Stainless steel heating elements, how much current would you prefer?

Hi Guys,

I am adding stainless steel heating elements to the shop. And I would like some input on what to order. They will be entirely stainless, so no rusting of the face like Camco.

I’m going for a ~5500W ripple element, a ~3500W element and maybe a smaller element.

Now the ratings of these things are tricky, because the wattage depends on the voltage.
The supplier rates the elements on 220V normally. But in the US they would be used on 240V (2x 120V) and in the EU 230V is normal.

Most brewers probably want to buy the maximum power their electrics can handle, so I was thinking 6000W and 3200W at 230V.

Camco rates its elements at 240V, so a 3500W element is actually more like 3200W in Europe.
The 5500W - 220V element would actually be 6500W in the US! Can your system handle that?

Now in the UK I heard that 13A fuses are now common and 3200W might be too much already.
So what would be the best element for you?

So which 230V rating do you prefer? Look at the table above for the 240V rating/current.

  • 2500W
  • 3000W
  • 3200W
  • 5000W
  • 6000W

0 voters

Please explain your choice below.
Elements will be sized to still fit in a 35cm kettle, except mabye the 5500W ripple element.

P.S. I can also get elements for 3 phase current. Any interest in those?

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I opted for 5000W @ 230V since 25A outlets are common in Norway (they are used for ovens/induction hobs etc…)

EDIT: To be clear, the 25A fuse is only found in one or two places in the home, although each home does have one. Typical fuses that are found in rooms are 10A in older homes, and 16A in newer homes. A 2400W element would be fine.

in australia, our circuits are rated to 15 amps 240v so i dont think i could handle much more

After I spoke with our electrician, I would opt for a three-phase element if available. Reason: I could heat not only the mash tun but also sparge water at the same time, otherwise I’d need two plugs from different sources, as 16A fuses are common in Italy and about 3500W would be the maximum (but I like more power :smile: )

I went with the 2500w. TBH I dont understand the implications of all the choices, but I currently use a 2400w in my setup and it works great, if anything the boil is a bit too vigorous on a 21 litre batch.

The elements can be used with PWM, so can also be ran at 10% of the power. The max power is mostly needed to heat the HLT and to do mash steps.

Uk and Ireland run 13A fuses, so 2.5kW elements are the norm here.

Just an aside, camco makes elements now with a stainless bushing, eliminating the rusting problem of the old style units. They come in 4500, 5500W straight fold-back and 5500W ripple. See here:

My system is fairly new to me, and I am still learning the subtleties of electric brewing. It has a 5500W element driven by a 240V source. I can not imagine needing a more powerful element in my system.

The 5500W element gave a very vigorous 8 gal (30 liters) boil in a test brew last week. As it is at the moment, it is very powerful and needed to be throttled back to reduce the boil off rate. I am near Denver at 6000 ft (1800 meter) elevation, perhaps that is a contributing factor.

Next week I plan a 60 liter boil as a comparison.

Elco, can all elements be used with PWM, or specifically the ones you are going to stock?
Does PWM impact their lifespan?

They are essentially just big resistors. They won’t mind a bit of PWMing.
Just make sure you are using an SSR and not a mechanical relay. A mechanical relay will not survive switching very often.

I was under the impression that most Australian houses have circuits with 16A breakers, and some also have 20A circuits (for ovens, driers etc). My house has entirely 20A circuits @ 240V.

I am therefore keen to buy a 3200W element. However, it would be great if they were available in a smaller size since I brew small batches using a 32cm diameter pot.

Standard plug outlets in NZ are rated at 10A (230V nominal). I’m in a rental property and can’t do any rewiring so I’m think of using 2x 2500W elements running off 2 separate plugs.

I’m curious as to how you plan to PWM AC? or do you just mean time proportional output with a short (eg ~1 sec) switching cycle?

I opted for 3200 W because in germany the power circuits are 230V * 16A = 3680W. You could also provide a model with 3 phases. German oven connectors have 3 phases á 230V (16A fuse each phase).

By writing this, I’m thinking about the following option: 3-phase electric power circuits can provide 400V by connecting 2 phases (e.g. L1 + L2) instead of connecting phase an neutral connector (L1 + N = 230V). This would result in potential 6400W power (16A fuses) and would allow me to run HLT an BK with one 6000W element each (HLT: L1+L2, BK: L2+L3). Or am I wrong?

I’m no specialist in this. Does anybody here run their system this way? This would be an interesting option.

My feeling on 3 phase connections is that the elements should be single phase, and have 3 phase into the control panel, with each element on a different leg. afaik, 3 phase elements are really just 3 separate elements in one package.

The plan is to have a relatively slow PWM period of 10 seconds. Then the zero transitions at 50Hz do not really matter.

Yes, they are exactly that. Instead of one 3 phase elements, you could also wire 3 single phase elements into a 3 phase configuration. Each element has one end on live and the other on neutral, but you can switch all 3 at once with a 3 phase SSR.

From the response so far, I think buying 2500W, 3200W and 5000W is the best way forward for me. I’ll also get a sample 3 phase element for testing.

Here is a comparison part from a supplier in the UK. I reckon you could undercut him on price?

Here in the UK the choices made by brewers are pretty straightforwards. Most brewers I know use 3kw / 3000w elements, usually immersion ones as below:

They are the largest rating that are generally considered safe to use on good quality domestic 13amp fittings. Those with larger volumes using more than one element on seperate circuits. Personally I use those elements but have round blue 16amp ‘commando’ style sockets to ensure safety and durability over time.

Other brewers with smaller volumes or concerns over safety/cost of good qality fittings often use the 2400w ‘kettle’ elements.



Thanks for the feedback. I can beat that price, but that element seems to include a housing, which we sell separately.
I don’t think I can beat his price for element + enclosure, but it will be in the same ballpark.

I don’t want to stock 2500, 3000, and 5000W.

3000W is 13A on 230V, which is right on the limit. The elements have a +5%/-10% and the power grid also has +/-6% if I am not mistaken.
I would go for 2500W if your circuits are 13A.

I think with 2500W, 3200W and 5000W I’ll have a good offer.

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5500W @ 220v for use on a 30A circuit