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Heating element running weak on Cabela's electric smoker - why?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello All -

 

I own this smoker, http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabelas-Premium-Electric-Smoker/732447.uts and have been using it for the last 3 years. Last weekend I had a big get-together and made some pork butt and brisket. Everything turned out great but I noticed at the end that there were some whole wood chips on the tray at the end, which is very unusual after 9 hours on low. Yesterday I went to smoke some ribs and after 1 hour on low the Maverick only read 140. Out of curiosity I cranked it up to high, which usually gets up to 350, and it only got up to 180 and still produced no smoke. I ended up grilling them. It was a warm, semi-windy day. I can't think of anything environmental that would caused the heating element to run at about 50% capacity. Any ideas?

post #2 of 11

Sounds like a faulty element. Fairly inexpensive the replace.

post #3 of 11

An electric heating element either works or doesn't, just like a light bulb. No in between half power.

 

Check the thermostat's function and see if it is working properly.

 

Or you can look up the formula for watts, ohms, volts = 1,650 watts, measure the ohms with a meter, calculate at 120VAC and see if the ohms is correct for 1650 watts.

 

dcarch

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

See that's what I thought, that it either works or doesn't. But it was definitely on, but not getting full power. The ribs were not even close to done after 6 hours and almost none of the wood got hot enough to produce smoke. But the temperature was hot enough to cook the meat, just slowly. So somehow it was not powering properly.

post #5 of 11

And that can be a faulty thermostat shutting off the heating element too soon.

 

BTW, you should not have eaten what came out from it. The food could have stayed too long in the "danger zone"

 

dcarch

post #6 of 11
Plug it directly into a wall outlet and see what happens..... I'm thinking you were using an extension cord.... maybe too long or too small a wire also....

And the "thermostat failure" observation by dcarch was a good one....
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveOmak View Post

Plug it directly into a wall outlet and see what happens..... I'm thinking you were using an extension cord.... maybe too long or too small a wire also....

And the "thermostat failure" observation by dcarch was a good one....

Absolutely. Extension cord for 1650 watts is an issue that needs to be considered.

 

3300 house fires and 50 deaths each year are started by electrical extension cords used for electric heaters. 

 

dcarch

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

No extension cord, plugged into the same outdoor outlet I've used many times before without issue. If it is the thermostat where would I get a replacement for just that? Don't want to have to buy a whole now element 

post #9 of 11

Assuming it is indeed the temperature control unit, which is Cabela's item IK-516114(double check please), order it from Cabela's customer service department.

 

But before you buy, take a good look and make sure that you have the tools and skill to replace it yourself.

 

dcarch

post #10 of 11
Clean the contacts and make sure they are "sprung" for a tight fit on the lugs.... Check the cord for worn or broken wires.... bad wiring will reduce the amperage to the element.....
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. Replacing just the TCU is over my skill level for sure, I was curious about just replacing the whole thermostat but it looks like that runs about $30. Given that I also have $30 in Cabelas rewards that would put me halfway to a new smoker anyway so that's the route I might take. I do wonder about the contacts being clean though so I will check that, I was using a pretty heavy mop sauce last time which actually caused my Maverick probe to stop working correctly and this smoker doesn't do a great job of protecting the thermostat or the element from sauces or drippings. Here's hoping I can fix it, money is tight right now.

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