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Thinking about a plywood build - 3600w electric IR heat source for cabinet style smoke house

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Ok,  First thanks to Pops and others for the posts of their plywood builds which have got the hamster running on the wheel in my old noodle.


I'm now thinking about a plywood cabinet build with an electric 3600watt IR heater on a PID controller.  Here is what I have (parts were for a 10' forced air IR screen print dryer rebuild)....


1)  A Watlow 3,600 watt, 240VAC IR radiant heat panel (capable of cranking out a surface heat over 1,000 degrees F).  Panel is 36" long including mounting brackets and 12" wide.  Back of panel in insulated and due to the brackets stands off from the surface mounted to by about 6".  I have three of these panels, but one should be plenty of heat I would think.




2)  Omega CN76020 controller module (with auto tune option) and a J type thermocouple (range with this combo is -100 degrees to +900 degrees F with a resolution of 0.1 degrees).  I bought this years ago and when I googled it today it showed a price of $494 at the Omega website. I did not pay anywhere near that.  Also one of the IR panels has the well for the thermocouple which is what is up with the housing (this is what I had on hand, so free and paid for is good!).  Controller is SSR or DC pulsed output (selectable), and has a programmable ramp function.




More shots of Omega CN76020 controller.









I did not take photos but I have two industrial mercury wetted relay units, a 60 amp and a 30 amp (both 240v) and three high temp squirrel cage air re-circulation fans from the textile dryer (I suspect the CFM rate may be too high for a smoker recirculation fan).  I also have the original Watlow analog temp controller board and a analog DC pulse drive out controller board and the matching DC motor for the dryer.   Would make a nice rotisserie drive in another smoker one day.


One concern I have (after I got over the initial one of heat and wood together), is the size I'm going to have to make this cabinet since the IR panel is 36" wide.  Don't want to make it too huge.


As I mull this over in my head (hamsters get to work overtime on this one), I'm sure I will post a ton of questions, but having most of the expensive parts sitting on a shelf in the basement is making me really want to make this work.


Here are a few thought so far.....


  • Plywood cabinet
  • Possible metal lined interior
  • May use cement board under the metal lining for added fire resistance "just in case"
  • Insulation between cabinet housing and cement board/metal liner
  • large steel or iron plate, painted with high temp flat black engine paint, plate will sit above the IR panel to absorb the heat from the panel transmitting it to the air circulating in the box. Also would serve as a heat sink to moderate temp swings.  Would work similar to the way the metal plate in a Holland Grill works.
  • Smoke source would be AMNPS or other smoke generator (AMNPS is pretty simple, runs a long time and hard to beat, might need two depending on the final cabinet size).

Unit would most likely live under a 10' high porch so weather would not be much of an issue.  With a charcoal smoker I would want to run the smoke stack out from under the roof line, but with electric may not be as much of a concern as it "should" just be TBS.


Use would be for sausages, snack sticks etc...., but I would also like to get it to run at 225-250 for other meats on a traditional low and smoke cook.  Or is this a real problem in a wood smoker?


Comments and suggestion welcomed as this is still in the concept stage.....

Edited by dward51 - 11/27/11 at 6:52pm
post #2 of 6

You have some interesting questions, I want to build one myself so I'm very interested in this build.

The pro's will be along soon to help you and me out biggrin.gif

post #3 of 6

Beyond Me!


Bump It Up!!!




No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

post #4 of 6


heres mine, instead of plywood I used a commercial freezer....  I LOVE IT!!  I used the amnps for smoke, now I use two of them, once its set, I really dont need to check on it at all unless i need to raise/lower the temp for what im smoking.



post #5 of 6

How is your ventilation set up?


You must have good flow for the AMZNS to work.




post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Fire393,  That's a sweet setup.  I've tried to find a freezer or warmer to convert and so far have not found one that was affordable (ie, they still worked as designed, no discards found).  I would feel better about a metal cabinet, but seeing the wood builds others have made at least gives me a alternative.  I'm rethinking the IR panels I have as well as they are just too big IMO.  Will probably go with two smaller finned units, but this is still in the concept phase (and I'm still looking for a metal cabinet to convert)


Plan "B" might be a wood frame with thinner cement backer board for the interior with either SS or Aluminum sheet metal for the final skin of the interior to help with the inevitable mess from smoking shoulders, ribs, etc....


Still thinking on this however.

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