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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:19 PM   #1
Jr2bail
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Default I hate thermometers

I admit I am new to smoking and previously only needed an instant read thermometer when using my gasser as the one in the lid seemed pretty accurate.

My frustration....I have read up a bit on thermometers and understand the lid temp on my WSM22 should run 10-20 deg higher than grill temp. I have 2 different model digital thermometers, a Dual Temp model that measures internal meat and grill temps at same time..prev seemed to work well and pretty much match the stock lid unit. And the Taylor I used really only for food temp before.

Last night when I started my smoke both the Dual Temp and Lid thermo seemed to match pretty close until about 4 hours into the cook when the lid unit dropped to about 190. The Dual Temp read 233 so I just went with that reading as what was correct. An hour later I checked again and lit temp dropped a bit to to 184 and digital still at 233. I wondered WTF as I expected lid temp to be higher than grill.

So I grab a mechanical oven thermometer and it puts temp at 200. BTW water bowl is fine, no wind and all three vents open about 1/8. I increase vents to achieve 250 on mechanical and lid is now about same but I realize Dual Temp stuck on 233 still....Grrrr. I go to bed. Maybe Dual Temp took a dump. Up and down next couple hours with no significant changes.

Up four hours later and recheck temps. Lid is back to 190, Dual temp at 215 and mechanical at 275! WHO DO I BELIEVE...Temp does not feel 275. So I pull out the Taylor digital thermometer that I previously used only for food temp and put in on grill. It was within 4 deg of the Dual Temp so I use them and adjust vents to 225. Now seems Dual Temp working again.

Temp has been staying steady on the 2 digitals, still reading within 4 deg of each other, between 225 and 230. And get this..lid now reads 205 and btw seems slow to respond, and the mechanical oven reads 275. I am now relying on the 2 digitals.

I know this has been long, apologies Brethren, but I want to get a temperature measuring device I can rely on . The local stores in my area don't sell the stuff I see here so I can test them out. I don't mind spending the bones but I really need something I can rely on with a certainty that it is doing its job. Even on some the stuff I see here.. I.e....Maverick and QB, folks go back and forth.

Thoughts here are MUCH appreciated and again, apologies for the length of this post from a frustrated NEWB!
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
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Check the calibration on your thermometers.

Glass of Ice Water - Thermometers should read 32F (give or take a degree)
Boiling water - thermometer should read 212F (give or take a degree)

Whichever one is the closest to both of those points is the one that is most accurate. If they are all the same, then your grate temperature is the one you should be worrying about as that is the level that the meat is being cooked on.

As for the Maverick ET732. I have had mine for a year and it has worked flawlessly for me. My roommate ruined one of the probes by submerging it for an extended period of time underwater while doing dishes. I haven't babied my Maverick either and it still keeps going. I use it 2-3 times a week, and the transmitter usually sits on my deck bar (has a roof over it) for several days at a time through high humidity and still 0 problems with it.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:25 PM   #3
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Ahh yes. I have experienced much the same.

In my Bubba Keg if I ran a couple of my wire probed thermos with the wire between the lid and the grill it would quickly go to HHH or whatever it was that was too hot to read even though it was no where near the "real" thermal max. I deduced rightly or wrongly that the metal wire was conducting the heat to the probe via being in direct contact with the metal.

I think you are seeing some of the same results. Also, remember that the metal oven style thermometer will also likely conduct the heat right off the grate rather than the actual air temperature which can be two very different temps.

I think some of the higher end wired thermometers do a better job and or have better insulation to handle this.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:35 PM   #4
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Your making life much harder than it needs to be. Pick one!! Calibrate it!! Monitor on the grate for the cook temp. The temp in that dome is useless! It's BBQ> a relaxing beer drinking hobby have fun with it. To be honest I would forgo the thermo altogether. When it feels hot and the smoke is Sweet Blue it's time to cook and its done when it s done.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
Your making life much harder than it needs to be. Pick one!! Calibrate it!! Monitor on the grate for the cook temp. The temp in that dome is useless! It's BBQ> a relaxing beer drinking hobby have fun with it. To be honest I would forgo the thermo altogether. When it feels hot and the smoke is Sweet Blue it's time to cook and its done when it s done.
Bludawg hit it on the head about picking one and relax and drink a beer. It is cooking, it shouldn't be stressful unless you are cooking for a huge catering gig :p

As for forgetting the thermo all together, if you have time definitely do this. When I dont care what time the bbq is coming off the smoker and don't have anywhere to be, I dont even place a thermometer. But whenver I do want the bbq done by a certain time and need to be able to guestimate cook times by pit temp and mass of meat.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:50 PM   #6
Jr2bail
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Your absolutely right guys on the relaxing...appreciate your comments and popping a top right now....Why Did I Wait soooooo long!
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:52 PM   #7
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As stated calibrate one and go with it.. I cannot speak for the WSM thermo but the dome thermo in my Akorn reads 50 degrees off most days from Maverick et 732.. Than the other day had the Akorn in the sun and they were running pretty close.. You already discovered part of the problem with those types of thermos they are not grate level and they are very slow..

Have you changed the batteries in your Dual Temp.. My maverick was giving some goofy readings the other day.. Bounce up 5 degrees 5 seconds later down 6, back up 4 etc Knowing the Akorn does not bounce around like that changed the batteries and she chugged right at 228 the rest of the day.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 02:54 PM   #8
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Relax?

What the hell are you guys talking about! This is BBQ ... life and death has nothing on the gravity of this situation. Religion? Politics? Meaning of life? Child's play!

....hehe kidding of course. I like the relax answer much better than mine. I do find that a multitude of beer consumption invariably increases the quality of my BBQ in *MY* eyes.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #9
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When I started I was all worried about temperature too, trying to keep it constant. After many cooks, this is such a beginners worry and frustation. Bluedawg is always right, relax.

But to answer your question, I work in instrumentation field and thermometers are so highly overrated. A thermocouple or digital thermometer is so much more accurate. When it goes bad you will know it because it will generally just fail completely. No one in the industrial field operates off of thermometers anymore. They are there for just a quick glance to see how things are going.

If you are so worried about maintaining a perfect temperature and want to remain this way, that is fine but find an automatic temperature controlling device and buy it.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 04:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonjax View Post
Ahh yes. I have experienced much the same.

In my Bubba Keg if I ran a couple of my wire probed thermos with the wire between the lid and the grill it would quickly go to HHH or whatever it was that was too hot to read even though it was no where near the "real" thermal max. I deduced rightly or wrongly that the metal wire was conducting the heat to the probe via being in direct contact with the metal.
The wire running to the probe should not be inside the grill. You can easily break the probe this way ( I have). If you want to probe inside the grill you need to get a thermometer with a longer stem.

Also, calibrate the thermo with boiling gwater (should be 212).
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Unread 06-14-2013, 05:19 PM   #11
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I have the same issue with my 2 22.5" WSM's . My temp gauge on the WSM's are right on with the digitals until a few hours in and my mechanical gauges on both WSM go to 190. I believe the digital temp than the mechanical all day long. My buddy has the same issue with his 18" WSM. Can never always believe the mechanical gauges.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 07:42 PM   #12
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My WSM dome therm seems to run 25 degrees LOWER than the readings I get with a digital therm placed at grate level. I get a much more consistent temp reading with a cheap Taylor therm than my Maverick ET-732 which can be squirrelly in my book. I've gotten to where I just set things to run at 250 dome reading which gives me close to my intended cooking temp of 275. It's close enough for government work and there's no complaints on the results.

I worry less about temps these days, the main thing is to have the patience to let your cooks ride out as long as necessary. Patience isn't a virtue in Que, it's a necessity.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 10:15 PM   #13
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As usual, bludawg has some sage advice.

I remember my early smokes. Had a a wireless digital thermometer, the one that came on the smoker, and a thermapen, and none of the numbers matched up. So I calibrated, I stressed out, I set alarms on the remote thermometer to wake me up multiple times in the middle of the night if temps got more than 20 degrees either way of 225, etc. So stressful and not anything that bbq should be.

You'll drive yourself crazy worrying about temps and how accurate the readings are. Remember, this is bbq, stuff that people have been doing practically forever without any technology whatsoever, not splitting the damn atom. If you have a clean fire, some heat, and some smoke, your meat will be done when it's done, and it will taste farking amazing.

Granted, technology has enabled us to achieve some sort of consistency with a little more ease, but the same can be said for just having practice. The more you smoke, the less you find yourself relying on thermometers, worry about how accurate they are, etc. You just start to realize that if you build a fire a certain way, cook something for about so long, and know what meat feels like when it's done, you'll still end up with a damn good end product even if there isn't a thermometer within 100 miles.

So, like others have said, calibrate one if you need to for a reasonable reference, and then just throw the meat on and have a few cold ones. The meat will still cook, and the less you worry about it, the better it will taste.
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Unread 06-14-2013, 10:58 PM   #14
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Actually to the OP, My WSM dome t'stat runs approx. 25*F cooler than the Maverick grill temp sensor. The dome stat reacts more to direct sunlight and wind externally and there is a big chuck of meat between it and the coals internally. Towards the end of the smoke, they tend to run closer.
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Unread 06-15-2013, 02:05 AM   #15
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There is the old Confucius saying:
"A man has one watch he knows the time. if a man has two watches he isn't sure!"
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