Silly (probably) question on temperature probe grommet


 

Howard Warren

TVWBB Member
This will probably be a silly question, so go ahead and tease. I just bought a new WSM 22, and I have a question about using the temperature probe grommet. I have Maverick 732 thermometers. With my Cajun Bandit rig, I've always clipped the BBQ probe to the cooking grate, and run the wire under the lid. It works, but with the probe clipped to the grate, I have to juggle more as I cook.

But last night, while assembling the WSM, I started looking at the grommet. And I wonder if this is an acceptable way to use it:

smoker_probe_1.jpg


smoker_probe_2.jpg


smoker_probe_3.jpg


My first thought is that it's a couple of inches below the cooking grate, but I don't plan on using the lower grate anyway, so the heated air should be well mixed. And yes, there is a slight opening around the probe, but I'm not worried about the heat loss. And I can see an advantage in cooking BB ribs: I can lift the top cooking grate out with all three slabs, making it easier to glaze them and return them to the smoker.

Am I crazy? Thanks!
 

Bill Elwell

TVWBB Pro
I wouldn't recommend that position. The probe will be hit with all the rising heat flowing past it.

By placing it in the center of the grate you will get an average temp for the entire smoker.

I would recommend attaching the probe to the center cross rod on the underside of the grate with a small alligator clip. An alligator clip is used on the temp probe for the DigiQ DX2 so I see no difference using one the same way for the Maverick. Besides, using the underside is only about 1 inch lower than the recommended placement using the bracket the Maverick supplies.
 
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Howard Warren

TVWBB Member
Bill, I've always placed the probe to the edge anyway. I had assumed that having all the empty space between the water pan and the top grate (I don't use the lower grate) allowed the rising air to mix and even the heat out. But I could be wrong... maybe it's time for an experiment! Two probes: one dead center (hanging down) and one on the edge. (Or as my SO would say, "an excuse to burn up more charcoal.")
 

Dustin_G

TVWBB Member
I use my probe exactly as you have pictured. I figure there's not a huge difference in temp at each grate, and being between the two gives you a close-enough temp (a few degrees one way or the other doesn't make any difference), and I imagine the temp across the width of the smoker is fairly even. It's not like it's moving a ton of air if doing a low-and slow cook, it's barely puffing.

That said, if you do an experiment to check the difference in temp in center of the cooking grate vs near the edge, post up the results! And do it at both a low temp (like 225) and a higher temp (like 350) to see if the additional air flow makes a big difference. #TheMoreYouKnow!
 

JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
By placing it in the center of the grate you will get an average temp for the entire smoker.

I would recommend attaching the probe to the center cross rod on the underside of the grate with a small alligator clip.
Don't you end up with loads of grease and gunk all over the probe and the wire? I've always put the probe on top of the grate, though, of course, that takes up room I'd rather have for meat, so I'm interested by the idea of hanging it from the underside. I'm just not sure I want to clean up the mess afterwards.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
I too place the pit probe just inside. Mine is roughly 1" inside. Is it the higher temperature... yes. But it is the heat that is being applied to the cooking "chamber" IF one runs a waterless pan !

Started doing so after attending Harry Soo's class.
 

Bill Elwell

TVWBB Pro
Yes, it does, but washing it down with Dawn, hot water and a sponge cleans it off easily.

I've never heard of placing it near the edge...so I've never done it. Not that it's right or wrong. Hell, if we knew the REAL answer to that question we'd all be golden.
 

JBooker

TVWBB Super Fan
All these different answers just goes to show you that its more about preference and what you get use to rather than only one correct answer. Once your familiar with how it works and you do it consistently probe placement is that big of a deal. Which is why I just use a better thermometer in the dome, and save the probes for the meat.
 

Howard Warren

TVWBB Member
Thanks everybody!

Today I'm going to burn a full load of charcoal with all vents open to season the smoker and burn off any manufacturing oils. Later this week I'll run a second load, but I'll control the temps and use two probes to test.
 

Len Dennis

TVWBB Diamond Member
Thanks everybody!

Today I'm going to burn a full load of charcoal with all vents open to season the smoker and burn off any manufacturing oils. Later this week I'll run a second load, but I'll control the temps and use two probes to test.
Waste of fuel to "burn off oils and to season it".

Been discussed many times before: just load her up with fuel, put your smoke wood on and smoke your food. Do it all at the same time (even though it does NOT need seasoning and there are NO 'oils' to worry about).

Seriously, just smoke!!
 

Howard Warren

TVWBB Member
Too late, Len! It's my inner software engineer personality... I've always done at least one test run before actually putting real food on it. But just for grins, I went ahead and put the two Maverick probes in place too, one through the grommet, and one clipped dead center of the cooking rack. Empty pan. Right now the grommet probe is reading 370, the center probe is reading 364.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I've always clipped my probe on the edge of the cooking grate, so I suspect using the grommet will be perfect for me.
 

JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
I used the grommet hold technique on my cook yesterday. I pushed it a bit further in than in the pictures above, to where the wire was the only thing in the grommet. I originally thought this might result in the probe hanging down on the inside but such was not the case. I only went in further because I was getting a bit of smoke leaking from the grommet when the larger part of the probe was stuck there. Given Howard's measured difference of only 6 degrees edge to center, next time I'll probably put just the metal probe part through the smaller grommet hole and leave all of the wire on the outside. If nothing else it should make for easier cleanup.
 

Howard Warren

TVWBB Member
And to continue the follow-up: I ran the smoker with all vents open. It ran at 425 pretty consistently for 5 hours before the charcoal was exhausted. During this time the differences wavered, but the center probe was always within 10 or so degrees of the grommet probe. Again this is with an empty water pan.

Right now I'm just enjoying the fragrance of charcoal as the fuel burns the rest of the way down. Working from home has it's advantages! :cool:

Thanks everybody!
 

ChrisBarb

New member
Waste of fuel to "burn off oils and to season it".

Been discussed many times before: just load her up with fuel, put your smoke wood on and smoke your food. Do it all at the same time (even though it does NOT need seasoning and there are NO 'oils' to worry about).

Seriously, just smoke!!
People say this all the time. But my 22" WMS, all three grates were covered in machining oil. Definitely had to burn that junk off.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
But my 22" WMS, all three grates were covered in machining oil. Definitely had to burn that junk off.
Oily grates are not a common occurrence, but sounds like you did the right thing under the circumstances.

I'm in agreement that in most cases, just lighting and cooking right off the bat is the way to go, but you've got to use your common sense, too. If you see something inside the cooker or on the grates that you feel needs to be wiped off or burned off, by all means do it! :D
 

JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
I just used Dawn and warm water on my new grates. I certainly wasn't going to cook on them without a good washing anyway.
 

Rusty James

TVWBB Emerald Member
I just used Dawn and warm water on my new grates. I certainly wasn't going to cook on them without a good washing anyway.

So did I.


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Getting back to the burn-in issue, couldn't one just let the smoker run an hour or so without the grates installed, and then add your grates and chosen smoke-producing meat?
 

Howard Warren

TVWBB Member
Is this normal for any smoke (with the water pan installed)? The dome thermometer, although not as accurate, never goes that high unless the water pan is removed.
It seemed normal to me, I was trying to get it as hot as possible. I had a 3/4 full ring of KBB and all vents wide open. I lit 2/3 of a full-sized Weber chimney and spread the hot charcoal evenly across the top of the charcoal pile. I used known-good Maverick probes, and the dome thermometer read way past the 350 point. And for what it's worth, yesterday was 93 degrees with high humidity.
 

 

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