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Trying a fridge smoker.

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by trevdog74, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    After reading many threads on fridge conversions, I thought I would give it a try.  I got this one given to me, not sure how old but it is metal inside with a non metal door interior. I have taken it down to just the guts, but am not sure whether this insulation is good?

    I have also included a couple of pics to see if anyone is familiar with this fridge or knows how old this could be?

    I have ordered a 1500W electric element to go in it. I want to try and use one of those pid units I see alot of. I am hoping to get hot smoking temps.  Any suggestions?  Thanx a Bunch.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  2. omahasmoker

    omahasmoker Smoke Blower

    that insulation will work just fine. my 1958 GE fridge has cardboard insulation.  the fiberglass you ahve is even better than that.

    looks like you are off to a great start. i cannot tell how big your smoker will be, but 1500 watts is a good start. i have a converted fridge and i started off with 1250 watts. that was not quite enough to do the 30lb chicken loads i normally do so i upped it to 2000. using a Auber PID control and a external smoke generator, i have complete control over the entire process. i can make whatever i want with a minimum amount of fuss.
  3. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Thanks for the reply. I have been waiting patiently for a response. I am totally hooked on this site and on the idea of making this authentic unit.  I am currently waiting for my element to be shipped, and look forward to posting more pics as I go.  I own a weber smokey mountain now and love the cooks it can produce...however I lack the cooking capacity, as well as the set it and forget it aspect that I hope to get from the fridge smoker when its complete.  I look forward to more suggestions as I go along.   Thanks alot.
  4. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I can't offer much if any ideas since I have no clue about this type of smoker, but I think its gonna be pretty cool when its done.
  5. watlow

    watlow Fire Starter

    Let us know how it turns out . Im looking for some  ideas for my new conversion , old one lasted about 15 years and starting to rust but alot of good smoking and not gone yet. Hope you enjoy yours as much as I do. LOL
  6. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I can't help you with the technical stuff, but there are a few here who know those PIDs pretty good, like "Dick Foster" and others.

    As for the age of that fridge, it looks a lot like the first fridge my wife & I got when we were starting out in 1971. We got it used then. I would guess it from the early to mid 60s.

    Good luck with it,

  7. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I installed a Auber Ramp/Soak PID with a finned heater strip in my GOSM, works great, it's set, forget and come back when it's done.

  8. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Have basically finished my fridge to date. I am currently searching for a PID unit to help control my temps. First time trying the 1500 watt element out it got up to 330 degrees in the first 45 min.

    Not sure the real difference between the PID units out there. I did see this package off E-bay and was wondering if you could give me some advice to this or others.


    Also I am not planning on using a smoke device. Just placing a SS pan full of chips directly on my element. Was wondering if this was recommended, and if the PID on/off cycles will affect the chips from smoking properly? I have also added a small air chamber that can be closed of on the lower end of the unit. Not sure if this was needed with an electric build?

    I will post pics shortly of the new build, and look forward to hearing from you guys soon.  Thanx a bunch.  Trevor.
  9. smokingohiobutcher

    smokingohiobutcher Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  10. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Thanks for the input. I am trying to find something with a little less differential range. This unit says +/- 30 degrees, while most of the others I have noticed have been alot closer.
  11. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Just ordered one of Auber's Plug and play controllers. Figured with the 15% off they offer, it was worth not stressing over how to properly put one together. With running a 1500w element, I had to be sure of which model to buy. The gentlemen at Auber were very helpful. Can't wait to get it, set it, and forget it.


    Still curious how many people put their chips tray directly on the element, or have it supported slightly above? Does this affect the elements life?
  12. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    I finally got some pictures uploaded of the fridge conversion I have been building.

    -I used a 1600 w element from a Farberware indoor broiler.

    -Door seal is a woodstove gasket 3/4 inch, high heat silicone, and a couple adjustable clamps make a tight seal.

    -Door skin is 16 gage sheet steel.

    -Smoke vent is 4 inch aluminum with peak.

    -Shelves are aluminum angle iron cut to size.

    -Racks are standard oven racks from the local scrap yard at a toonie a piece.

    -PID plug and play controller from Auberins.

    -Chip tray is a S/S dish with foil top.

    I have since placed a S/S drip tray on the bottom rack and put in a S/S water dish as well.

    I have done a few test runs so far and am very pleased with the way the temps are controlled with the unit. Able to keep consistent 250 easy in the dead of winter here in Ontario.

    The first smoke I did a few chicken quarters at 225 for a couple of hours, with the chip tray directly on the element. The chicken cooked well, but there was thick white smoke and tasted very bitter. The next couple of smokes I Placed a rack directly on the element and then placed the chip tray on the rack. The space helped thin the smoke out, but I had very little smoke flavor to the meat.

    I wasn’t sure if maybe my vent is too big and allowing the smoke to escape to quickly?

    Other than the smoke issues, I love playing with this thing and can’t wait to get it fine tuned and start smokin’ up

    a storm!

  13. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    That is a good looking build...

    Maybe closing down the damper on the vent would help a little with the smoke issue...
  14. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Thanks for the reply.

    The damper I have on there is smaller than the diameter of the vent. The last couple smokes I ran with the damper closed, I was thinking of covering the opening a bit to make it narrower.
  15. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Well its been a couple months since I've got this bad boy going and I am lovin' it. The only issue I have is that the 1500 watt element doesnt bring the temp up enough. My auberins PID runs constantly and is overheating to the point that the output wire at the back is melting and fusing together during long smokes. I have just been running the smoker using charcoal alone and its been turning out pretty good. I am replacing the 110v 1500w element in there now with a 2500w 240v stove element. The only issue I have is the type of wire to run from the new element. The guy at home depot today said that I had to run a high temp appliance wire instead of reg 240v wire? I am electrically challenged and not sure if this is needed.

    Could anyone who has used a 240V element in there unit explain how they set theirs up?

    Is anyone using there Auberins PID with a 240V set-up?

    Thanks a bunch....Trevor.
  16. tastetester

    tastetester Fire Starter

    Funny, I didn't think there was a chance in hades that anyone else was using a Farberware tabletop grill element besides me. Lo and behold there is. I haven't had any problems with my wiring heating up to any degree. What gauge wire are you running to the element from the PID? Do you have a heatsink on the PID? Not sure if it's necessary, but if it is SSR instead of relay it needs one most likely. I'm considering one of Auberins offerings too. I was running mine flat out the day before yesterday, empty, and it kept 350 deg. F and was being shut off by the thermostat about half the time. Edit:  Also, are you sure the PID isn't running wild?  Did it autotune itself or did you set the parameters.  It's been quite awhile since I did anything with PID, but autotune can be a notorious failure.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  17. yankee in ua

    yankee in ua Fire Starter

    Wire is too small if its getting that hot.  Going to 240 VAC will help with that as the higher voltage will allow lower amperage loads to achieve the same wattage output.  Even though you're moving up to a standard oven element with a higher wattage output, you probably aren't going to be cranking it up to 400 F to bake pizzas in your smoker.  Check the Amp load on the new element.  #14 AWG wire will handle 15 amps, #12 AWG,20 Amps, #10, 30 amps, etc.  You're not running high temps in there, you just need wire that will handle your Amperage requirements.  The only thing I'd worry about is the possible off gassing of the wire insulation.  Standard romex (I think) is good up to 600 F or 650 F (conductor temp not smoker/oven temp).

    I'm not an electrician, but I played one in another life.
  18. trevdog74

    trevdog74 Newbie

    Thanks for the replies.  I am assumiming the amp load off the new element is 2500w / 240v = 10.4a.I plan on running the unit around 250 with the opportunity to go up to 325 for chicken skin.  The element I was running before would cook but under ideal conditions outside as well as small amounts of meat in the smoker. The minute the weather changed or I put a considerable amount of food in there, it was constantly fighting to stay up to 250. It tends to get quite cold here in Ontario at times.

    I am just trying to get the smoker up to temp alot quicker so the system will cycle properly and not put as much stress on the unit and wiring. Similar to Marcosti's design

    I will also be using a few briquettes along with the element.

    All the help is appreciated.
  19. yankee in ua

    yankee in ua Fire Starter

    10.4 sounds about right Trevor. 

    If you have some #12 wire laying around I'd use that just to be sure to have enough wire to handle the load and if you have an old 12 wire extension cord kicking around, untangle that and just cut to leave enough cord to reach a nearby receptacle.  You can find 220/240 plugs at any hardware or HD/Lowes to match whatever receptacle you might already have.  I use #12 extensions all the time to hook up my Old Woodworking Machines for 220 VAC so I know it works.  You just have 2 hots and one ground (which becomes your neutral wire) instead of hot, neutral, ground.
  20. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower


    I'm not sure if you're still following this thread but I just stumbled across it. This spring I converted an old GE fridge into a real nice smoker. I used a 2500-3000 Watt broiler element from an old range. It works great. I didn't use a PID I instead used the oven control board from that same range. I had issues getting the wood to smoke enough to give me a good flavor so I added a small muffin fan that is just switched by a toggle switch on my control panel. The fan created enough air flow to make the wood smolder. I just toss the wood directly on the element, no pan or anything. Like the one guy said, I just use a 12GA extension cord 2 hots and the neutral/ground on the cord's ground wire. Used it many times with no problems at all. I did wire from my control board to the element using high temp teflon insulated wire, just to be safe.

    Here's my build if you want to check it out: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/thread/105764/here-s-my-fridge-build-mid-build

    Let us know how you've come along.