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Planning a fridge build

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 


I live in north Idaho and I shoot a lot of waterfowl and catch a few fish too.  I'm an engineering student (sophomore) here at the community college.  I am a good cook and I've done some smoking in a Bradley Original.  I made some killer duck summer sausage and also we've done some chickens, some bacon, some ham and some turkeys in the smoker.


I've acquired an old fridge and although it has some plastic, it won't be hard to rip it off and put metal in its place.  My main goals with this project are:


1. Not poison myself with fumes.  Or start the thing on fire.  So, safety.

2. Get something that actually works, without spending too much.  The fridge cost 85 bucks; if it's possible to get smoking for less than $200 more, that would be great.  

3. Sell it, maybe.  So I want it to look good when it's done.


My brother is pretty good with electronics...we've both done plenty of wiring projects.  


Does this website have an article or sticky on the general process of converting a fridge to a smoker?  An overview of the steps or parts needed?  


I do know this: I want it to be electric.  I want to have selective hot or cold smoke.  And, I think I want to use the Bradley biscuits because they are sold everywhere, so I'll need a good way to cook the biscuits to make the smoke.  (I'm thinking about selling the smoker when it's done, and convenience of use will be a selling point.)  


So I need two heat elements (one for the chips, one to heat the whole compartment) and two thermometer inputs (one for the cabinet, one for the meat itself).  I see the number 1500 watt come up a lot in the fridge build section.  But 1500W what?  Is there something I can buy on amazon for cheap (water heater, stovetop element...) or is it just best to buy one that was designed for smokers?  I'm not afraid of a little redneck modifications.  That's the fun part, right?


Controls: Between my brother and I (he's done a lot of programming) we're going to try to create our own control program and drop it onto a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino microcontroller.  From there we can run all the elements and the servos using inputs from the thermometers.  Heck, we might even try to program our own PID loop.  (And my brother can probably get it to interface through a smartphone via wifi, for better user-friendliness, rather than just having a 3-digit LCD.)  


Thanks in advance...I know there are true experts on this forum and I will certainly take any advice I get!


Kelvinator is the brand.  



post #2 of 8
Well to answer one of your questions there are quite a few fridge builds posted here. The search feature works great so I'd suggest typing in fridge builds and start reading.
post #3 of 8

texas.gif  Good evening and welcome to the forum, from a rainy and cold East Texas. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything.



post #4 of 8

Hello and welcome to the fun.  GREAT looking fridge to start with!  I have one to convert.  Should be one to be proud of when you finish.  Well in my opinion your description is the reason there is not a "how to, follow the rules" way to build a fridge conversion.  You mentioned selling it.  Well, electric for me is of no use and it also negates the possibility of it being portable ( trailer mounted ).  If you move it you need to be sure there is a circuit available which is capable of running the smoker.  So the BIG! beach party is OUT!  Bradley biscuits restrict me mixing wood flavors I want and are more expensive to use.  Many folks ENJOY tending the smoker so "convenience" is not always a selling point.


I am not trying to bash your ideas in any way!  Sounds like it will turn out GREAT!  Wish you ALL the luck in the world.  Just trying to explain why there is not a "blueprint" for a fridge conversion.  One size doesn't always fit all.  That's why many folks build their own smoker.  They can't buy what they want "off the shelf".  There are RULES for smoker builds like fire box opening and stack size to make smokers preform properly but these "rules" don't seem to always apply to a fridge conversion.


If you want dual purpose ( hot and cold smoke ) search for mailbox mod..  Keep Smokin!


post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.  I'm second-guessing myself on the Bradley biscuits but I do know I want to be able to turn the smoke on and off electrically.  So that rules out the AMNPS and things like that, that use flame.  Has anyone tried creating smoke using nothing more than a really hot surface to put sawdust or pellets on?  

post #6 of 8

Glad you joined the group. The search bar at the top of any page is your best friend.
About anything you wanna know about smoking/grilling/curing/brining/cutting or slicing
and the list goes on has probably been posted. Remember to post a QVIEW of your smokes.
We are all smoke junkies here and we have to get our fix. If you have questions
Post it and you will probably get 10 replies with 11 different answers. That is
because their are so many different ways to make great Q...
Happy smoken.

post #7 of 8

I think this is going to be a neat build  I'll be here



post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
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