Hey, Mr. Wizard?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by smokin-wylie, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Hiya folks,

    I have another post going on this subject but thought I might grab a little quicker interest and response posting here. I got a bit off track on that other post anyway and I have a turkey thawing in the fridge you know. [​IMG]

    Being I have a remote thermometer and plan to buy another dual probe remote thermometer I just don't see the sense in a flashy PID sitting on my smoker with all that expensive electrical stuff sitting outside exposed to the elements.

    Besides the expense of the PIDs and I can't read the numbers on a PID sitting in the house anyway. With the remote thermometers I'll be able to monitor smoker temps as well as thick and thin cut temps in the smoker from inside the house.

    So I've been looking for the cheapest means with which to one, go electric with my smoker and two, regulate the heat in my smoker.

    This seems to me as if it should work. If I were to get one of these elements and wire it in series with one of these thermostats I should be smokin right?

    Just take my hot wire through the thermostat to the element and back to the neutral wire in my cord.

    Once I find my temps I smoke at I just mark them on the thermostat and I should be good to go.

    Yeah opening the insulated box I have made for my smoker may loose some heat but once the thermostat is set or I have marks set up for different temps I really shouldn't have to bother with it much, I'd think.

    It'd be great to hear some feedback on this. I've already found my high temp wire and got plans in line for a new outlet out on the porch.

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  2. You are right about the wiring method, series through the therm, then the element, but there are several problems with these parts. The element is only 500 watts, pretty small for a cooker. The thermostat you picked mounts inside the heat chamber and is only adjustable with a screw driver.

     If you really want to get by on the cheap side you should salvage an old electric oven that still works. You can often find them for free. That therm will have a remote bulb to sense the temp and the knob out where you can change it at will and a calibrated dial.

     There are many places to find heating elements. I found a neat 1400 watt element in one of those counter top rotisseries someone discarded. Depending on the size of your smoker and how well it is insulated, you might need anywhere from 800 to 1500 watts for all weather use. Many use the replacement heaters available for ECBs at a fair price (1500 watts). Another idea is an electric hot plate. I bought one new (1000 watts) at Walgreens for under $10 after rebate. You could remove the heater, reflector and support stuff and can the rest of it at that price.

     Just a few thoughts.


  3. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Thanks Chuck!

    I was wondering if 500 watts would cut the mustard and than the wattage rating for the thermostat is 1350 watt, kinda thinking I might have fried the element too. I even went looking at a thermostat that ranged from 50 to 525, same manufacturer same make up.

    The last B&D hot plate I bought went south way too fast so I have been leery of the hot plates. The ECB replacement element measurements don't work so well with my smoker from what I have gathered from the Internet.

    I have this ECB smoker inside a very likely over engineered insulating box (18"X18"X31") so I'm pretty sure insulation won't be an issue although bringing it up to temp could take a while with a 500 watt element.

    Maybe my best move is another hot plate, I could have just got a lemon and everything is almost plug and play to have the controls on the exterior of the smoker if I go with another B&D. 5 reviews at one star and one at 5 stars has me shaky about another one of those though.

    One thing I have noticed with the oven type thermostats is that the variable can be up to 30 degrees with them. I thought the +/- 5 degrees was pretty nice with the thermostat I found. Mounting the thermostat wouldn't be a big deal inside the insulation box I wouldn't think.

    Maybe I better work on a better element.

    Thanks again Chuck!
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  5. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Thanks again JJ!

    That one is just a bit rich for my blood.

    I'm just about ready to pull the trigger on the Waring (1300watt) at just over half the cost and quit causing myself the search engine grief and make this a bit easier on myself! I figure if the controls go out I turn around and get the thermostat I mentioned earlier and make the repair, sounds as though the element is a stable unit.

    With the Waring I'd rip that plastic stuff off the sides and bottom and mount it in the smoker like I did the B&D, might event manage to get the controls on the exterior of the smoker again too. I've looked for them in stores in town (30 miles away) but haven't found anything worth throwing my money at as far as I have seen.

    That's it the Waring's mine, I'm done with this endless searching and planning crap! I'll post up the results.
  6.  If you want cheap and don't care much about looks, here are some ideas for you.


    These are 3  500watt charcoal starters. I started with 2 but it wasn't enough for an uninsulated box.

    It actually worked quite well. There are lots of options for control. I ran them from a 3-way plug and just pulled the plugs as it warmed up till I found the balance for the outside temp. In cool or windy

    weather I used an old washing machine case for a wind break.


     Sunbeam used to have a factory here in Neosho and they would have huge factory sales where you could buy stuff for a great price. I think I gave $4 apiece for these charcoal lighters.

    There are lots of ways to get where you want to go. If you have any friends in appliance repair, ask them if they have any goodies to help you out.



  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Good Luck...I don't know how much Radiant Heat will come off that cast iron plate compared to the Infrared Heat coming off of glowing coils but I interested in the result...JJ
  8. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Thanks again Chuck!

    Way to getter done!

    I just pulled the trigger on the Waring and all there is to do is wait until it gets here. I figure I have a fair amount of time before the turkey is thawed and than it brines for a day and another 15 or so hours before it goes in the smoker.

    My next trick is finding a local source for a bunch of Apple wood, Ive got chips but if I go coal with a long smoke I'd prefer chunks. Another reason going electrical is going to be nice.

    The outlet on the porch should be a breeze, I just have to punch through the wall, chase the wire and mount the box, recepticle and cover. Might even put up a few Xmas lights next year. 

    You beat me to the post JJ,

    From what I understand that cast iron will hold the heat for a while, radiating I don't know, at this point we'll just have to wait and see.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  9.  S-W that looks like a fine hot-plate. The thing about hot-plates is that they are designed to heat things above them, so the controls are below the heat and not in it. Most elec. appliances like this have a thermal fuse internally which will melt if they overheat to keep from starting a fire.

     That may be all that's wrong with the last one you killed. If you are electrical at all you should check it and see what died.

     If you had a floor in your ECB with a hole the size of the burner on this hot-plate in it so that the hot-plate sat below the smoker and only the burner stuck through the hole it probably wouldn't burn up. Also if that's all that's wrong with the last one, you could either replace the thermal fuse or (since you are using it inside a fire-proof box) just by-pass it and keep using it. I hesitate to recommend  bypassing safety devices ordinarily, but in this instance It should not be a problem. Or just remove the heating element if it's good and use it with other controls. 

    Just a few more thoughts.  



  10. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Cool, thanks Chuck!

    I'm sure the element was done for on the last burner I had.

    It might be a little tight fitting the burner under the ECB, the interior height of my insulating box is only about an inch taller than the metal box.

    Being the issues sometimes had with the controls exposed to heat is part of the reason I was looking at the thermostat I was.

    No worries about hacking the hot plate, I'm a long time tinkerer in many venues, was even looking at 1200 F sleeving for the wire the way I was planning on going.

    Looks like I could have used a few more staples to hold things together up top left there. [​IMG]

    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  11. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Ive decided to avoid any potential issues and go with the previously post 50 to 525 F thermostat controlling the hot plate. This means 86ing the hot plate controls all together.

    If anyone has interest in doing this be very aware of the exposed electrical terminals on the thermostat, you could get bit or under the right circumstances dead.

    With that said I did find the parts a little cheaper here. Don't know about the retail and don't like the fact the knob is extra but that would just be the facts of life.
  12. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Old Murphy, me and his relatives gotta quit meeting like this! I spent weeks looking everywhere I could think of looking for materials to go electric with my smoker and today on Craigslist this pops up in the free listings and everything works on it. Got me some fine materials for my next smoker build, just gotta find one of those stainless food carts for free now.

  13.   I have a question that I do not think has been addressed. 

     I was thinking of using an old electric skillet, the warm to 450 degree type.  The type I would want to use would be the non-Teflon coated type (without the coating or to have the coating sand blasted off)  Has this been done?  I have done a lot of searching but have never seen this mentioned.  Am I looking in the wrong places or do I not know what to look for?  I am still pretty new to the site so I might not know what to look for or at. 

      Thanks for the time and help.

      I hope I can get an answer.

  14. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Hi Bud,

    I've tested a Presto deep fat fryer that had a 450 F degree rheostat and it didn't bring a 18"x18"x31" smoker enclosure up to smoking temperatures.
  15. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  16. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    I just couldn't bring myself to hack up a nice hot plate like the Waring that showed up today. From what I seen when I burned off the machine oils I'd think it would work for a small smoker though. I did pull it apart and it is built nothing like the lower end jobs I had seen in the past, it has a real bulb type sending unit not the goofy bi-metal plate deal.

    My original bracket for the thermostat was a bit rushed and got reworked being the brass may have held too much heat. Tonight it wouldn't have mattered being I had the thermostat maxed out to maintain temp.


    Besides likely being more functional this housing for the thermostat looks better in my opinion and should allow it to stay a lot cleaner.


    So being I have the cook top now I started hacking on it. About six dremel cut off wheels later and the stainless top was cut to a size that would fit in my ECB. A few aluminum angle bars and it had legs to stand on.


    It was a bit chilly here tonight and pushed this rig as far as it could go. Ambient temps dropped to about 24 F eventually with 15mph wind gusts. With the lower dampers closed up and the uppers just slightly cracked open I could just maintain 243F but this rig took forever to get warmed up unlike running it on briquettes.


    This was the test subject, a little friend of mine I refer to as the Tominator. A 14.5 pound gobbler brined in a holiday season brine.


    And a picture of the aftermath including my drip pan I fabricated out of left over sheet material from the inside of the smoker's insulating box.


    Smoking with electricity turned out to be way easier than with coal although I have to be very quick with the door when adding water or wood as temps don't recover as quickly.

    I'm thinking if I go 220 volt with this rig I should be able to smoke in 0 F temps fairly easily. The coil heats slowly being it is hooked up to 120 volt at this time.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  17.   Is the heating element 220V or 110V? You do realize the doubling the voltage will cause the wattage to increase by a factor of 4. It may be too much for the element.  

  18. smokin-wylie

    smokin-wylie Newbie

    Thanks Stovebolt! Great point!

    Yep all is good to go for the 220, 100 or 120 hertz or how ever you might like to phase or phrase it.[​IMG]

    The power factor will be far more friendly when the monthly bill comes around too.

    The bad deal is the expense of the romex, boxes, receps, cover plates (one in the back yard and one on the porch) and the two pole single throw switch for the box I have mounted under the smoker, cord disconnect at this point. 14 wire everywhere may be a bit over kill after the switch to 220 but than a guy can never be too safe, especially considering the duration factor inside the smoker itself with the heat.

    I twisted a few wire nuts in my day.

    Thanks again Stovebolt!

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