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Topic: smaller & cheaper than a variac, but will it work? (4 msgs / 78 lines)
1) From: stereoplegic
while looking at the nearest hardware store for a power cord to fit my 
eWOK's heating element (settled for two small appliance cords, 1 just 
for its plastic casting, split the other cord, + contact in 1 plastic 
casing, - in the other), i came across some old style (w/ thermocouple 
that slides in between heating element contacts) electric grill/skilled 
cords w/ temp dial (right type, but none were the right size). some of 
these were rated at 1600w others at 1650w. as i mentioned in the pyrex 
thread, i'm more than happy with the eWOK/CO setup, but this has me 
thinking of getting heat control similar to that of a variac in my 1400w 
popcorn pumper. obviously, i wouldn't get the extra 20-25v that a variac 
would offer, but the pumper has no problem getting hot. on the plus 
side, i'm guessing the thermocouple would keep temp at the level i dial 
in, and these things only cost about $20, much cheaper than a variac or 
a dimmer w/ that kind of wattage. anybody tried this? any luck?

2) From: stereoplegic
sorry, that's *skillet*
stereoplegic wrote:
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3) From: Alchemist John
I don't think it will work for what you are planning.  They are two 
different types of control.  The variac is a voltage regulator and 
changes the power input.  The dial thermostat is on/off at a given 
temperature and at least in my roasting style, I don't want full 
power at a given temperature.  I want increments of power.  $20 vs 
$100.  Having "battled" against a variac for years (multiple on/off 
switches) it is easily the best $100 I have spent.  Oh, the other 
thing is that I would be surprised if that dial on the TC was all 
that accurate.  25-50 F would not surprise me and that is too far off 
for my tastes.
At 22:58 1/23/2007, you wrote:
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John Nanci
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

4) From: Ken Mary
I am betting that these skillet cords use a heater/bimetal contact which may
have a huge on/off hysteresis. Some may have a sensor that fits into a well
in the skillet. These are fine for their intended use, but may not work in
controlling a popper. If you are up to it, buy one and play with it to see
how well it does work.
BTW, a variac leaves the entire ac sine wave form untouched and reduces the
voltage as a transformer. A dimmer reduces the voltage by chopping the tops
off the ac wave. Both supply a continuous reduced voltage.
There is another alternative, a router speed control, actually a 1500 watt
dimmer. However, you may have difficulty buying one that actually works. I
gave up on a mail order company that kept giving me controls with burned out
triacs. Buy from a local electrical supply shop where you can return it and
complain in person.
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