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Impact of outdoor temperature on Weber water smoker

providence

Newbie
24
10
Joined Jan 3, 2014
Hi all, I am attempting my very first smoking endeavor today. Yesterday in Rhode Island the temp was a big old -2 degrees. Today's prediction of approximately 40 degrees is virtually a heat wave, ha ha. Nevertheless, 40 is still chilly and I am wondering what kind of impact it will have on both getting my smoker up to temp (not hotter than 250) and maintaining a temp for the duration of my smoking (my meat will need to be in there for probably 1.5 - 2 hours). How much more time, charcoal etc. should I plan on (if any at all) to balance out the impact of the cold air temp?

Thanks in advance for your guidance!
 

nascott

Fire Starter
65
26
Joined Jan 5, 2014
Hah... in Chicago, we were 30 on Saturday, will hit a high of 20 today (I think we hit it already) and temps will plummet to a high of -15 tomorrow!

But, I'm attacking the cold with the smoker anyway... Weber Smoky Mountain 18.5".

I got it up to temp today in about an hour as it took a bit of time for the colder coals to get warm (Minion method for getting it lit) and I stuck my regular meat thermometer through the rubber probe hole and found out that although normally the heat at the TOP is the highest, in this weather, it's hotter in the center of the grill than at the top....

The top is registering right at 200 and the center is at 225 to 235.

Not sure if that will help, but good luck... I'm a newbie at this but trying to learn quick!
 

providence

Newbie
24
10
Joined Jan 3, 2014
 
Hah... in Chicago, we were 30 on Saturday, will hit a high of 20 today (I think we hit it already) and temps will plummet to a high of -15 tomorrow!

But, I'm attacking the cold with the smoker anyway... Weber Smoky Mountain 18.5".

I got it up to temp today in about an hour as it took a bit of time for the colder coals to get warm (Minion method for getting it lit) and I stuck my regular meat thermometer through the rubber probe hole and found out that although normally the heat at the TOP is the highest, in this weather, it's hotter in the center of the grill than at the top....

The top is registering right at 200 and the center is at 225 to 235.

Not sure if that will help, but good luck... I'm a newbie at this but trying to learn quick!
This is great info, I appreciate it!
 

gomez93

Meat Mopper
150
12
Joined Dec 4, 2013
WSM dome thermometers are not known for their accuracy, so you would be wise to double check it with a second thermo.
As said, it will take a little longer to get up to temp but will hold it fine as long as you are sheltered from the wind.
I would just fill the ring with coal, once you are done just close the vents and the fire will go out and you can reuse the coals
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,653
138
Joined Jun 5, 2009
If you are not using any kind of insulation and wind break your going to get only about 1/2 hr. of burn time per lb. of charcoal... sometimes less if its windy. Wind is the real killer on keeping a smoker up to temp.

However if you run down to you local welding supply store or Harbor Freight you can pick up a welding blanket for about $45, then run over to Home Depot or Lowes and grab some big spring clamps (big metal clothes pin type things). Wrapping your WSM like that will give you 1+ hr. of time per lb. of charcoal.

I can run at 250° in windy 28° weather with one vent 3/4 open with no issues. Just arrange the top so you are not blocking off the exhaust vent, and you can see the lid therm. I just use the lid therm as a rough rule of thumb guage to watch for any unexpected temp swings.

 

providence

Newbie
24
10
Joined Jan 3, 2014
 
If you are not using any kind of insulation and wind break your going to get only about 1/2 hr. of burn time per lb. of charcoal... sometimes less if its windy. Wind is the real killer on keeping a smoker up to temp.

However if you run down to you local welding supply store or Harbor Freight you can pick up a welding blanket for about $45, then run over to Home Depot or Lowes and grab some big spring clamps (big metal clothes pin type things). Wrapping your WSM like that will give you 1+ hr. of time per lb. of charcoal.

I can run at 250° in windy 28° weather with one vent 3/4 open with no issues. Just arrange the top so you are not blocking off the exhaust vent, and you can see the lid therm. I just use the lid therm as a rough rule of thumb guage to watch for any unexpected temp swings.

Great info, thanks!
 

mr clean

Newbie
19
11
Joined Jan 20, 2014
Do the vents get air ok under that blanket. I have a bud that's union insulater and was going to have him make me a insulated jacket but if this works fine it looks like a good way to go.
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,653
138
Joined Jun 5, 2009
Do the vents get air ok under that blanket. I have a bud that's union insulater and was going to have him make me a insulated jacket but if this works fine it looks like a good way to go.
Yup... the vents are more to the bottom of the curve on the bowl, and the blanket isn't wrapped air tight by any means. It just blocks the wind and adds a little insulation. All the discoloration on the top is just due to smoke residue, not heat discoloration.

Also make sure you don't block the exhaust, and if you can leave the lid therm visible, it helps to watch for big temp swings one way or the other.
 
Last edited:

flash

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
5,295
42
Joined Mar 30, 2007
If you have a water pan in that smoker, switch to Playbox sand instead. You'll see higher and more constant temps with sand.
 

flash

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
5,295
42
Joined Mar 30, 2007
 
That's interesting, thanks a lot!
 I usually dampen it a bit. Also place a sheet of foil across the top to keep grease spatter off and you can easily reuse it several time. Just add a bit of water to redampen.
 

providence

Newbie
24
10
Joined Jan 3, 2014
 
 I usually dampen it a bit. Also place a sheet of foil across the top to keep grease spatter off and you can easily reuse it several time. Just add a bit of water to redampen.
Sounds great, thanks again. 
 

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