Converting upright charcoal smoker to electric

Matt Peterson
  • Converting upright charcoal smoker to electric Matt Peterson

    I bought an upright charcoal grill/smoker years ago because it was cheap and I was interested in doing both grilling and smoking. However, I didn't find it to be a great grill (too small, and the airflow to the charcoal pan was lousy) and my one attempt to use it as a smoker didn't end well, either (keeping a constant, low temperature with the charcoal + wood was really tough). I've since bought a larger kettle grill and love it, but I would love to try to smoke again with the old upright...but this time, using an electric hot plate instead of charcoal (Alton Brown-style).

    enter image description here

    My plan is this:

    • Put the hot plate on the bottom rack (of three), running the cord out the bottom.
    • Put wood chips/chunks in a heavy pie pan and place directly on the hot plate's heating element.
    • Put the water pan on the middle rack.
    • Put the meat on the top rack.
    • Use one probe-style thermometer to monitor the air temp around the meat, and another thermometer to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat.
    • Add additional wood to the pan as needed through the access door.


    1. Do I need the water pan if using this method? I'm reading conflicting information about the purpose of the water. Most sources say it is to maintain moist air in the closed cooking space, but others say this isn't really true, and that it is used as a "thermal buffer" to absorb heat and/or smooth out temperature changes.
    2. What is the best way to adjust the temperature up or down? My hot plate does have an adjustment knob, but should I also drill some holes in the smoker's lid (it doesn't currently have any) that can be opened/plugged as needed?
    3. Is this going to work at all? :)

  • 1- The meat drying out is a very real problem when cooking for so long. When I have smoked with water it has seemed to be less of a problem. I'm sure it also gives a nice thermal buffer but I haven't conducted experiments on this.

    2 and 3-
    When I built the AB style smoker mine was smaller and earthenware so it would retain heat better. My cheap little hot plate was not able to get the temperature up to even 200F.

    With a bigger smoker and one made out of metal I don't think a normal little hot plate will be able to get hot enough. You can experiment of course. It may be that my cheap hot plate was just under powered. In my smoker I adjusted the hot plate temp knob as necessary. Eventually of course it stayed at full on.

    If you are interested in more of a project- there are many hobbyist projects for making temperature controlled smokers. They would be more work but for an excellent reward. I was just looking at this one today that uses a wireless router for a web interface and an Arduino for control. Kind of like a homemade sous vide setup but for a smoker:

Related questions and answers
  • (or ashes) out. Wait till the temperature drops down to the dish's required one, and put the food in. As for fuel, I use wood from pallets or wood logs from prunings (which gardeners are willing to give...I have recently made a brick wood fired oven. It's a black / dirt / Roman / traditional type of oven: where you burn the fuel (typically wood) in the same chamber where you put the food to be cooked... treatment I should ask the gardeners? Could the treatment be flushed away with just water? If I bought firewood logs, can I have guarantees that they are safer / healthier / don't have treatments

  • to prevent it? EDIT: I don't believe the explanations I have heard till now. "Poor sandwiched construction" is out of question, as it happens with a pan cast as a single piece. "Bottom vibrates against...I was fed up with the low quality electric hobs which are installed in my 1 meter wide "kitchen" (I forgot a crepe on the smaller one on the highest setting, and 25 min later it wasn't even browned... tactile one is missing. But my accidental activation rate is still well above acceptable on all devices using it. [/rant]) and also to catch my attention if needed, such as when the overheating

  • Possible Duplicate: How to keep fresh-squeezed fruit juice? I love orange juice and I make it using blender. Yesterday I made juice of around 50 oranges. At the end of the day I still had around 2 litres of it left in an aluminium (my guess) container. Container was not air tight. I didn't put it in the fridge because temperature is around freezing point in my city these days. In the morning when I opened the container I saw a an orange foam layer above the real juice. When I tasted the juice it was too bitter in taste. I had to throw it away at the end :( My questions How can

  • with water or without it? Will it really make it more pure if I use water, and if not what will? About how much tallow can I expect to get from 100 lbs of suet? I have a rough estimate of 20 gallons... with or without water Strain and cool It seems there are 3 rendering options for the typical home kitchen: Oven at 250°F Stovetop on low/very low (I have an electric range/hobs) Crockpot on low... home kitchen that I'm missing? The grill, perhaps, or is that too dangerous? I also have an electric wok. How can I do this as efficiently and quickly as possible? For example, can I stack

  • I have a combo gas/charcoal grill: I have an offset firebox that attaches to the right side that I use to convert the charcoal grill to an offset horizontal smoker. However, when using the offset to smoke, I have noticed that there is about a 10 degree differential between the right side of the grill, and the center. This is problematic with larger cuts of meat (boston butt, rib racks, etc... the temperature differential created by the hot spot?

  • trying to improve my BBQ game. So, I tried using fewer coals, preheating them a bit less, and reducing the air flow. Even still, low and behold, I got a fairly hot fire going that I really didn't want this time. So, how do I cool it down? I'm trying to get from over 300 down to under 200. I think water will do the trick, but I worry it will put out the fire. I already have the airflow restricted...I'm trying to slow-cook using indirect heat on my kettle-style grill, and having some temperature issues. Most of my experience with my grill follows one of two patterns: First cook the food item

  • salamanders. grilling (US) is barbecuing (AU, UK) which is cooking with heat from below, typically on a metal rack over a vessel of burning wood or charcoal, or a gas burner. barbecuing (US) is slow cooking using wood or charcoal to impart smoke to the food. This sense is also sometimes used in AU. barbeque (US) (sometimes abbreviated BBQ) may refer to the either food cooked through barbequeing...) (although no one bothers to say the '™') liquidiser (UK) is a blender (US, CA) (Farmhouse Cookery). blender in AU refers to both a food processor and a liquidiser. skillet (US) is a frying pan (US, UK

  • I have an old gas oven at home which is generally pretty rubbish at most things. The temperature in the oven is wildly off compared to what the dial says it should be; there are hot/cold spots throughout; the top temperature is adequate for most of my needs, but on occasion I've wanted a really hot oven and it's never been able to get there. Is there anything I can do to make my oven better? How can I hack it? I've just bought a probe to use with my digital thermometer and the oven, but I was wondering if anyone could recommend anything else? I've considered the following options

  • I have two meat thermometers. I bought a second one because I thought the first one was resulting in overcooked meat, however the new one is doing the same! They are both standard metal prong 'analog style' with a needle. An example - cooking chicken breast. The thermometer says the temperature must reach 77 degrees Celsius. I cooked it for a short time in a griddle pan first and then put the pan in the oven. The temperature hung around 71 degrees and when it didn't seem to be getting any higher and I felt it was overcooking I pulled it out. Sure enough, overcooked! How can I use a meat

Data information