Fridge Conversion - Pics and a question on heating element

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Original poster
Jul 17, 2017
Hello Everyone,

Other than Roll Call, this is my first post as a new member.  I picked up this old Coldspot fridge for $40 on Craigslist last fall.  With a little one at home and a pregnant wife I didn't get much work done on it until recently.  Here are some pics of what I have done so far.  I stripped all of the plastic off and put a stainless steel skin on the door as well as for the trim (still need to put in the top and bottom corners).  I sealed all screw holes, seams, etc with food grade high temp silicone.  The shelf guides are made of the same stainless steel sheet metal and that were bent in a "U" shape 1"x.5"x1" and the racks are cut down oven racks.

For the smoke I used the pellet smoker/auger/hopper from a Treager grill.  This weekend I ordered a rope style gasket for the door and an exhaust pipe.  I tried it out without the gasket in place and it had good smoke but was not able to get up to the internal temp I was looking for.  Last night I ordered a PID controller and am looking for advice on what to use as a heating element.  I want to get by cheap on the heating element and am wondering if I can use an old electric griddle/fry pan or even a coil style electric charcoal starter?  Are there smaller elements available that would work?  I would like to keep it a 110v element.  Once completed I will clean it up and give it a high can, paint job.  Any help, ideas or critiques on my first conversion project would be greatly appreciated.

There are replacement heating elements for electric smokers...   Also, your dishwasher uses a 110v heating element for warming the water and drying the dishes...    or single burner counter top hot plates..  BUT they must be taken apart and the overtemp switch removed along with the housing...  You can reassemble them in a fire proof manner and reuse the temp control like I did in my Totem Smoker.....

...  dish washer elements......

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you said you didn't get the temp you wanted? what temps you looking for? that unit should of heated you up just fine. cut a vent across from your pellet unit to allow it to draw fresh air in from what ive experienced the pellet units need air flow to keep them from going out.

if you still want to go the element route guys use the brickman 1500 watt elements for heat. I'm working to change my unit over to electric mine seemed a tad to big for the pellet unit for the lower temps I wanted but I am going to place it on a fridge like this for hot smokers for my ribs and butts
I'm not looking for crazy high temps, 225 max... I didn't have much time to play around with it but I was only getting it up to about 100.  That said, it was windy and I have about a 3/8" gap all the way around the door.  My door gasket should arrive on Thursday so I plan to do some more testing then.  

The main reason I want an addition heating element is that the Treager has settings for smoke, 180, 225, 250, 275, etc.  When making summer sausage I want to be able to hold it at specific temp and slowly increase at set intervals.  I thought the element with PID controller would provide better accuracy for this and also allow me to smoke other things at lower temps if I just use my A-MAZE-N tray or tube.

Thanks for the suggestions!  After I install the gasket and chimney I will check to see what I need to add for air vents. 
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It doesn't appear that the door is askew, as the gap is consistent all the way around even where the hinges are attached.  I think the gap has to do with the stainless sheet being thinner than the door panel/plastic trim.  Is this possible, or do you think I have other issues?  
If the gap is uniform around the door......  
  ... You did good....   On one fridge I built, I used manila rope for the door gasket...    Of course that was a looooooong time ago...5/8 or 3/4" manila worked real good...    high temp silicone to stick it to the door..   done....   but I did use 20 gauge cold rolled steel for the door liner....
100? wow is the pellet unit functioning ok? mine would get my unit up to 300 on full blast and I have over double the space. it just struggle to maintain consistent lower temps (under 200)  what kind of thermometer did you use? use multiple ones? what size exhaust do you have?
Good Looking fridge. Did you buy the pellet hopper separate or did you take it off an existing smoker?

1500W brinkman element was discontinued for a while on amazon. Looks like someone has stock and is selling them again. A little pricy but it's either this one or the universal with temp controller.

 or the

I bought a gently used brinkman smoker for cheap and just pulled the element from it for my fridge smoker. I've got a 1 year old also so time is limited to work on it.

I was originally going to hook it up to the Auber 1800 Dual Probe PID -, but I found Ink-Bird sells a programmable thermostat that's plug n play for only 1/4 of the price.

Unless someone can tell me why to get the Auber vs Ink-Bird, I don't see the reason to spend the extra $150. My smoking temps will be the same and If I want to change them I can run out and do it manually.

Just to confirm, you are going to run the pellet hopper for smoke and add the element for additional heat? Why not just use the element for heat and AMNPS for smoke?
Ink Bird seems to be a good controller from the revues...    They make several models...  Make sure about the wattage.... and voltage.... is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.