Smokin-It Smoker Temperature

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by suya, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    I still consider myself a novice so please be gentle.

    I have used my Model#3 twice for cooking without the benefit of an external thermometer so now that I have one, I thought I would calibrate my smoker just to know what actual measured temperatures are vs. set temps. I was a bit shocked at first as to the results. Initially I just set up the smoker probe on the Maverick ET73 and set the temperature on the smoker to 200. It was 33 degrees outside. Initially I just wanted to see how long it would take the smoker to get to 200 so I set a stop watch. Imagine my surprise when the temperature shot past 200 to 270!


    At this point, I thought something was wrong with my probe so I attached the food probe and dropped it into the smoker and just let it dangle.


    As the food probe was catching up, the smoker probe hit 296!


    At this point, out of curiosity, I opened the smoker to let it cool down, then set the temp to 225 (which is where I made my last ribs) and tried again. Again, 296!


    This time I let things stand just to see what the cycle would be. 13 minutes after this high, temps got down to 250 before heading up again to the 290s.


    At this point I was wondering if something was wrong with my smoker, or what I was missing then I remembered the discussion about water pans and heat sinks. I ran out to the grocery store and bought 2 11 3/4 X 9 1/4 foil pans. Filled both with hot water and tried again.


    This time, I think I over insulated the chamber from the heat, and might have been interfering with the thermometer on the back wall of the unit because half an hour into it, with the thermostat set at 225, I was stalled at 155 in the chamber. 


    I then took one pan out, reoriented the remaining pan and tried again.


    With the temp set to 225, the chamber temp. hovered between 254,


    and 224 13 minutes later (and stayed in about that range)


    So, what have I learned? I understand that having food in the smoker will have an effect on the chamber temperatures and might affect the wild swings in temp, and I didn't have any in for this experiment, but if you have a Model #3 like me, and you are only smoking 2 or 3 racks of ribs, the food may not be enough to act as a proper heat sink. In my little uncontrolled experiment, I am more comfortable with the swings with the water present vs. absent so going forward, I will be using a water pan. I also don't think I will ever smoke anything again without the use of an external thermometer. I know this should be standard operating procedure, but I've been trusting thermostats and that is probably not a good idea. I may reach out to the SI folks and see if what I am experiencing is normal or I might have a faulty internal thermometer. I am honestly not too worried about it because even if my thermometer is faulty, it looks easy to replace which is one of the reasons I bought this unit. 

    Sorry for all the pictures, but photography is another hobby of mine so I tend to over photograph :)
     
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Interesting....I have followed your posts on the other thread. Initially I recorded everything...swings, time to recover, time to reach temp, time b4 it kicked in again. Then just started loading food in and setting it and checking back in a few hours to see how the meat temp was doing with the probe. Basically, letting the swings fend out for themselves. I've come to understand this is normal for an analog electric unit..much like home ovens. I have not burned anything and feel comfy as long as I see the unit cycling off & on and not just sticking ON outta control. I've seen other posts with owners having contacted Smokin Tex customer service regarding such happenings and ST replied that after about 90 minutes the unit is warmed up and temps should 'settle in' and not swing as much. Makes sense but I never bothered to actually track it as food seemed to be coming out fine and that was my concern.  I would say start running food through and get it thoroughly broken in and see if it all works out...monitoring the meat probe for IT of course. Many feel the moisture put out by large muscle cuts is enough that a water pan is not needed. many use a pan for flavoring liquids.....try it and see your opinion. Keep us posted....enjoy
     
  3. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Great report. 
     
  4. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    Nice job, I too had similar swings unloaded. This is why I am seriously considering a PID for this smoker, those swings are fine with PP but when you're trying to do a step up on sausage it is nerve racking to watch the ET-732. I mostly do ribs, chicken, PP, etc. so not a real big deal, but when you need the more controlled and exact temps it just is not working well.

    Like Willie and Sarge said, no biggie over a long smoke loaded with a whole muscle. Ironhorse is trying to sort this out with Steve from SI now and not having a lot of luck, sounds like he just wants to refund his money and be done with it - which is $hitty customer service in my book.
     
  5. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I wonder if the swings will be as pronounced at lower temps for doing sausage? I also went to electric for better control of temps for doing sausage. I now see many of the sausage masters on here cold smoke or smoke with very little heat for a few hours then poach to finish. I do want to experience a full smoke of sausage to completion though. Thinking maybe a smaller test batch, say 2.5 pounds, to see how it flies. I'm not adverse to a PID but would want one that's a no-brainer to install and hopefully not 250 bucks....lol.
     
  6. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I would think a refund would be appropriate for good customer service if other options under warranty are unacceptable.  Am I missing something?
     
  7. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    This is the thread I was referring to: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/138078/temp-problem#post_957410

    Ironhorse was having some coms issues with Steve (which I have had so I believe), and when they finally did talk he made it sound like Steve basically told Ironhorse he did not know how to take a temp. From what Ironhorse posted Steve's solution was to just refund the unit, but it sounded like Ironhorse was on the hook to send it back (which is understandable of course, but expen$ive).

    The reason I don't think that's good CS is that it sounded like the other options had not been vetted or entertained and it escalated straight to refund. Ironhorse is waiting for a reply on an alternative, so we'll see how that turns out. Again none of us except Ironhorse and Steve have the full story, we know there is often more to these cases then meets the thread, but from what I have seen so far it seems like poor CS. It appears there may be a problem with the part, and according to the warranty should be covered for 3 years.

    http://www.smokin-it.com/returns.asp

    "Parts Only: This product is warranted against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for three years (effective 9-15-2012) from the date of delivery. Within this period Smokin-It LLC will send replacement parts for your product without charge. Simply contact us at [email protected], or the phone number listed below.  

    Contact Us: 2711 West Market Street, P.O. Box 13423 Fairlawn, OH 44333 - Voice or text at: 260-417-9951"

    I'll admit my expectations for CS are a bit high, so I could be way off base here. In that case, I'll be expecting that axe and knife to be hurled my way any minute [​IMG]
     
  8. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    CS is what is fully expected.  Each customer has their own expectations.  The axe and knife are sheathed.

    I missed this entire thread. Not sure what Ironhorse said or did not say in his communications with SI beyond the temperature issue. If it were me, and I was offered parts, I would take them.  And I would hope that SI would take the customer at his word to send back that which was not needed.  But it is not my company.

      In the meantime, since there is some disassembly required in order to swap them out, I would pull the old controller and see if it has an adjustment that can be made, or maybe some sort of left over manufacturing gunk somewhere along the contact interfering with the voltage. Could be a loose connection at the element (expansion/contraction issue) or the probe is bad. Personally, I don't think the element is bad. Procedures for testing the element and the controller are explained on the SI and the ST site and are nearly identical. Popping the top and back may be a tad time consuming but possibly worthwhile. 

    On the subject of the PID, digital is always going to be more accurate, and more expensive.  And the Auber unit is supposed to be reliable. Put the two together and you have a digital unit at far less cost than Cookshack. A couple of years back, CS got a bad batch of boards for their controller. And from what I was told, the defect played out for some time till all was fixes. Supplier problem.  But it did get fixed and those with bad boards had to send them in for a replacement (or maybe it was the other way around).  In any event, it all worked out ok.

    Well, I will be interested as well to see how this turns out.

    .
     
  9. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    BTW Smoke, what is a PID? And is PP Pulled Pork?
     
  10. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    Proportional Integral Derivative = PID. Basically, it regulates the temp inside the smoker to within a degree or two depending on how much you want to spend on a unit. Think of it as a hypersensitive thermostat. DIY kits run around $100, for someone who is not electrically inclined (such as myself with that detail of wiring) they have "plug-and-play" models for around $200 - $300. A lot of them are programmable, so you can have it start at 100* for 2 hours, then bump to 150* for 2 hours, then go to 225* until the internal temp of your meat reaches 205*. Program it, turn it on, come back when it's done.

    PP = Pulled Pork. Correct!
     
  11. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    So, quick follow up. I sent the folks at SI a note sharing my findings and inquired as to if this was normal or not. I did get a response in less than 24 hours saying that while swings were normal, mine might be swinging too far. In less than 24hours, a replacement part has been shipped (I have the fedex tracking number). I am traveling this week but if the part shows up, and I have time, I might put it in this weekend.

    Am I still happy with my purchase? Yes, very much! I'll let you all know how the part replacement process goes but I am happy with the customer service I'm getting. S happens to everyone, it is the response to S that matters :)
     
  12. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the update, a very different result than Ironhorse for sure. Please keep us posted is the new parts fix the swing.
     
  13. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Seems like a quick response.

    Helpful is as helpful does!
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  14. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    Got the replacement part and installed it yesterday. It takes about 30min if you have silicone sealer at home and don't have to run out to buy some :) The instructions were easy to follow but of course, I feel they would be even easier if they included pictures so without further adue, here are the instructions with my pictures and comments.

    This is what the part looks like.


    1) Prior to changing out your new heat control unit, please make sure your smoker is NOT plugged in!!

    2) Remove all grilling racks from inside the smoker including the rack holders on the side.

    3) Remove the plastic control knob on the top of the smoker by pulling straight up


    4) Remove vent hole fitting by holding it from both the outside and inside of smoker and unscrewing the fitting. I was able to do this with my fingers with out any tools.


    5) Remove top panel of smoker by removing the screws and safely placing them in a pile to reinstall and just move the panel slightly to the side.


    I had no idea what slightly to the side meant at the time, so I just left the top panel on, and moved it slightly forward. You really can't move it "slightly to the side" until after step 7 as you will see.


    6) Remove back panel of smoker by removing the screws and safely placing them in a pile to reinstall. Notice my top panel is still kind of on but pushed forward out of the way.


    7) Remove the three fiberglass panels from the back of smoker and place to the side of your work area. After I removed 1, the wires attached to the control unit were revealed. Remove the rest of the panels to also expose the wire going to the temperature probe. At this point, you can now "move the top panel slightly to the side" Which means, it is still attached to the smoker by all the wires so set it to the side of the smoker.



    8) Remove guard from inside smoker that covers the heat sensor. While the screws are on the inside of the smoker, the back end is a nut. You might need someone to hold the nut on the other side for you. 



    9) Remove silicone sealer from location where the heat sensor passes thru to the back of the smoker and then pass sensor thru smoker wall to remove. I just picked it out with my fingers.


    10 Turn the top panel of the smoker over and remove the two nuts and then remove the screws to release control assembly from the smoker panel.



    11) install the new heat control, remove electrical connections from old controller and attach to the new controller using the same connection positions

    12) Pass the new heat control sensor thru the smoker wall and attach sensor bracket

    13 Use silicone caulking to seal the area around where the sensor passes thru the smoker wall. Wasn't sure what type of silicone to use here. I assumed it would need to be something heat resistant so I used this. Hope its ok!


    14) Reverse the process to reassemble smoker and you are ready to be smokin' again!!

    It then gives an email address to contact with questions.

    So, did this fix my problem? I don't know yet. I plugged it back in and it works however, the silicone takes 24 hours to cure and I didn't want to start heating up the chamber before it was cured, AND I returned the Maverick et 73 in anticipation of getting the et 732. I probably won't be able to take the smoker on a proper test drive till sometime next week. Stay tuned. 

    And yes, if I had it to do over, I would still buy this smoker. Maybe not the cord hanger which I took the opportunity to remove, but the smoker, YES.
     
  15. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Interesting.  Its good to see that SI is attempting to make your issues right.  I hope the new part fixes your temp problems...thanks for the very detailed post on the part replacement.  Good Luck!
     
  16. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    Nice post Suya. Thanks for the tutorial, be interesting to see if it fixes your problems. 
     
  17. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nicely detailed.  I hope it corrects the issue.

    Did you look at the two controls and see if there was any difference in detents or stops?  Probably not but I thought I would ask.  There sure is a lot of insulation in that rascal!
     
  18. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    Sarge,

    They seemed identical. I didn't get down to comparing numbers but I might be able to based on the pictures I took. I am confident, all is well. I might actually be able to do some testing next weekend.
     
  19. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97 Smoking Fanatic

    This thread is making me look closer at the Cookshack. Memories of all the mods needed on the MES to correct all the issues to make it an excellent smoker. Well let's buy a smoker, take it apart and rewire it and modify it and now it's a good smoker. Are there products out there that are designed well from the get go? Or are we a bunch of tinkerers that just need to make it a little better ;)
     
  20. I'm not sure this a completely fair assessment. There seem to be legions of very happy Smokin-It owners, and one or two individuals who have had concerns about temperature swings. In this case, it seems to have been a faulty part, and the company sent the necessary parts right away to (presumably) make it right. Quite different from the numerous threads full of frustrated MES owners complaining about a raft of varying issues, and getting absolutely no support from the manufacturer. I came here a couple weeks ago to research the MES, fully expecting to purchase one - but after a couple evenings combing through the threads, I changed my mind completely and ordered the Smokin-It. I don't have it yet - it is due to arrive tomorrow - so I don't know yet for sure. Possibly I'll be back here early next week screaming and hollering, but based on everything I've found so far, I'm not thinking it very likely.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013

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