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Drum Smoker- Electronics help needed please!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I have a double 55 gal drum build with one being the smoking chamber and the other as a fire box.

I just bought an Auber Ins. PID Controller, All in One:



and hooked it up to a Grainger (Tempco) Finned Strip Heater:


using PFA Glass Insulated High Temperature Heater Hook-up Wire:



I cannot get the heater past 122 degrees. I have 120v coming from the controller to the tips of the wires then when I connect the wires to the heater I drop to 112v

I have reversed the wires on the heater, as originally I didnt think there was a positive or negative, but it didnt change anything.

The heater, in theory, should be glowing red/orange. Any idea what I am doing wrong???

post #2 of 22

Do you have an extension cord running to the controller.....    do you have the temp programmed into the controller....   


I don't know squat about PID's....  just asking the basic questions...    In fact, I just learned how to spell PID......   Check the spade lugs to make sure they are making good contact when plugged in... a loose cord can cause a high amp draw...... and low voltage




post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks Dave!

Yes, I do have an extension cord running from the wall to the PID. I can try going straight into the wall and see if that changes anything.

I do have the controller programmed properly, basically set it at 350 degrees for 6 hours and I called the manufacturer to confirm because this is my first experience with a PID.

post #4 of 22
Where are you reading 122*? Right on the strip heater or in the smoke chamber? Where is the TC mounted?

You are reading 12v when connected because you are introducing resistance in the circuit with the heater connected.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

122 degrees is the read out on the PID, but it is set for 350 degrees.

The TC is located in my smoking chamber which is the reading at 122. My firebox with the heater go up to probably 150-175.

The heater after running for 2.5 hrs never got glowing red.

post #6 of 22
Can the PID source 15A? I think you need to put a SSR inbetween the PID and heater.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

its 10a

post #8 of 22
Originally Posted by RYAN IN LOUISVILLE View Post

Can the PID source 15A? I think you need to put a SSR inbetween the PID and heater.

That PID is an all in one unit that is good for 2000w, his element is only 900w.

How big is the chamber?
It's possible the element isn't big enough to heat the chamber and if you are getting a lot of fresh airflow through the chamber the TC could be reading the fresh air that isn't getting heated fast enough.
I have a 1500w element and I have never seen it glow red.
post #9 of 22

I think, but not sure....  900 watts won't heat a drum let alone a double drum...  barely heat an insulated MES 30.....   Dave

post #10 of 22
Doh! I guess I missed it was a double barrel smoker!

What were the ambient temps when you were running it?

My smokehouse is 30"X30"X72" and very well insulated and with the 1500w element it will max out about 180*, so I'm agreeing with Dave that 900w probably isn't going to be big enough.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

I ran it yesterday and in Vegas right now, its gorgeous at around 75*


post #12 of 22
Did you try putting the TC or a known accurate therm in the bottom drum?
It's going to take a lot of volume of heat to heat the bottom drum enough to transfer up to the top.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

I have not tried that yet. I figured that if I could get the firebox to 350ish, then I should be able to maintain 225ish in my smoking chamber

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

what size element would you suggest?

post #15 of 22

Frank, evening....  what are you generating smoke with... electric...  I have no idea what size element... Insulate the kr@p out of it and try the 900...  see what you get and go from there....   You are going to need insulation anyway you choose to go....  Dave

post #16 of 22



You can try this,  bypass the PID and directly plug the element in (and watch it)  see if she comes up to temperature in a reasonable amount of time. 


I looked that element up and found a 1900watt one.  Just want to confirm what size it is?   Second what is the rating on the PID  (should be something load current / wattage, switching rating).  PID rating should exceed the element for safe / proper operation.   Depending upon wattage you may have some wire sizes too small. 


Good luck, keep us posted.  Glad to try and assist.



post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks again guys!

Specs for the PID Are:


Input voltage 100 to 240 VAC 50 /60 Hz
Output voltage Same as the input
Maximum Current 10A for 120VAC(1200 W), 8A for 240VAC(2000 W)
Controller Mode PID, PI, PD or P
Output switching device Built-in optically isolated solid state relay with zero voltage crossing switching
Sensor tip dimensions 4 mm diameter x 40 mm long
Sensor cable length 5 ft (1.5 meter)
Timer range 6 steps with 0.1 to 99.9 hours for each step
Temperature resolution 1 °C or 1 °F
Temperature display unit Celsius or Fahrenheit
Temperature display range 0-200 °C, or 32-392 °F
Minimum Control Temperature 5 C (9 F) above ambient with smomker generator off, 22 °C (40 °F)  above ambient with smoker generator on
Maximum Control Temperature 195 °C (383 °F)
Temperature accuracy +/-1°C
Dimension 6.x3x6.7 inch (150x80x170 mm) WxHxD

2.2 lb (1.0 kg) without power cord


Specs on the Heater are:


tem   Finned Strip Heater
Voltage   120V
Overall Length   12"
Mounting Dimension   11"
Watts   900
Watt Density   40W/sq. in.
Terminals   Each End
Element Width   1-1/2"
Sheath Material   Seamless 304 Stainless Steel
Material   Nickel Plated Steel
Phase   1
H x W Across Fins   1-3/8 x 2"
Max. Sheath Temp.   1200 Degrees F
Mounting Type   Surface Mount
Slotted Hole Length   1/2"
Slotted Hole Width   5/16"
Screw Size   10-32
Standards   UL Recognized
Includes   Mounting Tabs
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 

Bypassed the PID, just plugged straight into the wall and it never really got up to temp, even with 18ga wire.

still at a loss here...

post #19 of 22



If that element was on and getting HOT then I would guess it's too small for your cabinet, and not your PID set up.  For safeties sake I would make the wire size #14 or #12.  I always use oversize wire, no reason to skimp.  At 900w your element should draw about 7.5 amps @ 120v line, a little more if your line voltage is lower than 120v.  #18 wire would cause a bit of a voltage drop but not much.   Are you using a long extension cord?  This might cause problems if the cord is long and too thin a wire.  


Maybe someone else has another opinion / suggestion. 



post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 

i took the element out of my smoker just so I can mess with it. It did get Hot, but no where near hot enough. I would say maybe 150 degrees at most. Again, I'm not too familiar with these and I bought this one on purpose because it was 1200 degrees surface temp. but apparently I'm missing something.

I was using an extension cord but it was 8ga.

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