Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking with a temperature PID controller (SousVideMagic of Fresh Meals Solutions)

by on Jun.12, 2009, under Equipments & Accessories, General Topics

I am now very happy and relieved to jump to the next step of my experimentation consisting in trying all kind of sous vide cookers and accessories. Cooking sous vide with a gas stove, a halogen stove or a basic water bath (bain-marie) was such a pain in the neck! The main advantage of this was the cost of the equipments, close to zero (except for the vacuum machine) but it was really hell to maintain a constant temperature.

Let’s try a PID controller!
But first what is a PID (Proportion, Intregral, Derivative) temperature controller?

The PID temperature controller is the most sophisticated controller available providing exceptional performance at a surprisingly low price. But what is it, really?

Here are 4 articles that should help you understand it!

The first link is the most accessible information I could find about a PID controller. Let’s call it “PID controller explained for dummies”. This fantastic video was made by robot geeks and explains speed PID controller. You just have to replace into your mind speed by temperature! This video is a bit long to download but if you would have to watch one piece of information about the PID controller in your life time I would strongly suggest you to watch this video!

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This second link is giving a little more information about temperature PID controller (still understandable for an average intelligent brain).

sous-vide-cooking-org-temperature-pid-controller-explained-for-dummies1

Here are 2 links that I would recommend for people who are really interested in tuning PID controllers. In other words, don’t even dare clicking on these links  if your are not a scientist!

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Sous vide cooking with a rice cooker paired with a temperature PID controller.

A rice cooker or other heating appliance will cycle on and off, causing fairly wide temperature fluctuations. To avoid this some people pair a rice cooker with a PID controller. The PID controller has a thermo-sensor that is inserted into the rice cooker water. You set the PID device to a certain temperature, and the PID will control the amount of electricity that activates the heater, thus keeping the water temperature at a constant.

Although other heating appliances can also work, the simple rice cooker seems best suited to work with the PID device for sous vide applications. You must buy a rice cooker that has a basic mechanical on and off switch. Don’t purchase an expensive sophisticated rice cooker, it will probably not work with the temperature PID controller.

What are the temperature PID controllers available on the market for sous vide cooking purposes?

Traceable Temperature Controller

sous-vide-cooking-org-temperature-pid-controller-traceable

Auber Instruments

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SousVideMagic 1500B form Fresh Meal Solutions

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I purchased the SousVideMagic 1500B as it seems to be the most popular one. Feedback of people who purchased it is excellent. The cost for this temperature PID controller is USD 169 plus approx. USD 25 shipping costs to Europe (USD 99 if you don’t have the patience to wait, therefore you’ll get it within 3 days with Fedex).
For non North American users an input power cord and an adaptor to the socket of local standard will have to be purchased separately.

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To sum up, the global cost for my SousVideMagic temperature PID controller is:

  • SousVideMagic 1500B: USD 169 + USD 25 = USD 194 incl. sending
  • Custom duties: EUR 35
  • Basic rice cooker: EUR 45
  • Input power cord and socket adaptor: approx EUR 16.

Grant total (1 EUR = 1.4 USD): approx. EUR 234 (USD 327)

I sould receive my SousVideMagic tomorrow. I’ll give you my first comments as soon as possible!

Jean-François

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5 Comments for this entry

  • ze

    I’d add the Ranco ETC to your list of equipment:

    http://www.rancoetc.com/ranco-etc111000000-prewired-with-stopper-thermal-well-p-199.html

    It’s just about the cheapest option, and comes unwired for you to adapt to your needs. The one thing I’ve been having trouble with is finding a european source for equivallent equipment. It sucks having to order everything in from the US.

  • jean-francois

    Thanks Ze!

    I never heard about this trademark. I think this is fair being exhaustive and give everybody the possibility to choose the sous vide cooking equipment that fits with their budget. I add Ranco ETC as soon as possible in the “Sous vide cooker & equipment suppliers” list.
    Did you find on the net testimony of people who used Ranco ETC appliance for sous vide cookery purposes?

    Jean-François

  • ze

    yeah, Douglas Baldwin briefly mentions it in his guide as good enough for most SV applications. It’s an on-off controller, not a PID, but that should be more than enough for such a simple control action. I’ll probably be ordering one myself in the next few weeks.

  • jean-francois

    Ze,

    Thanks for this detail; I amend the information right now. If Ranco ETC controller is an on-off controller there is a risk than the range of temperature variation will be significant (probable 2 or 3 degrees).

    Jean-françois

  • Kader

    Here is another interesting link about PID controller and the way to tune it.

    http://auto-controls.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-is-pid-controller-and-tuning.html

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