electric? propane? charcoal? please help!!

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by kmart, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. kmart

    kmart Fire Starter

    Hey yall!
    So I'm thinking of starting my first build... I have smoking experience but not nearly as much as the rest of you I'm sure!!
    I'm thinking of building a vertical smoker. Smoke chamber dimensions of 36" W 60" T and 36" D. The only problem I'm having is deciding which type of fuel to use. I have plenty of experience with charcoal as I own a big green egg and love it. Just want more room for bigger cooks! I was thinking propane but it seems those can be dangerous. Electric could take 220v. My biggest concern is wanting to be able to keep temps down for smoking salmon and cheese and what not. With this big of a smoke chamber could I achieve low Temps with charcoal? And trust me this thing will be well insulated!!!
    Thanks in advance!!
  2. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What about multi fuel? Charcoal and electric.
  3. kmart

    kmart Fire Starter

    I was honestly thinking about going that route. Would electric give me enough heat? What temps do you think I could expect with charcoal? Given that it was a day of 70 degrees or so.
  4. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm not one to build something. Just figured electric could do your cooler cooks and charcoal for hotter ones, based on you wanting more room. Hopefully someone with a better answer can help!
  5. kmart

    kmart Fire Starter

    Thank you for the reply b-one! I hope someone around here can help me out. There are many that have so much more knowledge than i!
  6. doctord1955

    doctord1955 Smoking Fanatic

    I have a converted freezer that is electric with the original insulation in it that i heat with a 1800 watt 220 stove top burner!  I never have a problem with getting enough heat!  Will maintain 300 degrees if i need it to!  can go as low as 33 degrees!  I use it to cold smoke cheese and bacon all the time!
  7. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic


    A few of the freezer/fridge conversions I've seen are using pellet units.  I'm a recent pellet smoker convert.  I really like how I can dial in a temp and how the PID controller does all the work maintaining the temp.  Very low energy consumption - relatively low consumable costs.  

    The company that makes my pellet smoker, Smoke Daddy Inc, offers such a unit for this type of conversion.  There is a video showing the conversion process as well. 

    Just one of the options out there.
  8. trippy

    trippy Smoke Blower

    There has been some pellet hopper freezer builds too, like muralboy said. They work nice but you need to get a good amount of venting into a insulated cabinet. The pellet pro has temp gauge PID to control your temp for what ever level you want to smoke at. They can be a little light on smoke due to how efficient they burn wood. This is over come with a chip box over your heat diffuser or adding a cold smoker device. I am currently building a food warmer that is much like a big refrigerator. Still putting in more venting because its hard to keep down under 250 right now. It does hold the heat well though.

    Now if your just going to cold smoke you don't need much heat source just need a smoke generator. That could be done with any box. Electric builds on long smokes your tending it almost like a stick burner with adding chips and making sure temp is good unless you have set up a PID controller to regulate the heat. I am not electrician so I shy clear of that. I also don't have much 220 external outlets to play with. 

    A charcoal/combo might be a good choice but you will be watching it constantly to regulate the heat. This is fine till you have a 16 hour brisket to be ready in the afternoon. This is why I was choosing to go with pellet on my vertical build.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  9. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Never really thought about charcoal + electric in a DIY build but to me, that sounds like the best of both worlds.
  10. kmart

    kmart Fire Starter

    I have also though about a pellet pooper as well like you guys have stated! If I were to go that route or any other route other than charcoal do I need to put a stack on this thing? I was thinking of using 2 of these on the front and back where the smoke generation would come and also 2 on each side near the top of the smoker for ventalation. http://www.biggreenegg.com/eggcessories/components/draft-door/
  11. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I just can't see all of this decision process and discourse about several different types of fuel and combinations of fuels. Why has no one even mentioned or considered wood? After all, wood is the original fuel, a renewable fuel, a natural fuel and the fuel that gives the best flavor and finished product.
  12. kmart

    kmart Fire Starter

    Ok so here's an idea.... and please correct me if I'm TOTALLY wrong on this which I very well could be! Since I want a smoker that can keep low temps, why couldn't you build a vertical smoker with a side firebox and the firebox and smoking chamber BOTH HAVE exhaust? Obviously some of the smoke would exit the firebox exhaust but I'm sure you could work around that.you could put some kind of draft door between the firebox and smoking chamber to regulate the temps even more so. Am I totally wrong on this?
  13. kmart

    kmart Fire Starter

    This is with charcoal of coarse
  14. trippy

    trippy Smoke Blower

    Kmart you can look at my build here
    Vertical Pellet Smoker Build (Food Warmer/Proofer)

    It might give you ideas. The pellet is easier to control heat to a certain degree over charcoal. It is limited to a certain point because the pellets require a fixed amount of air to stay burning. So to over come this you need adequate air flow to keep the temp manageable. Then the pellet hopper can burn hard to easy based on temp. For vents on bottom I used ceiling vents but have seen vents used from BBQsmokersupply.com. They have some nice options for venting. Ceiling vent was cheap at the box store. This build can be as radical or rustic as you feel you want to go. Looking at anything you can buy with the same capacity its large bills.
    Here is a video of my test run. Still needs a few things before finished.

  15. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    Im all about stick burners, but I'm getting old and tired! I'm looking into converting a double door commercial fridge build myself and was led to smoke daddy, http://www.smokedaddyinc.com/pellet-hoppers
    For the price, for what they do, for the fact you can piggy back multiple units, for the fact you can set it and forget it, for the fact it's 110v AND the real kicker, I sent an email on a Saturday afternoon, non business hours, and got a reply in ten min, I'm sold! This man WILL be getting my business!
  16. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    There is a rather new development with pellet smokers and the problem of low smoke - called a Jen-U-Jerry. From what I understand is that it replaces your existing heat deflector with something heavier duty, and then you can put chunk wood on top. I guess it works best at higher temps (200+ deg F) so for lower temps something like an AMPS or Smoke Daddy cold smoker would be best
  17. trippy

    trippy Smoke Blower

    Kinda like I did with a cast Iron pot top for heat diffuser. It could take a piece of wood or even chip boxes Holds the heat well. Gives you the ability to mix up your smoke profile.
  18. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    nice to have all the bases covered.

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