The Crock-O-Stat

The Crock-O-Stat

New update!  Now in a new and improved 3-prong version!

I like cooking using my Crock-Pot, but it is a relatively cheap one that only has 2 settings, "High" and "Low".  It doesn't leave room for a lot of fine tuning.  The low setting is too high and makes things boil.  I decided that I needed more control over the temperature and built this "Crock-O-Stat" from off the shelf components at Home Depot.  Really it is just a dimmer switch wired to an outlet inside a 2-gang handy box.  For those who missed the previous sentence and need it spelled out again, this is a dimmer outlet, not a thermostat.  I wanted to have more control over the settings on my Crock-Pot.  For this purpose it works quite well.  It took me about 15 minutes to make and cost me less than $20.  Here's how to make your own.

Here are the components we will need:
  • a 600watt dimmer switch (I chose a rotary for $7.49, but others will work)
  • a standard wall outlet (mine was $0.49)
  • a 2-gang handy box (look in the store where the EMT is sold, $5.49)
  • a 6-foot 3-Prong extension cord ($5.84 or scrounge a male plug end from anywhere)
  • a switch plate cover ($0.84)
  • a 1/2" PVC plug with a 3/8" hole drilled in it (large enough to pass our cord through)
Start by stripping the male plug end of the cord and passing it through the hole in the plug and into the handy box.  Tie a knot in the cord to keep it from backing out of the box.
Wire the outlet and dimmer switch.  Maintain the polarity of the outlet by matching the corresponding wide or narrow plug on the cord to the correct side of the outlet.  For those who are really circuit impaired, the wiring should look something like this:
Screw the outlet and dimmer switch into the handy box
Install the switch plate cover and knob, and you are ready to variably control the temperature of your Crock-Pot, Lamp, or whatever.

Of course this device might be useful for other things rather than just controlling the temperature of a Crock Pot.  You can use it as a lamp dimmer, or many other things.  It is important to point out a couple of things though.  This dimmer has a maximum capacity of 600watts.  It would be unsafe to exceed this.  Of even more importance is the fact that this is a dimmer and will not work on induction type appliances such as fans, and should never be used on refrigerators, fluorescent lighting and the like.  If you needed a fan controller, hardware stores often sell those in the same area as the dimmer switches.  If you used a fan controller it could be used for controlling the speed of some induction type motors, but still could not be used on other appliances, fluorescent lighting or refrigerators.  If for some reason you hurt yourself, someone else or damage some property, my liability is limited to how much you paid for these instructions. 

Based on Fluidity css adapted by Dan Delcollo