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Old 06-22-2011, 04:07 PM   #1
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Default converting charcoal smoker to electric

skeeordye11 gave me this charcoal smoker that he didn't want.



And I decided that it would be a good idea to convert it to electric and use the same panel I control my brewing system with to control the smoker. So, I bought a 6" 1250W element for an electric stove off ebay for $8 and decided to mount it to the bottom of the pan that used to hold coals.



To mount it, I drilled three pairs of small holes in the pan right next to each arm of the "Y" shaped bracket on the burner.





Then I cut some short lenghts of thick copper wire and bent them into a U shape.



From inside the pan, I put each U through one of the sets of holes.



Then I just used those like big-ass twist ties to secure the burner to the bottom of the pan.




Then came the wiring. I stripped the end of a power cord and put some ring terminals on it.



Then attached those to the burner's leads with some machines screws/nuts/washers. I drilled another hole in the pan and attched the ground wire directly to it (and removed the plastic insulation on the connector since it was doomed to melt anyway). I need to probably replace that ground connection hardware with stainless since it's directly in the pan. These are zinc plated steel at the moment.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:07 PM   #2
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To mount a temp probe, I drilled a 1/2" hole in the side of the thing, just below the top grill rack.



Slipped a washer over a temp probe to give it something to catch on the side better and inserted it through the hole. On the inside, I threaded on a brass plumbing bushing to hold it all in place.





Plug that thing into the back of my control panel where my kettle is normally plugged in and connect the temp probe to the PID and let it rip.


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Old 06-22-2011, 04:08 PM   #3
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Problems and remaining work:

Originally, I wanted to run the element on 120V. The element is 1250W on 240. If you halve the voltage, you quarter the power, which makes it 312.5W. However, the volume of this smoker is pretty big, and 312 watts wasn't cutting the mustard. I could only get to about 140*F. So, I just hooked it up to the full 240V and said, "F*ck it."

But, I still had problems getting over 200*F. The pan with the element attached to it is low. The bowl actually sticks out of the bottom and the element is only an inch or two off the floor. I lose a lot of heat from the bottom.

I have two possible solutions to this issue:
(1) wrap some aluminum flashing around the bottom, basically enclosing the legs of the smoker inside the thing and cutting down that gap at the bottom. (I tested this with aluminum foil, and it got my temps up over 220*F.)
(2) move the rack that holds the fire pan up a few inches inside the smoker so that the bottom of the bowl and the element are up inside the red can instead of sticking out below it.

Apart from that, the only thing I need to do is put a longer power cord on it. The brewery control panel is on a 15' cord, which gets is ALMOST to my garage door. I need the smoker sitting outside, so I need to make sure that the temp probe and power cable to the smoker are long enough to let me do that.

And I am wating for a quick connector for the smoker's temp probe to arrive in the mail. When I tested last night I just opened the panel and wired the probe straight to the PID after taking off the probe from the HERMS system. When the quick connector gets here, I'll be able to swap probes using a little plug/socket that is mounted on top of the panel.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:19 PM   #4
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I converted an ECB to electric w/some leftover brewery parts. I had the same temp troubles as you. I ended up setting the smoker on a couple pieces of wood wrapped in flashing to reflect the heat. Also, I wrapped the entire smoker in the relflex insulation. In the winter with ambient temps in the high 20s low 30s, it would hold 225F, but struggled mightily.

I ended up building an ~$80 UDS with the help of DataZ's kit. I've only used that a couple of times, but it really does the job.

I still use the EECB for things like raising bread doughs, but pretty much use the drum when I'm smoking.

Any ?'s, just ask.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:22 PM   #5
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I should mention I incorporated a 1500w 120v burner into the unit and it runs on 110v

edit: found some pic.s in my photos

control panel. top panel display is for a meat probe, bottom is the PID which controls the element.




First time setting it up w/flashing underneath. I've begun to use more flashing to more adequately cover the entire bottom.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:40 PM   #6
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awesome, thanks for the info!

I was worried about using reflectix on this thing. That stuff is basically plastic and has a temp rating of only 180*F. I do use it on my electric boil kettle, but was concerned about it melting or something if I got up to 240*F on the smoker.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:53 PM   #7
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I'll check the inside of the reflectix when I get home tonight. I believe it to be wholly in tact, though.

Looking at my pic.s, I forgot to mention I wrapped the entire bottom with flashing. That really reduced my heat loss.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:57 PM   #8
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I had to raise my heating element as well. The default configuration would not get hot enough if there was a mild breeze. After raising it up, it works fine.

Except one time I accidentally bought hardwood chunks instead of chips and they caught fire and the temp went WAY up!

Sometimes I wish I had a BGE, but they are soo much money.

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Old 06-22-2011, 06:06 PM   #9
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I can't believe you guys are letting Walker play with electricity...I mean, look at his avatar. You see what happened last time.

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Old 06-22-2011, 06:11 PM   #10
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Holy cow! Is that really you, EP?!

I thought you vanished.

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