a balmy 9 degrees when I woke this morning....just finished my garage vent to allow me to smoke inside.
Now I just open the back door of the garage. Remove the screen from the storm door. Insert blue insulation board and attach aluminum sections of pipe. The section of pipe coming off the MES is that stuff used with pellet stoves and is not just thin junk... the rest of the sections are thin stuff. It extends above my gutter...seems to work well in test smokes. Have a fan mounted on the insulation board to exhaust smoke if needed, like when i open the door.
I all so wrapped it up and insulated it. The thermometer seemed to read closer to my remote probe once it started maintaning...within 3 degrees.
They sell them at your hardware store. If you get one, spend some time before hand custom fitting it and making sure access door and vents are accessible. They work well. I haven;t had to use one since moving down here though.
If you keep aluminum foil over it, I have use it for 4 or 5 smokes. The heat does make the sand fuse alittle to the pan, so make sure you loosen it if you need too and resupply some moisture to the sand so it is moist.
I don't use a water pan in the offset stick burner but I do in the gas vertical and the MES. I always use apple juice or a fruit punch and I do know that it will give the meat a slight flavor. I've always thought of it more of a heat sink and a way to disperse the heat a little more evenly in a smoker that has the heat source directly under the meat..... and it will help to retain the heat inside and decrease recovery time. I don't think it matters whether you use sand or water but I think the barrier between the heat source and the meat helps to distribute the heat more evenly and gives a place for the grease to accumulate without it catching on fire.
Not really. It is there for a heat sink, although it does provide alittle moisture, but that is not the main reason it is used. When using sand, if the humidity is low, I tend to spritz more, if the meats look dry.