Quick rookie question - controlling temps on a gas smoker

Discussion in 'Grilling Tips' started by bandit25, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. bandit25

    bandit25 Newbie

    Hey guys,

    New to gas smoking. I was wondering, how do you control the temperature? I have only read that you adjust the air inlet vents, and leave the exhaust fully open. But do you also adjust the regulator to control how much gas is going into the smoker? I would imagine that only closing the air vents to lower the temperature could cause some gas to go un-burnt and pollute the food...

    If you do adjust both, how do you find a happy medium?

  2. lonestarmedic

    lonestarmedic Smoke Blower

    Not an expert on this but have a couple propane box units.

    1) Get a good thermometer for both the meat and the inside of the box.

    2) Yes, you do adjust the propane valve on the front of the smoker.

    3) Top open and adjust side vents is normal way to regulate. But top can be adjusted also.

    4) Wood chips will burn up quickly in most steel pans inside propane smokers. Switch to cast iron container. And switch to chunk wood.

    5) Good chance that even on low the inside will be too hot. Several ways to fix.

         a) Install a UL listed needle valve in the line

         b) Can sometimes turn the valve between Off and High and get a lower adjustment just before off. I do not like doing this on a control.

             But it does work in an emergency.

         c) Put a wood wedge in the door to keep it open a bit and bungie it shut. Yes it wastes smoke etc. But it will save a cook!!

    6) Invest in a good gasket material for the door(s) I suggest the 1/2" wide by 1/8" thick Lavalock stuff. Self adhesive and stays stuck.

    7) Not all foods require water in the pan. Poultry does better with a pan full of sand as a heat sink and a slightly higher temp.

    8) High temp RTV is only good for 500 degrees F. continuous and 600 degrees F. intermittent. Propane unit running on high can hit 500 easy.

        Rutland furnace cement will withstand 1200 degrees at a minimum. Us it to seal corners in box etc. that might need it.

    Good luck and ask questions.

  3. bandit25

    bandit25 Newbie

    Thanks for the tips!

    I ordered a Maverick ET732, and is getting here today.

    I do have wood chucks, not chips.

    Interesting comment about the steel vs. cast iron. Would wrapping the chunks in aluminum foil and putting in the steel pan help? Or should I still put them in a cast iron pan?

    I currently have hi-temp RTV around the door as a gasket, as I'm only using it for low temp cooking. If/when I get up close to 400-500 I'll consider switching to Lavalock!

    As far as getting a UL needle valve. Any specs that I need to find, or is it being U.L. certified enough?

    And so for adjusting the temperature. When/why do I adjust the side vents if I can just adjust the valve on the front of the smoker?
  4. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  5. lonestarmedic

    lonestarmedic Smoke Blower

    Finally back on line. Ok, most needle valves that are use have 1/4'NPT male threads flowing to 1/4" NPT female threads. Arrow on side body of valve shows this. The modern propane smokers of the Box and Warehouse store variety all seem to use the same setup now. Regulator with a permanent hose attached. And the smoker end has a #6 SAE female swivel flare. The smoker then has the #6 SAE male flare end. Do not confuse #6 SAE with #6 JIC. NOT the same!!

    Solution #1) Cut the hose, use nipples with 1/4"NPT on them and hose clamps. (Not my thing on propane.)

    Solution #2) #6 SAE Female to 1/4"NPT male fitting. Then a 90 degree 1/4" NPT fitting. Needle valve. Then a #6 SAE Male to 1/4" NPT fitting.

    Depending on whether you want the valve vertical or horizontal will dictate the 90 degree fitting. The tough fitting to find is the #6 SAE Female to 1/4"NPT. I ran it down at Tejas Smokers in Houston.  I have done this to my Masterbuilt small 2 door and recently to my Smoke Hollow PS4400 two door from Sam's Club.

    I will do my best to put up some fitting pictures this week. I have a brand new set to install for a friend. Then a couple pictures of the mounted valves.

    Also the cast iron skillet trick works great on the units with a single round 15,000 BTU burner. A 10'-12" with a set of bolts for trivet legs set wide enough to go to the outside of the burner guard. With my Smoke Hollow I had to totally redo the bottom end. Put in new rails for pans and new cast iron pans. End result was a great setup for chunk wood.
  6. lonestarmedic

    lonestarmedic Smoke Blower

    As to the side vents, I use them more to control air flow to the wood for combustion than I do for heat control. But, on a very low flame you often need to damp them down a bit to avoid the burner getting blown out. The side vents will control the smoke flow. I usually open the top side pretty wide and then regulate from the lower side. This will prevent a buildup of creosote products and having it get on your food. "Black flecks"
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
  7. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I think cajun bandit sells the whole shebang already made for you if I remember correctly.

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