Hey all. I'm considering getting a charcoal smoker and was wondering how well the WSM does in cold weather say down to around 30 degrees outside?
It's not so much temp. It's the wind. Mines gone 12hrs in 20degree temp dumping snow with no wind. If you plan on doing a 9hr+ smoke, I would wrap it with a welding blanket just to be safe and not eat through so much fuel. The wind is really what chills the WSM down. I've had wind kick up on 70degree days and knock it down to 150.
I use a 6 ft. X 8 ft. welding blanket with my 22.5" WSM, works great for both wind and cold temps. Here is a link to one of my winter smokes - high temps. for the day were bellow 40°:
Never needed a blanket in 30 degree weather before. Like others said wind can be the issue as it will make keeping a stable temp a chore. If you have two pieces of plywood, you can make a wind break if you need it (depends on where your smoker is located if you even need one as if there is something else breaking the wind path like part of the house or garage, it may not be necessary). Wind can either fan the flames with too much air, or suck all your heat out depending on how things are set and how much wind, etc....
As to the cold temps, I've smoked down to about 15 degrees without a blanket, but there was no wind that day. Done quite a few smokes in 30 degree or so temps with no problems. I guess I should add I also use a BBQ Guru power draft so the other sources of air sneaking into the charcoal chamber are closed off. If it's colder, you just burn a little more fuel keeping the temps up.
Don't let cold temps keep you from using the WSM this fall & winter though.
Here is a page at TVWBB site specifically on smoking in a WSM in cold or windy weather. Lots of good photos of ideas others have come up with to combat wind.
That must be what happened to me this morning, when I put my pork shoulder on, it was a bit windy and when I went to check on it later in the morning, the fire died...now I know to watch out for in the future...I think I will also do the high temp oven seal for the lid, I also noticed quite a bit of smoke escaping this morning too
I love having my welding blanket, it works as both a windbreak and insulation at the same time, but when I don't need it, it folds up into about a 1.5 ft.x1.5 ft. x 6" package for easy storage.
I just did a cold weather pair of shoulders, and it seemed that the temps were higher than normal and I burned through a bit more fuel than normal, but not by a whole lot.
There was no wind, and the overnight temp went down to the mid 20s. With the exception of needing to get another chimney going in the morning, it wasn't too bad. The fact that my butane lighter had run out so I have to go to the store at 8AM was bad.
The temp spiking was unusual. I'm by no means an expert, but I've smoked about 10 times now, and the temp in my WSM has been rock solid every time. This time, it spiked up to about 250 most of the time, and I had to choke it almost all the way down, which is also unusual.
Did the cold air move more air into the fuel chamber?
I've done many cold weather smokes on the WSM with the aid of a wind break only. Not to much difference in fuel consumption that I could tell. The WSM is great for these type of cooks.
This is what I put together for my WSM to get it out of the wind, I have it bolted to a turntable so I can get to all the vents for adjustment. I have vents at the top that I open for relief and I crack the door during a smoke for draft.
Man, that is one sweet set up. One question, do you have anything that vents smoke out of the shed? As for Fireproofing you might want to consider a layer of 5/8" drywall.