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Heat loss on my ecb-like Char-Broil Smoker

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
OK, I have the Char-Broil Charcoal Water Smoker shown here: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100043270

I made some fatties and abt's on Saturday for the first time (sorry no q-view). Both turned out great and everyone like them. But, this is only the 3rd or 4th time I have ever used my smoker. Every time I need to open up the lid to flip whatever I am cooking over, I lose heat and can't seem to get it back.

I cooked the fatties for 90 min @ 250. I then opened the lid, flipped the fatties over, put on the top rack and placed the abt's on top. I closed it up again and was going to let it go for another 90 min. Well, my temp dropped to around 200. I waited about 30 min to see if it would come back up, but it didn't. So I opened the door and put in about a dozen more unlit briquettes using some tongs. I could never get the temp back up to 250.

Anyone have any thoughts/tips for me? Adding another partial chimney full of lit briquettes is difficult with this smoker as the water pan above the charcoal pan only has a few inches of room.
post #2 of 23
Is this according to the temp guage on the lid or did you have another probe somewhere else measuring temps? The lid mount therms are notorious for being way off temp.
post #3 of 23
I see. There is little room for access to the charcoal pan. The el cheapo I have is a Cookin' Cajun and comes in serveral pieces. I think you need to modify you smoker to allow for ventilation. This should help solve some of the problems with recovery time.

If some else can't find the mods for ECB I'll try to get them for you. There is a link for the mods.

Here's a start:

post #4 of 23
Do those mod's and enjoy!! cool.gif
post #5 of 23

Definantly remove those legs and set it up like mine. I just lift the whole unit up and access the fire pan. Heat stay up in the unit.
Also, why the flipping of food so much. Really you have heat from top AND bottom totally surround your meats. You can do it maybe once, but no more than that should be needed.
post #6 of 23
Son and DIL gave me one of these a few years ago and I tried it once - same experience as you. Read the mods in the above posts and started making the modifications. I love this little cooker now!! By all means make the mods and I'm sure you will be happy with it then.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
This is from the temp gauge that came with it. Unlike the "gourmet" version that only has wording on it, mine did have actual degrees shown. Thought that would be good enough, but after reading around on here it might not be.

I have been looking for a dual probe so I can monitor the smoker as well as the meat, but I might just end up getting 2 single probes for that.

Thanks for the reply.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
I think I will at least make the charcoal pan modifications mentioned. After reading, I think what is happening is smothering that is lowering the temp and prevents me from getting it back up.

Also, I have been using room temp water for the pan instead of boiling water which might help a bit better.

I don't need to put vents in the lid since it came with them, and I am thinking about getting one or two probes, so I won't need to put in a better temp gauage (or drill a hole since I can come down through the vent openings).
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Nice setup. I don't think I will go this route though, as I keep it in my garage when not in use and pull it out for smoking in the driveway when I need it.

Regarding flipping, I only do it once. Sorry, I thought that was clear in my OP. It is during this one-time flip that I seem to be losing temp and not able to get it back.
post #10 of 23
I feel your pain.

I have exactly the same smoker, and the same problem. I simply could not get enough heat. When I got it to the right temp, I couldn't keep it there. And stoking the charcoal one lump at a time is a MAJOR PITA.

The solution I got (on this forum) is found at gassmoker.com, a product called the V-burner. Just got it last week, and it is AWESOME!

Purists will scoff at using propane, but if you believe, as I do, that what counts is the end result, then give Ed a call. Very helpful, and it works really well.

Just did some ribs yesterday...great! First time I didn't have to finish off my food in the oven.

Good luck.
post #11 of 23
i have a masterbuilt.... same basic thing....

i actually dont use a water pan when i smoke....the reason being in my situation is that i go through more charcoal using the water pan

i start about 12-15 briquettes in my charcoal starter.... about every hour or so depending on the temp i start the same amount again and then add to the coals

as for keeping your temps up there...if you are looking, you aint cooking....

no need to flip the fatties...i dont and still get a nice even smoke ring on them.... keep playing with your smoker, keep smoking and u will find what works the best for your smoker
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Do you simply leave the water pan out? Doesn't this sort of convert it to direct cooking since there is not a layer between the coals and the meat? Or do you simply leave the water pan in there but empty?

Regarding the "if you are looking, you aint cooking", I don't look. The only time I see the fatties is when I take the lid off to flip em. I am now thinking that I might eliminate this step though.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Can you explain why you go through more charcoal with the water pan used?
post #14 of 23
I use sand in my water pan. I used to use water and there is a thread regardling the fuel needed with water or sand. If I'm not mistaken it take mor energy to smoke with sand in the pan than water. I cold be mistakened, btut I believe that's what it said. The reason I use sand is to get to 275-300°F and stay steady without having to refill the water thus eliminating the need to open the smoker. Otherwise, with water my smoker only reaches an unstable 180-210 and is never stable. As of now with sand I get 225-250 consistently with not much need to add fuel (wood).

This is what I have.

I have finally gotten to the point where I know how much seasoned wood I can add to get the longest burn without having to babysit a fire for preburn. It's sweet to get there. I have been using this little smoker for 3 months and finally figured out how to get the most out of it.
post #15 of 23
When you get your smoker problems fixed we need to talk about your avatar. Not that I have a problem with it, it is just so darn distracting I am having a problem concentrating on the posts. All I can say is WOW !!!
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply. Is there a flavor/taste issue regarding the sand? Do you use any ole sand?
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Psst ... check out my profile biggrin.gif
post #18 of 23
Don't use any ole sand. No, not even patio/landscaping sand.

Go to Home Depot and get washed/screened sand. It must be free of any contaminants. It's sandbox sand. About three dollars plus at Lowes/Home Depot.
post #19 of 23
Figjam -

and others with ECBs or similar units. When you lift the lid don't remove it completly. Lift it straight up just enough to turn or spray or whatever and you won't loose much heat unless there's a strong wind. The dome lid will help hold the heat. It will drop some but not as much.

I always use my water pan with water in it. It helps not only maintain the temperatures but help prevent grease fires.
post #20 of 23
The first time I didn't use the water pan (w/ water) I had a nice grease fire. I've used it ever since. Wondering to what kind of charcoal you use (I didn't see anyone ask that before)?
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