Author Topic: Upgraded controller  (Read 7450 times)

Limey

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Upgraded controller
« on: January 17, 2015, 11:01:18 AM »
There have been a huge number of posts on whether/how to bypass the controller and the safety issues that may be involved. What if the controller was simply redesigned to go up to 350 degrees. Would this not solve every ones' issues or am I missing something?
Roger from the Florida Keys.
Two SI#3s, both with switched bypass and Aubers(different locations), Viking, Jenn Aire & five TEC infra red grills. Recently acquired UDS.

SuperDave

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2015, 11:17:49 AM »
Limey,
I'm with you 100% on the higher max temp and posted early on here but got squashed by the, "we never smoke over 250" guys.  But I think the upgrade to the controller issue is really an analog versus digital issue for tighter temp swings.  My #4 came with an Auber digital controller and many buy the digital controller at a premium.  I think most would like to just pay a little more upfront and get digital controls in the unit.  Rumor has it that it is being worked on by SI. 

Model 4, Harrisville, Utah

Limey

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2015, 12:15:08 PM »
Dave, I think that philosophically you are exactly right.
However a higher temperature controller would let all the Auber users;
A. avoid having to wire in a bypass
B. negate the need for a switch for the bypass
C. negate the need to rewire the SI and Auber plugs after a bypass so that the SI cannot be plugged in directly and potentially melt down-which I think is a real risk although others disagree
D. negate wiring in a fuseable(meltable) link to prevent the meltdown
Additionally all the non Auber users would be able to get crispy skin on their poultry.
All this for zero incremental cost.
Perhaps we can get Divot to talk to Steve about this.
Roger from the Florida Keys.
Two SI#3s, both with switched bypass and Aubers(different locations), Viking, Jenn Aire & five TEC infra red grills. Recently acquired UDS.

NDKoze

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2015, 03:46:00 PM »
I agree guys. I don't normally need to go over 250, but would like the capability to do so for poultry type smokes and the ability to use an Auber without the bypass.

I'm with ya 100%.
Gregg - Fargo, ND
Smokin-It #3 that has now replaced the Masterbuilt XL and 10+ Year-Old Big Chief. I also have a Weber Genesis Gas Grill, Weber Little Smokey at home and a Chargriller Deluxe (stick burner) and Camp Chef Three Burner Stove with Grill/Griddle out at the lake place.

BedouinBob

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2015, 05:28:12 PM »
Not sure about the 350 degrees issue but I'm not concerned about the rewiring though. But I will say don't try it if you aren't comfortable doing it.
Bob - Colorado Springs
NRA & USN

NDKoze

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2015, 05:47:06 PM »
Sure, the bypass is not that hard of a thing to do. But with a 350 degree controller, it would not even be necessary. Plug the Smoker into the Auber, the Auber into the outlet, crank the smoker dial to 350, and then program the Auber and let it do its thing. This would eliminate the need for a switch to switch back and forth between the Auber and the analog controller.

I think this is a great suggestion that could be implemented into the smoker as long as Steve could find a capable controller. I wouldn't think it would be too hard to do. But, maybe there is more to this than we are thinking. Because if it were so easy, why hasn't it been implemented already?
Gregg - Fargo, ND
Smokin-It #3 that has now replaced the Masterbuilt XL and 10+ Year-Old Big Chief. I also have a Weber Genesis Gas Grill, Weber Little Smokey at home and a Chargriller Deluxe (stick burner) and Camp Chef Three Burner Stove with Grill/Griddle out at the lake place.

es1025

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2015, 09:28:52 AM »
I have an auber and the max temp i have used is 275. The auber in my opinion is more to avoid the temperature swings. You set the smoker at 235' you ride the 235 the entire smoke.

I like the higher temps for poultry.
Ed from Northern NJ
Proud owner Smokin-it #3, Bypassed and Auber
Has anyone seen my Weber Genesis Gold?

SuperDave

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2015, 12:30:15 PM »
A controller that utilizes the max temp of the box makes sense to me.

Model 4, Harrisville, Utah

old sarge

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2015, 11:41:48 AM »
Something not considered or mentioned here is the heating element itself.  It must be built or configured to handle sustained higher temperatures. This involves a beefed up resistance coil within the the heating element. These smokers were designed to operate within a defined set of parameters, and the controller and element were matched.  One would have to replace both, likely at considerable expense. Replacing only the controller which would include the sensing bulb since these are bulb and capillary units might get you a higher temperature, but for how long before you need to replace the element? There are a couple of companies that manufacture elements and controllers, but the combined cost may be very expensive. The smokers work well as designed and adding the Auber give you tighter control over the smoking process. Thus endeth my 3 cents.
David from Arizona
SI 3D
CS 066 (retired to my son's home)
Lodge Sportsman Grill
Weber kettle
Ducane Meridian 42 inch Grill
US Army 70 - 95

BedouinBob

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2015, 11:49:18 AM »
Dave, +1 from me. As a newbie to smoking the cost of the unit is a factor. I would guess that by adding a digital controller or an analogue controller that will control tight enough around 300+ the cost would go up probably. I would guess the added cost would be in the $150 range which will narrow the market and may not be competitive.
Bob - Colorado Springs
NRA & USN

NDKoze

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2015, 02:12:34 PM »
Dave makes a good point about the element being tested for the current controller with the 250 degree limitation. We don't really know whether the element can handle 300-350 reliably long term.

But this being said, are we saying that people with Aubers should not run their smokers higher than 250? And if they do, could it cause premature death of their element?

I am not suggesting a move to a digital controller, but instead just a similar analog controller that goes up to 350. So, the cost should be minimal. I am fine with the analog swings. If you want to remove the swings, get the Auber which has way more options than a digital controller where all it does is maintain a temp. I would much rather see a higher temp analog controller instead of a 250 degree digital controller. But that is just my opinion.

I would be surprised that switching to a 350 controller and/or a different element (if needed) would really increase the manufacturing cost that much (if any). But, I do not have any a ton of evidence of that. We are only talking about 100 degrees, not an element that goes up to 500. I did a quick Bing search and found several heating elements that go up to 450 for under 40 bucks consumer retail priced.

Ultimately, what my feeling on this is that I think it would be nice to have a 350 degree analog thermostat and if the current element is not capable of handling 350 to replace it with one that can.

This is an upgrade and suggestion section of the forum, so I think this thread is all about suggestions for making the product better. My posts in particular are not about suggestions that we could implement in our current generation smokers.

Whether these suggestions are feasible or not will be something for Steve to consider. And maybe it isn't feasible. Only Steve will be able to make that determination for his business.

I already have my current generation smoker and will eventually do the mods like others are doing to add the permanent probe, bypass, switch, and Auber. But how cool would it be for new buyers to be able to get this capability with their brand new smoker without having to pull the back panel off of the smoker and play electrician?
Gregg - Fargo, ND
Smokin-It #3 that has now replaced the Masterbuilt XL and 10+ Year-Old Big Chief. I also have a Weber Genesis Gas Grill, Weber Little Smokey at home and a Chargriller Deluxe (stick burner) and Camp Chef Three Burner Stove with Grill/Griddle out at the lake place.

DivotMaker

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2015, 08:53:23 PM »
Roger, your question is a good one, and the guys have certainly provided some great feedback!  Here's my 2 on what it boils down to:

First, and probably most-important - 250 is the max temp that most consumers will ever use.  It's a "safe" temp for the vast majority of home smokers - many of whom don't have any experience smoking meat, until they buy their SI.  Along with throttling at 250 to help people not use temps that really aren't appropriate for the majority of smokes, it also prevents wear and tear on the equipment.  The experienced enthusiasts can bypass the stock controller, and crank the heat.  Steve says the box is rated to 350.  You don't want every new owner cranking it to 350 every time they hit the stall!

Secondly, your question about an analog controller that reaches 350:  I wouldn't think it would be feasible because of the analog temperature swings.  Remember, the box is good to 350.  Inherently, you are going to have temp swings up to 20-30 above the set point, so the analog controller will take it beyond the safe limits of the box.  The Auber can take it to 350, and NO higher.

Thirdly, what's the real purpose of going higher than 250?  Chicken skin!  OK, I get it.  But, is that worth sacrificing what I mentioned in the first two points?  I wouldn't.  Finish on the grill, or the oven, once the smoking is done.  Not many folks smoke ribs, butts or briskets at 350, and that's what most buyers are getting this smoker for.

I believe that Steve, in making a marketing, and liability, decision, has opted for the stock 250 limit because it just makes sense for the vast majority of his consumers.  Not many want to push the envelope and break that 250, so it's not worth the time and money to re-tool for the few.  Better to have an alternative option for the real enthusiasts who want to break through the ceiling into the higher temps.

When the digital option comes, which is still in the works, it may have the ability to break 250, but that's not decided yet.  We'll definitely keep you posted!
Tony from NW Arkansas
"Official Smokin-It Test Pilot"
Smokin-It Model 1, 2D conversion, and 3D
Auber PID, NexGrill 896 6-burner, CharBroil Big Easy, Anova Precision Cooker w/WiFi
Wife, Son and One REALLY Big Dog!

old sarge

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2015, 10:13:49 PM »
And lastly, it is a smoker, not an oven.  Much like a Crock Pot is not a Nesco Roaster Oven despite somewhat similar appearances.
David from Arizona
SI 3D
CS 066 (retired to my son's home)
Lodge Sportsman Grill
Weber kettle
Ducane Meridian 42 inch Grill
US Army 70 - 95

DivotMaker

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2015, 10:26:40 PM »
Well-said, Dave! ;)
Tony from NW Arkansas
"Official Smokin-It Test Pilot"
Smokin-It Model 1, 2D conversion, and 3D
Auber PID, NexGrill 896 6-burner, CharBroil Big Easy, Anova Precision Cooker w/WiFi
Wife, Son and One REALLY Big Dog!

NDKoze

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Re: Upgraded controller
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2015, 12:00:15 AM »
All good points. My suggestions were just that, suggestions for making the smoker more flexible and allow more multi-tasking.

Excellent point that if the box maxes out at 350, and therefore the analog controller going up to 350 would be a bad idea for that reason. So make it 325 then. Issue negated?

I'm not sure I buy the statement that it would be bad to allow higher temps because people will use them incorrectly. That is what instructions and forums like this are for, to help people that do things wrong and offer suggestions that can help their next smoke be better.

I'm also a little dubious that allowing an extra 75 degrees of heat would result in excess "wear and tear".

I guess I am just thinking about this whole thing as adding flexibility and more uses for the smoker. Most people try to reduce the number of uni-taskers in their homes. Why would I want to dirty up my oven or grill just to finish off my meal when it could be done in the same vessel with only one clean-up?

I'll definitely agree that the vast majority of smokes will be less than 250. I guess I just don't see the cons of allowing an extra 75 degrees being all that negative compared to the pros.

If "most" people will never smoke anything over 250, why do the overwhelming majority of Auber users add the bypass? If you don't need to go above 250, adding the bypass is really unnecessary right? Is it because most people don't use an Auber? Well, maybe. I guess I would buy that to a point. But it sure seems like the Auber is really becoming more and more mainstream here than it used to be and I don't remember anyone saying that they are going to use the Auber but skip doing the bypass.

I kind of get the feeling that my suggestions were interpreted as an attack on Steve or his company that needed to be defended. But that could not be further from the truth or how I meant for it to come out anyhow. It feels weird for me to be disagreeing with my mentors (Old Sarge and Divot), but I guess we all have our own opinions right? :)

As anyone who has read any of my posts knows, I am a Smokin-It company-man all the way.

Maybe this isn't a feasible idea or worth doing anything with. If that is the result, I am totally OK with that. I just feel good that it was brought up and we had a healthy discussion on the pros and cons.
Gregg - Fargo, ND
Smokin-It #3 that has now replaced the Masterbuilt XL and 10+ Year-Old Big Chief. I also have a Weber Genesis Gas Grill, Weber Little Smokey at home and a Chargriller Deluxe (stick burner) and Camp Chef Three Burner Stove with Grill/Griddle out at the lake place.