Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wetsuits and cartridge heaters

Following the advice of Anonymous, I have bought a cartridge heater, found on ebay for under AU$8. It's 220VAC, 400W, which is more than I need, but not way too much, It will probably take at least a fortnight to arrive, and so I'm going to make the glue gun heater anyway, especially considering that I will need two heaters eventually anyway, as I brew in both a small 5L jar and a big 30L vat, sometimes simultaneously. Also, I have a small brew going at the moment, into which I would like to place a heater as soon as possible.

Insulation: I want thermal insulation for my vats, as I think I mentioned. I called up ACT foam and rubber and Clarke Rubber to ask after various foams for this purpose. I was quoted $39.90 p/sm for some stuff called 'form fit', which sounded quite good, or $120 for 2 square metres of neoprene. Being a cheapskate, I decided to find another source of neoprene for my insulating jackets. Wetsuits.

So, today on my way home from uni I stopped in at some op shops and picked up two absolutely hideous wetsuits, one for $15 and one for $20. The leg from one wetsuit provided me with an almost ready-made jacket for my 5L jar, and the trunk of the other, plus a strip from the trunk of the first, make up a jacket for the 30L vat.

I'll post some pictures soon.


  1. Glad you were able to find a heater. You can control the output of the cartridge heater if you use a lamp dimmer that's rated for halogen or incandescent loads. I have one that's rated up to 600W. Might make controlling temperature over time a bit easier. It's basically just a AC voltage chopper. Alternatively, if you're looking for more precise control over the temperature you might take a look at this project that uses a temperature controller. Hope you find this of some interest, good luck! Jim.

  2. Thanks, I intend to PWM the cartridge through a solid state relay to control the temperature, at the moment it'll just switch on and off depending on the temperature in the vat, but later on I want to incorporate a PID control loop into it, which, if I remember, is what the sous vide project uses. Only I'll be making my own rather than using an existing PID controller.