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MrT

Maintaining Temps

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Hey, y'all!  First off, I'm new to grilling this way and it's even opened up the door to smoking now!  I used to hate to grill but now that I have my Kamado, I honestly get excited about cooking on it!  I've discovered a lost love I didn't know I had for smoking!  LOL  Anyways, while this thing is so friggin awesome to cook/smoke on I'm racking my brain at this thing being consistent with the temperature.  Here's what's got me.....  Right now, I'm smoking some chicken, but this happens whether I'm smoking or plain grilling.  So, I light my lump coal and let it burn for about 10 minutes with the bottom damper wide open and the lid open.  Then I shut the lid and bring the Kamado up to 270 (going by the thermometer on the dome).  At this point I'm ready to start cooking!  I open the lid to throw my applewood chunks in, put the heat deflector in and then the cooking grate.  I close the lid and run in to get the chicken.  I come back outside, open the lid to put the chicken on and close the lid again.  At this point, the thermometer on the dome has cooled down to about 125 or so.  I never messed with the to or bottom damper settings, so I figured the temperature would eventually catch back up to the 270'ish range.  But it never did!  I let it sit for like 30 minutes and the temp never rose about 120'ish range.  I was hardly getting any smoke so I opened my top and bottom dampers all the way to get the fire back up again.  Finally, the temps started to rise again and I closed the dampers down, but I had to keep the top and bottom dampers open more than what I had them at before just to keep it at the temperature I needed.  Shouldn't the same, initial damper settings I used to get it to 270 when I first fired it up, put me right back to 270 (eventually) after I've opened and closed the dome to put the meat on?  Maybe there is more science going on here than just keeping the same air flow settings??  Any help or advice is GREATLY appreciated!  

 

BTW, I've ordered a digital thermometer that comes with 2 probes (1 for meat / 1 for grill temp).  I'm hoping this will give me a much better clue as to what's going on inside after I've opened and closed the lid to put on the meat.

 

Looking forward to the help!

 

 

Thanks y'all!

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Welcome to the forum Mr T!  I pity the fool who messes with you:shock:

Let us know what kind of grill you have and I'm sure you will get advice that's spot on.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, BobE said:

Welcome to the forum Mr T!  I pity the fool who messes with you:shock:

Let us know what kind of grill you have and I'm sure you will get advice that's spot on.

 

 

Nice!  It's the Akorn Kamado 6520.

 

I've been reading a few forums since I got this thing, and I've picked up some tips!   But this temperature thing when opening and closing the lid is throwing me for a loop.

 

Thanks!

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6 hours ago, MrT said:

...Shouldn't the same, initial damper settings I used to get it to 270 when I first fired it up, put me right back to 270 (eventually) after I've opened and closed the dome to put the meat on?  ...

 

...BTW, I've ordered a digital thermometer that comes with 2 probes (1 for meat / 1 for grill temp).  ...

It should. In fact, with an Akorn, leaving the lid open is more likely to let the fire run away. 

 

How much fuel did you use? One early lesson in Kamado cooking is to always fill the fire bowl, rather than "using what you need," because you reclaim unused fuel by shutting the vents when you're done. Stir the old fuel so the ashes fall off, and add new on top every time. Just be careful not to fill the bowl with powder at the bottom of the bag. That stifles air flow. I sometimes have a hard time finding room for smoking wood under the deflector....

 

Welcome to the fold; your enthusiasm is great! Take time to play at this point, to experiment and find out what your Kamado will do; they're very versatile. HAve some fun!

 

Frank

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Your problem is the opposite of what I experience..

Opening the lid on an established fire adds "extra" air which causes the fire to flare up so lid open time must be limited/managed to keep temps from running away.

I suggest adding the wood before you start the fire and to get the meat on the cook grate as quickly as possible.

FWIW, the readings you see on the dome temp gauge are normal as the sensing element cools off quickly but should recover in a few minutes after closing.

Also, adding digital temp sensors will yield some interesting but at times confusing data to your cooks due the the dome temp readings versus the cook grate reading differences.

Introducing ice cold meat close to temp probe sensors alters the readings as well.'

Here's what I did to my Kamado, along with mounting digital probe/s at cook grate level.

Some times the dome temp matches the cook grate temps, sometimes it does not, so you have to experiment with which level's readings you can trust, or choose to trust.

 

DSC01802.JPG.531e5aeef775714b85ac86e414e4a4fe.JPG

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14 hours ago, MrT said:

So, I light my lump coal and let it burn for about 10 minutes with the bottom damper wide open and the lid open.  Then I shut the lid and bring the Kamado up to 270 (going by the thermometer on the dome).  At this point I'm ready to start cooking!  I open the lid to throw my applewood chunks in, put the heat deflector in and then the cooking grate. 

 

1 hour ago, Chasdev said:

I suggest adding the wood before you start the fire and to get the meat on the cook grate as quickly as possible.

 

I would also suggest that you put your heat deflector and cooking grate in while you are bringing your grill up to temperature. The cold heat deflector and cooking grate is going to cool off your grill.

Edited by Golf Griller

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11 minutes ago, Golf Griller said:

I would also suggest that you put your heat deflector and cooking grate in while you are bringing your grill up to temperature. The cold heat deflector and cooking grate is going to cool off your grill.

 

Of course!  Why didn't I think of this?  Could I be stupid?  (Maybe being stupid is like being insane—those that are don't realize it.)

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I'd recommend getting yourself a good digital probe thermometer and measuring the temperature at the grate. Dome thermometers typically take longer to adjust and the Char-Griller thermometers I've used are particularly unreliable. I never look at mine.

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17 hours ago, fbov said:

It should. In fact, with an Akorn, leaving the lid open is more likely to let the fire run away. 

 

How much fuel did you use? One early lesson in Kamado cooking is to always fill the fire bowl, rather than "using what you need," because you reclaim unused fuel by shutting the vents when you're done. Stir the old fuel so the ashes fall off, and add new on top every time. Just be careful not to fill the bowl with powder at the bottom of the bag. That stifles air flow. I sometimes have a hard time finding room for smoking wood under the deflector....

 

Welcome to the fold; your enthusiasm is great! Take time to play at this point, to experiment and find out what your Kamado will do; they're very versatile. HAve some fun!

 

Frank

I put a decent amount of lump charcoal in there.  I put the bigger pieces on the fire grate first, then put the smaller pieces on top.  I didn't pour them out of the bag onto the larger pieces, but I scooped my hand down in the bag and "selected" them so that I made sure I didn't get any small pieces down in there to block air flow.

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5 hours ago, Ogopogo said:

I'd recommend getting yourself a good digital probe thermometer and measuring the temperature at the grate. Dome thermometers typically take longer to adjust and the Char-Griller thermometers I've used are particularly unreliable. I never look at mine.

Yeah, while the chicken was smoking last night, I ordered the Thermoworks Smoke digital thermometer.  I'm hoping this helps me keep my sanity when smoking in the future!

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I appreciate all of the replies and advice!  However, can anyone say for sure if I should have to readjust my top and bottom dampers to get the heat to rise back up after I've opened and closed the lid? Without touching the damper settings, shouldn't the temperature had (eventually) gotten back up to the 270 where it was before opening the lid?  Or is it normal to have to readjust the dampers to bring the temp back up to where it was after I've opened and closed the lid?

 

I was able to get the temp back to where I needed it (and keep it stable), I just had to open the dampers up a little more.

 

Thanks again!

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On ‎2‎/‎17‎/‎2019 at 6:32 PM, MrT said:

I appreciate all of the replies and advice!  However, can anyone say for sure if I should have to readjust my top and bottom dampers to get the heat to rise back up after I've opened and closed the lid? Without touching the damper settings, shouldn't the temperature had (eventually) gotten back up to the 270 where it was before opening the lid?  Or is it normal to have to readjust the dampers to bring the temp back up to where it was after I've opened and closed the lid?

 

I was able to get the temp back to where I needed it (and keep it stable), I just had to open the dampers up a little more.

 

Thanks again!

 

When you get your probes, set them up as if you were cooking something and just do a test burn. You might be surprised at how your grate temps react. I'd say with very few exceptions when you run a below-300 cook, opening and closing the lid results in a momentary drop, followed by a temp spike as the fire eats up all that tasty new oxygen. For most Akorn users I've talked with the struggle is keeping the fire from running away when you open the lid, although tbf that's steel Akorn users. Ceramic guys I know personally don't have as many temp problems; they just leave it alone for the most part. Steel Akorns are extremely well insulated and don't soak heat as well which leads to more fluctuations on lid events.

 

In general, try to leave the dampers alone for about half an hour before you make any adjustments as sometimes the fire will adjust itself. Best of all is just to minimize how often and how long you open the lid.

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After your initial 10 minutes with the lid open, how long does it normally take for your Akorn to get up to that 270 reading with the lid closed? I'd recommend waiting at least 20-30 minutes, perhaps even longer, after closing the lid to let the temp stabilize before putting your food on.

 

The Smoke will help you in recognizing the differences between grate temp and dome temp which can vary by 50-75 degrees or so, with the dome temp of course being cooler.

 

When I was baking my cheesecake the other day, grate temp was just around 400. I wasn't even checking the dome temp which was quite a bit less I'm sure. But every time I opened the Goldens' to check on doneness, the Smoke low alarm (set at 375) would go off since the temp dropped to around 300 or so, then take 5 minutes or more to recover. You'll find that it should recover within a reasonable time period after opening the lid. If it doesn't, then you're probably running low on fuel. 

 

I realize you mentioned this and it's a good idea to hand pick the lump out of the bag to avoid the smaller pieces and dust. And if reusing lump already in the Kamado make sure to stir it as best as you can to eliminate as much ash as possible. Sometimes I get lazy and don't clean it out as often as I should - that's when I pay the price on that next cook. It takes forever to get the temps up to anything reasonable. 

 

Keep experimenting. It's taken us all some time to get accustomed to our Kamado grills.

 

-lunchman

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i ran into the same problem with my 1st cook... i ran too LITTLE fuel, thinking i only needed what i needed..

 

that being said, when i fired it up for cook 2 after reading info from here, i got that honker up to 600+ (no food of course)

 

good call on getting the digital thermometer... i used mine until it died and got a new one when i got my primo for christmas...

 

i also use a smobot, which regulates the top vent automtically based on desired temp settings

 

like the rest of the fine people that have suggested it, practice with your new cooker and pay ZERO attention to that numerical thingy-ma-bob on the dome of your grill... its costume jewelry

 

WELCOME! to the group, and never lose your enthusiasm for cooking... every time i turn around, i am finding new recipes to try and enjoying the s**t out of my grill

 

TB

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