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I'd like to add a Brinkmann 1500 watt element to my Bradley smoker to bring my temps up in cold weather.

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I'd like to limit the amount of heat it puts out, is there a voltage regulator or resistor I can use to drop the heat? Something variable maybe?

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migrated from Mar 6 '14 at 19:39

This question came from our site for contractors and serious DIYers.

Can you use a grill blanket (I am not making that up) to help conserve the heat you already have? Most smokers are pretty much not insulated at all. – SAJ14SAJ Mar 6 '14 at 20:07

You could use a Sous Vide controller. Normally these are intended to drive a heater such as a crock pot, but I don't see why it wouldn't work here. Their website says it will output up to 15amps at 120V which is 1800W. This drives the element by having it be on at 100% for only some partial amount time, rather than driving it slowly at all times, but you should be able to achieve your desired result.

Dork Food Sous Vide Temperature Controller

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The temperature range of a Sous Vide controller might not go high enough to be useful to smoke. That model you link to will only go up to 200˚F. But maybe some others are more adjustable? – Henry Jackson Mar 6 '14 at 16:50

A couple low-tech options:

  • A long extension cord will drop the voltage at the element and therefore its power output. E.g. a 50ft 18-gauge cord will reduce the voltage ~10% when used with a 15A element. You could chain a few together to get a larger drop.
  • You could get a mechanical light timer (make sure you get one rated for 15A), which will can be set to turn the element on and off. Many timers have a resolution of 15 minutes which may be too long for you, but I have one that has 5-minute increments.
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For the extension cord trick, if you're not careful you could end up smoking your house or garage as well as your food. – The Photon Mar 6 '14 at 17:55
Yeah, if the OP wants to use extension cords to drop the voltage, I would recommend 1) not coiling hundreds of feet up in a giant hot ball, 2) not leaving the contraption unattended. But let's put this in perspective: the heating element itself is clearly a lot more dangerous than the extension cord. – Henry Jackson Mar 6 '14 at 18:09

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