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Temperature Control

I am having a difficult time regulating temperature control on long-cook items such as the Boston Butt. I have watched the videos numerous times - followed the directions to the letter, but I find my temps go down to 160 - 170 instead of maintaining the 225 degrees. Any suggestions!!


  • NPHuskerFLNPHuskerFL Posts: 16,947
    edited August 2016
    Practice. Practice. Practice. 
    FWIW "225℉" is somewhat of an overrated BBQ/SMOKE temp. & for some this temp is difficult to maintain sans a pit controller or constant babysitting. Try holding 250℉-275℉ & then tweak to hold lower if you want. My lowest smoke sweet spot is 235℉. I'm good with that. 
    LBGE 2013 & MM 2014
    Flying Low & Slow in "Da Burg" FL
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,794
    First up-welcome aboard and enjoy the journey.  What follows may provide some insights: As you are aware, theBGE fire is air flow controlled (assuming you have enough lump and got it going).  So, temperature control (aka fire volume) is a function of the amount of air flow through the bottom and out the top.  You can control by top or bottom vent or combinations of each (preferred for low temp cooks).  With any BGE (I have a LBGE) the trick is to catch the temperature rise on the way up to the desired end-point.  You have a lot of ceramic mass and if it gets heated above the target temperature it takes a while to cool down.   (Make sure your dome thermo is calibrated).

    So, with that-get a good mass of lump burning  and then shut the dome and set your vents for the approximate final desired temp.  Minor adjustments as you go.  And remember, the feedback indicator to any adjustments is your dome thermo-and that will take a while.  So, patience is the name of the game at the low & slow temps.  Read all you really need to know here-

    Best basic info site going- 


    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • SoCalTimSoCalTim Posts: 2,155
    Hey brother, first off - Welcome!

    No matter what you may think right now, we all were new here with the egg at one time, @NPHuskerFL is right, lotsa practice.

    It'll come ... only advice I can say is what another egger told me, 'don't overthink things, you don't need to be 'exact' .. it'll come to you, but more importantly - just enjoy the cook' ..
    I've slow smoked and eaten so much pork, I'm legally recognized as being part swine - Chatsworth Ca.
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,111
    As others said, airflow is what controls the temperature.  Also remember that the egg temperature does not respond immediately to air flow changes. Make an adjustment and it will take time for the full impact to register on the temp gauge.   It sounds like you might be making too much of an adjustment.  Make small adjustments and do not make another for at least 15 minutes.
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 938
    I believe the people that have the most issues with temperatures are the ones that are micro-managing the temperature.  What I do is start the fire with an empty egg, no platesetter.  After I get a nice clean burning fire I stabilize the target temperature for at least 20 minutes, then I add the platesetter, grill and meat and won't look at the temperature for at least an hour.  If I am doing ribs the stabilized temperature seems to recover in half an hour with bigger stuff like brisket or butt it might take an hour or more.  

  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,294
    Buy a controller.  Sure you can be old school and figure it out without, but why bother?  Technology is great - use it.
    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,948
    The amount of lump that is burning to produce a dome temp off 225F is quite small. It can be just a few pieces of charcoal. The problem is more that the burning bits may not spread too enough surrounding pieces of lump, regardless of airflow. So the temp drops away. The fire is dying.
    I light in 3 different places around the periphery. 3 - 6 - 9 on the clock. I go to 250F dome, and most of the time, vents set for that, it will hold steady as much as 8 hours. 225 has failed more than once for me.
    Longer cooks require tweaking, usually shutting the vents almost closed.

  • g37g37 Posts: 347
    I have an easy time holding  250. 225 is difficult  and yes my fire sometimes dies out. If u have the cash get a flame boss or similar  controller.I have a flame boss and 225 is no problem now.
    Ewa Beach, Hawaii
  • blastingblasting Posts: 5,523

    Welcome.  I don't know how much protein you are putting on, but that will drag down you temp.  As the temp of your protein rises, so to will your egg temp want to climb a little.  Also, you might want to make sure the temp is stable and everything is heated up completely prior to starting the cook.

    I don't totally agree with the "get a controller" idea.  I think it's good to learn how to control your cooker without the controller - at least at first.  

    Since getting a high flow grate (kick ash basket), I normally don't even bother with a controller, fwiw.

  • ToxarchToxarch Posts: 1,672
    I love having a controller. Set it at 225 and walk away.
    Aledo, Texas
    Large BGE
    KJ Jr.

    Exodus 12:9 KJV
    Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

  • I had similar problems holding heat within limits for long cooks.  I bought a BBQ Guru Pit Viper and now it is no issue.  24 hour cooks at 225 and it holds to +/- 2 degrees.  I'm sold on it and it even has a meat temperature probe soi switched between meat temperature and pit temperature every few seconds.  Really tells you where you are.  
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