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newbie needs help with heating new smoker electric

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am looking for good way to heat electric smoker i am using a maze in pellet for smoke,I am thinking of a brinkmann element but dont understand best way to control temp.I see pids but can you just order cheaper one off ebay and just hook up to element.I am using 110.or is there more you need besides unit?help needed suggestions welcomed.Its the smoker i have pic on here of.

post #2 of 14

if you want to control the temperature you will need some method of controlling it, no? 


Johnson or Ranco off-the-shelf controller, or DIY PID control. 

post #3 of 14

This isn't really a project for someone inexperienced in electrical/electronic work.  You need to make sure your design and construction are safe from both fire and electrical safety points of view.


The typical PID controler will NOT have enough power switching capability within the controller itself to switch a high power heating element.  So one usually uses a separate solid state relay (SSR) to actually switch the high voltage to the heating element.  You can get SSRs that are controlled by a low voltage signal (often 3 to 15 Volts DC), and many PID controllers are available with a special output made to drive that kind of SSR.  So that's what I usually look for in a PID controller and SSR when I'm going to be driving an electric heating element.


You need to choose an SSR that is designed for the voltage and current you'll be switching, and then make sure to use a properly sized heat sink on the SSR to allow it to safely dissipate its losses without getting too hot so that it will operate safely and reliably.


It may be more practical to buy a pre-made heater controller for this project depending on your level of experience and expertise with electrical and electronic design and construction.

post #4 of 14
That's why I suggested the more plug-and-play units from ranco and Johnson. Johnson has at least one where you basically mount the thermocouple, plug the control unit into the wall, and plug the smoker into the control unit.

. :Sent by pneumatic tubes now Free
post #5 of 14

I agree.  Buying an all-in-one unit where all you need to do is mount the temperature sensor and plug the heating unit into a receptacle would be much handier for most people than building the controller from parts as the OP was suggesting.  The inexpensive controllers available on the internet and elsewhere are very tempting, but...


I see a lot of threads on this forum where people are asking for and often receiving advice concerning building the temperature controller from components.  And often, the people giving the advice show what they've done, and it is obvious that they haven't considered and properly dealt with all of the considerations themselves.  So I hate seeing people start down the road of designing and building their own temperature control system (or even trying to properly program a PID controller) if they don't have the necessary expertise to do so safely and effectively, even if it would be cheaper to do it that way.


And even with an all-in-one controller, a builder needs to be careful and do things correctly to make the final system safe and to have it work correctly.  There are a lot of design considerations that most folks don't think of or deal with properly.


I see so many folks refer to a "PID" and I suspect most don't have any knowledge of or understanding of PID control systems or their proper programming and tuning.  Things kind of work, and people are happy with the results, but do they really understand what's going on and how to tune the system to optimize it?  In most cases, the answer is certainly no!  But then again, there are a lot of very intelligent and innovative folks on this forum, and learning this stuff is not beyond them by any means.


So I greatly appreciate DIY solutions.  And the DIY aspect of all of this is a big part of the fun and innovation.  And I learn things every time I come on here, as we all do.  And we all benefit from the experimentation of everyone on here.  It's just that sometimes things shown are dangerous or less than optimum, so everyone needs to know their own level of expertise and proceed accordingly, especially when it comes to electrical work and heating systems where fire and shock hazards (among other problems) should always be considered carefully.


Heck, even the major manufacturers let things go out the door that don't work all that well or end up being dangerous!

post #6 of 14
I use a DIY assembled PID+SSR setup that I built. With the assistance of an industrial control engineer. Has built in 15a breaker, and I have a GFI to add to it as well. It auto-tunes very well. Right now it's inside the casing of an old PC power supply but I should mount it in something better.

. :Sent by pneumatic tubes
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well i went ahead and ordered a pid,ssr relay,thermocoupler and building box fro aubrin i think that is the were cheaper on ebay but willing to pay for for better qualit and the security of dealing with a company that backs there product..Have looked at two builds and pretty confident on building them.I understand you need to understand what your doing and  thats why i look for info and ask alot of questions before i jump in.I have looked at two builds if anyone has any builds let me know.thanks

post #8 of 14
Be sure you are careful. Use a 3 prong plug. If the casing is metallic, ground it. Always switch hot with the SSR, never neutral.

. :Sent by pneumatic tubes
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Ok got it thanks.just looking to find 20 amp push breaker to run between element 

post #10 of 14

Have you done the heatsink calculations and gotten the heatsink and thermal grease, etc?

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yes recieved today got large heat sink that will install outside box to cool up to 25AMP SSR ALSO GOT SCREWS AND THERMO GREASE.I have pid unit ssr relay,4 inch probe.20 amp push button breaker,box,green led to let me know element is on and a flush mount outlet and inlet.just need terminal bar and power switch.and inline fuse.cant wait gettting started this weekend hopefully.

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

I beleive i understamnd it.the only question i have is according to plans they want you to screw ground to case.that is fine but what if case is all plastic??it may have a top aluminum plate but if i decide to use it?

post #13 of 14

Plastic case is okay to use.  Just common (connect) all the grounds together and separate from the neutral connections.  You still will need some sort of metal plate to act as heat sink to SSR.   Top of case is okay so long it is metal. 

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

bought large external heat sink for ssr so will be exposed to outsode of case

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