Questions about PID Controller for Electric Smoker

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Original poster
Dec 22, 2013
Hi, I have looked at quite a few diagrams and threads regarding the set up of a PID for temperature control of electric smokers. I am considering building a PID controller box for an electric smoker and just had a few questions to make sure I do this correctly and safely.  

1) I was planning on ultimately using the PID with a 1500 watt heating element, so based on this, the current being drawn by the element should be around 13A, correct?

2) I was thinking of using 12 AWG wiring for the input as well as wires connected to the outlet and the relay, while using 18 or 20 AWG wire for the wires running to the PID.  Would this be sufficient?

3) I was planning on housing the unit in a plastic junction box, with the heat sink on the outside of the box.  It would be a good idea to connect a ground wire to the heat sink for safety purposes, correct?

4) As far as fuses go, should a 1A fuse be good enough for protecting the PID?  Also what size fuse would be good for the heating element?  I was thinking something around 16A, but I'm not entirely sure?

Thanks for the help
12 gauge wiring is plenty for a 1,500 watt element.  As to the wire providing power to the PID, the smaller gauge is fine.  The PID amp draw is in milliamps.  Would not hurt to use the ground wire on a metal heat sink, just make sure you get a heat sink that is sized for the amperage SSR you are using (and it's ok to go larger, but not smaller - ie, you could use a 20 amp SSR on a heat sink for a 50 amp model).  A 1 amp fuse for the PID would be fine, just make sure it's a fast blow.   As to the heating element, if you fuse it go with slow blow and I would go with 20amp.  As long as your wiring and other components on the heating element side of the circuit are rated for 20amps or more, that would work.   There are those who say there is no real need for a fuse on the heating element as if the cabinet and other components are properly grounded, any short will cause the household breaker to trip.

Also remember the breaker for the outlet where you will using the smoker may be a 15 amp breaker. It should be matched to the wire and outlet rating so you cannot just put in a larger rated breaker.  May not be an issue, but if you have problems with the smoker tripping the house breaker, I bet you find it's a 15 amp one. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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