Barbecue 101

Ugly Drum Smoker

Controlling your Smoker’s Temperature

Great BBQ is dependent on number of different things ranging from the amount of smoke to your entire cooking process. None of this is possible, however, without being able to control the temperature of your smoker!

Temperature Control Simplified

I don’t dare pretend to be a scientific experiment on smoking, but let me try and break down temperature control for you as simply as I can!

It all basically comes down to your air intake and exhaust; on smokers these are called dampers. The intake damper will be at the bottom of your smoker, the exhaust damper towards the top or chimney. Proper temperature control in your smoker will depend on your ability to let air flow through these dampers.

Like any fire, the more oxygen it gets to feed it the hotter it will get. The same with the smoker, when you open the intake and exhaust dampers wide open it allows more oxygen into the smoker and therefore makes the fire hotter. Closing them more lessens how much oxygen the fire is getting and therefore maintains or lower temperatures in your fire.

This will take a little time to master with your smoker. Every smoker is different and it takes practice to learn how wide to open the dampers to maintain certain temperatures in our smoker. Helpful tip: when you’re starting your smoker, open the dampers all the way and let the smoker rise in temperature. When it gets to your desire temperature close the dampers a little bit to lessen the oxygen flow and maintain the desired temperature.

For more in depth information check out Amazing Rib’s info on Temperature control.

Temperature Control Even More Simplified

Controlling your intake and exhaust dampers seems pretty simple in theory, and it can be when you get to know your smoker, but there is even a more simplified way to control your temperature! The answer: Temperature Controllers.

A temperature controller, simply explained, is a thermometer/controller that has a probe to measure your smoker’s air temperature and fan that is aimed at your fire/ charcoal. When the probe is reading temperatures lower than what you set it for, it will communicate with the fan to blow air into your fire. This will provide more oxygen to your fire, hence raising the temperature. When the air probe reads that the temperature is back within the desired setting the fan will stop blowing.

Temperature controllers are great because you can leave your smoker and not have to worry about what’s going on. These controllers will keep your smoker going for hours without you having to worry about it.

The Temperature Controller I Chose

When I built my smoker I already had in mind that I would get a temperature controller. I went with the BBQ GURU DIGIQ DX2 temperature controller. BBQ Guru makes some pretty decent build and simple temperature controllers. Like I said these are great for making sure your smoker doesn’t go out of the desired temperature. They are a little pricey, but if the peace-of-mind of knowing your smoker is within your set temperature, than the price is worth it! Check out my BBQ GURU DIGIQ DX2 Review video to see my extended thoughts on it!