Solar-Powered Smoker

John Benoit’s smoker may look like an old-fashioned outhouse, but it has solar power, computerized controls, and Wi-Fi. He uses the 5-foot-11-inch-tall, 29-by-32-inch steel box for family meals, as well as taking it on the road for catered events.

“It started out as a standard, steel box smoker the size of a small refrigerator, but I wanted something different,” says Benoit.

Benoit framed the outhouse with 1-inch square tubing and used fiberglass insulation and Styrofoam around the smoker before attaching 1-by-4-inch cladding. A warming oven mounts under the roof.

The smoker door has a handle made from Osage orange wood and a solid brass crescent moon salvaged from an antique door. Large caster wheels support the “outhouse.” They make it easier for Benoit to winch the smoker into his 16-foot trailer for transit.

A thermometer is mounted between the doors of the smoker and the oven, but the computer and Wi-Fi are key to the operation.

“The star of the smoker is the Flame Boss 200 controller,” says Benoit. “It is the best tool I have bought for saving time and improving the quality of meat.”

Sensor probes in the smoker are wired to the controller, which in turn runs a small compressor. When more heat is needed, the compressor feeds air through a 4-by-4-inch steel tube at the base of the smoker. This manifold delivers the air to the charcoal.

A solar panel on the roof powers the controller and fan with wiring for 110-volt backup. The Wi-Fi lets Benoit manage the entire process whether standing alongside or miles away. It also collects data.

“I have a history of all the cooking temperatures and more, including the fan output,” says Benoit.

Another secret he shares is how he stores his smoke-producing wood. Once he has soaked it, he puts it in a plastic bag and sticks it in the freezer.

“To produce the smoke flavor I want, I pull them out of the freezer bag and lay a few pieces on the coals,” says Benoit.

Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine,

  • Published on Oct 9, 2017
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