Thursday, May 29, 2014

Smoking Meat and Power Usage

I have an electric smoker.  Why electric?  Well, I got tired of running out of fuel during long smokes and decided to just break with tradition and increase the technology.   But, I've wondered for a long time how much power these things use.  Sure there's a label on them, and they're almost always wrong in my experience.

Wait though, I have this cool Iris switch that measures power, and I have charting tools, and I have cloud storage.  Let's take a look:

It uses around 800 watts when it's on and nothing when it's off.  After a start up period of about 20 minutes it settles into a regular cycle that varies around three minutes on and three off that expands to longer off times as the food inside rises in temperature.  If I had run it longer, I suspect the off times would have stabilized to periods approaching 10 minutes.

So, the device doesn't use a lot of power for something that keeps wood smoldering to cook and flavor food, but it could be death on my 'Demand' number for the month.  An extra 800 Watts added to my base usage during this time of year would probably push me up over 2kW and cost around $15 more on my power bill (I usually run around 1.6 kW this time of year).

For you folk that don't have demand billing, this looks like it would be .45 kW for each hour of usage on average if you ran it for 4 hours or more.  Not too bad for smoking food, your dryer uses a heck of a lot more than that.  Just to illustrate how this can combine with normal house electrical usage, take a look at my overall usage during this same period:

This makes it look like I'm a total power hog.  My usage tops out around 17 kW and jumps over 10kW several times during the morning.  That's what happens when you're doing laundry; the dryer is chewing up almost 8kW by itself when the element is on, the washing machine motor eats it fair share, the swimming pool filter is running on high, and the smoker is stinking up the area.  This is life though, we have to figure out how to deal with it and not let the power company take away our savings.

Notice that everything shuts off at noon?  Yep, I carefully shut things down to prevent the demand billing system from eating me alive.  Actually, that's what this site was started for; back before I wandered off into anti-siphon faucets, rattlesnakes, acid handling, battery maintenance and such.  Funny how things take on a life of their own.

It looks like smoking will be reserved for nights and weekends.


  1. Love your blog, Dave. I came across it doing XBee research and subscribed.

  2. Thank you. I've done a lot of work with XBees; I have them (or something similar) scattered all over the place.