Electric conversion ?

Discussion in 'ECB Owners Group' started by mosparky, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. I have tried to avoid considering converting to electric, but the thought of PID control making it set and forget keeps nagging at me. The wife would like to learn and as a friend would say "so easy a woman can do it" ( sorry ladies, no insult intended )

     By accident I saw one of these on line http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brinkmann-8...669263?hash=item1c4f4f1d8f:g:wgsAAOSwrklU-5SB

     Anyone ever use one ? I know some have converted ECB's and WSM's to electric, but I haven't seen mention of this.
  2. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    I have no experience with this very model but I think it's a great way to go electric.  You really have two smokers with this approach since it's easy to go back and forth from electric to charcoal.

    This is actually the Brinkmann-recommended conversion from coal to electric.  It's a little cheaper on Amazon buying from the factory: 

    I think Brinkmann quit selling it a year or so ago (note it says discontinued) so when they're gone they're gone.  

    And now that Brinkmann is bankrupt, they'll probably be even harder to find.  In fact, based on http://www.brinkmann.net/   you may be wasting your time ordering even on Amazon.  

    The manual is still on line: http://www.brinkmann.net/Docs/Pdf/812-3323-0.pdf  

    It replaces the charcoal pan and mounts on top of the inner stock legs (no turning them outside!) so there's still about a 1" annular ring of air flow coming in. 1500W is pretty meager for an uninsulated Brinkmann with a lot of airflow.  And I seem to recall reading of folks in cold climate never being able to get to 220+ temps with it. But if you stick the whole works in a box (cardboard works fine) you should be fine. (Although you'll have to remove it ever ytime you open the door to add more smoker wood or pellets to the tray.)   

    There's no controller with it.  Brinkmann sized it to run flat out continuously.  If extremely stable temps are important to you, you probably want a more powerful filament that cycles on/off with a controller. But as long as your smoker is hotter than your meat and you pull your meat based on a meat thermometer not based on a a clock, who needs all that stable a temp anyway?   

     If you go this route, you may want to play a bit with raising the smoker tray up to about a 1/4" off the elements if you seem to burn your pellets up to soon (you're not getting optimum smoke that way either.)  

    Also note these sorts of potted elements don't last forever.  I'd store it in a dry garage, not in the damp, and be careful to not touch the element itself with oily skin.  (The water pan should keep cooking fats off of it.)   If used on a GFCI outlet (outdoor outlets should all be GFCI) you may find they rather quickly develop over 5mA of leakage current and start tripping the GFCI.  I wouldn't sweat it and would either lift the ground (make sure you test your GFCI religiously then!) or just use a non-GFCI outlet at that point.  But then make sure your outlet is well grounded.  There's lot of failure modes with these that could lead to electric shock otherwise.   
  3. Thanks for the reply. I almost gave up on this. I think you answered most of my next few questions. I have been thinking of running this on a PID. The PID is worth alot more than the smoker ever will be, but it can be repurposed to the next upgade unit, so it's not a loss.

     I am a little disappointed the element may be a little under sized. I'm thinking I will insulate the ECB and surround it with a wall of stacked cinder blocks. Again the cinder blocks can be reused later on.
  4. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    Unfortunately rocks and blocks suck up a lot of watt-seconds to heat up.  So even if they insulate well once everything comes to steady-state, it takes a VERY long time to get there with a modest powered source.  Far better to use cardboard or a blanket.  

    For an ECB, don't you want an el cheapo controller?  


    or even just a simple thermostat:  


    Both will require a relay:  

  5. Don't get me wrong, by insulate I mean wrap it with a water heater blanket. The cinder blocks are for a wind break. If I invest in PID, I will go all out with the Auber unit that will allow for ramp programming. All that combined with the AMNPS and maybe a little foil to reduce intake air, I could have an awesome ECB.
  6. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    Be careful with water heater blankets.  Hot water heaters already have lots of insulation so the outside temperature doesn't exceed human body temps of 100 degreesF.  The outside of a single-wall Brinkmann is pretty much the temp of the smoker or 230 degrees. The lower part where your coals or electric element resides is hotter yet.   The 3rd-party blankets tend to be made with plastic that won't melt at 100 but can make a sticky mess at higher temps.  Welding blankets work well but can be pricey.  

    El cheapo way of doing ramp programming is to buy one of those 99-cent thermostats, wire it in series with a second one chosen as your desired final temp, and then use a timer relay to short across the lower one when you want the ramp to start:


    But if you want to ramp to ~300 deg or more, you'll need to insulate well if you only have 1500W.  And be VERY careful with foil around filament leads (or any 110V component.)  
  7. Thanks for the warning on the waterheater blankets. I haven't looked at them and didn't know. Just thinking out loud now ( so to speak) maybe some thin fiberglass insulation sealed on the edges with some of the high temp foil tape to keep the glass where it belongs and away from the meat. gonna check around for alternatives.

     I hadn't thought about cascading therms with relay timers. It's really a novel idea, but easy to get lost in for a novist. I've done similar tho not with thermostats. I can see it being fairly simple for a single given profile and could possibly be setup for auto shut off at a given temp. But tweeking it for a variety of profiles would be a major pain.  

     Hmm... now you got me thinking about an auto shut off after "X" mins at a predetermined IT.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015

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