Darn SOB needs help!

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jun 21, 2009
The North Coast of Ohio
So I am in the planning stages to build my Gatorade Smoker. I am making it from an old display cooler I got from work.

I am going to put this smoker in my garage and vent it outside. Allowing me to be able to smoke all year. I want to make this as safe as possible.


I am going to use electric finned strip heaters mounted in the bottom for the heat.


A pid unit for the controls


The A-Maze-N smoker for the smoke generator 

A 6 inch blast gate for the stack out the top. With a 6-4 inch reducer to 4 inch vent pipe to go outside.


Here ia a drawing of the burner layout.


This is what I have so far ...My question is with this type of controller can I run both the strip heaters at once resulting in 1800watts of power?

Would there be any major advantage of setting this up to run on 240V instead of 120V?

Also will I be able to controll the heat from as low as 130* - 140* to as high as 250* - 300*?

I know ...asking alot aint I!

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

The unit you have listed will handle the 1800 watt elements on the contact relay.

220 Volts on the relay contact will heat up twice as fast as 120 volts.  Just more efficient.

You might have a look at this unit.


Biggest problem I have observed with indoor smokers is people forget to create a circuit for smoke evacuation.  The control above has two switches allowing you to wire in an iduction fan to evacuate the smoke prior to opening the door.

You could get the first controller you have listed and just use an ordinary house electric switch to manually turn on smoke evacuation system.

Now this looks like a job for Bob (eman) the retired electric dude
I am watching this thread as I am looking to make the same kind of thing and I know nothing about how to hook up a PID to heating elements or what you even need to pull it off. Anyone have any good web sites that explain how these work or how to hook them up and what you all need. I have been looking but have not found anything yet. Everything I have found so far could just as well be in French as it makes no sense to me since I don't have a clue what I am looking for.
Just found this thread. Going from 120 to 240 will drop your amp draw.That will let you use smaller wire and save money on the front end of your build .The higher voltage will save you money on the back end.If your still needing help just let me know. 
Nice, I am building a smoker out of an almost identical cooler, but mines Coke.  

I picked up a Jenn Air true convection oven off of Kijiji for free today and plan on using the convection fan and integrated element as a heat source, I was going to go with a homemade ventura smoke generator made out of black stove pipe and fittings, but will test out and Amazin smoker to start I think, Too much condensation in the Ventura smoke generator in sub zero temps for my taste.

Will use the exhaust fan from the oven as an inline exhaust fan to purge the smoke when I need to open it and  PIDS controllers.

You shouldn't have to gut the cooler. It should be a polyurethane insulation which wont melt or burn at smoke house temps, safe to at least 650F from everything Ive read. And the inside should be painted aluminum, not galvanized.  Basically wire it and your good to go.

Have you taken the compressor out yet to see how it circulates the air through the condenser? Curious to know. Havent got my cooler yet so I haven't been able to look and decide how to best place the fan and element.

I would avoid the blast gate and just go with a duct baffle. The blast gate will gum up with tar and be impossible to use unless cleaned. It will leak out the sides where no seal is as well.

'The baffles will get coated in tar as well, but are useable far longer before needing to be cleaned or replaced. and an extension on the swivel means you wont have to reach for it every time you need to open or close it.

Hope to start my build this spring. Keep the wife happy and get the 3yr and running bathroom reno finally finished this winter then work on the smoker. hahah
I put a 900 watt strip/fin heater in my smoker as a kicker to get it up to temp faster and then let it run on my 1500 watt brinkman. the strip heater was not on a PID but i did have a control on it. my buddy that wired it said i may have trouble with it as they were not designed for what i was using it for. lasted about 6 weeks and died. i put an element in from a 110v hot plate instead and no problems.


i used the 900 watt 110 volt ...

so be careful and make sure you get what ya want. stove top elements are bigger, cheaper and made to run hot and long. can get 110v or 220v

heres what I have so far...

2 900 watt finned strip heaters

aubrins  dual probe digital PID controller

2 intake vents from masterbuilt electric smokers

I also have an exhaust fan from a jenn-air stove to put in-line in the stack

to be able to evacuate the chamber when I want to open it. I want to put this in my garage without filling it with smoke.

I like the idea of the convection fan ...any help with the link to where you bought it would be great.

I need to get some high temp wire and consider the hot plate burner idea.

I like learning from others mistakes to lessen mine.

hi temp wire is easy enough to find, i also slid some heat shield sleeves over the wires cause the way i added mine they crossed over my brinkman and wanted the extra protection.

now you have 1800 watts of heater and i am thinking the 1800 watt PID from Auberins. i went cheap and bought the 1500 watt PID for my 1500 watt brinkman burner and ended up having to program it to run at 80% for fear of burning it out. they should only run at full power for a limited amount of time. thats why i added the 2nd element. i talked with Frank tech support at Auberins after i blew a fuse.... he was very helpful, offered an upgrade for the cost difference BUT the shipping would kill me from where i live, so he suggested to run at 80% to save the PID as they shouldnt get over heated. i see your build will be a beauty, and is much the same size that mine is..  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/151047/coldspot-freezer-build

SOOOOOOO .... just a few things to think about before you commit ...

i also used some silicon high heat bulb seal ...#5    http://www.mcmaster.com/#silicone-rubber-bulb-seal-gaskets/=qrykfb for my door seal.

for my smoke gen i have settled on a mailbox mod using a cheap turkey roaster.... no mailboxes up here and would cost an arm and a leg..... connected to my smoker with a piece of 3" metal flex duct. real cheap but very practical.

i also run in my shop but i dont thinkyou can ever stop all of thesmoke.... it goes away after a few days.... and you dont need to look at it all the time .... LOL... trust your Maverick thermometers  :0)


good luck
What temps are you able to achieve with the 1500 watt element running to at 80%? A1500 watt element would allow my pid to run cooler. I am thinking about putting the amnps in a box in the lower space under the cook chamber with a pipe connecting the two.
I run at 225 no problem after im up to temp. have been up to 300 just for a test. what i usually do is run my 1000 watt element out of a $15 dollar hot plate and my 1500 watt brinkman on the PID. i have the 1000w element on a control i robbed out of a stove from the dump. i turn it down after im at temp and everything cruises along nicely. it has been easier to make temp in my shop this winter when a put my wood stove on, helps alot !!!!!

i am just warning you about my experience with the fin heater... they are not made to run FULL CHISEL for long periods of time ... at least that is what my buddy expressed to me and he was right. depending where you live and how hard they will have to work may be totally different for you.

if you choose to go 220v the elements from a stove top are cheap like borscht and you can get them in high wattage. BUT the brinkman is 110v and that is why i put the element out of a hotplate in.

here is a pic how i have it set up ...

the bar that i have the element wired to is where i had the fin heater, the problem definitely could have been because the heater didnt have enough air flow around the completed unit because of the metal bar that supported it.it was set up with an inch of space above the bar. the rest is just ready rod, and on top as you can see in my build pics is a drip pan protector. got the idea for this from the site.

its all trial and error and I MADE AN ERROR ...   HA HA HA

glad to help any way i can

here is a pic of my mailbox mod (turkey roaster)

i have even used a longer piece of the flex now cause its easier to get the lid off to put AMNPS in once its lit. i also use the Masterbuilt Cold Smoke unit ($60) cause i can burn sawdust, chips, pellets.. whatever i want in it but i get more hours out of the AMNPS and thats good for overnight smokes..


there are so many options anything can be fixed if it doesnt support your own needs.
looks nice. you will also need some intake venting at the bottom To supply air to the AMNPS and to create a draft to have air flow thru the smoker.

there are many creative designs for air intake systems... some fellas have used water tapS and shut offs, i have a piece of 3" pipe flanged and welded on 1 end so it can pass thru the fridge then the other side the flange slides over and is screwed into the fridge. i then have a sliding flap on there to control draft but it seems its usually pretty open. only time i have had trouble is when i am cold smoking and it is windy as hell outside. without the heat in the smoker to create that air flow/draft the wind can sometimes blow smoke back into my shop. i play with the dampers top and bottom and get that figured out.

i like the fan idea and think it will give a more even heat throughout, but im just guessing here. have been thinking about putting a fan in mine. i have found some bathroom fan motors with long shafts so it can be mounted outside and then put a metal fan blade on it. a small drip deflector over top and its good to go. saw the design on one of the builds here on the site. quite cheap to do also.

i am gathering you will going 220 with the oven element in the bottom. just remember the max wattage of your PID when you finish all this up. i personally recommend to keep everything so that it can be modified easy as nothing is written in stone on a guys 1st build.  A GREAT LEARNING CURVE.

the racks are also a bit to deal with. i made up some fantastic 1 piece racks for my smoker. the trouble is cleaning them the wife has kinda had enough of me putting them in the bath tub ...  HA HA HA

so now i have some small racks that can sit on 2 pieces of metal cross bars. still get the same surface area... BUT ... can put them in my laundry tub to clean up and im still allowed to sleep upstairs...  :0)

you will read on here some dont clean racks, just heat the smoker up but im wondering it those are the stick smokers or electric !!.

you will love your smoker when its done. kinda like having a new girlfriend and experimenting all the time ...  HA HA HA

convection oven fans and element are easy to find on ebay. watch on line classifieds like Craigs list. kijiji is the equivalent where i am. Craigs list isnt as popular here.

here is a link t6o the same fan and element combo I plan on using in my build. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Maytag-7401...-Fan-Assembly-New-Ref-W10206587-/321319799166   this is a new one, but used are easy to find too

something also to consider is mounting your fan in the top. The cooler you are using may have baffle plates on the side /or back to allow the circulating air around them. Mounting the fan in the back will mean you have to remove the rear panel otherwise it will block the front of the fan where the air enters and is then blown out the sides.The compressor and condenser in your cooler are bottom mounted, there should be a vent in the bottom at the back where the air circulates through the coils, likely be able to use that as the vent to allow smoke to enter, It will be behind the rear baffle panel and safe from falling debris. Just put a catch pan in the bottom so it doesn't drain fat or water down it .
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I got a 6 in exhaust fan from a jenn air grill top stove that I think will mount in the top of the cooler above the door.

that will be hooked to a switch that when turned on will remove the excess smoke from the chamber before I open the door.

I am hoping to be able to use just 1heating element on the bottom around the smoke pipe entering from the bottom.

un fortunately life gets in the way...Mrs SOB has to have foot surgery Tuesday and will be off that foot for 6 weeks.

No money No time!  Fixed wife!....Priiceless!

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