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Home Built Smoker - Need Help


Joined Feb 17, 2014
New to the forum and smoking meat. 

My brother and I built a smoker 28" wide, 32" deep and 48" tall inside measurements.  We installed a Bradley smoker engine, 1750 watt heater and wired in a PID controller with thermowell for the probe to the center of the smoker.  

Yesterday we added various meats including a 2 1/2 lb beef roast and a 6 lb pork roast.   We set the controller at 250° with a 5° swing over and under.   We put a temperature probe in the roast and a water pan in the back of the smoker.

Here is our problem.   The meat after 9 hours was really dryed out and the temperature had only reached 174°.   

I suspect for one thing we should have had our water pan right above the heater.    In 9 hours it had only dropped a quart or so and did not add much moisture.  Also after searching more I found a site that has a meat smoking calculator and it recommended wrapping the meat in foil for last 50% of the time.  Obviously my brother and I just dived in head first and and now need to get more information before trying again.

For and electric smoker this size how much water should it lose per hour estimated to keep the meat from excessive dryness?

Does the moisture help shorten the cooking time?  (9 hours and 174° seems too long)

We ran the smoker engine for the entire 9 hours.   Is this too long and a waste of pucks?

Should we wrap the meat in foil in the last 50% of cooking time or is lack of moisture our only problem?

I know this is a lot of questions to ask at once.   Any help you can give will be appreciated.



SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Nov 12, 2010


Fire Starter
Joined Jun 2, 2013
Did you check the acctual temp inside the smoker. I know you set it at 250* but it doesn't seem you were cooking at 250*. I don't use an electric smoker but when I did the controller was off by almost 50* and I never new till someone recommended I check my temps. I thought they were crazy because the controller showed target temp and actual temp so I just didn't believe it could be wrong. I learned my first lesson on trusting the thermometers that come with any smoker.

gary s

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Jan 6, 2011
Dave, I checked the link of those pictures and info that Eric posted That is as close to near perfect brisket I have ever seen. Good information



Joined Feb 17, 2014

That link helped.   Thanks


I did test my probe before starting and it is accurate within reasonable limits.   Thanks.

As always - the more you learn the less you know. 
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