Author Topic: Smoker won't get hot enough  (Read 34876 times)

Offline Gill6034

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Smoker won't get hot enough
« on: January 21, 2013, 11:45:05 am »
I have the new original smoker. It won't get hot enough. I used it last week, in 40F weather, and it only got up to 115F. I used it yesterday, thinking it would reach temp in the warmer weather, and it still only got as high as 150F. I set the temp to high and ran it for 7 hours while smoking beef ribs. Through the entire 7 hours, it never went above 150F.

It's a brand new smoker. It's still under warranty. Any idea what the problem is? Where can I take it to get it fixed?

Thanks
Gillian

Offline GusRobin

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2013, 12:08:16 pm »
1) check to make sure all plugs are properly seated. Best to unplug then replug.
2) Turn it on, the element should get red hot. If not you probably have a bad element (assuming you did number 1 above)
3) where are you taking the temp from? Are you sure that meat is not blocking the probe.
If the above doesn't work, Call Bradley customer service.
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Offline KyNola

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2013, 12:59:17 pm »
If you only got to 115F, it sounds like the heat was only coming from the smoke generator burner and the main element was not functioning.  Like Gus said, make certain all of the plugs are firmly seated.  Many times the plugs simply are plugged in hard enough.  You could also open your smoke generator and check the connections in there.  It won't void your warranty.  During shipping some of the connections may have jarred loose.

Let us know if your problem gets fixed.

beefmann

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2013, 01:15:35 pm »
if the above does not  work open up  the bottom of the smoke generator by  removing only  the outer 8 screws separate the two halves .. check for any loose connections ... re assemble and try  again to see if main heater in cabinet gets red hot

Offline Ka Honu

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2013, 01:50:01 pm »
... and don't forget to check that your thermometer is accurate.  Put an oven thermometer you trust inside the cabinet and compare readings.

buttburner

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2013, 02:05:24 pm »
if it got to 150f my bet is the heat is not just coming from the smoke generator.

Another thing to try  I did not see mentioned is to make sure you have it plugged into a dedicated wall socket, with noting else on it, and dont use an extension cord, but if you have to, make sure its heavy gauge and as short as possible

Offline BuffaloBoy

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2015, 07:35:17 am »
I got my Original Bradley Smoker last year.  It's never been quick to heat up, but mostly I cold smoke anyway.  The largest hot smoke I tried was 4 lb. butt for pulled pork and it seemed to work OK, but not super-hot.  I just put in 4 full trays of side ribs.  I pre-heated to 300F and had the ribs at room temperature for a 3 hr. smoke and 6-7 hr. total cook planned for 250F.  After I put them in the temp. dropped to 150F and sat there for a couple of hours.  After 3 hrs. it finally hit 190F!  Yes .... all the plugs were tight; there was no undersized extension cord; the power light was on; the smoker element was working/smoking; and, the heating element was red!  I had to finally move them to my kitchen oven to finish them.  I'm experienced with appliances and mechanics and I'd say the OBS heating element is simply too small to handle a full load of meat (i.e. anything over 3-4 lb.).   Based on the fact this forum topic has been viewed over 5000 times I'm guessing it's a valid design problem with this unit.  I wouldn't get another.  :(
« Last Edit: August 31, 2015, 07:42:56 am by BuffaloBoy »

Offline Grouperman941

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2015, 08:07:42 am »
I got my Original Bradley Smoker last year.  It's never been quick to heat up, but mostly I cold smoke anyway.  The largest hot smoke I tried was 4 lb. butt for pulled pork and it seemed to work OK, but not super-hot.  I just put in 4 full trays of side ribs.  I pre-heated to 300F and had the ribs at room temperature for a 3 hr. smoke and 6-7 hr. total cook planned for 250F.  After I put them in the temp. dropped to 150F and sat there for a couple of hours.  After 3 hrs. it finally hit 190F!  Yes .... all the plugs were tight; there was no undersized extension cord; the power light was on; the smoker element was working/smoking; and, the heating element was red!  I had to finally move them to my kitchen oven to finish them.  I'm experienced with appliances and mechanics and I'd say the OBS heating element is simply too small to handle a full load of meat (i.e. anything over 3-4 lb.).   Based on the fact this forum topic has been viewed over 5000 times I'm guessing it's a valid design problem with this unit.  I wouldn't get another.  :(

While I can't dispute the facts in your post, I don't agree with your conclusions. Sure, it could have been made to get hotter, and sure, the temperature control could have been better, but these things add cost and could make the unit less affordable.

Mostly, the cooks I have done show that the Bradley does exactly what it was designed to do -- smoke/cook low and slow. I have pushed over a thousand pounds of meat through mine, generally at 10-20 pounds at a time.
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Offline BuffaloBoy

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2015, 04:39:00 pm »
Quote
Mostly, the cooks I have done show that the Bradley does exactly what it was designed to do -- smoke/cook low and slow. I have pushed over a thousand pounds of meat through mine, generally at 10-20 pounds at a time.

Thanks for your post.   Further to my information, the outside air temp. for my failed cook was 75F and I had it loaded with about 15 lb. that went in at room temp.  Can you tell me what temperature you can regularly hit with 15 lb. or so of meat in your OBS; how long it takes to get to it; and, at at what outside air temp.?  I ask because many (if not most) meat smokers want to get their cook fairly quickly to between 225-275F for ribs and I was nowhere near that mark.  I'd like to know because if you do get your cooking temps. that high and/or get there quicker than me it could mean my OBS must be faulty.  Thanks much.  Cheers.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2015, 05:00:53 pm by BuffaloBoy »

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2015, 02:02:10 am »
What are you using to monitor the cabinet temperature. The door thermometer is fairly accurate with the cabinet empty, but when you put a load of food in, depending on where the food is located in relation to the door thermometer, the evaporating moisture from the food can bring the door thermometer as much as 40°F lower than the actual cabinet temperature. It is better to use a digital probe thermometer, and place it on the lowest rack at least a few inches from any meat on that rack. Also rotating the racks top/bottom and front/back will ensure an even cook.





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Offline Grouperman941

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2015, 08:00:25 am »
Quote
Mostly, the cooks I have done show that the Bradley does exactly what it was designed to do -- smoke/cook low and slow. I have pushed over a thousand pounds of meat through mine, generally at 10-20 pounds at a time.

Thanks for your post.   Further to my information, the outside air temp. for my failed cook was 75F and I had it loaded with about 15 lb. that went in at room temp.  Can you tell me what temperature you can regularly hit with 15 lb. or so of meat in your OBS; how long it takes to get to it; and, at at what outside air temp.?  I ask because many (if not most) meat smokers want to get their cook fairly quickly to between 225-275F for ribs and I was nowhere near that mark.  I'd like to know because if you do get your cooking temps. that high and/or get there quicker than me it could mean my OBS must be faulty.  Thanks much.  Cheers.

If there is a flaw with the OBS, it is the location of the door thermometer. If you are using it for your temps, refer to Habs' post.

Placement of a digital probe makes a huge difference, too. It should go right below the load. I made the mistake once of just dropping my temp probe through the top, hovering over a couple of racks of almonds. The temp at the top was far below the temp at the bottom, so my PID kept the element on way too long and I burned the almonds (don't worry -- I still ate them. ;-) ). So even something that was never cold can really suck up your cabinet heat. That's the idea, though -- for the heat to get into the food.

For your specific question, I don't remember before PID what my temp graph looked like for ribs. I charted it a couple of times, and I think I decided that as long as I kept it on HIGH with the door closed for that first three hours it didn't matter. Then I'd boat for two hours -- during this time, it stays pretty hot -- and then remove boats and finish, again not a problem since the bones are really hot by now. With my PID, I set for 250. With 2 racks of ribs on my last cook, it was there by the third hour. The Bradley does not like to be much higher than that, anyway, and there is a thermal cutoff in there (around 300F I think).

I do keep a foil-wrapped brick beside the water bowl to help hold heat.

If the element glows red, it probably works. If you still don't think it is getting hot enough, search for one of the troubleshooting threads detailing how to check connections and test voltage. Good starting advice in this thread already.
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Offline BuffaloBoy

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2015, 09:46:07 am »
What are you using to monitor the cabinet temperature. The door thermometer is fairly accurate with the cabinet empty, but when you put a load of food in, depending on where the food is located in relation to the door thermometer, the evaporating moisture from the food can bring the door thermometer as much as 40°F lower than the actual cabinet temperature. It is better to use a digital probe thermometer, and place it on the lowest rack at least a few inches from any meat on that rack. Also rotating the racks top/bottom and front/back will ensure an even cook.

Thanks for the replies.  :)  I always use a digital thermometer.  I had 4 racks loaded and checked the temp at the 2nd. from bottom and mid racks - not of the meat, but of the internal ambient air.  It tallied within 5-10 degrees of the door thermometer - which I thought indicated a good door thermometer design/build.   I also rotate the racks up and down during a cook, unless cold smoking with the cold smoke adapter.  The temp. simply never rose fast enough in my opinion to complete a good rib smoke/cook with a full load using methods recommended by most pro rib smokers. 

I bought the unit mainly for cold smoking - bacons, cheeses, and salmon.  It's excellent for that.  I found hot smoking of interest so I took to that as well.  I unfortunately find the unit heater isn't robust enough for a hot smoke meat load over about 5-7 lb.   

As I said in my original post the number of hits on this topic shows the issue is pretty widespread and of concern to a lot of forum users.  I can't understand why Bradley doesn't up their design criteria such that the heating element has a greater range to easily handle larger loads.  It would cost almost nothing to do that - simply changing the specs on the element and related control/safety components.  It would, however,  probably also take some design effort to overcome any tendency for a more powerful element to burn food in the lowest rack.  I'm not an engineer but I'm guessing the current shortcoming can be overcome in some way or other.

Again, thanks for all the tips but I still wouldn't get me another one.   :-\

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2015, 01:02:24 pm »
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to change your mind. I just want to point out, the placement of your digital, being between the racks is going to give you a lower temperature, due to the evaporation of moisture from the meat. If you measure the temperature below the bottom rack; the heat that the meat at the bottom rack is being exposed to, you will get a much higher temperature.

Many of us have increased the heat output by either adding a second element, or adding a 900 watt or higher element, using a PID or other temperature controller to keep the temperatures at a safe level. The additional heat is mainly for recovery, and most measure the temperature below the bottom rack..


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Offline BuffaloBoy

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2015, 10:10:00 am »
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to change your mind. I just want to point out, the placement of your digital, being between the racks is going to give you a lower temperature, due to the evaporation of moisture from the meat. If you measure the temperature below the bottom rack; the heat that the meat at the bottom rack is being exposed to, you will get a much higher temperature.

Many of us have increased the heat output by either adding a second element, or adding a 900 watt or higher element, using a PID or other temperature controller to keep the temperatures at a safe level. The additional heat is mainly for recovery, and most measure the temperature below the bottom rack..

Thanks for the reply Habanero.  Considering my digital and door thermometers tallied so closely I think my temp. measurements were pretty accurate as to what the internal OBS temperature really was - evaporation notwithstanding.  I had previously discovered the additional heat options before posting on this forum.  Your comments about installing them (coupled with a PID programmable controller) I think support my conclusion that the OBS has an under-heating design flaw.  When many users have to resort to 'work-arounds' like this, and many using bricks as "heat sinks" - regarding any device - it's a pretty sure sign the thing wasn't designed all that well in the first place.   What really irks me, though, is that given all the widespread documented feedback from people who find under-heating a problem the Bradley team doesn't seem to have done anything to correct it.  I can't even find anything from them wherein they acknowledge the problem (mind you I guess if they did it would be an admission of a design flaw!)  ???  Bradley's inaction is what clinched my decision not to get another.  That's it on this topic for me.  Again, thanks very much to all who tried to help me.   :D  Cheers.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2015, 11:07:52 pm by BuffaloBoy »

Offline tskeeter

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Re: Smoker won't get hot enough
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2015, 10:57:10 am »
What are you using to monitor the cabinet temperature. The door thermometer is fairly accurate with the cabinet empty, but when you put a load of food in, depending on where the food is located in relation to the door thermometer, the evaporating moisture from the food can bring the door thermometer as much as 40°F lower than the actual cabinet temperature. It is better to use a digital probe thermometer, and place it on the lowest rack at least a few inches from any meat on that rack. Also rotating the racks top/bottom and front/back will ensure an even cook.

Thanks for the replies.  :)  I always use a digital thermometer.  I had 4 racks loaded and checked the temp at the 2nd. from bottom and mid racks - not of the meat, but of the internal ambient air.  It tallied within 5-10 degrees of the door thermometer - which I thought indicated a good door thermometer design/build.   I also rotate the racks up and down during a cook, unless cold smoking with the cold smoke adapter.  The temp. simply never rose fast enough in my opinion to complete a good rib smoke/cook with a full load using methods recommended by most pro rib smokers. 

I bought the unit mainly for cold smoking - bacons, cheeses, and salmon.  It's excellent for that.  I found hot smoking of interest so I took to that as well.  I unfortunately find the unit heater isn't robust enough for a hot smoke meat load over about 5-7 lb.   

As I said in my original post the number of hits on this topic shows the issue is pretty widespread and of concern to a lot of forum users.  I can't understand why Bradley doesn't up their design criteria such that the heating element has a greater range to easily handle larger loads.  It would cost almost nothing to do that - simply changing the specs on the element and related control/safety components.  It would, however,  probably also take some design effort to overcome any tendency for a more powerful element to burn food in the lowest rack.  I'm not an engineer but I'm guessing the current shortcoming can be overcome in some way or other.

Again, thanks for all the tips but I still wouldn't get me another one.   :-\



One thing to consider when it comes to re-engineering consumer products are the regulatory hurdles that must be dealt with each time a design is changed.  Often, actually making the design changes is much easier, less time consuming, and less expensive than getting the certifications you need after the changes have been done.  It's bad enough when you do business in only one country, but when you sell a consumer product around the world, I'd imagine that the regulatory hurdles increase exponentially.  I'd think that would tend to discourage frequent and rapid trips through the product development/improve functionality cycle.