DIY Electric Smoker Charcoal Grill Combo
Hey , this is a almost finished personal “set and forget” smoker I am building. This cooker will raise or lower the heat automatically for a set temperature. It can’t actually lower the temp but will turn down the electric element or quit fanning the flames if charcoaling.
- There’s a lot of pictures below! It will take a couple seconds to load 😉
- The “Parts List Spreadsheet” is miserable on mobile devices. I wouldn’t open it.
Table of Contents
Below is a Google Sheets editable price list (blue columns) you can config to what you want. For each part you want put the amount in the “How Many” column like 1,2 or 3… The form will calculate $ to the right then give totals at bottom. If you want to save your list click “file”, “download as”, and choose the format you want. Most people would find the .pdf format is the most pleasant to work with. Your downloaded list will carry the live links with it for quick reference saving you from having to come back here. A lot of the items you may not need, want, or have. Just like you others may be making a list at same time. If that happens the best you can do is wait and try later.
Here’s the link on Google’s property away from Texas Butter RIGHT HERE (new window).
I’d use the link if on mobile or your browser plugins are -reacting to it 😉
Parts List Spreadsheet
I didn’t do too much perfection in measuring because I knew there would be a lot of filing from my trial and error cutting the ABS job box.
This black shield comes off the back of your temperature controller. I eye balled it straight and center then drew a line around it.
Okay 1st screw up. I tried to etch a deep line on pencil marks with a box cutter. I should have drilled the holes in 4 corners first. See the line connecting bit tip and hole? That’s where the blade spun outside the lines. Etching the pencil lines are not needed nor recomended. Holes will help with staying even during cut.
I heated the 1 inch putty knife over my gas stove. Clean it good before using or get black marks like mine… Take the hot knife and carefully push it through your pencil lines as straight as possible. The putty knife was too wide for the short sides so I heated up the box cutter blade, poked the point in corner, and slowly cut towards next hole. The box cutter would get about halfway before needing a reheat. A Dremel would work good here if you are good at using them. Often making long lines with the Dremel is a sumbitch.
Take your file and file the best you can while keeping an eye on getting the rectangle level. A file can take a lot of material off and you only have about 3/16″ to play with.
She fits! See the guncher from the razor blade bottom right? That’s gonna bug me till the cows come home…
This type of plug is probably a lot of over kill but we get heavy fog down here and I need all the bases covered at 3 AM. The plug is mounted under the hood and tighten down with nuts I provided. The rough holes for the outlets were done with a Dremel cutting tool. Came back with the Dremel drum sander bit and sanded until the plug fit. Cutting a rectangle will also work but make sure you don’t cut where metal mounting tabs are on the plug.
Your plug likely wont come with real nuts, more like a piece of plastic or thin tin. You’ll need to upgrade this spot with actual nuts for a good snug fit. The lines represent where you can cut if cutting rectangle. Don’t cut where bolts and nut go.
You need 24 inches of wire from the piece of extension cord you are not using (female side). If you have a good pair and handheld branch pruners, they cut the extension cord easily. Carefully pull the sheathing off the cord that binds the three colored wires. They should be white, black and green. Cut all 3 colors wire into 8 inch 9 total equal pieces. Now strip 1/4 inch off each end of 3 black and 1 white pieces of wire.
Take the extension cord and run it through the hole on bottom you drilled out. Pull plenty through we are working on this part. Strip outer sheathing down about 8 inches exposing the three wires. It is a pain to strip the sheathing, be careful not cut yourself especially the 3 wires sheathing. Tie the split sheathing in a knot close as you can get it to end. See pic? Now strip 1/4 inch of the 3 wires to expose copper. Push the 2 leads from temperature probe in small hole you drill on side, leave plenty of slack, and tie on a loose knot like picture.
You can splice wires to twist around screws but I don’t. See how the are in holes under screws? When you tighten screws it will clamp down on wire for a great fit and way less pain in the butt. The top two screws are the neutral, silver, and the long slot on the front. The bottom 2 screws are the hot, gold/bronze, and the short slot on the front. Top and bottom screws run current between them. In other functions, you could run one of the plugs always hot. We aren’t doing any other functions but the tab marked in picture can be pulled out to break the current between screws. You’ll have to search for instructions for your own mods you might want to do. Beer makers separate them hot and cold.
This pic shows the controllers guard on but, a small flat head screw driver and the wires insert into back of temperature controller just like the plug.
1 .Go ahead and put the temperature sensors in the “sensor” holes. Mine are far right. I didn’t mark them to keep the more important wiring in focus. tighten
2. Take 2 of your prepped black wires (known as the hot wires) and plug them in the “hot or cold switch” 2 holes. Mine are far left. tighten
3. Now take a black (hot) and white (neutral) wire and insert the in the “power” holes. Mine are in middle and label is rubbed off. tighten
4. Take one of the “hot or cold switch” black wires (hot) and put it in the the plugs hot side. A plugs hot side is the screws that look gold or brass and if you look at the front of plug the hot wire is the one with the shorter slit.
5. Take your 3 bare black (hot) wires and twist them together and screw a wire nut on them tight.
6. Take your 2 bare white (neutral) wires and insert them in the natural side of the plug. The natural screws on side of the plug should be silver in color and if you look at front the long plug slit is the natural side.
7 Lastly wrap the green (ground) wire around the green screw and make sure all wires are tight.
8. Plugin in the unit and follow instructions that came with it. I recommend changing to Fahrenheit (USA) and heating range on “hot” instead of default “cold”
***P.S. I am going to put an inline fuse in one of two places noted in picture. I’d like it on outside for quick change but don’t know what types if any will look decent and semi water resistant. For sure it would be some work.
Church Aint Over Yet! On With The Smoker
One of the reasons I build my own is because it fits me, better parts and I know it’s built right. About 10 years ago I had a 1 month old Masterbuilt electric smoker catch fire in the back wall of the unit. They ignored me and guess who I ignore… If that China crap would have caught fire and spread it likely would have burned approximate 100 peoples condos.
We already have a smoker for the company only so I wanted one for personal with extras. I’m pron to over engineering things when I’m attempting to make life resourceful and this starts my own mods or thoughts. Some may bomb and some might bomb dot com. Either way I’ll let ya know down the line after a few smokes.
I used two burners but will mostly likely only use one. In cold weather if I need more heat I’ll put the standby on another always on plug using a different breaker and the burners built in temperature gauge. Running two burners could cause breakers to flinch. My pit has to vent holes on bottom so I placed burners so they’d all fit together. Drilled a self taping screw in the burners plate and in pits bottom to stabilize.
Edit: Tested and running 2 burners on thermostat box did pop breaker built in my extension cord. Will continue to test.
This is the bottom of pit with high heat epoxy holding things together. Since this pit will be burning fire any wires from here to clearance from pit will be wrapped in Nomex or some type of fire resistance sheathing. There will be 2 pieces of protection (metal plates) between charcoal and bottom of pit and electric burners.
There is a better collar to use and I’ll link it but it’s a collar that has a ring. If I were you I’d go with something that makes more sense. For now this fits the project and it’s what I got and it’s what’s in my left hand. Because I bought blindly I had to do some clipping where the collar meets the reducer and also on the $20 dollar louver/vent… I have an old 5″ fan from Walmart that used to be on my marine aquariums, That’s why I got the reducer instead of a short run to accommodate the baffles clearance. The bonus is they have metal blades and pretty cheap. In our case the reducer is an enlarger.
Just a pic of the diffuser that will block airflow, give airflow, block critters, and when I do a burn off it will hopefully protect the fan.
Close up of where I had to modify the collar and reducer with a couple snips and the collar is split with a tab. I didn’t use the tab so I could make it smaller in diameter. Just pinned the two together with 1/4 inch self drilling screws.
Took the copper vent and drew a circle around it then tin snipped it out. Instead of popping a starter hole I went ahead and drilled it out because the pit’s walls are thin. This pit will have two heating surfaces at different heights and down below in a few pics I will point it out.
If you don’t know how to work tin (tinner/shears) snips check out a couple videos online. Green cuts right clockwise, red cuts left counter clockwise, and yellow is for straight or big curves
Here’s where a better collar would of worked. One with a ring. Between each tab I had to snip about 1/4″ so it would fit tighter. It doesn’t show here but I took a piece of scrap wood and held it on other side then lightly hammered with mallet and flattened all those tabs down. I’m not going to use any epoxies to seal the areas around the fans duct.
More modifications… Due to bad sizing I had to cut my $20 copper vent up like you see in pic. When I was looking at these most of them were plastic. In hindsight I should have just cut up a stainless steel strainer because this spot was to block insects. I thought I was tricking it out diverting air over hot coals and the allure of copper. If you are pulling this stunt I would rethink this area.
The new screw is where the charcoal plate will now burn from. It will open up a couple options for burning meat.
Don’t use this on a deck!
You see from pic the bottom got red hot. That’s going to be too warm for me even though it will be on bricks or grass when working. Going to mounting the burners on 1″ fire brick, slate tile, or rigging something with refractory cement. From the two smoke sessions I did 1 for each burner. The 1000 watt didn’t kill cut grass and the 1100 did kill uncut grass but didn’t burn it. 1000 watt worked 6 hours and the 1100 worked 15 hours. Just wanted to point out I got a 7 inch circle of dead grass out of the deal.
I temporarily pinned the burners temp control knobs. Soon all the wires will get bundled in heat resistance sheathing.
Temporary protecting the thermostat lead from a previous rib cook but still kept it away from heat. I didn’t cover the other burner in that smoke so I’m burning it off in this pic. This is coming to an end except for some buttoning up. It may go into a long pause since it’s busy season. Today I cooked some ribs and they turned out great! Have a brisket coming off at 7am so I guess I best get to bed. Will start building recipes off the smokes, that’s why I built it to set and forget so maybe I can have dinner before 8pm…
Have a good’un! – Shawn
Mount Burner Switch
One of my burners already had a nifty bracket attached to mount on the smoker. Luckily the other one had a machined holes that I could attach the bracket to. Had to drill a large hole for the knob and another small one for the screw. This make shift bracket is actually made for joist typically in a home’s framing. At Home Depot they are on an end cap in the lumber section and I believe same place at Lowes. You can bypass the temperature switch and not go this route, I just wanted the whole harness including the light.
Just a view of the mounted bracket that will get bent to mount. I got a pretty tight fit using one screw to mount. The other screw hole wouldn’t allow the length size screw I had and wasn’t driving to get.
OK I did a piss poor job remembering to take pics of my splices, but the order was: soder, liquid seal, shrink wrap both wires, and shrink wrap all. You can see the end result in last pic at top in white. The sheathing is made by TechFlex and rated for constant 500 degree temps.
- Cut the male end of plug about 5 inches up.
- Take a tie wrap and tie up the two burner connectors (temporary).
- Cut you perfect length of sheathing.
- Cut a small hole in sheath where connections would com out.
- Push the cut cord to other end.
- Splice the plug back on cut cord.