Smoker temperature isn't accurate

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Original poster
Oct 31, 2013
I am not able to accurately tell what the temperature is in my smoker and I think I have been smoking at least 100 degrees lower than I want. I have three gauges - one on the smoker (Old Country BBQ Pits Pecos Coal Smoker), and two on the grate, one is an oven thermometer and the other is a kingsford grate thermometer. I place the two thermometers in different places on the great.

The problem is that there is no rhyme or reason to their reading compared to the smoker's thermometer. One will be higher, the other lower and vice versa, instead of the smoker's reading going up and down along with the grate thermometers. The bigger issue is I don't think I am getting enough heat, even when the grate thermometers read 225. It doesn't feel hot at all and usually takes me twice as long to cook something. and when i put my hand over the smoker vent it doesn't feel hot nor does the grate (if I count in 1000s with my hand over it).

I havent tried only reading the smoker thermometer which is my next effort, but any thoughts would be appreciated. I am new to smoking and have tried about 7 times and nothing has come out well yet except one tri tip which is probably impossible to mess up.




Meat Mopper
Aug 5, 2013
Buffalo, NY
Personally, I think the only way you can really know what's going on inside your smoker is to get an accurate remote wireless thermometer (I have a Maverick ET-732, but I've seen others here that like the iGrill).  It can seem like a lot of money, to spend $70 or so on a thermometer, but I couldn't imagine trying to smoke anything now without one.

Whenever  you open the smoker to check the temps you're introducing a whole new set of variables into the equation, and you're going to have trouble figuring out what's going on in there.  Also, I know on my smoker with a side firebox I had to do some work to get it sealed up tight, I think yours is a better quality unit than mine but you may want to look at that, too.
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Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Oct 4, 2012
Bend Oregon
Quite typically the stock therms on any smoker are not correct. The only way to tell is to check it against a therm that you know is calibrated. I would first recommend that you spend a little money and buy a good therm like the Maverick ET732 or the iGrill.

Both of these are pretty accurate right out of the box. Both come with two probes so you can use one for your smoker temp and one for your meat temp.

When you get your new therm test the probes to see how accurate they are. To do this bring a pot of water to boil. Insert the tip of the probe into the water. Be careful to not let the probe touch the pot, and do not get the area where the wire goes into the probe wet. Your reading should be right at about 212ºf. Note how far off your reading is so you can do the math and adjust as needed when cooking. You can also check the low end by placing the probe in ice water. Your reading should be close to 32ºf

Once you have checked the therms you can then compare them (knowing their accuracy) against the stock therm in your smoker.

Also note that you ca have hot and cold spots in your smoker. Once you learn where those are you can better arrange your food.
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dan - firecraft

Smoke Blower
Sep 18, 2013
We have the Mavericks and the IGrills. Maverick will also be coming out with a new ET-733 soon. It will be able to do everything the 732 to can do and more!


Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Group Lead
Feb 9, 2009
N.E. Oklahoma
As already mentioned, you need therms you can trust for accuracy.  Also, know that many smokers' temps will vary from side to side and front to back at grate level, so it is not uncommon to get different readings in different areas of your pit.  Once you have therms whose reliability you trust, it won't take long to get a grasp of your pit's performance in different grate zones.

Good Luck!

Last edited:


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Aug 1, 2008
Central California
The therm in the lid of my offset reads 70 to 75 degrees low at normal smoking temps.

The differential is not constant.  At higher or lower than normal smoking temps the differential will be in a different range.

Reliable therms for pit temps are really a must.

Good luck and good smoking.

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