Source for element, thermostat, etc?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by mikeythai, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    Doing some serious thinking about my next build.[​IMG]

    I want to build a stainless steel cabinet smoker, for either hot or cold smoke. Build the cab myself, but I need a good source for an electric element and thermostat, etc.

    So maybe a sales place on the internet or mail order place?
  2. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My advice would be to make it yourself.

    Johnson Controls, and a heating element. Tell me the size of the box and I can calculate the watts required for you on the heating element. Also let me know electric or gas heating?
  3. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    Should be about 24X20X40. Electric heat for either cold or hot smoke. Thanks BBally.[​IMG]
  4. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    300 watts is more then plenty. However, with cold smoke you may want to consider having the heating smoking box a seperate item that hooks into smoke cabinet. Smolding wood chips tend to take the smaller boxes over the cold smoke temp on their own.

    What say you to that idea?
  5. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    Yeah, I just recently started researching smoke generators, including that sawdust maze thing. Sounds like the the best way to get consistent smoke with an electric rig. 300 watts sounds good, too. I want to end up with a nice, homebuilt, set it and forget it rig.
  6. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    You read my mind. [​IMG] Thanks.
  7. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Mike I understand the desire to do DIY projects especially if you have the necessary tools to get the job done properly. However the dimension you gave are:
    Those dimensions are essentially the dimensions of the MES 40"
    OD dim = 24.6” x 18.1” x 41.6”

    Ok so it cost $299.00, but what you get is exceptional:
    • Inside cabinet construction is stainless.
    • Stainless steel door with window outer construction, and door seal.
    • powder coat steel outer construction
    • Thermostatically controlled for a perfect temperature every time; temperature ranges from 100º to 275ºF
    • Push button precision digital control panel
    • 0-24 hour digital timer with auto shut-off
    • Built in meat probe
    • Internal light
    • Side loading wood chip tray (prevents having to open the door and lose heat to add wood).
    • 100% insulated for energy efficient cooking
    • Air damper for better smoke control
    • Adjustable door latch
    • Four smoking stainless racks allow ample room for turkey, sausage, chicken, ham, pork, fish, jerky, vegetables & more
    • 40” (3.4 cu. ft.) of cooking area
    • Stainless Steel heavy duty water pan
    • Stainless Steel heavy duty interior drip tray
    • Heavy Coated rear-mounted grease pan
    • Adjustable mounting feet.
    • 1200 watt 120v heat element

    By the time you acquire all the above components and controls, paying shipping and your time spent just locating stuff. Plus the time necessary for construction and assembly, you can't touch the above for $300.

    BBally's calc is just enough wattage/btu about 1024 BTUs to get to temp, it doesn't take into account how long, or recovery, or heat loss. If you desired to cook at 250º and the temp outside is 45º it may take 3 hours to achieve with only 300 watts. The original 40" MES came with a 750 watt element and there are many complaints about it's ability to attain the desired set cook temp, and if you open the door how fast it will recover to desired set temp. Thus Masterbuilt upped the element to 1200 watts. You can find posts I have made that basically says 750 or 800 watts is all that is necessary provided you preheat for 2 hours in cold outdoor ambient conditions, and avoid large loads in such conditions. I think based on so many MES users experience 700-1000 watts would be a better all around choice.

    If you want to do the DIY, you might want to consider what I posted here about two stage heating. In fact by using two separate heat elements as I mention, you could put the 2nd smaller element with both a automatic and manual circuit. The manual circuit would have a rheostat controller to manually select less btus, and allow you to cold smoke. The auto circuit would work for the 2 stage process.

    Back to original thought, certainly to some the fun and satisfaction of a DIY success alone is enough incentive to do the project. But from a practical perspective, it is doubtful that you can achieve the quality and function of a MES for significantly less $$. The only other reason to do such a build would be to build in features and functions not in the MES, some would include:
    • two stage heating
    • ability to efficiently cold smoke as well as normal meat smoking.
    • PID controls with multiple inside cabinet sensor and multiple meat probes.
    • Automatic wood chip feeder or smoke generator that would last at least 8 hours.
    • Heavier construction, and better insulation, thus less heat loss.

    Just some thoughts to chew on...
  8. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    I really do wish I could go out and buy an MES. Sounds like a pretty good value at $300. But...I live in Thailand. I have taken quite a lot of stuff overseas in my checked bags-- airless spraypaint rig, mig welder, etc. And to tell the truth, I have put some thought into trying to lug a smoker over, but I think they're just too heavy and too big.

    So I'll have to build one. And if you think you get a funny look if you say 'fridge conversion smoker' in the states....the blank stare I get from Thai's when I explain my contraptions is priceless.[​IMG]

    I read all of your post and also checked the link to your post about two stage heating. Q.- If I wanted to simplify things could I just have a rheostat for a single 1200 watt element, turn it up for catch up, and way down for cold smoking or maintaining temps during a smoke?>

    Also what's the main advantage of having a PID over just an element and thermostat? Thanks for the info.
  9. mulepackin

    mulepackin Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A PID can be programmed for changes you want to occur during your smoke schedule. For Example it can start at around 120 for an hour to dry your meat, then raise the temp the second hour to 130 as you start to add smoke, then up say 10 deg every hour to final finishing temp of 180. Depending on the PID, you get a different number of preprogramable settings. They also allow tighter control over other temp variables, ramp up time, recovery time, etc. and I believe can be had to interact with what you are cooking, i.e. a probe in the meat as well as the smoker, so that once a certain temp of the meat is obtained another programmable function will occur (turn off, or hold at given temp). I don't fully understand them myself, but they sound pretty nice, and truly set and forget. I didn't know they existed when I bought my Allied-Kenco thermostat, or I think I'd have gone that route. Check the Auberins site for more info on them:
  10. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry MikeyThai, I didn't see you were located in Thailand.

    If you have the bucks for sure in Thailand you can probably get a stainless smoker double wall cabinet made at a reasonable cost. You might have to hunt for the insulation material.

    As for controls contact this company Auberins.
    With the PID you get a logic circuit that will figure out changes in your sensor and adjust the heat on/off to counter balance and provide great accuracy.

    Yes you can control use a combination of thermostat and rheostat to control both temp and and the max wattage. Graingers can help you find what you want. BBally is elect. engineer he might be willing to come up with a a analog controls schematic. I'm saying analog because you may find it easier to locate analog components.
  11. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    Thanks, Dude
  12. nickelmore

    nickelmore Smoking Fanatic

    Mike, I had a friend of mine give me a PID to tinker with for temp control, and I found a nice 1500 watt Element out of "electric bbq grill" at walmart for $20. I chose to go with a Relay to switch the output of the PID wich cost me $20 from grainger.

    The relay cycles too much for my liking and may lead to premature burnout of the element.

    Like it was said above Aubins has a bunch of controls SSR's relays etc. They are also available on Ebay pretty resonable as well.

    I use a external smoke geterator made out of a aluminum drive shaft from a Chevy Venture van, similar to the Smoke daddy, I think he is also selling those on Ebay.

    The way I constructed my cabinet I can interchange heat sources from propane gas for higher/shorter temps and the electric setup for low and slow.

    I am pretty new to this hobby but now that the weather is getting nicer in Chicago, I can get back at it.

    Yes it would be easier to go buy a store bought one, I even considered the new MES. And yes it is definatly cheaper if consider your time in searching for parts, fabrication, etc., But there is some underlying feeling of joy I get when I use something I fabricated.

    I am my own customer service.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  14. mikeythai

    mikeythai Smoke Blower

    Thanks for searching, but that place only sells grills. Most imported stuff (like good smokers) here is subjected to a 100%-150% import tax. No kidding. Even cars. It's a real bummer.

    There's a guy (American) a few hours away who makes beautiful stainless gas grills. But they're expensive enough that I built my own. There's no smokers for sale that I'm aware of, and I'm okay with that. I've already built two. And one of them works pretty good. LOL.

    Gonna do a thread on it eventually, but that's my AAC block propane smoker. It has something like 3,000 sq. inches of rack space and can smoke a ton of meat with a fairly small burner.

    I might even try to put an electric element in this thing, but I'll probably build a smaller one instead.

    I like the sound of that smoker, too Nicklemore.
  15. achilles007

    achilles007 Fire Starter

    Great thread. I have a severe interest in cold smoking as well and am trying to build a smoker as to give me precise temperatures for cooking sausage and other whole cuts of charcuterie meats under the 190 degree cooking range.

    I'm thinking about buying a pid but may just go with a simple hot plate wired into a bulb-and-caillary type thermostat.

    Hi. Tremendous post. Can you tell me the math you used for how exactly you figured the wattage out?
  16. nickelmore

    nickelmore Smoking Fanatic

    I used the old school way, Have more money in my project than its worth, but I am biding another with what I learned from the first.

    I think you may have PMed me for some pics which i forgot about, I will take a bunch and send them to you in the next few day's the weather is getting better here and the sun is up a little longer now,

    I use one box that I can interchange a propane burner or a 1500 watt element in.

    Its not 100 percent but I like it, still some tinkering to do. I do have an external smoke generator made out of a aluminum drive shaft from a Chevy venture van, works great.

    I love the attitude to build if can't buy it.

    For starters don't over engineer it, a simple rheostat will work just fine, and in my opinion may be better than a PID.
  17. I currently have a Royal Oak electric cabinet smoker. I've used it for about a year with overall great results. It has always been a little difficult maintaining the temperature, but I keep a good watch on it and haven't ruined a thing. Recently, the thermostat quit working completely, and the unit comes on full heat at any switch adjustment. Royal Oak has not been helpful at all even though unit was under warranty. Since I never was happy with the factory thermostat, my idea is to use the existing heat element with a "real" thermostat with a capillary tube installed inside the smoke box. The smoker operates on 110 voltage. Anyone with any ideas as to thermostats? I'd probably not bottom-mount as it is currently, but mount it on the side of unit for more convenient location.
  18. timb

    timb Newbie

    Does anyone know what the diameter of that Brinkmann electric element is?  I'm hoping I can use it in my uds but can't find any specifications on this site or the greater internet.

    Also, a pizza place closed by me recently, and I salvaged a long straight heating element from the garbage.  What are these elements made of?  Would it be possible for me to bend it into a coil or would that destroy it?


  19. I find electric grills in thrift shops all the time. I  am modifying a Brinkman charcoal smoker to be electric fired. You can get a variable frequency control unit made to control the speed of electric motors from Harbor freight for cheap. A lot of DIY coffee roasters go that route. I have a 20 Amp Variac picked up at a garage sale and an electric grill element. It takes a lot of tending. The next iteration will use a T stat out of a toaster oven possibly the element as well. -$10.00 from a thrift store. But I am looking for a DIY smoke generator design. Because at low temps my burner doesn.t make smoke It works fine for hot smoking. I have 2 objections to buying a smoke generator. 1 I prefer to build  or modify. 2 I have Alder and maple for heating my house and have access to apple wood from a friends orchard. Also cherry and peach.

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