New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

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New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  rbadger on Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:56 pm

I just got my Excel 20 and am trying to smoke a whole chicken (4-5lbs). I'm using only 1 stacker and have all the dampers (base/lid) wide-open. I'm using Royal Oak Natural Lump Hardwood Charcoal and can only seem to get my smoker temp to about 200F. I have a full pan of coals and about a 1/2 full water pan. It's been going for approx. 2 hrs. now and has barely reached above 200F. Ambient temperature is about 90F with little/no wind

Any ideas on how I can get the temp up?

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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  Mack on Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:02 pm

Hi, are you basing your temp on the gauge in the lid, or are you using another gauge? The lid gauge may need to be calibrated.
You might try using a bit less water, I aim for water in the pan running out about 2/3 of the way through the cook, to give me a temp of around 350 for the last hour.
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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  rbadger on Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:57 am

I used both the lid thermometer and an instant read through the stacker eyelet, both were reading around 200...It seems the charcoal wasn't burning very hot and didn't fully burn even after removing the chicken, so I'm guessing I may have had an airflow problem or the charcoal wasn't started hot enough....will need some more experimentation, but any other suggestions are welcome!

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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  SA-Mokin on Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:23 am

Hi, Im having the same problem had my first burn on Sunday it was a hot sunny day with no wind at all I had the top vent wide open and all the bottom vents open, full load of lumpwood well lit and my temp hovered around 200. filled the water pan three quarters with hot water but even after two hours the water was merrily simmering away so almost boiling and the temp rarely got above 200. Opened the bottom stacker door to try even more air and it topped out at 210.

Admittedly the thermometer hasnt been calibrated but the time the meats took to cook didnt indicate that I was running extremely hot like I would expect if it was reading very low.

I'll try some different charcoal and test my temp gauge and report back.

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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  Gazfoz on Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:30 pm

How many bottom vents?
If 1 then you need to use more lit charcoal from the chimney and leave the top off for a while to get everything burning well.
If more you need to use more lit charcoal and if still no good look at the fuel you are using.
The top vent stays fully open always unless you have finished cooking and want to kill the fire. (1 of the 10 commandments)
If you are not using a good amount of fuel :- I mean a half ring for a shortish burn plus wood for smoke and half a chimney on top to get the party started you are wasting your time.
Use hot water, as hot as the hot tap goes in your house to fill the water bowl, otherwise you are using the fuel to heat the water before you begin to cook anything!
When the temps start to rise, and they will if you have followed these instructions then start to shut the bottom vent/s down when you get just past your intended cook temp, at the site of the meat, not above not below.
The top vent stays open always when cooking. always. always. and when someone suggests closing the top vent you say " The top vent stays open always"
Enjoy.

Gary.

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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  steveheyes on Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:17 am

I have no problems with temperatures using cold water. At the BBBQS final the other week we only had access to cold water and we were struggling to keep one of our cookers under 250F.

If you are using Minion method make sure you have enough lit charcoal to reach critical mass and get the fire going. Mine hits 225F within 15 mins of pouring the chimney on.

I do remember having problems at first with slow temperature rises but I think that was down to not enough charcoal. Good luck.
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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  Gazfoz on Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:13 am

I agree with SH. I don't have probs with cold water either but there is no sense burning expensive fuel to heat the water that could be used to cook the meat. So if possible use hot water in the pan would be my advice. Do you agree Steve?

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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  steveheyes on Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:59 pm

For sure, use hot water. I'm not
sure off the top of my head how many joules of energy it would take to heat a pan of water hence how much of the fuel's energy would be taken up by heating the water but it will definately use some the energy from combustion. My point was merely don't attribute the temp problem to cold water as it's unlikely to be the main problem. I think it will more likely be fuel type or quantity or maybe ventilation

also try giving your coals a stir a while after lighting. I do find my e20 drops off a little after a while then it rages again after a quick stir
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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  Dr_KY on Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:54 pm

Taking and posting pictures of your set up will give all of us a chance to see what you are doing and give advice. I try and take pictures with every cook just in case or for refrence at a later date.

It's tough for me to solve a problem withour seeing how things are set up sort of like telling a doctor it hurts 'here' can you fix it over the phone.
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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  All Weather Griller on Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:08 pm

If you do need to use cold water it may be worth not completely filling the water pan and only using perhaps one third. I often where possible use hot water, but its not ncessarily going to be available, I have on occassion been know to refill from the hose pipe.

i suppose it depends on the length of the cook, I tend to use Coconut shell briquettes and for overnight burns, hot tap water in a watering can does the job. Another thing to check is that you have an even gap around the edge of the waterpan and the smoker to ensure a consistent air/smoke flow.

One final thing I do is to position a vent directly under the doors and have towards the rear (If that makes sense) then vent directly under the doors I always keep closed. I doubt this will make too much of a difference.

Another function of the water pan for me is the collecting the juices. I like to use the liquor in the water pan for my BBQ sauce so on many occassions I will pour in a couple of bottles of Magners or Gamers, this ultimately brings the temp of the water down but I have never noticed it affect the cooker temp adversely.

Good luck with the temps

Adie
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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  SA-Mokin on Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:39 pm

Well its taken some time but Ive got round to having another go today with some different charcoal (still lumpwood however) that a friend of mine uses in his frontier with no problems.

Ive had a go at the minion method using a metal baby formula tin with the bottom cut off poured a full chimney of blazing lumpwood into the tin filled the basket round the tin with unlit lumpwood whipped out the tin and put the whole mess together keeping top vent fully open and all three bottom vents fully open. Hot water in the pan which after a while is merrily simmering away so must be up to temp and my lid thermometer is still topping out at 200 occasionally creeping just above. After a few hours im down to 190 so im off to start some more charcoal and bung it in.

I'll get a proper thermometer in the near future and calibrate my lid probe soon and get hold of some coconut briquettes and report back.

My foods cooking at 200 though so not the end of the world. I am a little envious though when I read of people with the excel 20 "struggling to keep it below 250". Maybe the coconut briquettes will be the turning point.

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Re: New to the Excel 20 - Temp only around 200F

Post  Novice on Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:09 pm

I'f you've not calibrated your lid thermometer, any reading you are getting is likely to be way out, you could well be at 250f without realizing. It's simple to do, it only takes about 5 mins - there are quite a few posts on the forum telling you how to do it. I would still get a good probe & grate thermometer as well, they are well worth the investment.
Give that a go & I'd expect you to see some improvement.

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