Immersion element boilers

An immersion-type element is usually mounted through the side of a boiler and is in direct contact with the liquid. Immersion elements are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and power capabilities. Usually, these elements are designed to bolt to a flange or screw into a special fitting. You can purchase the appropriate fitting and have it welded or brazed onto almost any style of pot. Another type of fitting (the bulkhead fitting) is designed for mounting devices through sheets of metal, and if you have (or can create) a flat surface on your vessel, you can easily mount one of these.

Another route to an immersion boiler is to modify a small electric water heater. These "point of use" water heaters are readily available in sizes ranging from 20 to 60 liters (5 to 15 US gallons), with heating elements usually in the 1000 - 2000 watt range. They are well insulated, and have convenient and well-labeled inlet and outlet connections. The outlet will be on the top, and will become the exit path for vapor. The "inlet" may be on the top or the side of the cylinder. It is very important to differentiate between the "inlet" and "outlet" fittings, because the inlet is often connected to a tube inside the unit that delivers cold water to the bottom of the tank. It is therefore always immersed in liquid, and cannot deliver any vapor! The inlet needs to have a valve or cap attached that remains closed except when filling or draining the unit.

Water heaters have built-in thermostats that prevent them from boiling. Since you want the contents to boil, you must remove this thermostat from the circuit. Some water heaters have a sacrificial anode of magnesium or magnesium alloy, which should be removed if possible. If you are not completely sure of your skills as a plumber or an electrician, get someone to do the work for you! Many home brewers have found that a few bottles of their product can be traded for a lot of work on equipment.

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  • gebre
    How powerful should immersion heater be to distill water?
    6 years ago

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