Smoke Hollow Smoke-Tronix

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by simon templar, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. After several weeks research, I'm about to pull the trigger on the Smoke Hollow Smoke-Tronix ( D4015SS ).  Really just waiting for either the weather to break....or a screaming deal someplace...whichever should happen first.

    Whereas OLP doesn't offer a stand for these, has anyone built their own?  I want to get it up off the floor of my deck/garage.  Would rather clean crud off a stand than have it permanently seep into the deck.  (We have a big enough problem with ants and other bugs around here as it is. No need to attract more.)

  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

  3. Remember this comment from a couple days ago?

    Yesterday afternoon, the wife and I were walking through our local Tractor Supply Co and lo and behold.....

    Wasn't thinking when I took the pic and cut off the price...but the price on that board is $200

    Apparently, someone made an internet purchase then changed their mind.  When they received it, they returned it to the brick-and-mortar. Didn't even open the carton....still had the factory seal on it.

    Whoever you are, if you're out there...thanks!

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  4. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit

    Well, let us know how it all turned out including the first meal!
  5. Yes, well.....wish but that I could.

    Alas, there is 6 inches of snow outside presently....with more falling as we speak.  Can't even get the vehicles out of the garage far enough to unpack it, much less clean or season it.  The carton just sits there...laughing at me. Right next to my motorcycle. ;)


    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  6. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit

    Bad weather holding your smoker hostage. Must be maddening.
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wait 6" of snow is holding you back? We have had 20+ inches since thanksgiving! Getting six more today and it hasn't been above freezing forever! Smoking wings today!

    My motorcycle is getting pretty lonely plugged into its battery tender in the garage!
  8. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit

    I'm pretty sure I would brave the elements and start shoveling. Life is too short to wait for good weather.
  9. It's all over now, save for the snickering.  The final official total was 11".  I'm from Cleveland...11" is a balmy summer afternoon for me.  But, down here, it's an utter calamity for the indigenous life forms.  The grocers have all been mauled and their dairy and bread aisles look like Hillary's victory party at midnight.  All I've been able to suss is that when it snows around here everyone suffers an irresistible urge to make French Toast.

    Everything is either cancelled or closed.  To make it all worse, they also don't bother much with plows around here......they just hole up and tell each other it's the end of days.  Happens about once every ten years, give or take.

    Meanwhile, all the television station newscasts repeatedly tell everyone to stay put and not drive.  Of course, they do this whilst out driving about town.

    It's all fairly humourous...except for times like this when I've something better to do.

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  10. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit

    Where I live, 2 inches of snow causes more chaos than one can imagine. The mountains get snow but it is rare when we get any type accumulation on the streets.
  11. Update....

    The weather (and other matters) all finally came into synch a couple days ago....I was finally able to uncrate, setup, and season my find.....

    OLP (the parent company of Smoke Hollow) spec's seasoning at 275.  For good measure, I went up to 280.  To test the accuracy of the OLP controller and sensor, I also setup up my ThermoWorks Smoke wireless thermometer.

    One thing I noticed was that, after reaching temp, the controller swung roughly ten degrees over and under several times during the process of the seasoning.  Ranging from 271 to 293.  I also noticed that the OLP temp display was usually behind in terms of keeping up with the actual temp.  Sometimes radically so.....but, in terms of actual temperature, in actually stayed within that 10 + and - degree swing.

    Now, I came into this from gas.  It's my first electric box.  Is this variance normal for the electrics?

  12. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit

    Yes. If your smoker was equipped with a PID the temp swings would be less dramatic, maybe a degree or two. But it appears your smoker is working fine as it goes cycling on and off, same as your oven, furnace, and AC units.
  13. I'm somewhat embarrassed to ask....but, what's a PID?

    I was aware that it wouldn't hold temperature precisely.....but 20 degrees just seemed like a huge swing.

  14. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    Don't ever put a data logger in most older home ovens! A plus and minus 10 degree F swing is actually quite good.

    How does this unit generate its smoke? The MES units have a chip tray that gets heated by the main heating element. Thus, they are designed to cycle the temperature up and down so that during the relatively long "on" part of the cycle, the heating element is on long enough to get the chips smoldering. If you use a proportional control, the heating element is never fully hot once the smoker comes up to temperature. Thus, you get no smoke from the chips, pellets, or whatever. So the long time cycle of the heating system is a necessary part of the design.

    A PID controller is a "proportional, Integral, differential" control that implements one of a variety of PID algorithms to control the power to the heater in an effort to provide precise, smooth, and very constant temperature regulation as well as smooth response to disturbances. There are some excellent tutorials on the subject on line if you want to learn more. But the important thing to understand is the proportional part of the technique.

    The idea is that the amount of power going to the heater is proportional to the error between the setpoint and the actual temperature. So, for example, you might have the gain of the control set to give full power to the heater if the smoker is 5 degrees below the setpoint, and then taper the power back to zero as the temperature reaches the setpoint. Setting the gain higher, you might have full power at 2 degrees of error, etc. This is the proportional part of the algorithm.

    And purely proportional control is actually quite good all by itself. But since the amount of power to the heater is dependent on the error, you can see that a purely proportional control must always have an error. The temperature in the smoker must always be at least a little lower than the setpoint. You could set the gain higher and higher, but at some point, the system will become unstable and oscillate, becoming no better than a simple on-off control, and perhaps worse.

    That's where the integral part comes in. The integral part of the "formula" is used to eliminate this "standing error". The idea is that the algorithm looks at the standing error over a relatively long period of time, and develops a correction factor that tries to bring the temperature up to the setpoint.

    The differential or derivative part of the algorithm attempts to calculate how fast the temperature is closing in on the setpoint so it can sort of put the brakes on things as the temperature approaches the setpoint in an attempt to prevent the temperature from overshooting the setpoint.

    At least that's how one possible algorithm can work. The industrial controllers I use at work give you several different algorithms to choose from, and I do not pretend to fully appreciate all of the subtle differences. But some are better for some jobs. Some of the best standalone PID controllers I have ever used were based on "fuzzy logic", and learned their loops well in their auto tune modes. They were programmed in FORTH, a language that really lends itself to fuzzy logic. Sadly, those particular controllers are no longer available. They were almost magic. I once set up a system involving seven interacting subsystems, and all it took to tune the whole works was to let each controller learn its tuning, one by one, and it was tuned. It was ridiculously easy. A complex system that should have taken weeks of tedious trial and error to get tuned was working perfectly in an hour or less. The client thought I was a PID genius, but it had nothing to do with me! Those fuzzy logic controllers were uncanny!

    Anyhow, the 20 degree swing is fine, and perhaps necessary, depending on the method used to generate smoke in these smokers. And a PID type control might well require you to use a separate smoke generator. (Not that that isn't a good idea)! A lot of us end up using separate smoke generators for a number of reasons.
  15. The Smoke Hollow is much the same as the MES boxes....with certain differences.

    The S/H units have a chip drawer (removed in the photo below for a better view)  which is larger than an MES tray.  It is heated not only by the main calrod element, but also by it's own dedicated centre element located directly underneath the closed drawer.....

      (the chip drawer rides on the metal rails)

    In addition to working in concert with the main element to heat the box, there is a setting to also individually fire up the element under the chip tray (in the above picture, the shorter central element) to stoke the existing chips or to quickly smoulder new, recently added chips. The 'chute' looking part to the left allows you to add water to the drip pan (also removed in the pic) from outside without opening the main door.

    It was this arrangement of dual elements (in addition to also being somewhat better laid out and capable of drawing more current to output more heat when needed than an MES) which caused me to choose the S/H over an MES.  

    As I said, I've only gotten as far as setup and seasoning, so I've not actually put it all to practical use as yet.  But, it DOES pump out a significant amount of smoke on a surprisingly small amount of chips.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  16. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    I like the looks of that smoke hollow design! I can see why you chose it over the MES.

    With that separate heating element just for the chips, you could certainly use a PID controller for the main heating element and not have any effect on the smoke generation.

    The larger main heating element may give that unit more evenly distributed heat than what we get in the MES units, too. It looks like a nice setup.

    But you will likely find that the ten degree temperature cycling causes no problems. Older home ovens often have at least a 25 degree temperature cycle, and they bake or roast just fine. It's really the average temperature that needs to be accurate for most cooking, especially for low-and-slow methods like most of our smoking.

    I think you're going to enjoy your smoker!

    It may turn out that you end up wanting a separate smoke generator, especially if you do any cold smoking, but for now, I think the setup you have looks excellent. Let us know how the unit works for you.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  17. This is the minute and a half S/H advert, but it does give you a better idea of the whole design and capability of the unit....

    I have some reservations over certain aspects of the design, but by and large I too think it appears the better design. When I finally do get the chance to put it to work, we'll see if it actually turns out that way.

    I seriously considered an MES (and also the CharBroil and Landmann...which quickly went discontinued) but after I ran across the Smoke Hollow and looked at its overall architecture, it seemed the best thought out of all the designs.

    Again.....time will tell

  18. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit

    That is a rather unique heating element design/arrangement. Looks like Masterbuilt has some serious competition among the lines of Big Box fare. Overall, impressive looking. 
  19. newqreview

    newqreview Fire Starter

    Just picked one up as my second MES gen2 failed. Seasoning now. On tap for Super Bowl Sunday is a couple of shoulders and a rack of ABT's.
    simon templar likes this.
  20. newqreview

    newqreview Fire Starter

    very pleased with the first run...

Share This Page