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trouble controlling temps

gdp

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I have an 18.5 WSM that I've only used 3 times, so that may be that I'm too impatient. The last 2 smokes were snack sticks and I really have a hard time controlling the temp at the lower temperatures. I've realized I put in too much coals at the beginning but still had trouble last time with about 1/2 weber chimney lit to start with over cold coals. Even when I get it to 140 or 160, I have trouble controlling the temp within a +- 5 degree range. I'm mostly adjusting the bottom vents and do have a tiptoptemp on the upper vent. I found the tiptoptemp is great once the temp is stabilized but no impact for big temp swings I'm having.
Any ideas, tips or help is greatly appreciated!!!! Thank in advance.
 

sandyut

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if you have the budget you may want to look at a PartyQ I struggled with my 14" WSM in all kinds of situations, long cooks with variable ambient temps, wind, rain, LONG cooks, etc. the PartyQ is pretty dreamy and kept temps stable though all the above variables.

But - at low temps start with cool water in the water tray. I dont have mine anymore - switched to a pellet grill. so my memory has faded some and I moved to the new toy. The Virtual Weber Bullet site was very helpful when i was on the WSM, and before i found SMF. its all WSM.

good luck and welcome to SMF
 

Misplaced Nebraskan

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That tiptoptemp looks awesome in theory but haven't read how it works.

Is it windy out? is the pit in a area where the wind swirls at all? sounds like you are on the right path with the starting coals. Do you open the lid at all? (I'm guilty of this cause I take too many pics :emoji_laughing:)

The auto fan controllers are nice and worth it to some (I would if I had the WSM)
 

gdp

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if you have the budget you may want to look at a PartyQ I struggled with my 14" WSM in all kinds of situations, long cooks with variable ambient temps, wind, rain, LONG cooks, etc. the PartyQ is pretty dreamy and kept temps stable though all the above variables.

But - at low temps start with cool water in the water tray. I dont have mine anymore - switched to a pellet grill. so my memory has faded some and I moved to the new toy. The Virtual Weber Bullet site was very helpful when i was on the WSM, and before i found SMF. its all WSM.

good luck and welcome to SMF
Thanks for the advice. For now I'm committed to making the WSM work as is. The website has some great info that I'll try. That PartyQ looks cool but hard to justify when I got a new looking WSM for $90 on craigslist!

That tiptoptemp looks awesome in theory but haven't read how it works.


Is it windy out? is the pit in a area where the wind swirls at all? sounds like you are on the right path with the starting coals. Do you open the lid at all? (I'm guilty of this cause I take too many pics :emoji_laughing:)
Wind is a good point. I had some gusty wind off and on and noticed it made a difference. I'm going to move it behind a bush next time that should shield it from the wind and keep it in the shade. This might do the trick with less lit coal.
The auto fan controllers are nice and worth it to some (I would if I had the WSM)
For the tiptoptemp, It works great on my Performer grill. It takes the place of small adjustments and running back and forth to check, once the temp is stabilized. I really like it and well worth the money IMO.
Wind is a good point. I had some gusty wind off and on and noticed it made a difference. I'm going to move it behind a bush next time that should shield it from the wind and keep it in the shade. This might do the trick with less lit coal. I'm pretty good at keeping the lid closed.
I'll look into the auto fans. Was not aware of them. Thanks!
 
Last edited:

5GRILLZNTN

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For smoking at that low of temp, I think you are using too many lit coals on top of the unlit. I usually use no more that 10, 12 lit coals for my low and slow cooks.
 

BoilerBBQ

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I use 6-8 lit coals in my 18" WSM to smoke at 225-250, so you likely had too many off the bat to hit your target temp. If your WSM is new, it will have air leaks at all of the joints, especially the door. The air feeds the fire and makes your dampers less effective. The best solution is to cook some fatty stuff... pork butt, chicken... The grease will seal it up and make temp control easier.
 

sandyut

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you may want to use one of these kits to seal the door and possibly that other connection areas on the main unit. I used them on the door which leaked like crazy.
 

gdp

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For smoking at that low of temp, I think you are using too many lit coals on top of the unlit. I usually use no more that 10, 12 lit coals for my low and slow cooks.
Thanks, sounds like this is a big factor for me.
I use 6-8 lit coals in my 18" WSM to smoke at 225-250, so you likely had too many off the bat to hit your target temp. If your WSM is new, it will have air leaks at all of the joints, especially the door. The air feeds the fire and makes your dampers less effective. The best solution is to cook some fatty stuff... pork butt, chicken... The grease will seal it up and make temp control easier.
Thanks. It's not new but was cleaned really well so it does need some greasy stuff in it.
you may want to use one of these kits to seal the door and possibly that other connection areas on the main unit. I used them on the door which leaked like crazy.
Good point about the door. I actually ran the wires for meat and IT thru the side of the door which created a gap. Mine doesn't have the newer grommet for wires and I'm not thrilled to drill into the grill, so my plan is to notch the door, fill the notch with some high temp RTV, then slice the RTV so I can slide the wires into the slice without any air gaps. We'll see how that goes but it should work.
 

daveomak

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Weber recommends controlling the temp by adjusting the top vent...
 

sandyut

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I think they actually say to use the bottom vents to control the temp.
  • Pick up the lid by the handle, place it on top of the center section and open the vent on the lid (7).
  • E) The vents are used to regulate heat within the smoker. Opening vents increases temperature and closing vents decreases temperature (8). Temperature of 250 °F (121 °C) is ideal for most meats. Check the temperature every 15 minutes and open or close the bottom vents as needed until you achieve and maintain your target temperature. External temperatures and location will affect how your smoker performs. Adjust your cooking times accordingly.
 

gmc2003

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Try the snake method for the lower temps your looking for. Also +/- 5* is a tight range for a charcoal smoker. You'll also need to use water in you pan.

Chris
 

daveomak

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https://www.weber.com/US/en/blog/bu...ature-of-your-charcoal-grill/weber-29520.html

Written by Sean Mathy

How do you control the temp on your charcoal grill?

Many people think it's the amount of charcoal you use, but the answer lies with the air dampers. Adjusting the air dampers will increase or decrease your temperature. The more air going into the grill, the hotter the grill will get. The less air going into your grill, the cooler it will get.

Most of our charcoal grills have two dampers - a top lid damper and the dampers on your bottom bowl.

We suggest leaving the bottom dampers fully open and using the top lid damper to control the temperature. Factors such as the temperature outside, how windy it is, how clean (or dirty) your grill is and even the food you are grilling can affect the temperature of your grill, but these are the top lid damper settings we suggest to achieve different temperatures on your grill:

Damper Settings:
High heat (450-550°F) – Fully open

Medium heat (350-450°F) – ½ open

Low heat (250-350°F) – ¼ open

Low and slow/smoke zone (225-275°F) - 1/4 - 1/8 open
 

sandyut

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Very interesting. The instructions contradict this article. I swear I read the top vent should be fully open on the wsm blog site too. I could have been inverting my vent usage all this years. But I sold mine so I don’t have much skin in the game on this.

Thanks for sharing the Weber article Dave!!!
 

smokinbill1638

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WOW! That's the first time I've ever heard of adjusting the top vent. Everything i have read and seen says to leave top full open and adjust bottom. Does it work? I've had my 22.5 for many years now and use acyberq with mine to control temps but I'm interested to know for sure.
 

cocoafloridaboy

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I have a DigiCue 2. I can't say enough good things about it. Yeah, It costs a pile of money. But, It controls the temp so perfectly, it is truly amazing. I just did a 24 hr smoke, pork butt, 11 lbs, at 220 degrees and it kept the temp at 220 the whole time. It has a ramping setting that as the food gets near its target temp it slacks off on the pit temp, so you don't over cook it. It does make your WSM 18 look like Little Boy or Fatman, with all the wires hanging off of it and around it. But it does what they say it does. Mine is 3-4 years old. You can just set it and go on with your business. I went to the beach for 6 hrs, came home and the temp was 220. Amazing! Takes all the worry and stress out of smoking. I too had trouble with adjusting the dampers and such. I'm sure others will say the same.
 

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