Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
May 6, 2009 04:03 PM

Can't get my electric smoker hot enough

Hey Hounds-

I have a question. I recently built a aluminum trashcan electric smoker, very similar to this one:

And I just can't get the damn thing hot enough! It gets to around 160 internally, and just will not get warmer. I am eagerly awaiting a new hot plate, but the one I have currently seems to get pretty hot. Any advice?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you are using a long extension cord it could be lowering the voltage. Try a shorter one or plug directly into the outlet. If not then you need a better hot plate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: scubadoo97

      I am using a 50 foot extension cord- I had never considered that. Thanks- I will try that and get back to you!

    2. In addition to using a shorter cord, you could also insulate the can. Try wrapping a moving blanket/pad around it, or a water heater blanket.

      1. I have two suggestions:

        1. Be happy. At the lower temperature you can smoke longer without overcooking. Just smoke for however many hours you like, then finish in the oven at 200F or thereabouts.

        2. Open up the hot plate. The two wires from the cord go to a rheostat (temperature controller in this case), and two wires go from the rheostat to the heating coil. All the connections are spade type, so disconnect everything, remove the short wires between the rheostat and coil, and connect the cord wires directly to the coil. Especially on an older hot plate corrosion can cause a major voltage drop across the rheostat. Of course you will only have one temperature setting, maximum, but if that's what you want, go for it. On the other hand, if the hot plate is fairly new and you don't leave it outside a lot (like I did) it may not make a lot of difference. At any rate, you can always put it back the way it was.

        This will of course void the warranty, and never, ever use that hot plate indoors again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Zeldog

          I don't think I would be happy smoking at 160 degrees. A 13 lb brisket would take days to cook

        2. I have to put a rug over my smoker to get it up to temp. Actually it is an old saddle blanket.
          I like to smoke at 190 so as to not dry out the meat.

          1. I made a claypot smoker similar to the trashcan concept. Holds heat nicely, but I can only smoke in warm weather. I think your issue is insulation, as the metal is just releasing heat to outside too fast. Blanket of some sort, even a large cardboard carton would help

            2 Replies
            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              Thanks guys! I will work on insulating it a bit better- maybe putting it inside another (larger) trashcan might be the solution, along with a shorter cord. I will report back!

              1. re: btgordon

                Can you get the meat closer to the hot plate. I bet if you put a probe further down the temperature is much hotter. By the time the heat moves to the top where the food which is quite a distance it has lost a lot due to the uninsulated aluminum can. Remember that aluminum transfer heat better than just about any metal. Doesn't retain heat well. Insulation blankets used around water heaters may be the ticket.