GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

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stever1000
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GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by stever1000 » 3 years ago

There is a lot of info on homebrewtalk about using spa panels in the USA ($49-$60) in order to add in-line GFCI to protect yourself.
But in Canada they are $150-200 because of different codes.

Has anyone found a way around this? I know I can drive down across the border and get one from USA home depot, but are there any other solutions that are less than $100?

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XXXXX
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by XXXXX » 3 years ago

You talking for your elements/kettles or something else?
Mmmm... Beer... *drool*


stever1000
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by stever1000 » 3 years ago

XXXXX wrote:You talking for your elements/kettles or something else?

Exactly, its to protect a 5500W element in my kettle

stever1000
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by stever1000 » 3 years ago

All of those in the link are still greater than $100 :(

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bellybuster
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by bellybuster » 3 years ago

sad but true, its cheaper to buy the whole panel than just the breaker. try kijiji

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XXXXX
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by XXXXX » 3 years ago

My advice is that you use a GFCI.

I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of flak and weird looks for this, but I don't use GFCI protection on my hard-wired kettles.

I do, however, use a GFCI for the receptacles near my brewing area.

Water and electricity don't mix
A lot of people believe GFCI protection is required wherever electricity meets water, but that's not true. Consider these common appliances:
- Hot water tanks (exactly like our kettles)
- The ice maker in your refrigerator
- Circulating pumps on boiler systems and in-floor heating
- Garbage disposer under your sink (Garburator)
- Your clothes dryer

GFCI protected receptacles
GFCI are required for receptacles within 1.5m (5 feet) of the edge of a sink, tub, shower, etc. This is to protect from being shocked if your body acts as a circuit to ground. Same goes for exterior receptacles.

GFCI Example 1: You're in the washroom blow drying your hair while relaxing in the tub. Water drips off your hand into the dryer, allowing the electricity to pass through your hand, down your body, and out the plumbing of the tub. GFCI will (should) open the circuit when this happens.

GFCI Example 2: You're relaxing in a hot tub, and unbeknownst to you, one of the elements has failed. The water becomes electrified and because the tub is fiberglass and the plumbing is PVC, it has nowhere to go. When you step out of the tub, one foot remains in the tub while your other foot steps out onto the ground. Your body completes the circuit. Again, GFCI should open the circuit when this happens.

GFCI Example 3: You're using a power drill outside. Rained yesterday, and the end of your extension cord ended up in a puddle, you pick it up and when you try to plug your drill into it, water in the outlet touches your hand and you complete the circuit to ground. GFCI opens the circuit.

The Difference
Because our kettles are metallic and grounded, I cannot think of any realistic case where a human body could complete the circuit to ground.

If the element fails and the water becomes electrified, the electricity then will flow out the copper ground wire and the breaker should open the circuit. Path of least resistance the copper ground wire.

Conductivity of relevant materials in Siemens/meter:
Hard Rubber: 0.00000000000001 S/m (10^−14)
Drinking Water: 0.0005 to 0.02 S/m (5.00×10^−4 to 5.00×10−2)
Swimming Pool Water: 0.25 to 0.30 S/m
Human Blood: 0.65 S/m
Human Fat: 0.05 S/m
Dry Human Skin: 0.000125 S/m
Wet Human Skin: 0.00121 S/m
Sea Water: 4.8 S/m
Stainless Steel: 1450000 S/m (1.45×10^6)
Copper: 59600000 S/m (5.96×10^7)

Stainless steel is 1,198,347,107 times more conductive than wet human skin and 2,230,769 times more conductive than human blood.

Copper is 41 times more conductive than stainless steel and 49,256,198,347 times more conductive than wet human skin.

That's nearly 50 BILLION times.

I can't think of a realistic case where a human would complete the circuit on a properly installed (grounded) kettle, that is, a case where a person makes a better path to ground than the ground wire.

GFCI protect your receptacles
Receptacles installed near your brewing area should be GFCI protected. If your body creates a ground between your handheld tool and anything else, the GFCI should trip.

Still worried?
- Insulate your kettle walls (not a bad idea anyway as it'll shorten your boil times, and prevent burns)
- Buy a rubber stall mat to put under your feet in your brewing area
Mmmm... Beer... *drool*

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bellybuster
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by bellybuster » 3 years ago

Finally...!! Thank you, I got absolutely hammered a few years ago for even coming close to what you just said.
Thank you

stever1000
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by stever1000 » 3 years ago

Excellent, this could save me $150+ dollars :cheers:

Dave
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Re: GFCI Spa Panel for electric brewery

Post by Dave » 3 years ago

stever1000 wrote:There is a lot of info on homebrewtalk about using spa panels in the USA ($49-$60) in order to add in-line GFCI to protect yourself.
But in Canada they are $150-200 because of different codes.

Has anyone found a way around this? I know I can drive down across the border and get one from USA home depot, but are there any other solutions that are less than $100?
So what did you get, and what did it cost to your door?

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