Electric ECB in the cold?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by shag, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. shag

    shag Newbie

    Got my first smoker over the summer - an electric ECB. No temperature controls, and seems like pretty thin walls. Winter has officially arrived in MN, and I'm wondering if anyone has tried using this smoker in the cold - can it get up to temp?

    Was thinking of trying a smoke tomorrow, but the high is going to be 18. Not sure if it's doable or not...
  2. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    When it got cold and I used one I would build a temporary shelter out of large pieces of wooden fence and a tarp angled up so the smoke would flow out. It did a pretty good job of keeping temp as long as the wind wouldn't whip all of the heat out of it.
  3. rhino70

    rhino70 Fire Starter

    Hi there, I can feel your pain being a fellow minnesotan. I have a little chief electric smoker, and the walls are paper thin, and maintaining heat in the cold was a concern. I smoke primarily snack sticks, summer sausage, and jerky, so most of my stuff is under 170 degrees or so.

    So, if you are doing low temp type things, one fix may be like what i did. I got a roll of this material called reflectix. You can buy it at menards or home depot and it is about $10 a roll. It is essentially bubble wrap with a foil covering. It does a great job on my little chief, and i can maintain 160 in 10 degree weather. In fact, i'll be smoking a pile of venison sausage tomorrow for the holiday season.

    Now, that being said, realize that the reflectix only is tolerant of heat to about 180 degrees, and being that the ECB has a 1500 watt heating element, it may get way too hot down by where the element is, and may melt the stuff at high temperatures.

    My brother has an ECB and what he does for the winter months (he does primarily hotter stuff like boston butts, brisket etc) is he has a 55 gallon rain barrel that he wrapped with a water heater blanket. he said he can get up over 200 degrees with that type of contraption. Just make sure that you cut a hole in the top so the smoke can escape. This would probably be a much safer way to go for the ECB.

    He got his barrel from the beverage bottling company in his hometown, and if you live in the twin cities area, there are a lot of those places around. Otherwise, i understand car washes get their soap in these types of barrels, and might give you one for free. Or, if all else fails, I checked craigslist in the twin cities, and there are a number of people that are selling these plastic barrels for about $15. this is a pretty easy fix that will be relatively cheap.

    Anyhow, If this doesn't work for you, the guys on these boards are really great, and i'm sure they will know exactly what to do to help get you up and running. Good Luck!!!
  4. gravey

    gravey Smoke Blower

    My dad uses an electric ECB, and a few mods make smoking in the cold a breeze.

    1. Find a bucket (steel, not galvanized, no plastic) that will fit underneath the element and fill it with brand new playbox sand. Don't take it from the shore 'cause it'll gunk up your smokes.

    2. Find a pizza pan/aluminum pan that will fit over the sand bucket and line it with aluminum foil. If you can't find a pan that will fit, just fold several layers of HD foil and seal the gaps between the sand bucket and the element. Point is, fill in the gaps.

    3. Wrap your ECB in a welders blanket. You'll have better heat containment that way.

    4. When I smoke on his ECB, I also take a long sheet of HD foil and twist it up nice and tight. Make sure that it goes at least 3/4 of the way around the gap between the lid of your ECB and it's body. Not only does it keep some smoke in (but not all. We do not condone the creation of creosote), it also keeps a fair amount of heat from escaping the grate area.

    5. FINALLY: Locate some bricks and create a barrier at least halfway up your ECB body on 3 sides so that the wind may be blocket. OR, if you have plenty of snow, dig a pit like I did and settle your unit in!

    Here's what I did the other night with mine. Had some nice snow banks to choose from!
  5. rhino70

    rhino70 Fire Starter

    Hi All,

    Well, as i said before, i have had success smoking in the cold with my little chief, but the wind yesterday really knocked my temperature down. I was only able to get it up to about 140 degrees inside the chamber, which is fine for smoking sausage, but it took a LOOOOONG time to get there. I'm glad i started it in the morning, or else i would have been up all night.

    What I did was wrapped the whole thing (with the reflectix insulator on it) In a big packing blanket and used duct tape to hold it on. Then, i took an old braided rug and draped it over the top. The rug is not really tightly woven, and allowed for the smoke to escape. Although my neighbor was about to call the fire department because all she saw was a big pile of blankets with smoke billowing out from underneath.

    Anyhow, that is another cheap fix, if you have some old blankets lying around. I did end up having to finish the sausage in the oven as well, but it turned out great. Lemme know if any of this helped.
  6. luvdatritip

    luvdatritip Smoke Blower

    The electric Brinkmann has its limitations in the cold, but it can be done. Just my thoughts; yours may vary. Good luck!
  7. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    One thing I tried recently was a toaster oven sized pizza stone in my Bradley.

    Heat it up in the oven while the electric smoker is getting going. Pop it in the bottom grate. You'll lose a rack for smoking, but it'll help retain heat and not strain the electric element as much.
  8. I have found that the main thing that causes the heat loss is wind. Even a small breeze will carry away the heat.
    I have used just an old bath towel to insulate my ECB and It seems to work fine. Although "cold" in CA is probably a bit different than MN

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