I use one of these extensively, and I know another guy who does the same.
First and foremost, it does the job. However, it is not all that well designed.
1. My friend's model runs very well on 220v, and I wanted one that would do so as well. I got one that was rewired for 110. When I asked why I was told 'the plug cord has been getting far too hot, so we converted it to 110.' From what little I know about electricity...I suspect the guys at BB know even less! But I run it on 110 and it works ok.
2. The thermostat is in Celcius, and doesn't seem to work at all. For example 70 Celcius is 158 F, but I have found that is the ideal setting to leave overnight to bring the barrell from 60 F to 110 F, and have done so several times. 45 Celcius is about 115 F and I tried a couple of times to leave a barrell overnight with the heater set at 45 C, but in the morning it was little changed from 15 hours previous! I suspect that this is screwed up because of the conversion from 220 to 110, but don't know.
3. Until the heater can be submerged about 2/3rds of the way into the barrell, it wants to tip badly, often exposing the heating element to the air and perhaps even tipping out of the barrell. Not a good thing. I have found this can be prevented by laying two 2 x 4's across the barrell so the heater pole is between them, and then setting two buckets each weighing about 20 lbs. on top of the 2 x 4's. Then the heater does not have enough leverage to twist and it nicely just melts down through the honey.
Overall...I wouldn't do without it. In the wrong hands it could burn down the place by falling out of a barrell when it is untended. At this price it would seem worthwhile for Dadant, Mann Lake, Kelley or Maxant to redesign, make in the US, and have a far better product.
I am Canadian, so i am well versed in Celcius. Makes things a bit easier for me then.
The 2x4 idea sounds like a great one.
Now for another question.
The honey in question probably still has a little wax in it. I attempted to filtre through a 100 mesh, while being pumped out from the clarifier, and that did not work. So there is some fine wax particles in the honey. Any problem with that?
The wax doesn't represent a problem as far as heating goes. It will just rise to the top of the honey. It will not dissolve unless the honey gets up to 140 degrees, but even if it does dissolve it will still be on top of the honey.
Most of the honey we buy in barrells has some minor amount of wax in it, and that is not a problem. I wish I could say the same about the other junk!!
Just an idea but, if you tip a barrel on it's side so that it will drain into another barrel, aim a shop heater (1400 watts) into the hard barrel, leave overnite and you'll have a barrel of soft honey. It can be heated with a barrel heater moRe evenly from that point. I pump it through a Dadant flash heater.
Could melt 300 barrels a year if you needed to.
123456 has a good idea. I hope I didn't give the impression we liquify all our barrel honey with the Swienty tool (Sold by Betterbee).
We can't tip full barrels. No facility for controlling the drop. Moreover, we don't have a sump or other means for collecting the honey as it comes out of the barrel. I know those who do...and it is a wonderful system.
We principally liquify honey in barrels by a warming tank. Nothing but a very large super-insulated box with a removable top and front. It holds two barrels, an oil filled radiator that plugs in, and a fan. Will take two barrels of rock hard honey to 120 degrees in 36 hours. From there we can pump (overhead) into a variety of tanks for straining and bottling. We only do about 70 barrels a year, and this is sufficient and treats the honey gently.
But...the Swienty tool is indispensible for those occasions when we need to liquify a third barrel, liquify a barrel with only 200 or so pounds that got left behind for one reason or another, etc. Lots better than a band heater. Wouldn't do without it...but it could sure be better designed.
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