To complicate matters, I also invested in a simple outlet timer that would shut off power to the cooker in case no one was home to do so. The timer I got also lacks any sort of on/off indicator, so it's even more difficult to tell whether the crock pot is functioning or not.
A number of possible solutions came to mind, but I finally decided that the slow cooker/crock pot should really just have a power light.
I pawed through my electronics stash in the garage, but found no (working) neon lights. I did find more than a few LEDs, resistors, diodes, and even a couple of 200+ V capacitors. I put together a circuit based on the top left schematic in the picture below.
|Courtesy of QSL.net|
Taking the crock pot apart was interesting. It was amazing how few components are necessary to build these appliances. The whole thing is held together by a single, large rivet in the center of the heating base. I drilled out this rivet and the heating base separated into two halves: the stand (which incorporates the legs, power cord, power switch, and an exterior shell, and the jacket with actual heating element. I soldered the components together, and then electrically insulated and heat shielded my circuit. I applied heat shrink, followed by a layer of electrical tape, followed by a layer of aluminum stovepipe tape. I then drilled a hole in the front of the exterior, inserted the LED, and glued it in place. I used a piece of aluminum tape to attach the circuit to the exterior wall (there was plenty of space). Reassembly was quite easy, once I found a nut and bolt that were exactly the right size to replace the rivet I drilled out.
The result looks and works very well. When I showed it to Susannah, she could not guess what I did, and was convinced it had had a factory-installed power indicator light all along. Mission accomplished.