New build need some advice.

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by miller408, Oct 29, 2015.

  1. Hi ladies and gentlemen I am new to smoking and decided for my first smoker I would like to build a fridge smoker. Seen some of the builds here and realized that is the kinda smoker I need.

    So first things first I got 3 choices for refrigeratos, which of the 3 would be a good model to work with

    That is choice A that is a 1950's ge combination refrigerator/freezer

    That is optional B which is a Frigidaire refrigerator made only by General motors

    Option C not sure of the brand or year

    Option A is 150 and B and C are 100. Cost is not really a issue I am just trying to see of any 1 has used any of these and has had any issues or is one better than the next. Thanks for any help you guys can give.
  2. Hello.  Welcome.  I see this is your first post.  Please take some time and swing over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so that we may give you a proper "Hello".  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have, and pictures help a bunch.  As for your question:    This is a no brainer.  The '50's fridge.  Metal and enamelled interior.  The others have plastic interior.  Keep Smokin!

  3. I actually posted in the roll call as well I think it was waiting approval. You don't think that option b is not metal inside? Seems pretty old to me as well? I like the option A but seems like it might be a bit more difficult being a dual style fridge no?
  4. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    smoke rises so the small (freezer) section on top of Option A is pretty much wasted space--counter to your purpose.  Option B allows you to put a smoke box on the very bottom and access it without opening the door on the large meat area.  So it would be my choice.  

    But as others have noted, MAKE SURE, all the inner pieces are metal so they can take the heat.  
  5. So I ended up going with my option B it's a GM fridge really solid minor surface rust on the legs and that's it. Even came with the orinal metal ice trays and the glass shelf inside. The bottom vegetable drawer is all metal as well so think I will repurpose that as the drip pan where the motor used to be.

    I will start to take the plastic off tomorrow and check out the insulation.
    I was planning on going with finned strip heater like this one unless any one has any other better suggestions.

    As far as smoke goes I am going to get the smoke daddy magnum pig and probably the A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER as well. Since that one is not too expensive might as well try it out too. Unless there is something else to consider?

    I wanna keep this electric so I am also going with the aubrins pid dual probes 1800. Not sure if this will work with my finned heater since that is 1900 watts. Any thoughts on that?

    As far as smoke vents I have seen all kinds and type. The confusing part to me is I have seen one stack in the middle or one T stack on the side, one T stack on each side, a ball valve on the back. Which seems like the best type for these builds?

    I am hoping to have this up and running by Xmas at the latest, but if I can get it running by thanksgiving then the family will be having some smoked turkey maybe.

    Thanks in advance guys and gals.
  6. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    1900W / 120V = 16A  Do you have a dedicated 20amp circuit to plug this into?  A normal 15A breaker will trip with that heater.  

    Most controllers have internal relays limited to 5-15A as does the Aubens.  For more, you'll need to use an external relay.  Here's some suggestions:  

    Or get a lower wattage heater like    


    Unless you're planning on some internal labyrinth patern of smoke, I'd keep in symmetric and put it in the center of the top.  For electric smokers, you're not passing a lot of air/smoke so it needn't be larger than an inch or 1.5" in diameter.    
  7. I don't have a dedicated breaker yet or out let but I work with a bunch of electricians so getting a breaker and out added is no problem.

    If I go with one of those lower wattage heating elements will I be able to reach the higher temperatures if needed? Won't they take longer to heat the fridge? What about one of these 1500 watts?

    Are these type more efficent than that finned heating element?
  8. rexterrick26

    rexterrick26 Newbie


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  9. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    that finned strip heater will be fine as long as it is a 15a.  You will have ti use a PID controller than regulates the total power output otherwise you will burn out the finned strip heater very fast.

    The best controller to use to alow that kind of functionality is the Auberins dual controller. It can be set so that the total power output is appropriate for what is needed to not burn out the element.
  10. At 1900 watts and 120v that comes in at about 15.8 volts. I was going to go with the dual auberins. I liked how you set it up in the weather proof box on the side so that is a for sure thing. What kinda temps can you get up to with the finned heaters? Wanna try to crisp up some skin one some chicken and Turkey. Or would it be better to just toss them in a oven after?

    Or would the 1550 watt version be better to give me a little bit safer amperage levels? That would be around 12.5 amps just don't know how much heat that would give me or how fast it will heat up. Guess it's worth a shot.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  11. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    i used a 1550w finned strip heater. It is more than enough. here us where I ordered mine from, I use the CSF00016 1550w element. You have to adjust the output so that the watts per sq" are no higher than the allowable tolerance for a still air cabinet . in my case it is 20watt/in2,

    My element is 31watt/in2 and it needs to be 20 max so......  based on what the tech at Omega helped me with, 20/31=64% . I dropped my power output to only 64% of max power and its running beautifully. I didn't take this into account the 1st time round and burned the 1st element out right away. The only way you can run a finned strip heater at full power is when they have forced air blowing across them. 

    My smokers all run on a 15a breaker in my garage and I have no issues.

    You can get the smoker up to the controllers max temp of around 350f no problem, and if you want higher then you can add a bypass switch, but you'll burn it out because it will be running at full power eventually if you do that.

    that dual controller from Auberins is the best there is, I absolutely love them, not really worth removing from the case, its a lot of pissing around, though it does look better and you can weatherproof it.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  12. How do you adjust them? Is it done through the auberins? Is there a dial on it? Or do you have to order it specfic to your needs?
  13. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    its all part of the programming that can be done by you. ITs all in the instruction manual, its actually very easy. The controller has far more settings and option than they advertise.

    pg 15

    - Out, Output power reduction. It is expressed as a percentage value. This function will allow you to control the maximum output power delivered by the heater. For example, if you set Out=50 and your heater is 1000 watts, the output will use 50% of the 1000 watts as the full output. It thinks the 1000W heater as a 500W heater. When the PID algorithm determines 50% output value, the actual power output will be 250 watts. This functioncan be used in two situations.

    1) When you have a very powerful heater and using a very small pot of water to cook at very low temperature, for example, a 1400 watts heater with a one litter (1 qt) pot of water at 130 °F. The heater is too powerful for the small water volume. The moment it is on, it releases too much energy to cause the temperature to overshoot. Although it is still possible to stabilize the temperature with proper PID parameters, it is much easier to control if you limit the maximum output to 25%. Ideally, an optimized temperature control system should consume about 25 % of the heater power at set temperature (steady state), for example, if you found out that only 50 watts of energy is needed to maintain the temperature at 60 °C (141°F),ideally you should use only 200 watts heater for the job. Too much power will make the system over react too quickly. Too little power will make the system too slow in response. By using the Out function, you can make the 1400 watts heater to act as a 200watt heater for stable temperature control.

    2) When the cooker consumes more power than controller can handle, for example, if you have a 12A, 120V AC heater and your cooker contains more than 38 liter (10 gallon) of water. It might take more than 90 minutes of full power heating for controller to heat up the pot. Long time of full power operation might cause the controller to over heat. You can set the output to 80%. It will prevent the controller from over heat by staying a full power too long. For details, please see
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  14. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower


    Yes, the smokin-it element is intended for smokers.  It is designed to get red hot.  Just through radiation, it would heat your smoker,even if it was under vacuum with no air at all. 

    The finned heaters you're showing are meant for use with lots of cool air movement over the fins.  Note they have max temp ratings that are quite low.  Their radiant heat transfer is very low.  

    But if you have free electrician talent available to you, why not run a 30 or 40A 240V circuit to your smoker?  Then you can choose from all sorts of 240V oven and stovetop filament/element designs with lots of power so you can heat things up fast and that give you an option to waste a lot of heat via lots of fresh air movement should you desire.  As long as you use a properly sized sold-state relay on the output just about any controller will be fine for you.  
  15. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    Have you considered using a pellet hopper assembly for the cooking heat. Smoke Daddy sells a mod kit just for this purpose. Then you get heat and smoke from one unit. Not to mention the PID controls the temp within 5 degrees. And the pellet burner operates very efficient lye in terms of cost.

    They also offer a heavier duty heat deflector that allows you to put chunk wood on top for added smoke when desired.
  16. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    it all depends on the fineed strip heater rating. The ones I have been using in my builds are rated up to 1200f and in ovens with still air or forced air, they work great if the right ones are put in and controllers that allows fine tuning are used to control them.
  17. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    and the smoki it elements will work good as well,. in fact I would say better than the Brinkman elelment just for the fact that you can mount them in straight back rather than have to mount them with the electrical cord going straight down. You can place the smoking it element at any height so its easier to clean nder and around.

    The finned strips are an even smaller footprint , easier to mount in center on and at a height that allows easy cleaning under and all around them, easy to unscrew from the mounts and replace or remove for deep cleaning.

    they all have pros and cons.

    I have a brinkman element in my 1st build, and fineed in my 2nd and its being used daily in a busy gastro pub and its working out fantastic. My next few builds are already planned for finned strips.
  18. Thanks for the info guys.

    Muralboy ya I considered one of those pellet smokers but seems like it takes up more real estate Inside than I would like. Plus they don't seem like they would be too good for cold smoking I don't think,I could be wrong.

    I was originally was going to go with that smokin it element, but then I gotta build another little box for it. Then I will have a rack with a drip pan above that once again taking more real estate.

    That's why I like the idea with the finned heaters saves on space. I can fit a drip pan under the unit, And have that same hole for air flow as well. At least that's my thought process for now.
    That finned heater is rated for 1200f max as well for they one I linked from Grainger.

    I also started tearing the fridge apart last night and some today. Not much rust in this thing. The insulation on the bottom of the box was a pretty wet so it loosened up that black tar down there at least.

    Assuming I have to get that tar off the porcelain.

    Back doesn't look bad. I should Still prime and paint this after I clean it correct?

    This is the outside of the inner shell, this I do not paint or prime correct? Is there anything I can put on this to protect from rust?

    bottom looking all funky from tar, little rust, and wet insulation.

    Kinda cleaned up some still got to get a good scrub on that.

  19. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    Makes sense regarding the real estate needed for a pellet feeder. Not sure what you mean about the separate box though. The builds I've seen just have a hole for the fire pot/auger assembly with the heat deflecter directly on top of that. Then the drip pan which you would have with either build.

    For cold smoke, you wouldn't want to use either element internally. You would either use an outside smoke source like a Smoke Daddy or mailbox mod with an AMPS.

    Lots of options out there though. Can't wait to see it progress.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
  20. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    smoke daddy works fantastic for cold smoking, Keeps the temp lower than an AMPS tray,

    make sure to clean the tub inside and out, don't need to paint or prime, can use some rust remover on spots then hit with some hi temp bbq paint if you want, but not needed.

    clean the inside of the fridge shell out, but you really don't have to worry too much about the sticky tar stuff in it. The insulation will keep it safe. I had a controller failure anshut off and thd my element didn't shut off and my internal temp was at 500f when I discovered it, the outside was warm to the touch at best with the Roxul insulation in it.

    just make sure the liner is sealed as much as possible.. I put my shelving brackets over the old holes and sealed the tub from the outside, including the screws, bolts or rivets used to attach the brackets.

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