by Tim Slade
(Nashville, TN, USA)
What is the approximate cost to build a smoker based on your design?
Thanks for your questions. In terms of cost I'm going to assume that you have all the woodworking tools to hand so the costs to build the smoker are purely associated with the materials.
I built the entire unit $189 and that includes the burner for propane gas and an electric hotplate unit.
I use the propane burner for hot smoking and the electric hotplate for drying, cold or warm smoking (mainly fish and jerky). Having both options available really helps you get the most out of your smoker because most commercially built products only allow for hot smoking.
Please note that I'm English so all my pricing is based on UK building material costs (in 2009) and an exchange rate of $1.55 / £1. As far as I'm aware there's no major difference in building material costs between the UK and USA although there will be in specification for the fireproof board. Through correspondence with other enthusiasts I've found the most readily available equivalent board to be Durock.
To answer your point about electricity then the answer is yes, you can use an electrical heat source. Nothing changes in the fundamental design in that you have a vent top and bottom to ensure a good air flow through the unit. The area you would need to investigate more thoroughly is your choice of electric heat source.
The hotplate that I use for warm smoking is 1.1KW which is fine for charring sawdust but (dependent on ambient temperature) might not be powerful enough to get up to ideal temperatures for hot smoking. Summer UK temperatures will never be anywhere near what you get in Nashville!
You might need to consider a secondary heat source in the food chamber area (only a drill hole to feed through a cable). The only way to find out is to have a play and see what temperature you can get up to with whatever heat source you already have.
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