2 element modification and in line fuse - to fuse or not to fuse? and how ?

Started by Webbsolution, June 14, 2018, 01:03:34 PM

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a few years ago I added a second element to my digital smoker as well as an auberins PID WDS1200. I diod not replace the in line fuse though.

LIfe was good and I have lost count on how many racks of ribs, pulled pork shoulders and even a slow smoked Barron of beef I have done in this smoker.

My heat temps empty came up in about 16 minutes and I never had any issues at all.

Yesterday I was attempting 6 racks of ribs and I preheated my smoker as per usual - temp came up to 225 in 15 minutes or so.

Then I loaded my smoker with my racks and checked the temp 30 minutes later - it was still at 135 and slowly climbed to 150 but didnt go any higher.  The internal temp gauge said the unit was at 250...but it didnt feel like it was anywhere near that. I swapped probes on the auberins unit - same result (so not a dead sensor). Then  I reached in and got my fingers close to the elements - not hot...hrm dead fuse I suspected.

I unplugged the unit and pulled off the back and then used a insulation probe to try and test for continuity between the fuse joint and a section of the line further down, nothing - nothing , nothing - ok no continuity on the fuse - fuse is blown after two maybe 3 years of use... So now I need to know why ? 

I unloaded the ribs - foiled them and put them in my BBQ to keep cooking while I sorted this out ( I have 2 people coming for dinner to feed)

Then I inspected the elements for any sign of a short possibly from sauce or carbon deposits etc - While it didnt look super clean I could not see any indication of a short.   

So, with the back off I called around to see if I could find a new fuse - nothing was available.  I really wanted to finish these ribs in my smoker so I cut out the old fuse and soldered the wire together to test the unit and see if it came back without causing a short or a fire. The joint was well insulated and then I plugged the unit it while checking for signs of a short. I saw nothing bad - actually felt the + wire for heat - nothing out of the ordinary...then I did a test set to heat up to 250 again - it was perfect. I loaded my ribs back in and finished  them off for the next 3 hours.

Ok so it is my opinion that I had a standard blown fuse scenario as this fuse was installed by the factory for a single burner and my two burner mod just slowly but surely was enough to blow the fuse. IF I had a short I would have expected some kind of issue but the unit was perfect for the rest of the night.

Now - what do I replace that fuse with ? Surely not another  standard fuse ? 

Habanero Smoker

Hi Webbsolution;

Welcome to the forum.

How did you wire the second element? Did you wire the second element to the first with short wire to the second element, or did you wire the second element directly to the power source at the plug? If you did the later, that should not have placed any additional load on the inline fuse. We have a member who wired his second element to the first, by attaching them together with short wires. He has run his for many years without any problems.

This fuse burning out may just be an uncommon failure.



Thank you for the fast reply :)  -

I wired them both with a short wire from the first tot he second element - the wire in both cases is about 2 inches long.

So given that I have two elements now should I not be considering a larger fuse ?

Habanero Smoker

I'm one that would be reluctant to replace it with a larger fuse. Member TedEbear wired his second element the same as you did, and he hasn't posted having any electrical problems such as yours. I would try to troubleshoot more to find out what caused the fuse to fail.

There are no sensitive components on that circuit, so as long as the amperage of the fuse doesn't exceed what the 14ga wires can carry, it should be safe to replace with a larger fuse. A quick google found that a 14ga wire can carry 20 amps, but to be on the safe side most recommend not going over 15 amps.



Welcome to the forum

I know I am a little late chiming in but thought this might be important to consider.

A fuse's propose is to fail before a short or something going wrong hurts another component.  Anything could of caused the fuse to blow like a little bit of moisture in the plug in. As you said you got a couple years without an issue.  TedEbear has also ran his the same way without issue.  I did the same mod in the same manner and have over 300 hours on it without an issues.

Knowing this I would be reluctant to up the fuse at all. I would chaulk it up to some random surge in power and the fuse doing its job.   I would wire in a replacement inline fuse of the same size and carry on before I would up the fuse at all.

If you get many more years out of this way good,  if it blows it in short order I would be starting to look at what blew it opposed to upping it. If you just up it you may be headed towards a fire or blowing another more expensive part.