Sizing and sourcing an electric element for a big smoker

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by bob adams, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. bob adams

    bob adams Newbie

    Helping a friend build a large smoker and I'm looking for input on what size element to use. It is 30" deep by 60" Tall  by 42" wide.

    He would like to get the temp between 220 and 300

    Thanks !

    Bob Adams
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    You could probably get a good idea of size requirements by looking at the specs for the commercial electric smokers and see what they use. 
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd second that. You are probably going to need something that is 240v.

    What kind of temps are you looking to achieve?
  4. bob adams

    bob adams Newbie

    I'm thinking he'd like to be able to go from 220 to 300 degrees..
  5. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yep, gonna be an amperage hog and he'll need a controller for it as well.

    McMaster Carr has a good selection of heating elements that I've seen used before.

    The strip heaters are the ones I'm referring to.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  6. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The largest 120V element I have seen used, Please note I am not an electrician, is the brinkman replacement. Its an analog 1500W if my memory serves me right. But that box would probably have to be really insulated for it to get to the 300 degree range.

    I just notice they have discontinued and only have a dozen left.

    I am thinking it has over 3 times the area to heat of an MES40. You'll definitely need a 240V and a better design engineer than me.
  7. monk

    monk Newbie

  8. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

  9. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    If it's easy to bring out a 30A 240V dedicated service, and you don't mind the power bill, that's the simplest way to go.  You want 6kW worth of heating; the mcMaster Carr links are good sources.  

    But in principle you can get by with 1500W off a standard 120V/15A receptical if it's insulated well.  (However it will still take a long time for it to heat up with low power.  What's the thing weigh? and how much meat are you planning to put in it?)    

    Your simplest insulation approach if you go the frugal electrical approach is to screw 5 sheets of 1/2" plywood to 5 sides plus the door, and then drop over a large corrugated cardboard box over it (open at the bottom with a hole for your smokestack at the top) after you've loaded it up. (An appliance store should have some large boxes to choose a good fit.) If you stay under 300 degF the inner surface of the plywood won't char or smoke at all and the outer surface won't char the cardboard either.   

    The other thing to remember if you go the low-power approach is that your draft from lower intake to upper stack exhaust needs to be kept small in size and flow.  If the air and smoke is flying through there, even 6kW won't be enough to get to your desired temps.
  10. goliath

    goliath Smoking Fanatic

  11. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I was just looking at them on Amazon yesterday and they have them. Range from $29-$36. I have one new in the box still waiting for me to build my smoke shack!

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