Temp Controller (blower) on an offset smoker

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by wichita chief, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    I have seen a few people who use a temp controller/blower on their wood smokers and I had a curious interest in them. A few weeks ago I bought an igrill2 thermometer and used it on my last 2 smokes. Now that I have an accurate reading at grate level I find myself paying more attention to the temp swings which occur from loading more wood, wood burning down, etc. I realize that a person doesn't have to be anal about keeping the temp EXACTLY on a chosen number and that temps will fluctuate slightly. I'm just more aware of what is happening and strive to minimize the difference. I find myself going out to tweak the inlet air control slightly more than I ever have done. I have an Okie Joe's Longhorn. It's sealed up pretty good and I use a charcoal/wood basket in the fire box on the elevated grate that came with the unit. My swings are from my inexperience with the unit and previously only having the Tel-Tru thermometers on the lid to track temp. I understand that a wood offset requires more attention than an electric or a gas unit to maintain proper temps. I'm looking at a controller to lessen the required tweaks to the air and change my attention to monitor fuel level and condition. My long winded question is this. Of the people who use them do you like the controllers? I know some brands have better tech support than others (from what I see on here). Some do more than others. I have been looking at the Auber units since the PID controllers for electrics are talked about with such reverence on the forums and the price is good. Also they are on sale thru the end of the month. I would like to see a variable speed on the blower vs and on or off which the Auber (and probably most others) uses. I would think that if installed in my air inlet it would blow ash dust into the cooking chamber. Per an email response from Abur you install it above the charcoal grate. How do you users do the install? I was wanting to use the existing opening down low. Any ideas or advice are welcome. It's through this forum that I learned so much and can produce some nice brisket, pulled pork, and ribs! Thanks!! Don
     
  2. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    Don,

    I use a DigiQ DX2 on my WSM and I swear by it. It makes the WSM as close to "set and forget" as  you can possibly do when Qing. BUT it's a vertical smoker.

    I've never used one on an offset., although I intend to modify a charcoal offset next Spring to accept my DigiQ. Winter has set in up here and I'm not  gonna fool with it until it starts to warm back up in the Spring.

    The only concern I have on a stick offset would be the fan capacity. Most of the kits come with a 10 cfm fan and I'm not sure that's enough air for a big offset. I believe you can special order 25 cfm fans but they are pricey.

    My WSM install is on the lower intake, below the fuel box and I never get ash in the cooking area above. I doubt that the fan has enough power to blow ash across the fire box and into the cooking chamber but I'm guessing based on fan speed and air movement. Again I haven't user one on an offset (YET).

    -Willie
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
  3. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    Thanks Willie. I've looked at The Auber units and you can get a 10 or 20 CFM blower for $154. I'm not sure which size I'd go with. I did contact Auber customer support and they thought either would work for my smoker. An Okie Joe Longhorn has less volume or close to as a 55 gallon drum made smoker. I'm guessing less. Have you ever had problems with your Digi Q? Is the fan either off or on or is it a variable speed?
     
  4. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    If your smoker is about the size of a 55 gal drum, the 10 cfm fan should work fine. I've had the DigiQ for 2 seasons and have had no problems at all. The fan turns on and off. It is not variable.
     
  5. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    Thanks!!
     
  6. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    When you modify it, take pics and let us know how it goes. I'm sure many of us would like to follow this. When I do my charchoal offset in the Spring I'll do the same.
     
  7. braun

    braun Newbie

    Updates from you guys on using a temp controller on an offset? I was just looking at doing this to mine. I see people talk about using them on offsets but no one has really given a solid review on if it works just as well as on the vertical units. 
     
  8. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    Haven't had the time and the Wx is just now getting to the point that we in the NE can come out from hibernation (It was 32 last night but warming to 65 today and 80 tomorrow!). I'm so starved for BBQ that I'll be using the WSM and MES for the next month just to get my BBQ blood level up to a point where I can start working on the new pit.
     
  9. dkellogg3

    dkellogg3 Newbie

    Hi. I just upgraded from a Chargiller to a Longhorn. I used a Heatermeter on the CG and during my seasoning heat on the LH. With the HM, you can use any number of fans, and can also include a servo for damper control. Ive been experimenting with various combos, and have found that the axial fan used in the "Microdamper" doesn't provide enough oomph. On the seasoning heatn I reverted to my 25cfm blower style fan throttled down to about 60%...so, I'm now building a "large" Adapt-A-Damper that combines a 15cfm blower withe the servo, and I think that is hoing to be the perfect combo for the LH.

    https://tvwbb.com/forumdisplay.php?85-HeaterMeter-DIY-BBQ-Controller
     
  10. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    I still haven't jumped on anything yet. I have seen good experiences people post about with the DigiQ DX2 and the Flame Boss. I'm looking at the IQ120/130 and still the Auber. Auber has a new model out this year which looks like a cool unit! WiFi and all. It's about $125 more or so.  I don't really need the food probe option since I use the igrill2 to monitor the food.  But that won't decide my choice either way. A controllers ability to keep a set temp of course is paramount. Ease of operation and ease to set are important. I'd be happy with a black box with a display of set/actual temps and the required power & probe sockets. It sounds like the HeaterMeter is a bit more geeky than I would take on. This time of year I stay really busy so finding the time for reading about and researching the different units is difficult. I'll post what happens.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  11. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have used a Guru on my WSM for years. It would hold a temp for 23 hours without even adding any charcoal or wood.

    When I bought my Lang, I put a port in the firebox below the wood grate.

    I had to buy the 25 cfm fan to get enough air.

    But to tell you the truth, I can keep the temps just as steady with the dampers.

    And why bother with a temp controller on something your going to have to add wood to every 45 minutes or so anyway.

    In my opinion, for a stick burner it's a waste of money.

    Just my 2 cents!

    Al
     
  12. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    Good point Al. I always see people who burn charcoal talking about them but rarely do I see many stick burners mention them. Needing a 20-25 cfm fan to make it work is what I was figuring and your mention just reinforces that. Thx!!
     
  13. Wichita Chief!

    I can give you a good review on using the Oklahoma Joe Longhorn smoker.  I recently purchased an temp controller that was very affordable, compared to the rest of the market, and i was able to upgrade with a 50 CFM fan.  I am not a spoke's person or am i trying to promote this brand, but it was a Q Master Senior and the cost was $185.00.  If you have time, google it and watch some YouTube videos on it.  One of the issues I had when using this controller, was the ash blowing all through the chamber.  I didn't cook with wood on my first attempt, but i will try next time.  I also have a 10 CFM fan that i am going to try on the next smoke as well.
     
  14. I'm using a BBQGuru DigiQ2 on my offset.  So far, so good.  I installed the blower in the end of the firebox, lower than the grate with the fan mounted under the CC blowing toward the FB door.  Cost was ~$250.  Add a bit of $ if you want the top model that has WiFi/Bluetooth capabilities.  Great company support.

    I'm not a true wood burner; I use charcoal for heat and occasionally throw in a stick of oak for smoke/flavor.  So far, I've used the system only to control CC temperature and have not used it to monitor meat IT.  I do that with a Maverick 732.  The Guru system will maintain the same temperature as long as there is adequate fuel in the FB.  I keep all doors and vents completely closed and let the Guru blower supply all the necessary air.

    When I did the first trial runs, I noted ash in the CC.  I slid the damper in the blower about halfway closed and now no more ash.  It causes the fan to run more, but that's OK.  Once the smoker is up to the set temperature, the blower cycles on and off for only a couple of seconds to maintain that temp.  The blower is one speed, not variable.  I sort of like that since it allows the volume/velocity of air to be controlled by the position of the damper.

    My cooking procedure is pretty simple.  I get a chimney of charcoal hot (I use Royal Oak lump) and dump it in the FB.  Then I add the entire bag (~15 lbs) into the FB and let the Guru bring the temp up to my setting (say 275*).  That takes 45-60 minutes.  Then I put the brisket in the CC, add a stick of oak, and stand back.  I add another stick of wood when the smoke disappears (about once an hour).  After about six hours, the meat stalls and I wrap it.  After that point, I don't add any more wood.  The Guru and fuel will hold the temp steady for 8-10 hours.

    I have a friend who uses the Guru on his WSM 22.5" and produces wonderful pulled pork BBQ.  He starts cooking the night before, sets it and forgets it until lunch time.  Everything else I've read about the Guru/WSM combo is very positive.

    All in all, I'm totally satisfied with Guru.  I'm sure other systems will work just as well, but Guru offers great service and has been around for years.  The main point I offer is that a controller on an offset cooker significantly reduces the temp variation and the constant tweaking of the draft.  You can mostly set it and forget it.
     
  15. dkellogg3

    dkellogg3 Newbie

    Dave,

    1) what cooker are you using the temp controller on?

    2) I'm currently using a custom damper plate in the stock damper location (end away from CC) to connect my fan.  Am interested in putting the port under the CC to help provide protection from the elements, but have had a hard time finding people's opinions of this location.  Have you tried it in both locations?  If so, do you prefer one?  If not, any issue with it under the CC that you've come across?

    Thx,

    Don
     
  16. Don, I using a New Braunfels Black Diamond, similar to many other offset smokers.  I installed the blower into the FB on the end opposite the door, which is under the CC.  I did it for two reasons:

    1. There was already a hole there.  I had to enlarge it from 7/8" to 1 3/16" diameter to accept the blower tube, using the Guru's bulkhead mount accessory (which they supplied with the system when I ordered it).  Enlarging the hole wasn't easy, but that's what Dremel tools are for.

    2.  There doesn't seem to be any place on the door itself to mount it on my smoker.

    I've used the blower only in this location, so I can't say how it would work on the door end.  I've had no issues with it it in this location and it does offer a degree of protection from the elements, as in rain.  And with the damper slid over to about halfway open, it creates a "gentle" breeze under the fire grate and fuel and doesn't blow ashes into the CC.  I doubt that it matters which end of FB it's located on.

    If you go this route, Guru offers a flange/bulkhead mount for the blower.

    https://www.bbqguru.com/storenav?CategoryId=2&ProductId=10
     
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Al is spot on....  Adding wood every so often defeats the purpose of a temp controller....  Now, if you put 25#'s of charcoal in your smoker, go for it.... 

    A properly designed and built smoker is really easy to control the temp on .....   maybe your smoker needs some tweaking....   many have done that with awesome results....
     
  18. Dave, why doesn't some company design and build a smoker that is easy to control the temperature on?  Don't any of the companies read about the issues people have and incorporate them on new units?  Why don't they incorporate the tweaks and mods that everyone seems to have to add?  It's like buying a new car and then having to tweak it to get to run right.  I don't get it; the mods people constantly do are not installed by the companies, even after years have gone by.  At a minimum, a heat baffle and extending the stack to the cooking grate can't be THAT expensive.  I'm frustrated.[​IMG]
     
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ahumadora builds smokers that work...   He chose our forum for opinions on smoker builds...   He seems to be happy with what our members provided...  I guess, he wanted happy customers and with any kind of luck, the money will follow....

    Generally, they don't care...   They have designed a smoker, sent the layout plan to the fab shop, where they are entered into a computer to cut out for assembly.....

    IMO, their smokers are designed to SELL !!!   Not cook food...  Or they would have done a test trial with someone that knew something about smoking food, and they would have found the short comings....

    That "Trial and Test" was done by many, many members on this forum to make improvement to Alien and Company's smoker calculator....   Over a period of 2-3 years, the members tested mods and reported same... 

    Today, the tutorial they all volunteered to spend time and money on, works pretty darn good and numerous smokers were built and I still get "Thank-yous" from folks how great their smokers perform and how little fuel they use...

     I guess it all boils down to making folks happy or counting the money....

    ...THAT'S MY OPINION...
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  20. Who the heck is Ahumidora?  A person, a company?  Searches come up blank.
     

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