Question on Reverse Flow smoker and using a small Fan

Discussion in 'Reverse Flow' started by malin, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. I am trying to design and build my first reverse flow smoker and was thinking of heating it with wood pellets. 

     The wood pellet burner I am looking at is a hopper that gravity feeds pellets to a  burn chamber at the bottom.  Heat output is regulated by varying the output of a 10 CFM fan that supplies air to the combustion chamber and the flame and heat is then carried into the smoker.  It looks something like a blow torch when it is on high. There is a temperature probe that senses the temperature in the CC and regulates the speed of the fan to maintain a constant temperature.  It is advertised as being able to maintain temperature at + or - 1 degree.

    Has anyone had any experience with this product? (it comes from a guy in china and is sold on e-bay) 

    Would the forced air heat from this pellet burner harm the smoking/cooking process.

    Are there any other pitfalls that I am headed for by going this route.

    I am very new to smokers and this is my first build.  I am just in the planning and design stages.  I have a couple of pieces of 1/4 wall 24 in diameter pipe but nothing else.

    All/any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Tom
  2. If your dead set on the pellet dropper/blower thingdoodle, then id frankenstein an old charbroiler or something cheap as an experiment until you get a good design with all bugs worked out,   then start a quality build.
  3. I'm not really dead set on a pellet feed system but was considering it because I could let it go unattended all day.  I have always barbequed on a grill or next to an open fire and know nothing about smokers. Mocking up a test model is a great idea but the Pellet burner and temperature control device are pricey and was wondering if it was worth the investment. 

    I should probably just build a stick fired smoker and learn it before I venture into the pellet field.
  4. Your asking a guy that enjoys throwing logs on a fire, and the results it produces!   Yes, you have to keep checking on it every two hours or so, but thats part of the fun for me.
  5. crazyq

    crazyq Meat Mopper

    I'm with RW. Its just my personal preference and dont want to step on anyones toes but to me cooking is about being involved with it. It adds to the fun for me. Being around the pit and adding wood and adjusting things and tending the meat. Otherwise through it in the oven or crockpot haha.
  6. I see your point there.  Like roasting a pig.  It is all about having a few beers with friends, watching over it, adjusting the fire and swapping stories as it cooks all day.
  7. crazyq

    crazyq Meat Mopper

    Thats my idea of a cookout anyways haha
  8. Don't know about unattended never done that or had that type, I enjoy throwing on a log every once in a while and just watching and messing with it. There are a lot of members that could shed a lot more light on the pellet style, I'm an old fashioned type smoker. The only question I have is "China"  kinda like buying salsa made in New York City !

  9. crazyq

    crazyq Meat Mopper

    I'm with ya Gary. 

    NEW YORK CITY?! that commercial never gets old to me lol
  10. I am quite sure there are several types of smokers out there that you don't have to monitor much, I know the big commercial unit's the the BBQ chains use are like that, kinda load it up and forget it, You may look at some of these and take their design and adapt it to what you are looking for. 

  11. 2010ultra

    2010ultra Smoke Blower

    Hello malin, i built this pid controller to help with my temps in my homemade smoker, i use it to run a 10 cfm fan, it works very well but i do like playing around while i am smoking. the controller is hooked to a solid state relay and has a thermocouple that monitors the temps. Is this kinda what your talking about?
  12. lendecatural

    lendecatural Smoking Fanatic

    Hi 2010Ultra,

    Would it be possible for you to post a list of parts you used to put the controller together or some reference to the design online? I'm a mechanical engineer but am interested in exploring building something like that to play with.


  13. 2010ultra

    2010ultra Smoke Blower

  14. Just asking here, not really something I've ever played with,

    But wouldn't it be easier to just fire it with propane? Cheaper technology ,? Then just add a smoke generator? Seams like there are too many variables to work around trying to install an automated system for wood or pellet fired.
  15. lendecatural

    lendecatural Smoking Fanatic

    Great and thanks, that's a very reasonable price point for a new toy!
  16. 2010ultra

    2010ultra Smoke Blower

    Np Len, the only problem i had was finding a fan that was a low cfm, i ultimately just used a hair dryer lol. but it works awesome, the autotune feature is awesome it actually learns how to control the temp within 2-3 degrees of whats set. 

  17. lendecatural

    lendecatural Smoking Fanatic

    Wow, that really is a cool feature. I posted this link on another thread but these guys have a good selection of surface mount computer type fans also. I used one with a auto heater core to build a torch cooler for my TIG.
  18. Thanks 2010ultra for the picture.  That is exactly what I had in mind but I do not have the technical skills to pull it off.   The pellet burner and I found on e-bay was for sale by a smoker enthusiast in China who, like you, had some technical skills and developed a pellet burner fed by gravity, combustion/heat was varied by fan speed/CFM blowing across burning pellets and fan speed was varied bye a controller just like you have developed.  He is having them made and selling the components on e-bay.  he has some youtube videos that looked pretty impressive and claims to be able to control the temperature to within a degree or so.  My worry was that the velocity of the hot air moving through the cook chamber would turn it into a convection oven rather than a reverse flow smoker.

    If you go to e-bay and type in "wood pellet burner" you will see what I am talking about.  It is a stainless steel cube and should come up in the top 5 or so entries.  I was hoping that someone had had some experience with it and could guide me as to whether or not this was a good idea.  I'm now thinking I should just build a stick fired reverse flow smoker and learn to use as the rest of you have done before I try to branch out into the pellet world.

    I agree with the above members that most of the fun in using the smoker is sharing it with friends and having a few beers,  while smelling it cook but I have read that some cooks take over 12 hours and was not sure how to do that and keep it burning.   I was looking at the pellet burner combined with the sensor, controller and fan to maintain the correct cook chamber temperature.  I am barely a novice at this and was not sure how I was going to be able to control the cook chamber temperature for long, slow smoking periods.  

    Your controller looks like what I had in mind.  I am curious.  Does the increased air flow created by the 10 CFM fan effect your cooking outcome or cook times? Is it a reverse flow smoker that you have it hooked up to?         

    Thanks for your post, Tom
  19. 2010ultra

    2010ultra Smoke Blower


         It doesnt really effect my cooking times as i just use it to maintain a consistant 225 degrees in my cc, i just started smoking and built that smoker from scratch its big and the metal is really thin and doesnt draft that well. Im learning everyday i fire it up. the fan system is really just a crutch right now to help with temp control. That smoker is just a vertical type smoker. the downfall to my smoker is i go through a ton of wood and charcoal. the upside to it is it was really cheap. i think ive got 130 bucks tied up in it. 
  20. ~~It looks like you are off to a good start. I plan on following in your footsteps here. I have never smoked anything but am looking forward to starting. After researching I have decided on building my own reverse flow smoker. I am still in the planning stages and was looking at all of the options. I am impressed with what you have done with yours and hope I am as successful as you have been. I was lucky enough to find this forum. Everyone has been helpful and knowledgeable. I have learned a lot just reading the posts others have put up describing their builds and the advice they have been given. I hope to have my plans finalized soon and get started building.

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