Another Newbie, newly acquired fridge and of course, questions.

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by big treble, May 30, 2015.

  1. big treble

    big treble Newbie

    So, in advance, I appreciate your tolerance of the uneducated as I ask a couple questions.

    First, I've read all the reverence for the PID Controllers, but my understanding is that they simply turn the element on and off, essentially wide open or off. I can't help but feel for a electric element perhaps a analog thermostat might be more efficient, albeit a little more cumbersome to fine tune.

    Secondly since I just stripped my old Crosley , what are the best sources or one stop online shopping to find nearly all the items I need under one roof, versus creating 15 accounts to buy 16 different parts.

    Lastly,(for now, LOL) I am somewhat on the fence between gas or electric. What are the cons of each?

    Thanks folks, looking forward to the help.

    Last edited: May 31, 2015
  2. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    electric is easier to control and build. gas are outdoor only smokers. electric can be used indoors of vented .

    PID don't always run full on when switching an element on. They control the current and as the target house temp gets closer then the PID will drop the current to prevent huge over shooting in temp, once house temp is reached then the PID controls with the current needed to maintain. THiks may not be full current.  A PID will also control the house temp within +/- 1 degree.

    An analog oven thermostat over shoots more than that and has to drop more before kicking in. It requires a contactor to turn it on or off where as a PID will use a solid state switch that lasts longer and controls the ,element better.

    A PID is programmable and I very much recommend a plug and play controller. I've built 2 fridge conversions and will never build my own PID, there are more options when you get a plug n play controller that help you be more successful and consistent with everything you make. Its also usually cheaper to buy a prebuilt PID controller
  3. big treble

    big treble Newbie

    Which plug and play controller did you use? And what element do you suggest?

    I also have access to an old stove, and was thinking of pulling the element from one of those. But kind of like the clean an mostly professional look of the burner and this burner blacked shown here;
  4. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

  5. big treble

    big treble Newbie

    Thanks a lot Mike, I appreciate the info, and searched your builds. They look awesome.

    I'm still looking intently.

    With a stove style 120v element from allied and a cast ion pan, do you think I'll get enough smoke? I see you use the Magnum PIG, versus a chip pan.

    I have always used the MES electric, and thought I was getting enough, but not sure. I guess it wouldn't hurt to get the controller with smoke generator option on it anyway, so I could add one at a later time if I needed to.
  6. I have experience with a stove burner rewired to 120V and placed in the bottom of an oven for heating a chip pan. It takes very long to get the smoke started when the burner is on full and I use a cast iron pan. OTOH, it doesn't take long at all to get smoke from a cheap aluminum pie tin and, unlike the 240V setup that the burner originally had, it does not burn up the cheap aluminum pan. I've reused the same pie tin multiple times, completely consuming the wood chips down to ash, with no apparent degradation of the pan. Aluminum spreads the heat better and is much lighter to move around with tongs.
  7. I use an analog oven thermostat for the upper heating element (240V) in an oven that I have converted to a smoker. It does not vary the current to the element. It just switches it on and off near the setpoint temperature, which gives it a swing of about 25 degrees. I have developed a way to decrease that swing. By using an infinite switch (the type of switch used on a stove burner) on the lower oven element (240V) and another infinite switch on the smoke burner element (120V), I start the smoke and bring the oven temp up to just below the setpoint, I can then control near the setpoint within +- 5 degrees by controlling only the upper oven element with the thermostat. The oven temp climbs and drops more slowly due to the bias supplied by the other two heat sources, and this helps the thermostat to keep it nearer the setpoint.

    In my experience, the only con of electric is the portability issue. I can take a propane smoker anywhere. To do the same with an electric smoker, I need 240 VAC and that could mean a generator. I like electric because it's all around less hassle once you have the connection issues solved.

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