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Temperature Control...

the_alchemist83the_alchemist83 Posts: 84
edited July 2012 in EggHead Forum
I tried searching for a thread on this and couldn't really find what I was looking for so I apologize if this is a double post.  So, I've had my large egg for 2 full weeks now and have cooked six meals on it.  I think I am getting better at temperature control and can usually get my temp locked in before I get the meat on.  I try to let my meat get close to room temp before I put it on so it's not cold.  Now, when I put the meat on, obviously I experience a temperature drop depending on the size of the meat.  I have a few questions regarding the temperature after this point:

1.)  Once the meat is on & lid is closed should should the same settings I had for bottom grate & top daisy wheel get me back to the temp pre-meat?  My gut says yes, but how long should I wait for this to happen?
           Example:  Tonight I did chicken wings.  Was able to get locked in at 350 F, no problem and did a pre-heat for 13 minutes before I put the wings on.  Once the wings were on & the lid was closed, the temp had trouble climbing back up to 350 F and I ended up opening the bottom from all the way up to 1" & the daisy wheel to 100 % which was up from 1/2" & 50 % (I'd say after 10-12 minutes after the wings were on).  Should I have waited longer for the temp to come back up?

2.)  Once I do get to the temp, should I be able to completely lock it in & never have to make adjustments the rest of cook?  I find myself watching the temperature closely and usually having to adjust the daisy wheel throughout the cook ranging anywhere from 20% - 100%.  Is this normal?  My suspicion is that I should be able to lock in a temp so I don't feel like I have to watch it every so often.  If that is the case, anybody have any tips?

As or right now, I would definitely call my cooks successful and tasty, but I'm just looking to get my temperature control refined so I can really make the most of my time & egg.  Thanks for the help, and if there is already a thread on this I apologize and would appreciate if someone could point me in the right direction.

Edit:  I figured this info my help.  When lighting my lump I've been using a single BGE starter cub in the center of my lump which is filled to the top of the firebox.  The cube burns for almost exactly 10 mins, goes out & then I add PS (if needed) or great, or whatever I'm using and close the lid.
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Comments

  • LizzieSampsLizzieSamps Posts: 894
    I am a newbie too let me preface with that. I have been very lucky to get the temp thing down pretty much. I let the lump burn with the dome open and wide open on the bottom vent at least 5 min-7min before shutting the dome. Then I have the DW off the dome and close lid once I am getting that white smoke. Then I start watching the temp. Depending on what I want to end on like 400. I put the DW on at 300 wide open and start to dial it in also close the bottom To about 1-2 inches screen. The smoke starts to clear up and is now ok to cook on.

    Once I have the temp within 50 degrees then put in PS the temp will go down just give it time to come back up. Once you have the temp set, then put food on, if you put a hunk of bird or beef it will go down. Just let the egg do its thing and come back to temp. If you heated up the egg and not just the air it will come back pretty quick.

    My egg likes to get to a temp and stick there. But if you open the dome to add something or check it the temp will go down, just wait it will come back.

    In your example I don't think you are giving the egg enough time to warm up. You are just warming air, that escapes when you open the dome You want to give it more time to warm the egg ceramics. Then it won't be hard to maintain your temps without messing too much with it.

    Good luck, I'm sure more experienced peeps will respond. :)
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,462
    1. Yes, wait a bit longer. The recovery time can take quite awhile. In lower temp cooks with the dome around 250, I find it usually takes around 1/3 hour to recover.

    Don't think of it as temperature control. Think of it as fire management. If the airflow doesn't change, the amount of lump that will burn remains the same. The airflow can be obstructed by very large pieces of meat that cover almost the whole grill area. In longer cooks, the ash build up can clog the grate.

    2. Expect minor fluctuations throughout a cook.The Egg can be phenomenally steady, particularly during long lo-n-slo cooks. It will often hold steady for 12 - 16 hours. But it is not unusual to see the temperature creep up or down slowly over a period of hours.

    Again, if the vent settings have not changed, the amount of heat being pumped into the system is not changing.

    In general, the daisy wheel petal adjustments are mostly a matter of finesse. Its nice to be able to adjust a temp up or down a few degrees, but I can't think of anything I cook on the Egg where 10 +/- is going to make a great difference.

    Here are a few worse case scenarios I've encountered. Fires producing a dome temp below 225F tend to fade away. Its a lot easier to hold a steady temperature around 250. Great big hunks of cold meat eventually shrink and cool. Expect that if you have to open the vents more than usual, once the meat cooks for a few hours, the dome is likely to be a 100 degrees hotter.

    And do not leave the Egg unattended for more than a few minutes w. the bottom wide open, and the daisy off, and the temperature at 400. I've watched the Egg go from 400 to around past zero in no more than 3 minutes. The temperature increase can be exponential.

    Being concerned w. the dome temperature is also somewhat misleading, because so much of the heat coming from burning lump is found in IR. If you are cooking direct, the side of the food facing the coals is much hotter than the dome temperature reading. And that varies immensely on how far the food is from the lump. Its several hundred degrees just between the lower grill position and the felt line.

    If you are really concerned w. temperature control, there are the automated stoking systems. For me, that's not nearly as much fun as going over to the shade, and sipping some beer or tea, and glancing at the dome therm every now n then.
  • BuckeyeBobBuckeyeBob Posts: 669
    For most of my cooks where I aim for a dome temp around 400, I find I rarely use the daisy wheel and have no issue controlling. Certainly for low and slow, I do use it. Anyone else do this?
    Clarendon Hills, IL
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    alchemist- I'd say you're right about your temp control problems, it's going to take some time to trust the egg.  One big lesson to learn is to not "chase" the temperature.  If you are doing a recipe that says 250, and your egg creeps to 260, don't choke the fire down to quickly get it back to 250, because then you will get down to 225, then get worried and open it back, and this will repeat the entire cook.  

    Only after you have gotten comfortable with where the vents should be for a given temp, will you trust the egg on it's own.  It took me a few months sadly, of trying to keep the needle exactly where I wanted it, to learn that lesson.  I went to Texas for Christmas and my family did a brisket.  He only checked the egg every few hours it seemed, and rarely touched the vents.  They've had the Egg 5 years and he just knows the settings.  So I came home with that in mind, and it made a huge difference.
  • BYS1981BYS1981 Posts: 2,497

    For most of my cooks where I aim for a dome temp around 400, I find I rarely use the daisy wheel and have no issue controlling. Certainly for low and slow, I do use it. Anyone else do this?

    I do this too, I find it easier, only one airflow is KISS for me. Keep It Simple Stupid. I only use DW for temp lower than 300.
  • Thanks for the responses guys, I figured part of it is just my inexperience.  I'll keep tinkering and keeping these things in mind.  Much appreciated!
  • NewbbqerNewbbqer Posts: 78
    Im glad you asked that question!  I have not even done my first cook yet, but this thread is very informative for all of us Newbies!  
  • the_alchemist83the_alchemist83 Posts: 84
    edited July 2012
    Well I am about an hour into my pork shoulder and still having some trouble getting dialed in.  I did a much longer pre-heat today (about 45-50 minutes) and thought I was going to be good to go.  The temp on my thermometer was at 320 F (I was shooting for 300 F) so I thought once I put the meat on & opened the lid it would drop it.  Was wrong, shot up to 335-340 F after closing.  My bottom was at 1/2" & daisy wheel was 50 %.  Ended up dialing down to 3/8" & 100 % daisy wheel and was still above 300 F, then to 5/16".  I know I'm making too many adjustments, just trying to find out the right settings.

    Edit:  Just checked at the 1 hour mark & despite closing down to 5/6" & 100 % daisy wheel temp had climbed back to 340.  Dialed it down to 1/4" to hopefully reign it in back to 300.  I guess we'll find out.
  • mroehlmroehl Posts: 16
    Unless I'm doing a long cook at lower temps I always just open my bottom vent all the way and pull the daisy wheel off the egg I start my lump and close the lid when the egg gets close to my cook temp I want I throw on the food. The temp of course will drop at this point but I don't put the daisy wheel on until I get the temp I want, then I put the DW top on and close it 1/2 way this will slow your lump down very fast after that a few taps either open or closed will dial in the temp. Another thing I like to do is get my DW sticky with a few low slow cooks this way when you open the lid the the setting on the DW will stay the same.
  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 1,165
    Well I am about an hour into my pork shoulder and still having some trouble getting dialed in.  I did a much longer pre-heat today (about 45-50 minutes) and thought I was going to be good to go.  The temp on my thermometer was at 320 F (I was shooting for 300 F) so I thought once I put the meat on & opened the lid it would drop it.  Was wrong, shot up to 335-340 F after closing.  My bottom was at 1/2" & daisy wheel was 50 %.  Ended up dialing down to 3/8" & 100 % daisy wheel and was still above 300 F, then to 5/16".  I know I'm making too many adjustments, just trying to find out the right settings.

    Edit:  Just checked at the 1 hour mark & despite closing down to 5/6" & 100 % daisy wheel temp had climbed back to 340.  Dialed it down to 1/4" to hopefully reign it in back to 300.  I guess we'll find out.

    Just out of curiosity, how did you light the charcoal?  After finding out on this site to pyramid the coals and just light the center, my slow cooks went much better than starting  in the chimney and lighting too big a bed.  

    A poor widows son.
    See der Rabbits, Iowa
  • NewbbqerNewbbqer Posts: 78
    I am very confused with the Dw in general. When you give the percentages is that for the little holes on top or for the slide to really open it up?


  • Well I am about an hour into my pork shoulder and still having some trouble getting dialed in.  I did a much longer pre-heat today (about 45-50 minutes) and thought I was going to be good to go.  The temp on my thermometer was at 320 F (I was shooting for 300 F) so I thought once I put the meat on & opened the lid it would drop it.  Was wrong, shot up to 335-340 F after closing.  My bottom was at 1/2" & daisy wheel was 50 %.  Ended up dialing down to 3/8" & 100 % daisy wheel and was still above 300 F, then to 5/16".  I know I'm making too many adjustments, just trying to find out the right settings.

    Edit:  Just checked at the 1 hour mark & despite closing down to 5/6" & 100 % daisy wheel temp had climbed back to 340.  Dialed it down to 1/4" to hopefully reign it in back to 300.  I guess we'll find out.

    Just out of curiosity, how did you light the charcoal?  After finding out on this site to pyramid the coals and just light the center, my slow cooks went much better than starting  in the chimney and lighting too big a bed.  
    I fill the firebox all the way to the top, using mostly larger pieces of lump, put in a single starter cube (BGE brand) in the center and light.  It goes out after about 10 minutes and white smoke is coming off.

  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 1,165



    I fill the firebox all the way to the top, using mostly larger pieces of lump, put in a single starter cube (BGE brand) in the center and light.  It goes out after about 10 minutes and white smoke is coming off.
    That should work just fine from my limited experience.  My first low/slow cooks were started with too large a fire and made it harder to control. It is a whole lot easier to control for me going up than bringing it down. 250° - 260° only need 1/4" - 5/16" to reach with the screen in closed position, but I'm sure all Eggs are a bit different from mine.   I am surprised how small an amount of air needs to be fed from the bottom vent on my XL to get the temps I desire.  I usually just use the DW to control the smoke allowed to exit.  About 1/16 - 1/8" open on mine. 

    A poor widows son.
    See der Rabbits, Iowa



  • I fill the firebox all the way to the top, using mostly larger pieces of lump, put in a single starter cube (BGE brand) in the center and light.  It goes out after about 10 minutes and white smoke is coming off.
    That should work just fine from my limited experience.  My first low/slow cooks were started with too large a fire and made it harder to control. It is a whole lot easier to control for me going up than bringing it down. 250° - 260° only need 1/4" - 5/16" to reach with the screen in closed position, but I'm sure all Eggs are a bit different from mine.   I am surprised how small an amount of air needs to be fed from the bottom vent on my XL to get the temps I desire.  I usually just use the DW to control the smoke allowed to exit.  About 1/16 - 1/8" open on mine. 
    Yeah, I'm getting there.  Slowly but surely, still working on what needs to go where.  I haven't really made anything 2x yet so I'm still learning.  As much as I want to be an expert in 2 weeks with only 7 cooks it's probably not going to happen, but that's half the fun right?

  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 1,165
    As I said, I have limited experience with only one year under my belt compared to many here with multiple years of cooking.  I have found that keeping a cooking journal has helped me a lot also.  Sometimes it is just a sticky note in my recipe book or a short note on the recipe in my loose leaf recipe binder, but at least it gives a reference back to earlier cooks.  My Maverick thermometer has also been a real educator regarding getting through the stalls that happen during a low/slow cook.  I never had any idea before how long the meat can lock in at a temperature and not move up during long cooks.  Good luck and have fun. 
    A poor widows son.
    See der Rabbits, Iowa
  • As I said, I have limited experience with only one year under my belt compared to many here with multiple years of cooking.  I have found that keeping a cooking journal has helped me a lot also.  Sometimes it is just a sticky note in my recipe book or a short note on the recipe in my loose leaf recipe binder, but at least it gives a reference back to earlier cooks.  My Maverick thermometer has also been a real educator regarding getting through the stalls that happen during a low/slow cook.  I never had any idea before how long the meat can lock in at a temperature and not move up during long cooks.  Good luck and have fun. 
    Yep, started doing this right from the get go.  I figured, I won't know what to change if I don't even remember what I did.  I record everything (I'm a chemist by training so keeping a lab notebook is something I do regularly) and this has helped.  I do need a good meat thermometer and that is something that is on the list of things to buy and probably will be purchased in the next few weeks.
  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 1,165
    I just received my Thermapen today, so I am a rookie regarding its use, but will be learning soon.  The Maverick works great on the low/slow and makes it easier to sleep on the overnight cooks.  I set the limits on the grid temp a little loose so I don't get nuisance alarms, but it will still save the cook if things get too far out of range or the fire goes out.  I make my living as a maintenance mechanic in the commercial food industry, and work primarily with PLC process control and instrumentation.  My next project will be a homemade temperature controller for the Egg.
    A poor widows son.
    See der Rabbits, Iowa
  • AleBrewerAleBrewer Posts: 555

    ...and work primarily with PLC process control and instrumentation.  My next project will be a homemade temperature controller for the Egg.
    Are you planning on a PID type controller, or using a PLC with a sensor and a temp transmitter of some sort?

    I work in industrial process controls...mostly power plants. I was entertaining the idea of building a controller of some sort as well. But, I just don't get to spend enough time at home to build something....in the end, I purchased a Guru Digi Q II

    Sure would be cool to see somebody build a set-up with an AB PLC and a Rosemount TT mounted to an Egg table.
  • alchemist- I'd say you're right about your temp control problems, it's going to take some time to trust the egg.  One big lesson to learn is to not "chase" the temperature.  If you are doing a recipe that says 250, and your egg creeps to 260, don't choke the fire down to quickly get it back to 250, because then you will get down to 225, then get worried and open it back, and this will repeat the entire cook.  

    Only after you have gotten comfortable with where the vents should be for a given temp, will you trust the egg on it's own.  It took me a few months sadly, of trying to keep the needle exactly where I wanted it, to learn that lesson.  I went to Texas for Christmas and my family did a brisket.  He only checked the egg every few hours it seemed, and rarely touched the vents.  They've had the Egg 5 years and he just knows the settings.  So I came home with that in mind, and it made a huge difference.
    very good advice FX

    Also, to answer your first question- In many cases it will not come up to the same temp because the more you add to the grate, the more the food impedes airflow. So if you cover the rack with wings, it will block airflow and you would need to adjust up a little to account for this. Ifyou are just doing a steak or something, it will come back but if you are doing 8 burgers or a whole rack of wings, you may need to adjust a little.

    You are on the right track- you are doing great but it takes a little time to learn the nuances of the egg. Once you do, it becomes 2nd nature. Like FX said above, I had a brisket on all night and adjusted temps may 3 times in 12 hours. I usually don't have to adjust at all once I get it locked in but I don't have a gasket and it's been very difficult to keep temps down without it
    Keeping it Weird in the ATX
    2 Large BGE
    1 MiniMax BGE
    1 Karubecue C60 (aka-"The Dishwasher")
    More accessories than TFJ knows about and one more purchase from mandatory counciling
  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 1,165

    Are you planning on a PID type controller, or using a PLC with a sensor and a temp transmitter of some sort?

    I work in industrial process controls...mostly power plants. I was entertaining the idea of building a controller of some sort as well. But, I just don't get to spend enough time at home to build something....in the end, I purchased a Guru Digi Q II

    Sure would be cool to see somebody build a set-up with an AB PLC and a Rosemount TT mounted to an Egg table.
    Yes the PLC would be kind of cool to do, but I have an AB 900 TC16 controller from a machine that was scrapped and the price was real good (free), so this is the route I am taking.  It also uses standard type K thermocouples and I have a couple of those from scrap also.  Just need to get an enclosure one of these days and buy a small fan/blower.  I would prefer to find a 110VAC powered fan so I don't need to have a DC power supply in the box.  I have never been lucky enough to get a PLC out of any of our defunct machinery and the cost is a bit prohibitive if you must purchase one. 
    A poor widows son.
    See der Rabbits, Iowa
  • AleBrewerAleBrewer Posts: 555
    The 900 should be great for the Egg....especially for Free!

  • tgklemantgkleman Posts: 216
    I built my own temperature controller using PID controllers from Auber Instruments.  In addition to the fun I had building it, I now have an excellent temp controller and don't have to worry about making adjustments to my vents for overnight cooks.  It will hold to 1 degree.  It is really quite amazing.  I did a brisket yesterday and the temp controller worked like a champ.

    Auber provides the curcuit schematics to use the PID as a BBQ Pit controller, as well as the PID settings.

    I also added to smaller PID controllers to act simply as temperature monitors and alarms.  I can glance out my kitchen window and see the Pit temp, the set temp for Pit, as well as 2 food temps.

    I bought the blower unit and adapter from BBQ Guru, and all of the electronics from Auber / Radioshack.

    Caution,  In the end, I spent about as much as a BBQ Guru, but if you enjoy those types of projects, you can customize it to your preferences (which is what I did.)
  • phishfindrphishfindr Posts: 12
    Great posts. I am 2:15 hours into my first cook. A 3 lb. whole chicken with the plate setter in place. Trying to hold at 235*, but temp is upwards to 300* then back down to 225-250 when I opened the lid to flip the bird. I am totally guessing at this point with the bottom vent, but it's barely open, and the DW is mostly closed. I feel like I'm going to stall it out with so little airflow.  Currently at 260*. Why am I stressed???
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited July 2012
    you are stressed because you are looking at the thermometer.

    when you open the dome, the fire does NOT cool off.  neither does the egg.  you are merely spilling some of the hot gasses, and cooling the thermometer, which is now sticking out into ambient air.  the fire, meanwhile, gets a nice large gulp of air.

    so, you have a fire growing, because you have just given it a giant gulp fair, certainly open more wide than your vents are.  but the thermometer is showing cooler temps.  ...but only because you took the thermometer away from the fire.

    when you shut the dome, in a panic you see a dropped temp. the fire has no clue though, and is mockingly instead growing hotter from the fresh air.  still convinced you lost heat, because of the thermometer (which is still cool), you open vents. in addition to the giant gulp of air, the fire now gets a permanent boost upward from this new setting.

    you watch the dome thermometer rise in temp, when really it's just reflecting the hot gasses replacing what you dumped out.  then, once it gets to your previous temp, it sails right by because of the huge gulp of air and your now more-open settings. if you'd left it alone, the temp would have settled where it was once the dome refilled with the hot gasses from the fire.

    pro-tip:  set the egg to your temp.  then ignore any changes in temp unless they are still there a half hour later, because if they are related to your opening and closing the dome, they will not affect the fire in the long run.

    imagine how hard it would be to maintain 55 mph if you stared at the speedo, and the second it went below 55 you hit the gas.  then you';d hit 56, and panic, standing on the brake.  meanwhile, the car is basically still at 55 and could care less.

    you're micromanaging a fuzzy system.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • TitanmanTitanman Posts: 30
    I am a maintenance mechanic also. I work with AB PLC's also. that would be awesome to build a temp controller with a PLC.
    The comment that was left by strike really made a lot of sense to me since i'm a new EGGHEAD.
    I guess i do what he was saying that you can micromanage temp control on egg.  
  • phishfindrphishfindr Posts: 12
    Thanks Stike. I totally agree RE micromanaging the thing. I left it alone (refused to look) until just now. 250*. Good enough for the first run. The low and slow concept is a bit different that what I'm used to, but exactly what I bought it for. I'll need to learn from experience with the upper and lower vents, amount of fuel, leaving it alone, total cooking times,etc. I'm a bit surprised that the vents are barely open and it's staying lit, but that's neither here nor there. Just what it is. 

    Looking forward to the end result!
  • gpsegggpsegg Posts: 388
    Stike.....what a great explanation for a question encountered by all new eggers! Another reason this forum is the best for learning,  exchanging info as well as just enjoying the trip! ^:)^
    George
    Palm Beach Gardens, Fl and Blairsville, Ga.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited July 2012
    @titanman, i'm saying NOT to try to micromanage it.  most of us went from a grill that said lo/med/high on the thermometer.  but now, because we have a thermometer that's broken down every 2 degrees, and we are trying to hit 250, we freak if it goes up or down.  fifty degrees difference means nothing. peeps need to mellow and just go with the flow
    :)>-
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • AleBrewerAleBrewer Posts: 555
    Chasing the temp on any pit, not just an egg can lead to stress. Stikes advice is spot on. Don't sweat a bit of temp variation.
  • TitanmanTitanman Posts: 30
    @stike I guess I didn't make myself to clear. I guess since I'm new to the egg I then micromanage the temp control to much.
    I need to to start going with the flow and it will start to come natural to me.
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