Can't get my electric smoker hot enough
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you ever figure out a solution to this problem? I recently made a trash can smoker out of a 30 gallon can and tried to power it with a single 1000 watt GE hot plate (purchased at wal-mart) but the temperature at the cooking rack only reached about 170 degrees, and that was with insulation wrapped around the can. The reason that I made this smoker was because of the novelty factor and the way it looked so I'd rather not have to use the insulation at all.
One method that I have seen is to set a whole Weber Smokey-Joe grill down into the trashcan to use as a smoke box, but i want to keep mine electric if at all possible in order to keep things clean and the temperature easily regulated. I had thought about just buying second burner to put into the trash can but i don't want to keep throwing money at the thing just to gain a few more degrees in temperature.
If you found something that works please let me know!