Anyone built an electric UDS?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by marknb, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Hey gang,

    I bought a couple drums this past summer, and was thinking of converting one to a UDS this winter. I prefer to go electric, as it would require a little less of my attention during a smoke. Has anyone set up a UDS this way? I am fairly ignorant on the subject of wiring and electrical whatnots...

    Anyway I was thinking, based on what I read in the modications sticky, that I could put a hotplate in the bottom, and plug it into the same outlet and oven thermostat setup that's on the red Brinkman in the sticky. That way, the thermostat would work for most temps I would need (maybe not low enough for 100F sausage smoking??), and the temp setting on the hotplate itself could act as a bit of a rheostat, so there'd be less switching of the hotplate on and off (if say, I had it set on 3 or 4 rather than 9) making the smoke production more even.

    What do you think?


  2. melleram

    melleram Smoke Blower

    you could do that, I would look at buying an electric converter from brinkman. Its the same element that is in the Brinkman electric smoker. The cord runs out the bottom of the plate under the element, so you would need to build a type of shelf about 3" off the bottom to set the element plate on, but then you would be good to go, and gaurnteed to have enough wattage to get it to temp. You can find it at cablea's among other places I have the exact one installed in my homemade smoker, adn it works awesome, If I had a thermostat like you are talking about, it would be even better.

  3. I built my charcoal UDS so I had something to pay a little less attention to during a long smoke. I'll be honest, I hardly have to tend to mine during a cook once I get it up to temp. The only time I had temp issues was when it started raining and I did not have the UDS under a covering. Once I rolled it under our got back up to temp and I went to sleep.

    PLus the when the dripping fat hit the hot coals and the smoke comes back adds some extra flavor to the meat that is awesome. I am not a charcoal snob by any means and am considering a MES to add to my smoker collection...but I thiink the UDS can be a pretty self sufficant cooker just using charcoal...if that is the reason you want to go electric.
  4. nate_46

    nate_46 Meat Mopper

    Finished my UDS a month ago, and have 5 smokes on it so far. I have gotten to the point to where I let the temps stabilize and I go to bed. Pretty easy.

    If you live in a place where they frown upon hot coal then an electric UDS should work just fine. Sort of like an oven outside with smoke added.

    With a thermostat it should work real good.
  5. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Great idea MellerAM, about the same as what you'd pay for the hotplate anyway, and no plastic parts to worry about melting.
  6. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Ya know, this is something I should be thinking about. I bought a charcoal grill last summer so I have the lump charcoal around the house have a photo of your set up, Blue? Thanks for replying.
  7. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Nate, my town doesn't like anything that I do! My clothes line, my sheds being too close to my house, etc etc. What's a little hot coals among friends? I'm curious, when using coals for heat, how do you guys generate smoke? Do you use a smoke box? CSG? Thanks for replying.
  8. I dont have any inside pics right now (i'm at work).....but he is a pic of my UDS.

    I throw a couple chunks of wood on top of the coals. I spread them out so as the coals light during the cook...chunks light. There has been times that at the end of a 12 hour cook I have had unlit coals and chuks still in the basket.

    Here is a picture of my basket:


    My food sits 24 inches above the coals.
  9. smokemaster

    smokemaster Smoke Blower

    IMO, the electric plate defeats the whole UDS concept. Cooking over coals and allowing the juice/dripping to hit the fire adding flavor.
  10. bandcollector

    bandcollector Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    I am not quite clear as to what you mean when you say "I throw a couple chunks of wood on top of the coals".

    Are the coals already lit and then you "throw a couple chunks of wood on top" or are all the coals unlit with wood chunks dispersed among them, and then a chimney of lit coals are dumped on the unlit coals?

    Thanks, John
  11. sancarlosmx

    sancarlosmx Fire Starter

    I have just finished building an electric UDS. It is fitted with a replacement MES element which requires a rectangular hole cut about I 1/2 inches up from the base of the drum and is secured with one screw. The temp. control and cable plug in from the outside. The UDS is also fitted with a Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna for smoke. Works perfectly except you will not get above 250* if the ambient temp. is 65* or lower. The drum is fitted with two Weber replacement grids for the 22 1/2 inch kettle BBQ which are a perfect fit in a 55 gal. drum. Grids from H/depot at $16.00 each.
    With this design I can hot smoke, cold smoke and dehydrate in the same piece of gear.
    Best of luck.
  12. nate_46

    nate_46 Meat Mopper

    Don't even get me started on building permits. [​IMG]

    Anyway, when I fill my charcoal basket (similar to the one above) I add charcoal, then a couple chunks of wood, then more charcoal, then a couple chunks of wood, and then more charcoal and a couple chunks on top. It smokes the whole time. Some of the best thin blue I have seen, without the work.

    Hope this helps.

    Here is a link to my UDS with basket.
  13. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Jeez, Louise. Now I have a dilema, charcoal or electric? Lol, my problem I guess. Thanks guys!
  14. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Somewhere here I have a post on my electric UDS. It wasn't so much of a build it was more like moving the old element from one drum to another. I'll see if I can find it and post a link.

    Found it- link
  15. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    That's all well and good, Herr Master, if you're smoking a brisket or ribs. If you want to smoke sausage, you don't want to render the fat out of them, so your max temperature would be about 165F, and your smoking temp more like 130F. I'm beginning to think if I go with charcoal, I'll built an offset fire connected with a length of stovepipe for cooler smokes, and build a basket for the bottom of the drum when doing ribs and such.

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