Temperature Control in my new offset smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by ryangt, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. ryangt

    ryangt Newbie

    I have made some good barbeque using a kettle grill and an indirect setup in the past. I recently decided to upgrade to an offset horizontal barrel smoker. I bought a Char-Broil from Home Depot and really like it:
    It is well designed and rugged and I am generally happy with it. Unfortunately, a thermometer is optional equipment and Home Depot didn't have one in stock. I expected the offset smoker to be much easier than the fairly complicated indirect setup of a kettle grill. I am finding it a little tricky (I have only used it once). The biggest problem is knowing and controlling the temperature.

    I am used to being able to hold my hand over the grill to estimate the temperature. When I tried that with this smoker, there was a substantial difference between the end near the firebox and the far end. The far end felt almost unheated. I am assuming this is at least partly due to all the hot air going up before it gets to the far end when I open the lid to check the temperature. Is there a better way to do this short of finding a thermometer that fits in the hole?

    Also, my meat seemed to cook much faster than I expected. I assumed this means I was running it too hot and am hoping that if I close the baffles a bit more next time there will be more uniform temperature if the fire isn't as hot. Does this seem reasonable?

    Thanks for any suggestions on how to use this new smoker,

  2. smok'n steve

    smok'n steve Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If you search" charbroil silver modifications", you will find some good stuff. Ther are quite a few small things you can do to make your silver alot more efficient and manageable. try this link.


    that will get ya started.
  4. jet_deck

    jet_deck Fire Starter

  5. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The simplest thing you can do right now is to put a water pan close to the opening on the hot side of the smoke chamber. Leave the stock thermo where it is, but ignore it (if you remove it, you'll just have a hole to fix). Get you a cheap oven probe and mount it in the middle of the smoker at grate level.

    You can try to even things out with baffles and things, but I personally don't. I just take advantage of the differences and cook pork on the left side and chicken on the right.

  6. ryangt

    ryangt Newbie

    Thanks Josh. That seems simple and makes sense.

    "Get you a cheap oven probe":
    I bought a cheap oven thermometer for $3 at the grocery store that just sits on the rack of the oven. I think that is at least close to what you meant by cheap oven probe. It should hold me over until I can get something better and more permanent.

    "cook pork on the left side and chicken on the right":
    Is your firebox on the right or the left? Are you saying cook everything for the same length of time and put the pork on the hotter part? Or cook chicken on the hotter part for a shorter time?

    Thanks again,

  7. smok'n steve

    smok'n steve Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  8. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry, I really need to quit saying right and left. Yes, I cook pork on the far side, and cook chicken on the firebox side; the hotter side.

    If I'm just cooking one meat, and quite a bit, I just flip the charcoal grate and push it up against the opening of the firebox. This evens the temperatures out a bit. However, I do find that temperatures seem to be harder control doing this, so be prepared.

    Also, I don't like the analog oven probes because I don't think they react fast enough. I like the cheap (not wireless) digital probes; Before I built my temperature control system (which uses precision thermocouples), I have used the Accurites oven thermo's: $15-$20 at Lowes. Get a square block of some hardwood and drill a hole in the middle for the meat probe to poke through. This helps keep the probe from touching the hot grates which can ruin the probe, or at a minimum, throw off your readings.
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here is a really nice PDF file I found on the web that has some good instructions and pictures for some mods to a Char-griller Pro 800 w/ the side fire box. These are a little more involved than some I have seen, but the one about port for temperature probes is really cool and I haven't ran across it before. [​IMG]

    There are similar mods in a sticky under charcoal smokers that are probably easier on the checkbook and simpler to do than some of these. But this guy did a good job and make it look nice as well. [​IMG]

  10. I found a thermometer at Walmart in their grill supplies that fits the thermometer hole in the charbroil smoker. If you remove the plug that comes in the hole, you can thread the thermometer which has a base about the size of your thumb, mine anyway, right into the hole.
  11. RYANGT----

    I got lucky and got a char broil silver smoker and made some of the suggested mods and it worked really well.. in fact to well it was hotter on the non fire box side thatnt he fire box side and was harder to get to temp, because I'm also at altitude and I sealed the baffle to well .. here is a link to the thread..


    THE smokers we buy at the Hardware shops are a tinkers dream.. I've got projects till it is an effortless thing .. to go and smoke.. but then I might not spend all day tinkering and with an excuse to do nothing but stay at home and fiddle.. ENJOY the learning curve and the FOOD!!!

  12. rayneman

    rayneman Newbie

    Hello Rayan

    I can help you here.  The offset you have is fairly light with thin steel.  It is difficult to maintain an even temp due to the opening from the firebox to the cooking chamber.  The hot air and smoke rise to the top and the area in the cooking chamber nearest the firebox will be remarkably hotter than the middle to the end.  The smoke then evacuates through the stack.  There are some mods you can do that will help this problem.

    A convection plate is the best solution.  It will seal the top of the firebox opening and allow the hot air and smoke to flow under which will maintain a more even temp. throughout the chamber.  It will have progressively larger holes from the fire box to the middle of the smoking chamber This is one of two mods that is a necessity for any offset smoker.

    The second mod is at the smoke stack.  As hot air and smoke will rise, all the heat is heading for the stack and escaping.  I suspect your  stack is on the side of the chamber rather than on the lid.   The lid is much easier do deal with.  I use 12oz tomato sauce can, open on both ends, and connect to the bottom of the stack and resting on the grill.  This forces most of the smoke to surround the meat and evacuate lower keeping a more even temp throughout the chamber.

    If your stack is on the side, you can use a flex metal duct for HVAC furnaces. OSH and any hardware store should have it.  The same diameter as the can and the pipe will fit together nicely.  You will find a significant difference.  I am smoking a two pork butts right now.  The temp in my chamber is 228 1/3 from the firebox and 221 2/3 from the firebox.

    The convection plate you can make yourself but I opted to buy one from the BBQguys.com.  Im using a New  Braunfels Black Diamond that I've had since 1986.  They have other accessories for you that can help.

    Lastly, I use red bricks occasionally help balance the temp.  Id start with the conv. plate first.  Then set up the smoke stack mod.  lastly, the bricks. The last one can be tricky so do the first two first.

    Hope this helps.  The BBQ Guys can give you some great advice also.  

    Good luck
  13. Hey Everyone

    I got a Smoker for Christmas and just put fire ti it today to burn the oil off and season it. This is what i got.--> http://www.walmart.com/ip/Char-Broil-American-Gourmet-Charcoal-Smoker/13056699 . I am reading thru the mods you guys are suggesting and wonder these mods should work for the smaller smoker that i have???? I'm going to put together some fatties to smoke either today or Tomorrow. My wife bought some Kings ford Original charcoal then i found some Hardwood lump Charcoal to burn in the smoker. then i also bought some Hickory chunks to put on the charcoal after i get them started. I'm just curious if i am on the rite track to getting some good smoke??

    I Have smoked before using a Brinkman Top Load Gas smoker which worked well for what i smoked.

    Thank you and Cheers.

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