electric heater size

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GaryHibbert, May 24, 2015.

1. GaryHibbertSmoking GuruOTBS Member★ Lifetime Premier ★

I'm not just sure where I should be posting this, so if it should be moved, please do so.

That said, I'm helping my neighbor get his smoker up and running.  We think we have just about everything covered except for the size of the element to be used.  His smoker is 7 ft x 8 ft x 7 ft high.  It is metal clad inside and out and everything--walls, ceiling, floor, and door--are all insulated  1 1/2 inches between the metal.  He wants electric heating.  He doesn't need high temps as his main use will be for sausage and jerky--so he'll be happy with 200 degrees.

Any and all suggestions welcome.

Thanks

Gary

2. dward51Master of the PitOTBS Member

I don't know the answer, but 7'x8'x7' is a lot of air volume to be heating up. That's 392 cubic feet.  I would also think he will need to force the air to circulate or have a horrible time with temps from one area to another.  The heat will want to gather at the ceiling and at mid-chamber height the difference will be significant.

I suspect you will be looking at around 5kw, but I have no formula to confirm that with.   See if you can find an old oven element in the 2000-3000 watt range and use it for a trial run.  I would not worry about temp control for the trial.  You just want to see how hot that given wattage will make the chamber.  You might also take some heat readings at different heights to see how much variation there is.  I think you will find air circulation will be a must have.

PS, there is pretty much no way to get that volume of air up to temp on a 110v element.  So if he has not already done so, he needs to be thinking 220v.  Also keep in mind that a trial run on an empty volume of air is not the same as that volume of air loaded with cold meat.  I would oversize the element to make up for that cold mass problem as you want to get the pit up to at least the starting temp when fully loaded.

3. GaryHibbertSmoking GuruOTBS Member★ Lifetime Premier ★

Yeah, I told him 110 V was out and that he should maybe downsize the size of the smokehouse.  But...he has the smokehouse already, and its already in place.  I keep working on him to make it smaller.  Guess I'll try again.

Thanks

Gary

4. dward51Master of the PitOTBS Member

What is he going to be using to generate smoke?

Again that is a large volume of air.  It can be done, but a pellet tube and 1,500 watt brinkmann element are not going to get the job done.  Think of the volume of air in a MES (1200 watt element) and then compare that to the room he has built.  Smoke generator and heating element will need to be sized up appropriately.

One he gets it figured out and running right, it will smoke a huge amount of meat.  But to me that size room brings images of the old days and a true smoke "house".

Here is a set of true smokehouse plans that the University of Tennessee published from the USDA.  It's for a 6'x8'x8' smokehouse which is very close to your friends smokehouse.  They used a separate fire box which will work like a stick burner smoker.

http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/support-files/smokehouse-plans.pdf

Hopefully there is someone here who has made something like this work on electric before and they will jump in soon.

5. GaryHibbertSmoking GuruOTBS Member★ Lifetime Premier ★

Thanks.  I'll show him those plans. I've been telling him that he'll either have to downsize or use an external firebox.  I'll be seeing him in the next couple of days and see if he's ready to accept either of those options.

Gary