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Drum Smoker- Electronics help needed please!

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by frank621, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. I have a double 55 gal drum build with one being the smoking chamber and the other as a fire box.

    I just bought an Auber Ins. PID Controller, All in One:

    and hooked it up to a Grainger (Tempco) Finned Strip Heater:

    using PFA Glass Insulated High Temperature Heater Hook-up Wire:

    I cannot get the heater past 122 degrees. I have 120v coming from the controller to the tips of the wires then when I connect the wires to the heater I drop to 112v

    I have reversed the wires on the heater, as originally I didnt think there was a positive or negative, but it didnt change anything.

    The heater, in theory, should be glowing red/orange. Any idea what I am doing wrong???
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2013
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Do you have an extension cord running to the controller.....    do you have the temp programmed into the controller....   

    I don't know squat about PID's....  just asking the basic questions...    In fact, I just learned how to spell PID......   Check the spade lugs to make sure they are making good contact when plugged in... a loose cord can cause a high amp draw...... and low voltage


    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  3. Thanks Dave!

    Yes, I do have an extension cord running from the wall to the PID. I can try going straight into the wall and see if that changes anything.

    I do have the controller programmed properly, basically set it at 350 degrees for 6 hours and I called the manufacturer to confirm because this is my first experience with a PID.
  4. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Where are you reading 122*? Right on the strip heater or in the smoke chamber? Where is the TC mounted?

    You are reading 12v when connected because you are introducing resistance in the circuit with the heater connected.
  5. 122 degrees is the read out on the PID, but it is set for 350 degrees.

    The TC is located in my smoking chamber which is the reading at 122. My firebox with the heater go up to probably 150-175.

    The heater after running for 2.5 hrs never got glowing red.
  6. Can the PID source 15A? I think you need to put a SSR inbetween the PID and heater.
  7. its 10a
  8. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    That PID is an all in one unit that is good for 2000w, his element is only 900w.

    How big is the chamber?
    It's possible the element isn't big enough to heat the chamber and if you are getting a lot of fresh airflow through the chamber the TC could be reading the fresh air that isn't getting heated fast enough.
    I have a 1500w element and I have never seen it glow red.
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think, but not sure....  900 watts won't heat a drum let alone a double drum...  barely heat an insulated MES 30.....   Dave
  10. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Doh! I guess I missed it was a double barrel smoker!

    What were the ambient temps when you were running it?

    My smokehouse is 30"X30"X72" and very well insulated and with the 1500w element it will max out about 180*, so I'm agreeing with Dave that 900w probably isn't going to be big enough.
  11. I ran it yesterday and in Vegas right now, its gorgeous at around 75*

  12. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Did you try putting the TC or a known accurate therm in the bottom drum?
    It's going to take a lot of volume of heat to heat the bottom drum enough to transfer up to the top.
  13. I have not tried that yet. I figured that if I could get the firebox to 350ish, then I should be able to maintain 225ish in my smoking chamber
  14. what size element would you suggest?
  15. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Frank, evening....  what are you generating smoke with... electric...  I have no idea what size element... Insulate the [email protected] out of it and try the 900...  see what you get and go from there....   You are going to need insulation anyway you choose to go....  Dave
  16. radioguy

    radioguy Smoking Fanatic


    You can try this,  bypass the PID and directly plug the element in (and watch it)  see if she comes up to temperature in a reasonable amount of time. 

    I looked that element up and found a 1900watt one.  Just want to confirm what size it is?   Second what is the rating on the PID  (should be something load current / wattage, switching rating).  PID rating should exceed the element for safe / proper operation.   Depending upon wattage you may have some wire sizes too small. 

    Good luck, keep us posted.  Glad to try and assist.

  17. Thanks again guys!

    Specs for the PID Are:


    Input voltage100 to 240 VAC 50 /60 Hz
    Output voltageSame as the input
    Maximum Current10A for 120VAC(1200 W), 8A for 240VAC(2000 W)
    Controller ModePID, PI, PD or P
    Output switching deviceBuilt-in optically isolated solid state relay with zero voltage crossing switching
    Sensor tip dimensions4 mm diameter x 40 mm long
    Sensor cable length5 ft (1.5 meter)
    Timer range6 steps with 0.1 to 99.9 hours for each step
    Temperature resolution1 °C or 1 °F
    Temperature display unitCelsius or Fahrenheit
    Temperature display range0-200 °C, or 32-392 °F
    Minimum Control Temperature5 C (9 F) above ambient with smomker generator off, 22 °C (40 °F)  above ambient with smoker generator on
    Maximum Control Temperature195 °C (383 °F)
    Temperature accuracy+/-1°C
    Dimension6.x3x6.7 inch (150x80x170 mm) WxHxD
    2.2 lb (1.0 kg) without power cord

    Specs on the Heater are:
    tem  Finned Strip Heater
    Voltage  120V
    Overall Length  12"
    Mounting Dimension  11"
    Watts  900
    Watt Density  40W/sq. in.
    Terminals  Each End
    Element Width  1-1/2"
    Sheath Material  Seamless 304 Stainless Steel
    Material  Nickel Plated Steel
    Phase  1
    H x W Across Fins  1-3/8 x 2"
    Max. Sheath Temp.  1200 Degrees F
    Mounting Type  Surface Mount
    Slotted Hole Length  1/2"
    Slotted Hole Width  5/16"
    Screw Size  10-32
    Standards  UL Recognized
    Includes  Mounting Tabs
  18. Bypassed the PID, just plugged straight into the wall and it never really got up to temp, even with 18ga wire.

    still at a loss here...
  19. radioguy

    radioguy Smoking Fanatic


    If that element was on and getting HOT then I would guess it's too small for your cabinet, and not your PID set up.  For safeties sake I would make the wire size #14 or #12.  I always use oversize wire, no reason to skimp.  At 900w your element should draw about 7.5 amps @ 120v line, a little more if your line voltage is lower than 120v.  #18 wire would cause a bit of a voltage drop but not much.   Are you using a long extension cord?  This might cause problems if the cord is long and too thin a wire.  

    Maybe someone else has another opinion / suggestion. 

  20. i took the element out of my smoker just so I can mess with it. It did get Hot, but no where near hot enough. I would say maybe 150 degrees at most. Again, I'm not too familiar with these and I bought this one on purpose because it was 1200 degrees surface temp. but apparently I'm missing something.

    I was using an extension cord but it was 8ga.