Questions on adding a 2nd heating element

Started by T.hynes, September 09, 2017, 12:56:47 PM

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I'm looking at getting a Bradley smoker but I've tried finding instructions on how to do it. The links I've seen put me to a site that's up for sale. Does anyone have pictures or a link that shows how to do it?


Sorry no photos

Additional Heating Element Modification
From Mr. Walleye (Mike)

DISCLAIMER This article is for my own personal interest only. It is a step by step of how I modified my Bradley. Should you decide to make this modification you acknowledge all risks are solely yours. Again, if you decide to make this modification you do so at your own risk. My thoughts on the "risk" of higher temps are... the only part of the tower that will be exposed to higher heat will be the rear of the cabinet directly behind the elements. In addition the only time it will be exposed to higher heat is when you are trying to bring the cabinet back up to temp after loading. Once the set temp has been achieved the cabinet really isn't exposed to any higher heat than with a single element.

Depending on the ratings of the factory insulation a possible solution would be to re-insulation the rear of the cabinet with the same insulation (Roxul Mineral Wool) that I used in the smoker I built. The Mineral Wool is rated at approximately 2100 degrees so using it in a smoker is not a problem. I know another member on the Bradley Forum has been operating with the 900 watt finned strip heater mod for over a year now with no problems as well.

This mod also assumes you will be controlling you Bradley with a PID, BBQ Guru, or similar controller. If uncontrolled, the modified Bradley will be capable of attaining temperatures higher than it was designed for.

Ok... Let's get down to it.

Additional heating element
10 Ft. 14 Gauge High Temperature Wire (Available at most Appliance repair Shops - 10 feet will usually be enough depending on if it's an OBS or DBS)
High Temperature Wire Connectors (Available at most Appliance repair shops)
2 female spade connectors
New reflector shield (optional)
#2 Philips Screwdriver
9/16" drill bit (you can use a 1/2" bit and a rat tail file)
Rat tail file (to file notch)
Wire stripper or utility knife (to cut and strip wires ends)
Small adjustable wrench or small pliers; to tighten nuts at the end of the heating element
Electric grinder, or other electric grinding tool (optional) {to grind notch; see instructions}

Click on pictures to enlarge.
I've always wanted to add something to provide additional heat. With the PID controlling things it's more for getting up to temp and recovering temp faster, especially when doing large loads. I was ordering a number of things from Bryan at Yard & Pool so I also ordered an additional heater element and reflector.

In this photo you can see how I ground a notch in the ceramic cap for the existing heater element. For the notch in the ceramic element cap I used a bench grinder (on an angle using the corner of the stone), I'm sure a rat tail file would work as well, just be careful not to break the cap.

My plan is to run high temp wire directly from the element to the plug on the back of the DBS. The wire will be run parallel to the original wiring and come out the notch I created in the cap for the original heater, then connected to the 2nd heater. You can also see where I drilled a hole through the reflector to mount the 2nd heating element. The hole is approximately 9/16", just large enough for the insulator on the end of the heating element to fit into, it sits nicely up against lip of the insulator. The center of the hole is 15/16" from the back (where the reflector mounts) and 5/8" down from the top. I used a small drill bit to drill a pilot hole, then I used a 1/2" bit to drill the hole and finally I used a Dremel tool to grind it to the correct size. Instead of a Dremel tool you could also do this with a rat tail file. You may need to use the rat tail file to file the edges of the hole in the reflector.

Here's another picture of the reflector with the 2nd heating element mounted into the reflector.

I picked up some high temp wire and high temp connectors at an appliance repair shop. I used 14 gauge wire and ran it from the new 2nd heater right back to the plug in the back of the DBS. It was a little more work to remove the back off my DBS because I have a circulation fan installed as well.

In this photo you can see where I cut off the female spade connectors on the plug and installed new female spade connectors with both the new wire and original wire connected to them.


In this photo you can see I have the new wiring with the ring connectors installed along side the original wires.

In this photo you can see I have the original heater, reflector and 2nd heater all mounted and wired.

This is just a little bit of a close up to see how I ran the wires. It is high temp wire but I wanted to make sure it wasn't touching anything metal. The reflector should shield the wires as well and protect them from the direct heat of the element.

Here it is all complete.

One last photo of it running (no flash). You will notice the new element is brighter. I'm not sure if it because it is new as opposed to the old one having so much discoloration from the gazillion smokes I've done or what. I think if I was doing it again I would replace the old one with a new one as well, especially with a new element only being $12 but the old one does seem to work properly though.

I played around with it for a while taking photos but I had the door open and the PID read 80 degrees. I closed the door and in 11 minutes it was at 210 degrees. I clearly have to rerun the auto-tune on the PID as this has changed the heating and recovery times dramatically.

The nice thing about this mod is done with all original parts which are easily accessible and the total cost is only about $20.

Notes for DBS (Digital Bradley Smoker):

As you know I have a DBS. The heating element in the DBS is wired directly to the plug in the back of the tower, except there is a high temp fusable link in it. You will want to be careful letting the temp run too high because the original element is wired to a "temperature link" (kind of like a fusable link). You will see it when you have the back off. It's located directly on top of the temperature sensor that is mounted about 2/3 of the way up on the back of the cabinet. It is a "one time use" type of link.

So if the temp is exceeded and the link blows you will loose the original heater. I intentionally kept this high temperature cut off link wired into the original element for safety reasons. The reason is, it would provide a certain level of safety if the unit overheated by shutting down one of the elements and would certainly limit the remaining element's ability to continue to over heat the tower.

Notes for OBS (Original Bradley Smoker):

The OBS, to my knowledge, is wired to the slider control. In my mind this mod will require taking the temp slider out of the circuit or at least that's how I would do it because there is no way to tell if the slider control would take the added draw of the 2nd heater. I would just rewire both heating elements direct from the plug on the back of the tower and eliminate the temp slider from the circuit altogether. The original heater on the OBS is wired to a self resetting high temp cut-off switch that is mounted in the back of the tower and for safety reasons I would keep this wired into the circuit on one of the elements for the same reason stated under the DBS notes.

Additional Safety Precaution

Another recommended safety precaution is to add an OBS high temp sensor to each of the heating element circuits. Of course if you are doing the mod to an OBS to start with you would only need to add one more OBS high temp sensor. If you are doing the mod to a DBS you would need to install two OBS high temp sensors and also remove the original DBS high temp fusible link. In the OBS the original sensor is located approximately 10.5 inches down from the top (while looking into the interior) and approximately 4.25 inches from the left side. To mount a 2nd one simply drill the appropriate size hole and mount it 10.5 inches down from the top and 4.25 inches from the right side. The wiring is very straight forward. You simply run the wire from one end of the heat element to the sensor and then from the sensor to the rear plug on the back of the tower.

This additional safety precaution will cause the elements to shut down if you have a temperature control failure of some sort such as an SSR failure in the closed position. It could mean the difference of having a fire or not. The OBS high temp sensors are available from Bryan at Yard and Pool and are very inexpensive. At the time of writing this they were priced at approximately $6 each.


Ok... here are my initial tests results.

First some back ground and parameters for the test...

My Bradley is a 4 rack digital unit. It is controlled by a PID and I have a circulation fan installed. I also have the unit installed in my heated garage and vented so the ambient temp is 65 degrees ( with no wind ). I have my TC for the PID mounted to the back of the cabinet between the 2nd and 3rd rack (counting from the bottom). The TC bracket holds the TC off the back wall by about 3/4". I also have my smoke generator in a permanent offset installation.

Ok... I turned the unit on and preheated to 200 degrees, vent wide open, while I got 6 racks of ribs ready. I removed the membrane, cut each rack in half and applied my rub. This fills 4 Bradley racks with 3 half racks of ribs on each Bradley rack.

I took my time putting them into the smoker and setting up the Maverick temp probes for the test so by the time I got the door shut I was down to 131 degrees on the PID. I put the Maverick temp probe directly below the very bottom rack because I wanted to track the temps the lowest rack was being exposed to during this test. I left the vent wide open. Within 5 minutes the temps were climbing.

15 minute mark... PID at 150, Bradley at 170, Maverick at 210.

30 minute mark... PID at 174, Bradley at 194, Maverick at 237.

45 minute mark... PID at 190, Bradley at 207, Maverick at 244.

1 hour mark........ PID at 200, Bradley at 210, Maverick at 250.

As the temps stabilized in the cabinet and the ribs started to gain some temp the deference between the Maverick under the lowest rack and the PID became a lot closer, typically around 10 degree difference.

Certainly doing a higher preheat would have also helped. I typically do preheat to about 260 but during the test I just wanted to see how it would recover without a higher preheat.

I tried twice to run the auto tune on the PID and I now have it close (2 degree temp swings each side of set point) but I will continue to try to get it dialled in a little closer.

I haven't decided yet but I may move my TC between the lowest rack and the second rack. This would further close the gap between the Maverick and the PID. I could even put it just below the lowest rack but I would like to have a happy medium of keeping the temp of the upper racks close to the target temp as well with a full load.

Overall the test went very well. To say the least the temp recovery is "extremely" improved. My pre-heat times are minutes... usually 10 to 15 minutes.
Bradley 4 rack Digital, 900 watt, Auber PID
Bradley cold smoke adapter
Char-Griller Smoking Pro BBQ Smoker with rotisserie
Brinkman Bullet Smoker
Weber 24"
Custom Hard Cure Cabinet for Salami
One Auber Master Temp monitor and two remotes with probes, up to ten remotes can be used.


Quote from: T.hynes on September 09, 2017, 12:56:47 PM
I'm looking at getting a Bradley smoker but I've tried finding instructions on how to do it. The links I've seen put me to a site that's up for sale. Does anyone have pictures or a link that shows how to do it?
PM me your email and I will send you a PDF file that has the pictures in it.
"It ain't worth missing someone from your past- there is a reason they didn't make it to your future."

"Life is tough, it is even tougher when you are stupid"

Don't curse the storm, learn to dance in the rain.


By chance is there anyway I could get those pictures? Thanks!!

Habanero Smoker

If you have a PC you can download a copy of the former recipe site that had those instructions. There are two filed the first file is GSReader. You need to install that first. That is the program which is needed to read the file that contains the recipes. Next you will need to download a second file Recipe_v5. This is the file that has recipes and the instructions for the modification. Install that file in the default directory. If you don't install in the default directory the click to enlarge photos will not work. The actual name of the file once installed will be "Recipes From The Bradley Smoker Forum v1.gso"



If anyone has any problems with installation, or finding the program and/or files after it is installed, post a message here.



Quote from: Rtasma on March 22, 2018, 09:57:09 PM
By chance is there anyway I could get those pictures? Thanks!!

Here's a link to a recent thread on how to add one with a switch.  It includes the pics.

Yet an other second element question