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Help with Thermometers

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    Help with Thermometers

    Recently, purchased a sidebox smoker. It has two thermometers at the top of the smokebox. I used my digital thermometer by placing it on the grill. The two smoke box thermometers were both registering different temperatures from one another, and neither were the same as the digital one (which is known to be correct). I would like to also mention that I have placed a heat deflector plate in the smoker, so both sides should be relatively similar heats. I removed the two smoke box thermometers and placed them in boiling water so as to calibrate them at a known temp. Upon doing so, I placed them back on the smokebox. The very next day I was smoking a brisket and was frustrated to find that the thermometers were once again incorrect (both different from one another, and both not the same as the digital one).

    Are there any known ways of adjusting them to get them to read correct temps?

    1. You will very likely get different temperatures in a smoker just by moving your thermometer a couple inches.

    2. Grate level is good to know since the meat is there, and just see what the dial thermometers are reading when your digital is reading at grate level.

    3. Very rarely does an offset have exact temperature readings on both ends. The only time mine stabilized was when I filled it up with corn.
    Last edited by Jerod Broussard; September 1, 2021, 08:36 PM.


      Welcome to The Pit.

      Dial thermometers are notoriously inaccurate, but Jerod had it right. Most all stick burners have some variation in temps as you move the thermometers around. I think the only reason most makers bother putting them in their cookers is that people expect them to be there...


        Honestly your best bet is to learn what the two dials therms read when your digital grate temp probe is where you want it, and memorize the differences. For instance if your L dial says 275, your R dial says 225 and your digital grate probe says 250, remember that and only use the dials as a general guideline. Like bumpers on a bowling lane. Always trust your grate temp probe (assuming you know it's accurate), since as Jerod says that's where your meat is and therefore it's the only one that truly matters. Make sure that probe is at least 2-3" from the cold meat though.


          Everybody kinda said it all, but this picture is worth a thousand words!

          Click image for larger version

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            I've got an offset smoker, and will repeat what everyone else has said. First - the analog thermometers are not as accurate as your digital. That's a given. Second - they are typically higher, well above the grate. On most of my cookers, I've found that just 6 inches above the grate, the temperature can be 50 to 75 degrees higher. Lastly - on an offset, with a firebox at one end, even with a deflector of some sort installed, there is ALWAYS variation from one end of the cooker to the other. I will bet if you clip your grate level probe to one end, the middle, or the other end of the cooking grate, that you will find variation, with it being hotter towards the firebox end on most offsets. If its a reverse flow, it may be hotter on the end where the heat comes up around the deflector. I use that to my advantage, knowing that I can put stuff down towards the firebox to caramelize my sauce at the end of a rib cook, or put the chicken or other things that need higher heat at that end.

            I bet if you were to somehow clip your digital thermometer probe onto one of those analog thermometers, that you will find they are reading somewhat accurately for that high up in the cooker.
            Last edited by jfmorris; September 2, 2021, 08:53 AM.



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