electric cold/warm/hot smoker design questions

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invader q

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Aug 13, 2007
I've been tweaking designs for a hybrid electric/charcoal cold smoker. The current plan is to use a vertical 55gal drum, on a plybood base, with casters to make it mobile, and to get it off the ground a bit. There would be a hole for incoming smoke at the base, along with a 750 watt electric single burner element, to keep it from freezing in the winter, and allow warm/hot smoke if required. I'd put in an access door to allow me to adjust the temp on the burner, and install a drip guard/smoke diffuser between the base and the main smoke chamber. Then for the smoke, I was going use a 12 gallon barrel, about 6 or 10 foot away, burning charcoal and wood chunks. I'd duct the smoke with wither stove pipe, or something similar.

Questions I'm having:

1. The burner's heat control is on the unit itself. Is the 250 dagree temp of hot smoking going to hurt anything? Likely not going to use it for hot smoke very often, but having it be flexable might be useful.

2. Is a single 750 watt element going to get me to the temps I need? I figure I can wrap the smoker in a moving blanket, or similar, in the cold of winter to help it not loose heat so fast through the sides.

3. Am I missing anything?

Hate to be the only one that has responded as I'm a newbie myself.

What I can tell you is, I have a homemade smoker made from a double walled stainless steel cabinet,4-5 cu ft. I have a 1,000 heater and last week I had trouble toping 200° and that's after I modified the hot plate to let me run it hotter than originally intended.

Personally think you'll have problems getting up to proper smoking temps.

Hope more knowledgeable people will respond.
If I understand your set up correctly, it looks to me like you got a cold smoker, not a hot smoker. I don't think you can reach any where near 200. Just my opinion.
a 55 gallon barrels going to need more than a 750 watt heat source even vertical. I'd go propane if I were you. Or wood and charcoal. Where you from? It it gets cold you may not even get warm enugh for a cold smoker.
Hi Debi (and thanks everyone else),

I'm in Nebraska. Most of the winter here is between 0 and 32ish, and the worst of winters bring short drops to -10 in still air. But, that's not very common.

Can I use flexable rubber propane hose to connect a LP burner to an external tank, or the heat in the smoker be an issue? Or, am is there another way to do the plumbing?
Give a look here. http://www.gassmoker.com/ Someone else provided this link in another thread.

I'm wanting to convert my smoker over to propane unless I can find a source for a larger electric heating element, about 1500-2000 btu's. Even then that may not be adequate during the winter and we don't have it anywhere near as cold here as you have to deal with.
Gee Invader if it gets that cold I would recommend propane. I smoke all winter and even with a wind break it's pretty tough even with charcoal to stay up to temps after 10 degrees!

I have a plan to cut out a hole in the bottom and insert my propane steamer/fryer burner or I have purchased a grill type burner I was goig to rebuild my grill with I might put under tuning plates so I can grill or smoke.
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