Author Topic: Building my first smoker  (Read 11395 times)

Offline luv to smoke

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Building my first smoker
« on: February 03, 2009, 05:04:49 am »
I have a 32"x32"x6' commercial refrigerator with 3" insulated walls. I see many of you have added circulating fans to your smokers. I am wondering the reason for this and any ideas on what watt heating elements I should use would be helpful.

Thanks in advance.

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2009, 07:15:34 am »
LTS

If you look through the posts below this one you will see most of the guys have have used 220V oven elements around 2500 to 3000 watts each. By the dimensions your unit is a good size but should be able to get by with one element. I used a different type of setup. I stayed at 110 V but wired 2 separate heating elements with 2 separate power sources.

As far as a circulation fan goes... it's kinda a personal preference. I know the reason I have one is to try and balance the cabinet temps a little better. There are a number of guys who didn't do the circulation fan as well.

Because you are starting with a commercial fridge I would check into the insulation that is is it just to make sure it will not only take the heat, but also not give of any toxins while being heated just to be safe. I started with an old proofer which is designed for heat but when I inspected the insulation it had deteriorated so much that I ended up pulling all the panels off of it and re-insulating it with Roxul Mineral Wool insulation. It's rated to 2100 degrees.

Mike

PS
Welcome to the forum Luv to Smoke!  ;)
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 08:56:23 am by Mr Walleye »

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Offline luv to smoke

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2009, 10:19:09 am »
Mr. Walleye

Thanks for the info. The cabnit is sealed pretty good but the back is completely removable so I will take it off so I can inspect the insulation.

I did check out your project on here it looks great. Just a question regarding your circulating fan. I see that you are pulling air off the bottom portion off the smoker and blowing it back into the bottom. Would getting the air from the top and blowing it back into the bottom work or do you feel it would disrupt the draft to much.

While I am talking about the draft, should I install draft vents into the bottom of the smoker or will there be enough air through the smoke generator?

Also I really like the idea of using the PID controller, are you happy with it after using it?

Thanks, Ryan

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2009, 11:17:34 am »
LTS

The blower I used is only 130 CFM so it doesn't produce a lot of draft so to speak. My initial thought was to draw the air off the top of the cabinet and circulate it back in at the bottom but I decided to go this route first because of simplicity. Since the photos in my post I have added a deflector to the intake. It kinda resembles a dryer vent hood and provides some separation between the intake and exhaust of the blower. It now draws air from the very bottom of the cabinet and the heat coming out of the exhaust portion has natural rising flow. Hopefully that made sense.

I didn't install any other vents besides the hole for the smoke generator. Mine works fine this way. Certainly you could always add another vent if required after. I went with a 4 " vent in the top and designed it similar to the Bradley top vent.

I would definitely use a PID. Once you get them dialed in they control things very well.

Mike

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Offline Patience

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2009, 08:10:12 pm »
Ryan, you'll have a blast building your smoker.  The guys here like Walleye are a HUGE help if you're not all too sure about things.   Like the 'Eye, I also used the mineral wool insulation, but I started with a bare metal box.  Let us know what you find in yours, it might work.  I think the 1 element will be enough, I simply went to ebay and found the cheapest element I could with the terminals close enough to keep them inside an outlet box.  I needed two because of the width and double doors on my box.  I did put a fan in, but more for experiement sake.  To do again, I'd skip the extra work.  My box is too big for one fan, so one side actually gets done faster if I keep the fan on.  I have improvised and will do jerky on that side and summer sausage on the other, as the fan increases drying efficiency quite a bit.  With that in mind, it makes it sound like I planned that from the beginning.   ::)  Adding a fan to a smoker with plenty of heat actually turns it into the convection oven  the fan was originally made to do....nice, but not for smoking.  Sod. nitrite is added in order to prolooooong the cooking of the meat, not speed it up.  I thought I would need one to move the smoke around more in such a large cooking box, but it works better without.  I actually now program the PID to turn the fan on for 1 minute every 10 minute interval during the final holding temp just to move the air around.  I worked too hard wiring everything up not to use it.  A guy can lose sleep over something like that!

In your case, I think with a well insulated box, and a good sized element (maybe 2500W) you will not need a fan.  Get a big enough vent in the top (atleast 4" w/flap damper per Walleyes instruct) or out the side near the top but opposite the smoke generator and you will have no temp swings that a fan would do any better with.  The smoke generator and its hole are plenty of inlet to make a nice draft from bottom to top, and with a PID controlling the heat, temp swings will be minor to none.

Good luck!
A well used minimum suffices for everything -- Phileas Fogg

Offline luv to smoke

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 12:46:48 pm »
Mike and Patience,

I really appreciate all the advice. I think that I am just about to start purchasing all my goodies. I just have a couple more questions, Would you recommend 120v or 240v? And do you have any ideas on where to get wire racks? I am a sheetmetal worker by trade and I know I can make some if I need to but would prefer to purchase store bought ones if I can.

Thanks, Ryan

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2009, 12:57:51 pm »
Ryan

Due to the size of the element (approx. 2500 watts) it would be easier to go 240v. I'm running 2200 watts at 120v but I had to wire it with two separate plugs. Also, if you go 240v and decide you want more heat at a later date you would probably just need to seek out a larger element.

I'm not sure what size racks you need but you could try to modify some oven racks. About what size do you need the racks to be?

Mike

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Offline Patience

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2009, 04:55:19 am »
Hey Ryan, I agree with the 220v, especially if you are able to handle the wiring yourself.  I thought about using the welder plug in the garage, but I didn't want an overly long chord from the smoker from the outside to the inside.  I used a 6 foot dryer chord you get at Home Depot (or anywhere for that matter) and put the plug outside with a weather proof box.  Make sure you run 4 wire though, you'll need the neutral wire for the 110v smoke gen/gizmos you put on it.  I suppose you can opt for the 220v smoke gen they offer, however my electrical learns prevent me from saying the 220v they use across the ocean is the same 220v they offer here. 

Correct me if I'm wrong those listening, but Bradley offers the 220v for the European electric grid correct?  Aren't they a different Hz than ours?  Will this matter?  Anyhow, the PID alone will need a neutral so just get the 4 wire.

Over wire and under fuse and you will not have a problem. 
A well used minimum suffices for everything -- Phileas Fogg

Offline luv to smoke

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2009, 06:48:20 am »
Thanks guys, I am thinking that I will go with the 220v. I am not sure but I thought that Bradley offered their smoke generator in 220v, I will have to see when I order it. Thanks again, I will update with progress reports and I am sure questions as I move along.

Later, Ryan

Offline Bradley (Head Office)

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2009, 03:13:38 pm »
Correct me if I'm wrong those listening, but Bradley offers the 220v for the European electric grid correct?  Aren't they a different Hz than ours?  Will this matter?  Anyhow, the PID alone will need a neutral so just get the 4 wire.
This is correct

The generator is not available in 240V in North America. In the UK they use 240V @ 50HZ

Brian

Offline Patience

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Re: Building my first smoker
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2009, 07:56:32 pm »
Thank you Brian for the 220v clarification.  Ryan, I had a ton of questions regarding 220v circuits and got a ton and a half of responses here.  Make sure you use the word electric or 220v or wiring in the title so you get some interested helpers.  I also checked out a forum on powder coat DIY ovens and since they all use 220v circuits they were helpfull also.  Have fun!

A well used minimum suffices for everything -- Phileas Fogg

Offline RowJuigoopigH

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Building my first smoker
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2009, 12:14:31 am »
Building your first thirdgen is your first mistake lol  I dont think I would ever build one again lol.