Original kettle temps

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by mosparky, Sep 1, 2015.

  1. Until recently, I have only used my 22.5 weber kettle (charcoal)for grilling and I love it. Now since being here and elsewhere I have discovered way more this thing can do, but I need to regulate the temp. I have been experimenting some with very little success. The other night I grilled some steaks (sort of) I set up for indirect heat, seared steaks directly over coals, then moved to cool side for some indirect love. At this point I began cutting back the intake vents and monitoring temps thru the exhaust vents with a Taylor 1470N digital. Every time I checked the steaks I readjusted and checked more. I never did really get any real regulation until the end when the intake was closed to maybe a 1/4 inch gap at the top of the hole and the temp was about 375F. (at about 410 the taylor loses it's mind). That leaves a very small range of movement to choke the kettle down to 225 upwards to 375.

     It occured to me that as longs as the intake is bigger than the exhaust, it will run unregulated to the limits of the exhaust. I know from reading here and other places that I really don't want to cut back the exhaust except for possibly very fine adjustments.

     I summize from some of the post here that many of you are engineering minded. Lend me some brain power. My thinking and math approximates that if I block off 2 of the 3 intake ports, the remaining port is just slightly larger than the combined 4 exhaust ports, thereby leaving me nearly the entire range of intake vent for heat control.

     Am I barking up the wrong tree ? If not, which to leave open ? under the meat side ? under the coals ? Foil baffle under meat to direct flow to coals ect. Of course I do intend to keep exhaust vents over meat opposite coals.

     Thanks for any input.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My Kettle is well used, decades old, and gets used a couple different ways. 

    For direct and indirect grilling I never bother looking at chamber temp.  I'm more concerned with final Internal temp of what I'm grilling.  I leave the top and bottom vents fully open, direct heat to sear the meat for beef/pork or to crisp the skin for poultry, then move to the indirect side to finish to the desired IT.  By leaving everything fully open it is easy to get familiar with the timing required for each type of meat to finish to my desired IT. I no longer use my Maverick at all when I'm grilling.  I just use a digital quick read thermometer to check ITs.    

    For smoking in the Kettle I am concerned with chamber temps.  Personally I don't use exhaust temp as my chamber temp indicator.  I measure the temp at the grate level.  I found the exhaust temp can be at much at 50-100F hotter than grate temp.   

    The trick you have to learn with the Kettle is when to close your vents as the chamber temp is rising to catch the desired chamber temp.  You also want to encourage circulation in the smoker.  By positioning your open vents on the top and bottom opposite the fire you are maximizing circulation. 

    The main school of thought is the top vent should always remain fully open and the chamber temp should be controlled by closing down the lower vent used to control temps.  Personally, I watch how fast my chamber temp is rising and close down the lower vent when my chamber temp is 25-50F below my target.  With the chamber still unloaded with meat, I will close down the top vent too to help catch my desired chamber temp if the temp is climbing too rapidly.  I'll open the top vent back up once temps have started to stabilize and wait for thin blue smoke to appear before I load my meat, then do so as quickly as possible.     

    After that use the lower vent to control temp.  In the past when I was pretty bothered by 5F chamber temp fluctuations I would use the top vent to fine tune chamber temps.  With experience though I'm really not concerned with such miniscule fluctuations.  Keeping it within 50F above your target is fine using just the lower vent.          
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If you want low temps, limit the air on the way in, at the bottom. It is not uncommon to use the aluminum duct work tape to close off two of the three intake holes, depending on your model. Then the exhaust can be used to further regulate air flow. Additionally, to get to temps in the 225-275°F range a very small fire is all that is needed. For instance, running a circle of briquettes 3-4 wide by 2-3 tall with small chunks of smoke wood every 6 inches or so, and just lighting one end with 8-12 lit briquettes. This fire will burn several hours but not put out a lot of heat. This setup is good for whole chicken or a small pork butt but not so good for chops and steaks. You need to have a therm to monitor the temp in the kettle and one for the meat because opening the kettle will mess the whole system up and you will be playing around with adjustment constantly.

    The kettle makes a good grill but a marginal low and slow smoker. It can be done but is a PITA and requires trial and error. 

    Take a look at this... http://weberkettleclub.com/blog/2013/11/05/smoking-on-a-weber-kettle/


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