How can I test how hot my smoker gets?

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jun 14, 2006
Hello all,

I have the Taylor probe thermometer shown on this site.

I'm using the Brinkmann electric gourmet smoker.

It's ok, but there is no temp control. So I am always wondering what temp it is putting out.

What is the best way to test it?

I think I read something on here about putting the probe into a potato?

Basically, I'm wondering when I will know that the temp isn't going to get any hotter? Do you think an hour would be long enough? I am not sure how to know when the potato would stop heating up.

Then I was thinking I might test it with and without the water pan just for the heck of it.

I'm really planning on using it in the winter so I wan't to know what it will get up to.

Any advice will be appreciated.

You push the probe completely thru the potato. The part of the probe that actually takes the reading is just the very tip. The idea is that the potato serves to hold the tip away from the metal grates. Contact with the grates can give you an erroneous reading.

You can achieve the same effect by going thru the edge of a pice of meat leaving the tip exposed to read the pit temp.
:roll: Duuuuuuuhhhhhhhh.........

Thanks guys. Makes sense now.

I'll try it out this weekend.
Tried it out this weekend.

Seems like with the water pan, I am holdong steady at around 264.

Without the pan it is cranking up to 318.

I think I am looking into getting another smoker. I like how stuff has been turning out but from what I have been reading, 264 is too hot.

I know the salmon I made was good, but I think it cooked too fast.

Bottom line, while the food is good, I don't think it is as good as it would be if I were holding steady at 200-225. I'll have to look around.

If I get another one this will be good to use in the winter. I am sure it will be at a lower temp then.
Are you sure the probe is accurate Doug?

Take a reading in boiling water and see how close to 212* you get.

When my probes start to go, they can be as much as 12-20* off before becoming totally unreliable
Hi Bill.

Yes, I believe it is dead on. I know this smoker runs hot. Everything I cook is done faster than what it normally calls for.

When I made salmon I think the recipe I followed said 220 for 1.5 hours and mine was done in close to 45 minutes. So it is too hot I think.

Oh well, gives me something to look around at. What I have is good enough for now.

Before you start spending a lot of money for a new smoker....You will, I started with an ECB. got god with it, and could not wait to get a WSM. Tossed the Cheapo ECb away, told the wife it was was, but I wanted a new smoker.... Now I want a horizontal smoker, figure I can cook more meat at one time. Then it is going to be a Lang, and a new truck to drive it from TX, Then it will be something else, and something else.

What I am hinting at, is learn to master the smoker you have, it will do you a good job, and no matter what you get next, it will be sitting over in the corner of the garage laughing at you every time you don't fire it up and make some ribs, chicken, pork butt, brisket.... Show that smoker who is the boss, and make it give you some well smoed ABTs and some ribs for dinner this weekend....
Would starting with cold water in the pan help any?

I am unfamiliar with electric smokers. Does it have settings like Low Medium and High?

If not, is it possible to get a timer switch to turn the power off and on in 5 minute (or whatever it takes to maintain stable) intervals?

I'm guessing, because I never used or so the electric variety.
I just went and read the owners manual for your brinkmann to see if I could gather any additional insight.

There's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

Pretty useless other than 5 warnings to not let your flavoring wood touch the eliment, and of course, don't pour water on it.

I think I see there is no settings, from the picture at least
Thanks Gary, I know what you are saying.

Trust me, I don't jump into anything anymore when it comes to $. Seems like there is never enough :roll:

I've been doing well with this one. Definitely learning. I was thinking of doing a mod to let heat escape through the top or buying a different element with temp control.

Another factor is, this one is just kind of rickety feeling to me and with my 4 year old son running around, I just don't trust it. I'm always worried it is going to tip over and the hot water is going to go all over someone.

The one I am looking at is more solid and not that much $. Also, I got the one I have now for free so I figure I'm ahead of the game.

I found an element with temp control I could probably use, but by the time I did that it is over half the price of what the new smoker would cost. So I think I am just going to go with the new one.

Thanks for the advice though. Knowing me, I probably won't get around to doing anything for another year or two anyway :)
Thanks Bill. No, there is no temp control. You plug it in and whatever it throws out is what you get.

Yeah, the manual is pretty useless.

I think I am going to go with a new one. I figure I need to be able to hold steady at 200-225 for a lot of meats or I am just not going to get the results I should be getting.
Hey Doug just an other thought. You can always add a temp controller to the unit. Run a thermocouple to a temp controller which turns on and off the power to the element. Then you can set what temp you want to run at.
Thanks Cheech. I don't really know how to do that. And again, this new smoker is probably going to be around $125, so I figure I'll probably spend half that doing a temp mod on this one, and it is still rickety. I'll check it out though. Thanks.
If you got a electrical supply store neer by see if they got a DART drive(used for motor speed control) , it should be able to control the the heat . they run about 45$, if it don't give dezired results, it a riot with fans and lights.
One thing you can try that may not cost you anything is to run the power to your smoker thru a couple of long extension cords.

The voltage drop you get thru a hundred feet of extension cord may be what you need to drop the temp a bit.

I have one friend who told me once that a hundred foot ext. cord would drop his temp down to 180 degrees.

You may have to experiment with a few different lengths of cord, but if you're like me and have several hundred feet of cord laying should be able to find the length that keeps the smoker on temp.

Iâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]m from Pittsburgh too (Natrona Heights)! You can also use a stove rack thermometer…itâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s made to sit on the grate and gives you a true temperature at meat level unlike the gauge I stuck in the top of the dome. I have the same smoker you do and mine reads about 280°! So sometimes I take my Brinkmann 1500 watt heat coil out and just use a 750 watt table top burner (you can pick one up at W-mart for $10) with a control knob for those items that need a smoke between 135° and 200° Itâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s a cheap fix till ya decide if you want a new car or a new smoker! LOL
Hey Up in Smoke, small world!
Thanks, that's a good idea. What do you mean by a tabletop burner? Like a hot plate? I might have to give that a try.
Yep! You might want to invert a terra cotta dish on your lava rock to set the hot plate on. Also line up the control knob with your vent door and you can reach your hand in to get to the control without tearing the smoker all apart. I never burn myself under 200° You can set a metal chip box or a can with chips right on the burner. Donâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]t forget to soak your chips! Oh Yeah! Wait, is that Jalapeno/Cheddar deer stick I smell? :roll:
This is what I use,there was a couple of peeps on this site that told me about it. and with it Ive made the best prime rib. l pull it when the internal temp is at 135 than let it rest to 140 served with creamed style horseraddish sauce. it will tell you the temp of the inside of your smoker and the temp inside the meat, also has wireless 2nd unit you can rean while inside is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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