Several folks have converted the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker into a gas or electric cooker. Some people do this because they live in an apartment, condo or townhome where charcoal or gas grills are not allowed. Sometimes they do this for greater convenience and less hands-on tending of the cooker.
Afterburner Mini-V Gas Conversion
This product is designed to convert a WSM to LP or natural gas. A 1" hole is drilled in the charcoal bowl to accept the gas burner. Smoke is generated by placing wood inside a steel can positioned over the flame.
In years past, people reported having problems achieving low temperatures using The Afterburner with the WSM. It ran hot, and when you turned it down low the flame could go out. Perhaps the new Mini-V model is an improvement.
You can visit the Afterburner website to learn more about this product. You can also search The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board using the keyword "Afterburner" to see what people have to say about this product.
Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Conversion
Jason Hixon from Naperville, IL learned that charcoal grills were prohibited by city code in his apartment complex. He adapted parts from a Weber Go-Anywhere gas grill to create a gas-fired Weber 18-1/2" One-Touch Silver kettle grill. By replacing the kettle lid with the WSM middle cooking section and lid, Jason's kettle does double-duty as a gas-fired Weber Bullet.
Photos 2-3 shows one gas burned installed in the kettle's charcoal bowl. One burner is sufficient for running the WSM, but Jason plans on adding two more burners for grilling purposes.
Photos 4-6 show brackets added to hold a charcoal grate above the gas burner. Jason plans on using this grate for wood chunks when smoking and for ceramic briquettes when grilling. Photo 6 shows a Flavorizer bar placed over the burner to protect it from drips.
Meco Electric Element
LAScott converted his WSM to electricity. He used a Meco electric element kit consisting of a heating element, a rheostat for controlling the element, and a pan that the element sits on. Smoke is generated by placing smoke wood in a container over the element.
He fitted the kit to the screw ends on which the charcoal grate sits. I believe he had to cut a hole in the side of the charcoal bowl to accommodate the rheostat and power cord. LAScott said that Meco offered a little door that resealed the cooker if you wanted to remove the element to cook with charcoal, but it wasn't included with the kit and had to be ordered separately by phone.
LAScott tells me that while the electric conversion is easy to use, cooking with charcoal is more fun, so he doesn't use the conversion that often.
The parts described above are similar to the ones you'll see inside any Meco electric smoker at barbecue stores or home centers. You can order the electric element kit from Meco by calling 800-251-7558.
Photos of Kettle gas conversion: 2010 by Jason Hixon.