Automatic temperature control for weber grill

 

  #1  
Old 02-23-13, 08:13 AM
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Automatic temperature control for weber grill

I"m thinking about taking an old weber grill that I have sitting around and converting it into a charcoal smoker. As we all know, achieving and maintaining a low temperature for a long time can be difficult with charcoal. But as I thought about it, charcoal temperature can actually be easily maintained by simply controlling the airflow through the weber grill. If the temperature is too low then open the vents, if the temperature is too high, close the vents.

Can anyone provide some guidance on how I might combine a thermometer, control switch, and a small fan to control the temperature?

I've seen products that can do this (pitmaster IQ among others) but sell for $150 or more.

Thanks,
Jason
 
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  #2  
Old 02-24-13, 09:28 AM
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Well, there is a reason that device sells for $150.00.
They know if you try to duplicate what they have made you will have spent a fair amount of money and time making something like it work.

I have messed around with a couple of smoker/cookers and have a lot of trade related supplies available to draw on.
The modified hvac controls I am using are a pain and I haven't picked out which one I am going to use but I am going to buy a dedicated smoker/cooker controller
Since mine is all electric I'm going to look for dedicated elements for heat instead of a hot plate..

Having said this if you are looking for a thermostat and are smoking sausage you will want one that will go as low as 125 degF for the drying stage or 200 deg for low and slow cooking.
You may find an electronic controller online for not much money that will work.

Oven controls are cheap but many have a problem going as low as 200 deg and are a problem making safe because of the exposed terminals.
A 120 volt computer fan would likely work and you can get flexible exhaust hose in the size that the Pitmaster IQ uses.

Another option is to use a 24 volt damper to control the air admitted to the coals like what is found on wood burning furnaces.
I also know of a spring loaded damper found on freestanding wood heaters that if somehow mounted on the kettle would uncoil when the surface warms up, releasing a chain to close a damper.

Honestly, you are only limited by your imagination on this one.
 
  #3  
Old 02-24-13, 02:59 PM
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Greg, thanks for the thoughts.

I was thinking about using an old computer fan to control the airflow as well. My only concern was the drastically different environment from a computer tower to the bottom of a charcoal grill. Do you think a computer fan will survive the temperature increase of being placed underneath the charcoal?

My main goal is temperature control for ribs, fish, or a pork butt. I don't really have an interest at this time for sausage, etc.

Do you have any recommendations on the thermostat/thermometer?

Thanks,
Jason
 
  #4  
Old 02-24-13, 06:14 PM
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For something simple you could try a thermostat from a commercially made smoker which is fairly inexpensive.
You could use three inch flexible aluminum dryer venting and if you offset the tubing and have it a couple of feet long you shouldn't have a problem with the charcoal interfering with the fan.

You will need to use a great deal of caution when experimenting because by forcing air across burning charcoal you could conceivably develop temperatures that could melt through the bottom of your smoker.
This is the principal of the blacksmith forge.

I'm a pretty hard core diy'er but honestly, for the price of that PitmasterIQ fan unit you would have some pretty good temperature control.
Honestly, I don't sell them but if you look at the video he describes the features which include overheating protection......heck that complete unit sells for as much as I will pay for just a controller for my smoker!

Previous thread about smokers.

Another thread.
 
 

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