Originally Posted by smokinkarl
Dward, yes they are wired in parallel... guess I should have done some simple math. To the best of my knowledge it is wired exactly the same as it was as a hot plate from amazon. The only difference is that I added a PID and SSR before the original rheostats. The wiring is also aluminum which I didnt expect to make that that much of a difference but I suppose every little bit counts especially in a heating application. I will be gone all weekend but I will try running just one burner and see if I still have the same issue.
I am still interested to see what type of wire everyone else uses? Not so much size but style.
Ok, a few observations, suggestions and options.....
Aluminum "aircraft" cable may very well not be rated for 110/220v service (voltage rating of your particular cable should be marked on the outside sheath of the wire). If it's not rated for 110v or 220v, it needs to be replaced (and if it's only rated at 110v, it may still have to go depending on where you go from here). Also aluminum electrical cable should be de-rated for the amperage capacity as compared to copper electrical cable, by using the next higher gauge of aluminum wiring. So 12 gauge aluminum wire is generally going to be capable of carrying the same number of amps as 14 gauge copper. To get the same capacity as 12 gauge copper, you are looking at using 10 gauge aluminum. The other issue with aluminum electrical wiring is oxidation. Over time, unless some oxygen shielding compound is used at the connections, the aluminum wire will oxidize and the increased resistance at the junction can cause a fire (this is the primary reason houses are no longer wired with aluminum wire).
As to the heating elements....
3,000 watts is going to draw over 27 amps at 110v (not including any power for the other components in the smoker such as PID, fans, etc...). The average household outlet is wired on a 15 amp breaker with 14 gauge wire and occasionally you will find a 20 amp household circuit. Either way, 3,000 watts load is going to overload a standard residential circuit. You do occasionally see 30 amp residential circuits used for RV connections, but those have 10 gauge copper wire and a special outlet/plug is used.
There are quite a lot of similar sized electric smokers people have made and posted about on this forum which use a single 1,500 watt element and work just fine. I would try disconnecting one of your elements from the circuit and see how the cabinet performs with a single 1,500 watt element. You may be perfectly happy and problem solved.
If you want to keep the cabinet running on 3,000 watts, your next choice involves rewiring the outlet you are powering the smoker from to either a 30 amp 110v circuit (30 amp breaker and at least 10 gauge copper wire for entire circuit run) *OR* running a 220v circuit to where the smoker will be used. A 20 amp 220v circuit should be plenty and you could use 12 gauge copper wire for the run.
If you go with the 30 amp 110v option, just upgrade your wire in the smoker to handle the 27.7 amp resistive load and I think you are done.
If you go with the 220v option you need to add a second SSR and do a little re-routing of the wiring inside the smoker. For the sake of discussion let's assume you have already had a 20amp 220v outlet installed where the smoker will be used. You can then break the 220v into the two independent 110v legs inside the smoker. Instead of wiring each leg together as a single 220v circuit, they can be split into two 110v circuits using a common neutral. Use each independent 110v leg to power one 1,500 watt heating element. Other than a little re-wiring and the possible addition of a terminal strip to split the 220v into the two 110v legs, the only other somewhat major change is adding a 2nd SSR so each heating element is totally independent of the other. You can still use the PID setup like it is as you can trigger the SSR's in parallel from the PID. You could also add a on/off switch to interrupt the triggering signal to one of the SSR's letting you run only one element if you are going to do a low temp smoke (say the low 100's for sausage making).
If it was me and I wanted to stay with the full 3,000 watts I would go with the 220v option. But try running one element alone first.