I need advice on electric element in smokehouse??

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by s2k9k, May 21, 2013.

  1. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I am getting ready to build a smokehouse and have decided to go electric for safety issues and so I can use a PID controller.
    I need some advice on how big of an element I will need. The house will be 30"X30"X72" (inside dimensions), it will be lined with Durock (concrete backerboard) and well insulated. I was going to go with a 1500 watt element but the PID controller I'm looking at (Auber WS-1200-CPH) is only rated for 1200 watts so now I am wondering if an 1100 watt element (taken from a hot plate) will be big enough to heat the house. I am only planning on smoking sausage and jerky in it so I only need a maximum temp of about 170*. I am also planning on having a thermal mass mounted a few inches above the element for better heat displacement, will probably use a 16"X16" unglazed ceramic tile or slate tile.
    Any advice on if the 1100 watt element will be greatly appreciated, also if anyone has any experience they can share about the PID I will appreciate that too.

    I plan on getting started on building the house this weekend so I'm asking this now so I can adjust the size if needed but would like to stay close to this size.

    I have read and read and read about this but can't really find anything on how big of an element for how big of a chamber. Two weeks ago I knew nothing about electric smokers or PID's and Thanks to SMF I have a pretty good understanding of them now!

    Thanks, Dave
  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    OK one more quick question. Looking at hot plates, some have a coil type element and some have a solid element, is there any advantage to either?
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dave, morning....  I built a smoker lined with Duroc and heated it with a hot plate element like you are thinking...  My smoker was about half that  size....  It took about 24 hours to get it up to temp...  I added a 220v stove element running on 110v for a supplemental heat source...    I think your setup could work.... my smoker was not insulated....  I would suggest preheating the smoker with a small electric heater...  the fan forced air will get the thermal mass of the Duroc  up to temp faster....  also, I would suggest a very small fan for air circulation to aiding in drying the jerky....  nepas has a small fan in one of his smokers...  Grainger has several motors, shaft lengths, propellers and motor speed controllers if you decide to go this way....  If the one element doesn't heat the smoker, add a second element for constant heat and use the PID controlled element to maintain and control the temp....   Skin the cat however you can....     Dave



    coil type elements, you can get electrocuted from those.... they are bare wire type right ???   calrod, thick elements, the wire is covered....  

    FWIW, I just replaced a ceiling fan / heater in the bathroom..... Fan was shot....  the fan forced heater still works so I'm planning on using it to preheat my "next" smoker build..... Don't tell Bride...  
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  4. I can't comment on whether a lower wattage will work for that size, but taking a quick look, it seems the WS-1500ELPM would work for you if you wanted to stay with 1500 watts - it also uses a RTD style sensor which I personally like better.

    Also, I built my own PID to save some money. It's not hard to build one if you feel comfortable going that route either. But the prebuild ones look sweet.

    Edit: You might also want to look at the WSD-1503CPH, which has dual probes and comes with the probes.

    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  5. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Thanks guys!
    I forgot to add that my only electrical source will be one 20 amp receptacle that I will tap off of a kitchen circuit that is very rarely used. There is no receptacle near the smoke house and getting a circuit from the panel there would be quite a task.

    Dave, I don't think one 20 amp circuit will support 2 heating elements. I do have an electric space heater that works really good so that could be a good idea.

    Eric, I was thinking of building a controller but found the 1200 was going to be about the same cost. The 1500 isn't programmable which is a feature I want and the 1503 is $65 more than the 1200.

    Nothing is set in stone yet, am just gathering as much info as I can. If I have to build a controller I can, if I need to spend more money I can, would rather keep costs down if possible though but still want to have something that works good in the end.

  6. I had some extra parts already as backup for my brewing controller, which is what lead me to building one. I may still use it as a RIM controller if I go that route down the road on my brewing setup.

    Hope your build goes well and looking forward to following your progress. I'm expecting some parts to be delivered today, so I'm hoping to be smoking this weekend. ;)

  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'll be watching this closely. I have plans to build a dedicated electric smoker for jerky and sausage too. I was going to build mine 32"x32"x60". I will not be lining mine with duro, but will be insulating.
  8. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Giving it a bump for the evening crowd!
  9. Besides giving your thread a bump, I just wanted to let you know your thread made me ponder my controller and I ended up deciding to upgrade the PID in my controller to a SYL-2352P - which allows programmable steps ;)  
  10. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Thanks! I'm thinking of building one now. The plug and play is only rated at 1200 watts and I can build one rated at 2500 for a little less and then I can go with a bigger element. I'm thinking that same PID.
  11. Great! I enjoy the diy projects so if I can build it I usually do - but it drives my wife nuts when i take over the garage for a week or so. She travels for her job months at a time, so I now plan those projects when she is gone :biggrin:
  12. Dave, of course you are familiar with "The Beast", that I now have. Out of curiosity, we put an 1100 watt hot plate from Walgreens inside the smoker to see what the temps would heat up to (thinking sausage and jerky here without messing with the propane). Temp outside was 59*, on low I managed to get the smoker temp to 90*, on medium got it to 125-130* and on high got it to 185-190*. I did this over a 2 hour period or so. Hope it helps!
  13. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Thanks Alesia! That does help! I don't know how big your chamber is but it looks pretty big. Mines going to be a little bigger but knowing you could get those temps with an 1100 watt burner makes me more confident my plans might work.
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dave, morning....  Be sure the element is a "bare element".... mounted elements have over temp thermostats or snap switches to keep from melting the housings they are mounted in.....  
  15. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Oh Yea Dave! If I go with a hot plate I will strip it and make a mount for the element. I'm looking at this element from Brinkmann:

  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That should work....   You are getting closer to smokey goodness now..... 
  17. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  18. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Thanks Todd! Due to location of the smokehouse I am not able to get 220v to it (easily), I am limited to a 20A 120v circuit.
    I am only wanting to get a max of 170* for sausage and jerky so if you can get 300* with a 2100w element I'm feeling better that a 1500w will get me to 170*.

    I built a propane pipe burner and could always use it to preheat the house, would only take a few minutes and once the concrete board is up to temp it probably wouldn't take much to keep it there. (This is just me thinking out loud with a lot of hope in my voice!)
  19. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Todd, I was just checking out your pictures and that's a nice smokehouse you have!!!
    I also saw those wooden racks you have hanging sausage on, I really like those, mind telling me where you got them?

    And what is that big wood furnace you have?
  20. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, that is a big wood boiler next to the smoker. It heats 396 gallons of water and circulates it through a gas boiler in the house. I made the racks out of oak scraps. They are wide enough to hold the dowels that fit in my smoker. The sausage goes on the rack on the dowels then in the smoker then back on the rack for blooming. They work great and were easy to build. I put 2 more together for my brothers Smokin Tex.

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