from the highest Grade Nickel and Chromium Incoloy (804 stainless steel) which is high temperature and corrosion resistant. It is essentially a mix of premium grade nickel and stainless steel. Incoloy is about 8 times more expensive, lighter, and more corrosion resistant than standard 304/316 stainless steel. It will also not rust. High temperature resistance allows the heating element to resist damage in the event that it is fired dry (not in water) by accident.
The new stainless steel ripple heating elements are essentially the same Camco 02953/02963 ripple elements that we've been recommending and using for years, but now with a stainless steel base that will not rust.
Why is the element darker than shiny no name elements?
Our elements have small radius bends and must be annealed to form them. The annealing process causes the surface of the element to oxidize and darken. The shiny no name elements either have larger radius bends or they are made from a softer, more malleable material that does not require annealing. The alloy used in our heating elements requires more steps in the manufacturing process, but we believe it gives a superior product.
Aren't shiny 304/316 stainless steel heating element better?
No. The grey/charcoal 804 stainless steel rods on our heating elements are more corrosion resistant and about 8 times more expensive to manufacture than standard 304/316 stainless steel (see previous questions for more details). Many of the shiny 304/316 stainless steel elements that are sold are also not ULWD and not UL listed for use in the US and Canada.
While we love and use shiny 304/316 stainless in our brewery on just about every other surface, this is one place where we chose to use the best product for the job: Charcoal coloured 804 stainless steel heating elements.
A typical no name Chinese heating element made from softer 304/316 stainless that is also not ULWD and not UL listed:
Our heating elements use the same resilient nickel-chromium stainless steel alloy sheath as the popular 02963 model that brewers have been using for years. The 02963 shown in the picture below has been in use for over 5 years and still looks like new:
I want to replace my old elements with these ones but the nut inside the kettle seems rusted to the element. How do I remove it?
See our instructions here: HOW TO: Replacing heating elements .
What sort of plugs are included with your heating elements?
The heating element cords come equipped with a NEMA L6-30 (250VAC/30A) twist lock electrical plug to prevent accidental disconnection.
What voltage do these heating elements work at? How many phases?
In order to produce the stated 4500W or 5500W power output, the heating elements require 240V AC, single phase.
They may also be run at lower voltage but the power output will be reduced. For example, at 208V, the 5500W element will instead produce 4160W.
Running these heating elements at 120V AC produces one quarter of the rated power output. The 5500W element may therefore be powered from a standard 15 amp / 120V AC circuit to produce 1375W.
How long are the power cords? What are they made of?
The heating element cords are 10 feet long. Custom lengths are available in one foot increments. Email us for details.
We use premium SJEOOW cords that feature a thermoplastic elastomer jacket which means that the cable remains more flexible than a standard (less expensive) cord. Rated to 600 volts and from -50 to 105 degrees Celsius. These cords are designed for use in harsh environments where the highest degree for oil/water/weather resistance and extended service life are essential.
What's included with the pre-assembled kit?
With the pre-assembled kits we've done all the work for you, including welding, punching, priming, and painting the boxes and hooking up all of the electrical connections. The mounting washer, nut, and o-ring is included if you wish to install directly in a kettle wall. The (optional) food grade silicone adhesive/sealant is also included. All you need to supply is the kettle.
How does this heating element kit compare to the Blichmann Boil Coil?
See this forum thread for our thoughts on the Boil Coil.
My kettle doesn't have any holes or fittings for elements. How do I attach the heating element kit?
The heating element kit comes with parts to form a tight weldless fitting. Simply Punch a 1-1/4" hole in your kettle, and then secure the heating element kit using the included washer, nut, o-ring, and (optionally) seal with the food grade silicone adhesive/sealant (also included).
My kettle has a 1" NPS welded fitting for an element. How do I attach the heating element kit?
Simply screw the element and box on to the fitting. We recommend using PTFE white teflon tape on the element threads to ensure a tight, leak-free fit (see this video). The washer, nut, and o-ring supplied with your heating element kit are not used.
My kettle has a Tri-Clover (sometimes called Tri-Clamp) fitting for an element. How do I attach the heating element kit?
Use a 1" NPS female to Tri-Clover adapter (usually supplied by your kettle manufacturer, see picture below). Simply screw the adapter on to the element threads. We recommend using PTFE white teflon tape on the element threads to ensure a tight, leak-free fit (see this video). Then fasten the element to the kettle using a tri-clover clamp as you would normally. The washer, nut, and o-ring supplied with your heating element kit are not used.
I want to build my own heating element. What's included in the DIY kit?
For each kit we include the following:
- (Qty: 1) Camco 02955 4500W 240VAC ultra low watt density (ULWD) stainless steel RIPP element
- or -
(Qty: 1) Camco 02965 5500W 240VAC ultra low watt density (ULWD) stainless steel RIPP element
- or -
(Qty: 1) Camco 02929 4500W 240VAC low watt density (LWD) stainless steel straight element
- or -
(Qty: 1) Camco 02935 5500W 240VAC low watt density (LWD) stainless steel straight element
- (Qty: 1) Weatherproof 2-gang outlet box
- (Qty: 2) Weatherproof 2-gang blank cover & gasket
- (Qty: 4) #6-32 hex nut
- (Qty: 4) #6 locking washer
- (10 feet) 300V 10/3 wire (10 gauge, 3 wires), oil/water resistant, rubber coating, rated for outdoor use
- (1 foot) 3/4" black heat shrink tubing
- (Qty: 3) 12-10 gauge 3/8" stud ring terminal (yellow)
- (10 feet) 1/2" expandable braided sleeving - carbon colour
- (Qty: 1) NEMA L6-30 (250VAC/30A) twist lock electrical plug
- (Qty: 1) JB Weld cold weld compound
- (Qty: 1) Silicone high temperature o-ring (1-3/16" ID x 1-7/16" OD x 1/8" width, AS568A Dash No. 217, Durometer hardness A70, FDA compliant, -65F to +450F)
- (Qty: 1) Food grade silicone adhesive/sealant (-75F to +400F, Food grade: Meets MIL-A-46106B, Group I, Type I, FDA compliant, USDA approved, NSF 51 certified)
- (Qty: 1) Stainless steel washer/shim (0.075" thick, 1-1/2" ID, 2-1/4" OD)
- (Qty: 2) Standard straight cord/wire grip, 3/4" NPT (For cord diameter .50" to 0.63", aluminum, -30F to +225F)
- (Qty: 1) Stainless steel locknut 1" NPS
Every part is included except for spray paint (as paint cannot be sent through the mail). You supply the tools and the paint colour of your choice and follow our instructions. The box is not pre-drilled or pre-punched.
When building your own you'll need to supply the following tools and paint:
- (Qty: 1) Aerosol spray can of general purpose grey enamel primer (for priming metal)
- (Qty: 1) Aerosol spray can of hammered metal finish spray paint - silver colour (for painting metal)
- (1 foot) Electrical tape
- GreenLee 1-1/4" round chassis or radio (not conduit) punch for making 1-1/4" diameter holes
- ~57mm (2-1/4") bi-metal hole saw for making ~57mm (2-1/4") diameter holes
- Drill press
- Hand drill
- Metal file
- Phillips #2 (crosshead) screwdriver
- GreenLee 36414 1-3/8" step drill bit
- 5/32" high speed metal drill bit
- Adjustable wrench with 2" jaw opening
- Water heater element wrench
- Cutting oil
- Heat gun
- Sharpie permanent marker
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Double ratcheting wire crimper
- (Qty: 2) 3" Heavy duty C-Clamp
I'm using a different heating element. Why is the base rusting?
If using a different brand of element or the popular Camco 02963 model, the threaded silver coloured base of the heating element is not corrosion resistant and some rust may form on this base if water is left in the kettle for a prolonged period of time. These other heating elements are normally used in electric water heaters that also have a sacrificial anode installed to combat this issue. The anode's sole purpose is to oxidize first, thereby protecting the heating element base from rusting. Brewing kettles do not have an anode so make sure you do not leave water in the kettle for a prolonged period of time if using a heating element not specifically designed for brewing. Leaving water in during a typical brewing period is not an issue for most brewers. In fact, a protective coating will form on the element base in the Boil Kettle after a few uses. It's more of an issue in the Hot Liquor Tank if you leave water standing for extended periods. This may be exacerbated if you have hard water. Some brewers will install a magnesium anode in the side of their kettle to combat this issue when using a different type of heating element. See this forum thread for some example installations and instructions.
Visit our official Heating Elements Kits product thread in our forum.
Questions? Email us at SpikeInnovations@TheElectricBrewery.com
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