Smoke House Build - wood walls / metal interior / electric heat

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Original poster
Feb 8, 2022
Calgary, AB Canada
As the title says, that's what we're building. Not new to smoked meats (see introduction thread below) but my current way to smoke meats at home when I make sausage is not very convenient.

I have a pitboss grill and pitboss smoker (will put the models in my signature tonight) and there's three issues. First is I make 100 lbs min at a time, and it takes too long just due to their size. Second is the temperature control isn't fine enough. And third is I'd like to be able to cold smoke. Both are too hot for that.

So here's my plan. I'm doing a build to match the forthcoming outdoor kitchen build and cedar on my deck. Will be Cedar on the outside walls, 2X 4 construction, insulated, then metal on the inside walls, heat will be via a 1200 watt element. Picked up a PID controller for the heat. Smoke is going to be two fold, I ordered up a stand alone bradley smoker assembly, but I'm also going to plumb in the chimney of the one pitboss (as they'll be side by side on the deck) as I'm concerned I might want more smoke that the Bradley can do for its size.

Goal is to be able to hot and cold smoke, but don't need to BBQ in there as I already have the gas grill and the two pitboss. Pics and drawings will follow as I get going, but that's the plan so far!

Oh and size is approx 3 X 4 X 7............ so my initial concern is can I get up to that 170 - 180 on the high end. Think I should be able to but will do some more ready and calcs.

More to come over the next few weeks!
Sounds like a nice build. My smokehouse is 3x3x7’ and is propane fired. In the winter months it takes a lot of btu’s to hold temps steady between 130 - 170* . I use a 12” cast iron skillet on top of the burner and place wood chunks in it for smoke. I don’t believe that a single 1200w electric element is enough for the box size you want to build. I’m guessing you need double that.
Good luck with your build. I’ll try to follow along and help where I can. Welcome to SMF, btw.
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I agree, I don't think the 1200W is going to get it in a box that size. Even though insulated, you constantly have cold air entering, and heat exiting.
............. I don’t believe that a single 1200w electric element is enough for the box size you want to build. I’m guessing you need double that..........

Thanks for the feedback! And yes, that's really my only concern. I do have a natural gas line coming right off the house right there to feed it if need be (feeds my grill) but I'm hoping to heat this electric. I know you can do gas safely for sure and tonnes of guys do but my first try will be purely electric. I may make provisions in the build though to add a gas burner if need be........ that's probably a good idea.....
I'll come along for the ride...

First let me ask (since it's not posted in your profile) ... What's your location ??

My only concern is the heat element.. not thinking it's going to be big enough ... But being it's going to be insulated it may get up there (170`+) after some time, providing you NEVER open the door ...
Ya, sorry, it's posted in my intro thread, but have not updated my profile. Up in the Great White North of Alberta Canada.

The controller and relay I have can control a 220V as well. And I have fairly easy access to 220V if need be, so an option would be to rig up this instead?
5000 watts would give me quite a bit more........... might just order it as a plan B!.......... or new Plan A!
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That 5000w is security for colder temperatures. Rather have it and not need than need it and not have it.
If you do decide to go gas, contact Tejas Smokers. They can set you up with the burner(s) and safety stuff (thermal couple) it what they do for a living.
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Honestly, I'd go straight to the 5000W. Being 220V, it's probably going to end up cheaper to run, anyhow.
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Honestly, I'd go straight to the 5000W. Being 220V, it's probably going to end up cheaper to run, anyhow.

I second this option... And as an added feature... you will also be able to hot smoke (225`+).. And yes.. it will be cheaper to run... The controller only has to run off 120v... It's the relay (hopefully an SSR) where the 220 will need to be ...
You will need some sort of heat diffuser over that element. Should be able to use that with wood chunks to make smoke.
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I think the guys lead ya down the right path going with 5000w. you won't have to struggle trying to get to temp and recovery from door being opened.
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My smokehouse is similar to Smokinedge, just a tad smaller....2.5X2.5X6.5 high. I also run propane. The secret to safety and control is to use an 18,000BTU burner with two rows of jets; plug up the inner row of jets with 4d nails (clip about 1/2" off the tip of the nail with cutters). This allows you to run higher BTUs through one row of jets for finer control low and slow. I have not had one single blow-out since doing this shortly after building my smokehouse. I have a +-3*F control. I use wood chunks for 80% of the heat and can adjust the heat where I want it with the other 20%. Everyone here on SMF knows I make a LOT of sausages......I'll be smoking 250-300# next week after our big deer and wild hog processing day.
OK, turns out the Sausage guys won't ship that 5000Watt burner I posted earlier to Canada, so I'll do a bit more of a hack and use two 8" 2600 watt stove top burner elements to get my heat. Should be enough heat, but now need to sort out the wiring........ I'm a mechanical engineering by day but certainly no electrician or electronics guru, so only know enough to be dangerous as they say, but I can fake knowing some of this stuff pretty well! :) Got time yet as I'm just started on the physical structure this weekend.......

I've seen past posts where guys have posted up the 220V wiring diagram for their control systems. I'll post up my setup for review before I start plugging things in and going live!
PID controller, burners, relay & Brandely smoker attachment have arrived. Waiting for a few more parts. Hope to start wiring the test circuit up this weekend. Found this guy on you tube really good for this sort of thing....... and home brewing if you're into that. Down below 0°F this weekend with snow, so won't be building anything on the deck just yet, but gives me some time to sort out and test the electronics!

Time for an update. Wired up the "proof of concept" 5200 watt burner system. Yes it looks like something a mad scientist might have done, but my goal wasn't tidy wiring at this point. All that will get done properly when everything is properly panel mounted in the box.......... BUT IT WORKED!

Have 2 X 2600 watt burners. Welded up a rack they can sit on. That will go in the smoke house. Used a inkbird 240v PID controller. Grabbed another 2 channel digital thermocouple read out and a digital Volt & Amp meter. I also plumbed in 2 infinity switches to control the burners, as I wasn't sure if I wanted full power on the burners when they go on. I can always pull them out of the circuit or leave them full on if need be. Thought having a little more control might be nice though. Also put in 2 X 15A inline circuit breakers on each hot line for safety.

Next will be a clean wiring job and panel mounting everything in the box. Still too cold a snowy up here to start on actual wood work for the smoke house..... hopefully we'll get another nice weekend or good Chinook soon so I can start the stick build.....

Kawibunga, I'm also hopping on this building train to see progress and final result. Looks great so far. Thanks for sharing your work. Good luck.
Ya, I'm currently drafting up and measuring the components so I can properly panel mount these bits. Getting warmer out so if all goes well I can start the basic smoke house framing outside this weekend......... Will keep updating as i go but I really want to get to the actual sausage making part......... as I only have two packages of brauts left! :)
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