New Smoker - Heat Source

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by smoker den, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Hi All:

    I'm brand new to the Forum and have a few questions on my smoker that I've just finished.  Its made out of 1 inch steel frame, stainless steel inside, insulated with aluminum on the outside.  Still waiting for the nomex gasket to seal the doors.

    I'm using two small hot plates (1000W) but I can only get it up to 220 F.  Will that be enough heat?  I will be trying to do PP, Brisket, Turkey and Fish. When I have the smoker heating up the elements are red hot, however, when I open the door when it is up to temp (220) the elements are off.  I've read on here, that some of these hotplates have thermal fuses that can be disabled to achieve more heat.  Are there any tricks to disabling these hotplate thermal fuses?

    Are there any other heat sources that I should look into?


    Thanks for any tips in advance...

  2. That's one nice looking smoker. You got skills! I have a similar setup and the exact same heat source problem. Seen many guys using propane but I'd like to stay on electric as you. Hope you get some tips - I am in need of the same!

    I tried tweaking the bimetal strip on the temp control knob so that it opens at hotter temp. Sure enough it ran hotter but it went too hot, melted some cables and almost burned by smoker down... So that might not be the way to go. [​IMG]

    I've been looking at maybe taking the heating element from an old sauna heater or or a regular oven. Those are typically around 2KW. Fabricating a metal box and fill it with stones for heat sink in the sauna heater style. Should be possible to find an old oven for parts at the local recycling facility for free... Should work (famous last words). [​IMG]

    Cheers /Wes
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  3. handymanstan

    handymanstan Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hello Smoker, [​IMG] Do you have access to 240 volt if so I would go that way with a 2100w element.  If not then I would get rid of the hotplates and go with a 120v 1500w element. If you have access to two different 120v circuits then you could use two 1500w elements. I can give you links to the elements.

  4. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm 99.9% sure the hotplate I see in that photo will have a thermal limit device "somewhere" in the housing.  If it is UL listed (look for a sticker) it will have it.  The big clue is the element is red hot but is cutting off at some point (when the thermal limit device hit's it temp limit).

    Since you already have the hot plates, I would just remove the two elements and use them.  2,000 watts should be plenty of heat in an insulated cabinet.  My only concern is 2,000 watts is going to draw around 16-17amps at 120 which is getting close to maxing out a 20 amp breaker and is over current on a 15 amp breaker.  Depending on what else is on the same circuit, that may be a problem.

    I did not see any signs of a PID or other temperature control on your smoker photos.  Do you have one or were you going to use the dial on the hot plate to adjust temps? I would recommend a PID type controller and SSR relay to switch the elements on and off if you don't already have it set up that way.  This setup is in use by a lot of forum members and is proven to hold temps very tightly (within a degree or two is common). Using the dial on the hot plate will not work as it will shut off (as you have already found out).  And if you bypass the limit switch the element may overheat the hot plate housing and melt or damage it as the plate is basically "on" all the time.  Like I said, a PID controller is the way to go and the Auberins units are very popular here.  They have parts to build your own or fully assembled control units with temp probes.  Here is their website

    Here is a photo I found of that same type hot plate element which someone used in a Alton Brown flower pot smoker.  This is what you need in the smoker, the wires to the element are most likely press on fittings (as these were) and can be pulled off to free the element (varies by brand).  Just use high temp wire of proper gauge to the SSR and you should be good to go (assuming your breaker is a 20 amp breaker).

    If you decide to change out the element, the 1,500 element that is for the Brinkmann smoker is in use in a lot of smokers on this site.  They run about $30 or so on Amazon and can also be found at Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports, etc... on the store shelf.  The 1,500 watt element would also draw less amperage and would probably work on a 15amp breaker depending on what else was on the circuit.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    swechef mentioned the solution and the problem.....   Removing the over temp switch will let them heat up.... removing the element from the body will keep it from melting.... a new support system and remote temp sensor would  work..... I think your smoker may be a a bit too big and the 220V  PID set up, dward suggested, would be perfect.... 

    By the way, that's one beautiful smoker....  enjoy it for many years....   Dave
  6. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Also I just noticed this...  are those white plastic chains for the bottom heat chamber door supports?  Or is that just a trick of the light hitting metal chains?  Non-galvanized I would take it.

  7. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Just posted this on another thread

  8. Thanks all for the input, you guys are great!  

    I think that I will try a little re-wiring/tweaking on the hot plates and give that a try.  It would be on a 20A circuit so power shouldn't be a problem.

    Sorry but I am sort of new to the smoking game and am not quite sure how the PID works.  I will have to do some further investigation on that stuff...

    As for the chains, no, not plastic, but they are galvanized, is that a problem?

    What about seasoning a new smoker..... any tips anyone?

    Thanks again...  Den
  9. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Pam Spray for the grates.

    Season dry.

    Just place some hardwood in and smoke away.
  10. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes, galvanized metal can off gas some dangerous fumes when heated, it's called zinc poisoning.  Not sure if it will get hot enough in your smoker, but why take a chance?  Bare steel, stainless or brass chains would be OK though.

    Use the search function on the side to look at info on PID controllers.  Basically it's a little computer control that you set a desired "set point" to cook at (say 225*) and the controller will provide power to your electric element as needed to maintain that set point.  A normal setup included the PID controller, the temperature probe, and some sort of relay to control the heat source. Most people use a SSR (Solid State Relay) which is an electronic switch.  It takes the low amperage, low voltage output from the PID to switch a larger amperage & voltage load on and off (ie, your heating element).

    Auberins makes models that are very popular here.  They have parts to build your own, and pre-made control modules.

    here is a pre-made model that would run one of your 1,000 watt elements or the 1,500 watt brinkmann element.   If you want to run both of your elements, you will have to build something as I don't think they have an off the shelf ready to run module for 2,000 watts or more (and you would want it rated a little higher than the maximum load).

    Before I would spend the money on the prebuilt model, I would take one of those 1,000 watt elements out of the housing and run it straight (ie, hard wired to 120v so it's on 100% of the time when plugged in).  Let this sit in the cabinet and see what sort of temps you get.  If you are not happy with the output, then add the 2nd 1,000 watt element and run them.  I would think the two will output more heat than you want/need and the best mix is between them.  There are a lot of fridge conversions on this site that use the use the 1,500 watt brinkmann element and many of those appear to have more interior volume than your smoker does in the photos. So I'm fairly certain that element would work for you if you need more than 1,000 watts.

    If you want to use both of the 1,000 watt elements you have now, then you have to build a custom PID to run both your elements.  It's not hard to do, but you will be working with electricity and if not done right, well it could be dangerous.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  11. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Den, you are getting great advice...nothing I could add to what these guys have said.  When you get the heating issue solved, you're gonna have one beautiful rig!  Very impressive skills, brother!  Be sure to post some pics of that beast in action.
  12. Can't thank y'all enough.  Looks like I'll try some of the stuff suggested but, it sounds like I'm heading for a PID.

  13. Well, its finally done!  I got the Brinkmann 1500 W element and a nice PID controller.  

    I've seasoned it a couple of times for a couple of hours each time and was able to get it up to 250 degrees in 28 minutes.

    I got some beer's, Jeff's Rub and two 9 lb butts, let's hope for the best...

    I'm having a gathering on Saturday evening so the plan is;

    4:00 Friday Afternoon - Rub da butts, wrap and refrigerate.

    4:00 Saturday Morning - Start the smoker get it up to 220-230.

    4:45 - 5:00 Saturday Morning - The butts go in...

    Smoke approx 5 - 6 hours

    After smoking wrap in foil and finish. (I think I'm going to try the Cherry Dr. Pepper thing, yum)

    Another 5-6 hours in the smoker until internal meat temp of 205.

    Let rest, pull and enjoy pork heaven.

    I'm hoping to finish them off in the smoker but if time gets short, I'll put them in the oven to finish them off.

    Question:  If I have to finish it in the oven, what is a good temp?


    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Den....... That's one beautiful smoker....  Nice build....  Congrats on the super job....   Dave
  15. Well, the smoke has cleared and I have to say that it was a total success!  

    Took a little while to get it up to temp at 3:00 am (it was 36 degrees outside and a little breezy).  Other than the 3 hour plateau at 154 degrees went off without a hitch.  

    Rubbed the day before...

    Action shot...

    After 6 hours...

    In the oven now... 20 more degrees to go!!


    Thanks for all the help, 

  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks good.....   [​IMG]   .....    Dave
  17. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looking good

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