Temperature control

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cansmoke, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. Smething I've struggled with is temperature control.  I will start at 180 and the temp climbs to 350 and then proceeeds to drop.

    I have a CharGriller with side firebox (haven't used that much).  If I understand correctly, I would need to opening/closing vents the whole time to tame the temp in range.

    I use charcoal briquettes and if bbqing I add 2/3 chimney hot 1/3 cold.

  2. It is all about air control. Find all of your leaks and seal them up The learn to contorl the air with the vents.

    Happy smoken.

  3. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

      Are you using a charcoal basket? This will make a difference. Mine is about 11 x 10. I fill it with lump charcoal and wood chips. Add some burning coals to one end with intakes and exhaust wide open. As desired cooking temp approaches, close the intakes. I close mine fully because I still have air leaks. It will maintain desired temp within 10 degrees for about 6 hours. I'm sure each smoker will be different, but give this a try. Also, let us know how it turns out.

  4. big griz

    big griz Fire Starter

    x2 Mike is right about the air leaks on the CharGrillers. I had to go so far as to add a couple stainless steel bolts to the fire box and suck it up against the main body to keep it from sucking in air through the small gap between the two. I also added a gasket to the lid to make sure it seats right. Once you seal all the leaks you can find and learn how yours works best, you will be fine and really enjoy your grill.
  5. IF I close the intake vent on side of firebox when temp reaches desired temp, it has not gone up again when I opened it when the temp started dropping. I guess I have a whole bunch of "learnin'" to do on temps and when to add charcoal.  So far, the "mistakes have been edible. :D

    Last night, I tried smoking burgers and with the wind, the temp topped out at 190.  I pulled the burgers and put them on the grill in the fire box.
  6. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes the air leaks are very frustrating....

    Charcoal basket a must. It moves the coals and wood out of the ash. This will be a huge help on temp control and fuel consumption.....

    Sealing the lid will help as well..... Many ways to seal them. I went the lazy cheap way of using foil around the edges.......

    I added tuning plates to mine and it helped with leveling the temp across the cook chamber and it added a heat mass to help in temp recovery.....

    Keep at it and it will become easier the more you do it. Practice make perfect.......
  7. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Temp control in a stick or charcoal burner is all about air control. 

    One thing to remember with any stick or charcoal burner is adjusting the airflow is sort of like trying to turn a cruise ship.  Any adjustment you make takes a few minutes to show up.   So make an adjustment and wait several minutes and re-evaluate if further adjustments in the air flow are needed (and which way). Waiting at least 5 minutes would be my recommendation

    If you don't wait long enough for the prior adjustment to impact the fire and either choke it back or stoke it up, and then fiddle with the vents again either adding more air or choking it off even more, before you know it you are chasing it all over the place and temps either spike or crash.

    Fiddle & wait..... then re-evaluate.    This is the key.

    On the other hand if you are wanting to target a 225* temp and it's spiked to 350*, it's time to shut the vents down all the way and once the fire is choked way back to around 190-195* then slowly introduce more air to slowly bring it back up.  It may continue to fall after you crack the vents a little, but don't panic and give it time.  Once you get it stable, it should run pretty solid until the fuel starts to be all used up.
  8. I'll have to check out a charcoal basket.  This is a barrell smoker and there is an ash tray with a grill in the bottom of both the main body of the unit and the firebox.  Today's challenge is ribs.  They've worked before on looooow and slowwww.  [​IMG]
  9. While temp control is still an issue, the ribs were good. If I close the vent as am at the desired temperature, it drops by at least 10 degrees and then takes time to come back.
  10. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Glad the ribs were good. That is always a great feeling.

    When I would use my chargriller I would take the cook chamber ash pan turn it upside down and rest it on the firebox bolt ends to form a make shift tunnel to help even out the cook chamber temps.

    In the fire box the cheap wire the charcoal sits on will warp and bow downwards after a couple cooks. The charcoal basket should sit on the rails just above the ash pan in the fire box so you can remove the ash pan during long cooks. Depending on what you use for the bottom of the basket will depend in how long till it wil bow down from the heat in long cooks. I used the grates from and old chargriller and cut them to size. Basket is still in great shape 2 years later, but the smoker is toasted and has been replaced with my smokehouse. Going to try and build a RF this fall/winter/spring while the weather is a bit drier and cooler to work outside.
  11. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I always let mine CG go past my desired temp range by 15 to 20 degrees then close the intake and let it settle back.
  12. big griz

    big griz Fire Starter

    X2 I let mine go over as well and then shut it down to stabilize at the temp I want. Keep using your unit and try different methods until you find what works with yours. I would also recomend keeping a log. I used to think it was going overboard, but once I tried it, I was amazed at how much faster I figured out what worked and what didnt. It kept me from repeating some of the same mistakes.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013
  13. I've been keeping a log since last fall.  My big issue is that onc e I "shut it down". and then need to get heat back up, it doesn't go back up. Got some experimenting to do, to which I hear the comment "and the problem with that is?"  [​IMG]
  14. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I think you can cure that problem by switching to lump charcoal from the briquettes. Lump charcoal responds more quickly to changes in airflow in the firebox when you open and close the vents and makes regulating temps easier. It also produces less ash than briqs, excess ash will restrict air flow and make temps harder to maintain.

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