Considering a electric homebrew w/3,600 watt IR panel - advice needed

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by dward51, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ok, after reading posts for months and wishing I had a larger smoker, and liking the thought of digitally controlled electric heat, it just hit me that I have most of the components sitting in the basement.

    I have the following parts from a screen print dryer rebuild that never came to be:
    • three 3,600 watt Watlow Raymax stainless steel radiant panel heaters (max temp is 2,000 F).
    • Omega "fuzzy logic" auto-tune PID controller with SSR output & J temp probe (I think it's a J probe, but I forget)
    • two mercury wetted relay switches, one 60 amp and one 30 amp (both 240v)
    • three high temp squirrel cage air recirculation fans (don't recall the CFM from memory)
    • 10ga and 6ga high temp nickel clad multi-strand wiring
    These are the flat panel type IR units and I'm thinking as long as they are covered and shielded from drippings they would work. We used to run them at 340* to cure plastisol inks on tee-shirts all day long (it's parts for a 10' tunnel dryer with forced air recirculation for those familiar with the industry, assembled dryer pulled 55amps @ 240v when running full blast and put out 10,800 watts IR heat).  I also have the Watlow analog dial controller and the DC gear reduction motor and DC controller for the belt feed (saving the DC drive setup for a possible future rotisserie smoker build).

    Smoke source would be a smoke generator or AMNPS.  Cabinet is still under consideration, but I may have an inside track on some surplus heavy gauge aluminum traffic light control boxes that are big enough and at a decent price.

    Has anyone used IR panels like this as the heat source for a electric smoker or have I totally lost my mind?

    Granted a 3,600 watt IR heater is a lot for a smoker, but it should be able to be dialed back with a good digital controller.  Panel is about 10" x 24" long and looks like this (more like the one on the left). Would be laying flat on the bottom of smoker box and protected by drip panels. Since it's an IR panel, I'm thinking a 1/4" steel plate painted with flat black 2000* paint sitting above it would work as both a heat sink and radiant panel to transmit the heat to the air circulating in the box. At 3,600 watts heat recovery should be pretty fast I would think [​IMG]

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would have a double protection of drip  containers, one row of something like aluminum turkey roasting pans, then a second row underneath of flatter pans like full or half baking sheet pans that sit 'brick-style' to the upper pans:

    \__________/  \___________/  \__________/  

    ¦________________¦ ¦__________________¦

    See "Smokehouse" in my sig line on my single row of drip pans.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like you are onto something good..... Low and slow smoke.. crank it up to crisp the chicken skin.... Flop on a steak, add smoke, then cranker her up to 1500 deg for the final char...

    I think I want one of those panels to make a salamander for my Black/Blue ribeye....  You are makin' me hungry just thinkin' about that steak... Dave 
  4. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    I never even thought about a plywood "hot" smoker.  I've seen builds of plywood cold smokers and large wood smoke houses, but not one like that worked in the 200 to 275 degree range.  That might be a viable plan "B" if I can't get the aluminum traffic light housing or if the size is not right for the IR element. With electric there would be no concerns about flame going out and with a decent PID temps should be rock solid.  Yes, I had thought about a double cover for the IR element.  Since IR heats objects and not the air, that is why I was thinking about a nice thick iron or steel plate over the IR element to absorb the IR heat and heat the air.  A good sized drip pan would be over that.

    I see in the later photos of the smoke house, it looks pretty charred inside but would take it that is smoke coloring and not actually charring from the heat, correct?

    The more I sit here thinking about a wooden build, I like it.  Total design flexibility and low costs as I have a ton of wood working tools.  Only drawback I can think of right now is they are 240v panels and I would have to run a 20amp 240v line to the porch. Hmmmm, may have to rethink this since all the other elements are pretty much paid for and sitting on a shelf.  Just don't want to burn the house down.

    I would have to give up on Dave's thought about cranking it up and crisping the skin.  I re-read the specs and it's rated for 2,000 degrees max, but the time/temp charts show about 900 as the max actual operating temp. I take it the 2000 figure is the point at which the components start to fail and not a practical operating temp.  But 900 would make for pretty crispy skin!
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  5. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Wow ! ! ! !   I never realized there were that many plywood builds out there.  I guess the few times I looked at the smoke houses area, I was thinking about big stand alone smoke "houses" in the traditional sense.  This opens up a whole new area of possibilities as it seems a lot of them have been built by many members.

    Guess I'm going to spend the rest of the evening reading old posts in there.

    Just have to get past the concern about "wood" and heat I guess.  But since I even see charcoal fuel powering some of the wood builds and lots with LP burners, it can't be too much of an issue.
  6. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Just remember things get messy inside a smoker...

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