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jake42 (jake4211) Writes:

"I have a Brinkman, vertical water smoker with the full size door (like a refridgerator) as opposed to a dome lid. I am curious as to how to maintain a temperature of 200-225 degrees. It does not seem to maintain those temperatures too well.

I like the big door design but I wonder if the four large vent holes at the bottom of the unit may have something to do with it."


April 22, 2006 at 6:06 pm
(1) Kevin says:

I’ve found the same thing…doesn’t want tp stay hot enough, 200-250F. I’ve only tried twice, though.

May 19, 2006 at 9:04 am
(2) Carl says:

Ideal smoking temperatures are usually below 195 degrees. Most people that use charcoal smokers only maintain temperatures of 165-190 degrees.

May 29, 2006 at 11:25 pm
(3) Milton E Findley says:

Even with a full charcoal bowl, as hot as I could get it going, mine rarely exceeds 200 degrees. Smoking pork chops, or country ribs, is risky business. I am thinking about insulating the two sides.

June 18, 2006 at 9:15 am
(4) Douglas Brown says:

For maintaining water smoker temp., you may have to find a large verticle box, (applies to verticle smoker, with water pan), and put it over the smoker, esspecially on a windy day, to maintain temp. I have done this many times, with great success! Cut a little door in the box, so you can access the firebox door, to check the coals, and one to see the temp guage. (I’m assuming that it is the charcoal smoker that’s having temp issues). You can adjust the top box flaps to let out access heat to maintain your temp in the ideal range. Ultimately, its best to use the smoker on a 85 degree plus day, with little or no wind, then you may not need the box. Also, use lump charcoal,(not bricketts, as lump charcoal burns much hotter,and longer. I hope this helps. Douglas Brown (seasoned meat smoker)!

July 27, 2006 at 12:28 am
(5) Dave Hall says:

I had same issue. Solved by modifying the carcoal pan by cuttin 6-8 inch diameter hole in bottom, fit with thick wire mesh or grate over the hole to hold carcoal. This will allow the ashes to fall and improve air flow thru the coals thus allowing them to burn hotter – control heat by adjusting the upper and lower vents. Avoid the temptation to open door too often.

October 8, 2007 at 9:36 pm
(6) Bruce Berg says:

I don’t use the water bowl. All my meat goes into cheap, disposable aluminum pans with plenty of liquid.

The temp. can get up to over 300 degrees and the only thing that I have to worry about it keeping enough liquid in the pans.

Don’t have to clean racks, use less lump charcoal/wood, less smoking time.

Yes, I know I’m not following conventional smoking (indirect heat). But it tastes the same with less effort.

August 16, 2008 at 9:44 am
(7) drymocke says:

I too have drilled holes in the charcoal pan and now maintain a solid 200 degree temperature easily. I smoke all meats at this temp to great success. Though I think I’m going to try and add a grate to let ash fall thorough and see how that changes the temperature. I really like the temp. stability of this model versus an old offset smoker that the temp fluctuated wildly due to poor air sealing.

September 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm
(8) Rick says:

Same problem — sent an e-mail to Brinkman and rcvd the very curt reply, “You may try adding a grate in the charcoal pan to help circulation under the coals. If you are not satisfied with the grill return it to the store you purchased it from.” Somehow that was NOT what I had expected from a customer service standpoint. I’m a lifelong Weber user who tried his first / and likely the last Brinkman.
I will try the mods noted below as they seem to make the most amount of sense.
The only “up side” to all of this is that it’s a little bit of a consolation that others are having the same problem — thought I was completely loosing it!!!


November 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm
(9) Mike says:

Me too. I thought I was crazy, but I’m going to drill a few holes in the pan to try to increase the air circulation. Its a really a design flaw.

December 12, 2008 at 3:22 pm
(10) Bill says:

I bought a Stainless Steel Strainer at Lowes added 1.5″ bolts for feet to the strainer. Drilled some side holes in the Charcoal Pan. Placed the Strainer in the Charcoal Pan. I now add the Charcoal to the Strainer. The Fire lasts 4 times as long as before. The ashes drop from the strainer and is caught by the pan…leaving room for air to flow around the charcoal.

December 14, 2008 at 7:58 pm
(11) David says:

I used mine the first time today and couldn’t get it over 150 degrees for anything! I had six 8″ – 10″ racks of ribs and hopefully they are not ruined. Tomorrow I’m off to Lowe’s to get a strainer and bolts and will turn my charcoal bowl into swiss cheese! I will also use lump coal instead of Kingsford brickettes.

January 17, 2009 at 4:51 pm
(12) big Kahuna says:

I have just started to use my smoke king deluxe today.I found everyones comments usefull today and am using charcoal and oak logs and still I cannot get the temperature above 160 degrees, even with max air running through it. Either way I will keep trying different things till I tune it in properly, Aloha

January 19, 2009 at 11:05 am
(13) jeff says:

i have 2 pans , and one is bigger then the other which on is the water pan?

February 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm
(14) paul says:

i have the upright smoker with the firebox on the side used for direct grilling. when indirect grilling i found the low temperatures also. i placed a thermometer in the chimney outlet and found it to be 175 degrees hotter than the one in the door. try it

March 7, 2009 at 9:32 pm
(15) nona says:

I puchased my Brinkman upright smoker a month ago and also had problems with keeping the temp higher than 165 degrees. After reading some of the posts here, I decided to change my charcoal pan. I found this grilling basket at Target which fits perfectly and even slides right in on the tracks. This basket has holes so that it allows air to flow through. The temp now goes up to 300 degrees and I’m using less charcoal. I can now decrease the temp down between 200-225 degrees by changing the air vents and the amount of charcoal to use.

March 14, 2009 at 1:48 pm
(16) Brian says:

I just use a chimney starter full of charcoal and open all the vents all the way, I can get up to 275-290. They key is lots of charcoal, next time I am getting an offset smoker.

March 24, 2009 at 5:36 pm
(17) Milton Findley says:

I insulated mine, and used it for a season, and finally gave up and scrapped it in favor of an offset smoker that does a much better job no matter what I am doing, smoking, cooking, barbecuing, baking, and it does it with a lot less hassle and much less charcoal.

I will not have another Brinkmann.

April 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm
(18) radgy says:

What did you insulate it with?

June 6, 2009 at 12:57 pm
(19) Mike says:

I have had one of these smokers now for 3 years and love it. After purchase, I drilled 3 holes in charcol pan for air circulation and always use larger charcol, or Red Oak brand charcol, really filling up the pan. I also leave the vent hole open in the top rear of chamber as well as piling the charcoal up in center of pan, burns slower and hotter

August 23, 2009 at 8:40 pm
(20) ERL says:

Regarding the vertical smoker and thermometer in the door problem: I never could get my Brinkman Smoke King (with a water pan) up to temperature until I stuck a thermometer into the outlet stack and discovered outlet air temperature was a perfect 220 to 270 degrees. Disregard the door thermometer. It’s useless.
Something else to try: check water pan level every few hours and add water to about halfway. Too high and temperature is yoo low, too low and it gets too hot. I added a piece of aluminum (folded three or four times to beef it up) to direct the smoke & gas from the firebox around the water pan, rather than letting it just go straight up. …seems to stabilize temperature (although note the level remark above).

September 6, 2009 at 10:54 am
(21) Dan says:

had a heck of a time keeping the temp above 165. Drilling holes in charcoal pan is a necessity. Seems like the water pan is too close to the charcoal pan as well. In any event i smoked baby backs for 7 hours and then grilled for 20 minutes, they turned out great!

October 31, 2009 at 2:32 am
(22) Clay says:

Airflow is defintely the problem. I’ve never owned a smoker before and have struggled trying to get this one to stay above 150 degrees. I took some wire mesh and cut it to slide along the guides that the charcoal pan normal would go on and just set the charcoal pan below the mesh to catch the ash. It works great now!

March 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm
(23) DJ says:

I have a Brinkman upright smoker and I found that I needed to buy a weber circular grill and placed it down at the bottom of the fire bowl..and then I place 4 mason jar collar rings between the grill and the bottom to give it some space to allow air to come up thru….this gave me super heat….and cooked and smoked a 3.5 pound chicken less than 2 hrs….it works great but you have to have some “Maine Engineering” skills to make it work as it should…
Regards DJ =)

May 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm
(24) DFGoodwin says:

Great smoker. First thing to do is do a search for: Charmglow Stainless Steel Grilling Wok ($14). Use this instead of the charcoal box. Actually place the charcoal box on the bottom and hang the WOK were the charcoal box should be. Put the charcoal in the WOK and cook away.

What ever clown figured out that air flows without bottom holes needs a few drilled in their head.

Buy a remote thermometer and do not pay any attention to the the one on the door.

September 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm
(25) Bill says:

So glad i read this just bought the smoker and put it together just happened to have the wok already so hopefully good to go

June 10, 2010 at 9:07 pm
(26) Shawn says:

I have worn out 4 of the gormet smokers.Going tomorrow to buy another! The first thing I do to them is to cut a 1″ hole in the dome lid and make a damper lid with a bolt attaching it to control the heat. I like to cook briskets in them. Try this . one medium brisket, market trim. Season with brisket seasoning. Fill the charcoal pan full of charcoal and light. Let it burn till white. In the water pan, pour 3 or 4 quarts of the cheapest beer or maly liquor money can buy. Put the brisket on to cook fat side down and leave it until the fire goes out. Then take the brisket inside and wrap it in foil, pour on a 50/50 mix of bbq sauce and your favorite beer you drink inside and wrap it tight and place it in the oven for 2 hours @ 200 or relight the pit, and it will be the best you ever had. Don;t leave it in the oven too long as it will get like roast and so tender that you cannot cut it because it will fall to peices.

July 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm
(27) Phil says:

The Charmglow Stainless Steel Grilling Wok worked wonders, for me. Now, I am using my Brinkman every chance I get. Thanks for the info.

August 18, 2010 at 6:59 pm
(28) Beken One says:

if you want anything over 230 use lump wood or logs.
charcoal briquettes don’t keep a constant High temp, A only constant Low temp.
or don’t put water in the pan, instead put it one level higher to act as a baffle (what I do).
use a propane torch as a starter or mod yours like mine with a propane starter $15 (bayou classic)

September 8, 2010 at 3:30 am
(29) WDR says:

Model: 810-5503-S Vertical Smoker
Problem: Insufficient heat. 150 degrees max.
Solution: A. Drilled 25 holes (3/8 Dia.) in charcoal pan.
B. Installed 4 legs on charcoal grate to create air circulation space between bottom of charcoal pan and charcoal grate. Legs were made from 1 3/4″ long bolts in each corner of the grate and held in place with flat washers and nuts.
C. Results: Temp rises fairly quickly to 250 degrees with water pan filled with water. Temperature can then be regulated to desired level using adjustable air vents provided. Less charcoal required is also a benefit with this modification.

December 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm
(30) Richard says:


It’s a shame anyone has to modify this product to get the best enjoyment out of said product. Brinkman should have got the design of this smoker box right the first time.

I’ll take the advice Rick shared and stick with Weber, or another product brand.

December 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm
(31) Brian says:

I had the same problem and ended up getting an old sleeping bag (nylon covering) and just put it over the top of the smoker…it is amazing how quickly that brings the temperature up over 200 degrees and keeps it there…I may try drilling some holes sometime into the charcoal bowl.

December 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm
(32) Justin says:

I too had that same problem this thanksgiving weekend, 2011. I couldn’t get the temp over 150 degrees, it was 50 degrees outside, and was not in direct wind. The only way I was able to continue to get red coals was to 1. I drilled apprx 15 -25 holes in the charcoal bowl, and every 30 mins I gave it a small, steady burst of air @ 15-25 psi from my compressor, that was the only way I could get even close to 175 degrees, and it was for a matter of minutes. Not a practical smoker

May 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm
(33) Couch says:

Anytime you vent the charcoal area and introduce increased air flow, you will get a hotter temp, just remember a couple other things, you are also burning fuel much faster, creating a much more rapid movement of smoke from bottom to top where the smoke vents increasing the smoke flavor, for me, no such think as too much hickory but not the same for everyone, especially kids. Also, the more liquid in the pan to absorb heat, the lower the temp will run….if you have not tried it, the electric element works excellent, lasts for many years when treated well, and gives you a very even heat. This also allows for use of wood smoke only, no lime filled charcoal…..

July 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm
(34) Andy says:

This is a joke. Having to modify a new smoker so that you can use it is lame. To hell with drilling holes in it I’m taking it back for a refund and I will never purchase a brinkman product again. At least they saved a lot of money getting this cheap junk made by slave labor in china!

July 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm
(35) John Wexler, Minnesota says:

By Gully,
Drilled 2 wholes each side about 1/2 inch above the coal pan base and wow it is hot!

May 11, 2013 at 10:44 am
(36) BurntEnds says:

I gave up on the water bowl and just use that as a sheild for indirect cooking. Brisket is about 6-8 hours Hot wings around 2 hours and a fat slab of ribs aroundd 3-5 This
smoker isnt made for water so you have to watch your meat and add liquid as needed. Everything I cook is in a tin foiil tray Sometimes I finish a slab off by taking out the water pan and go direct for awhile just to get it browned. This smoker has been an effort but can put out some good food if you work with it

June 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm
(37) BBQDON says:

I also could not get the temp. up and bought the wok. I could never get the water to steam or boil so now I put a large pot on the stove and get the water to a boil then put it in the smoker. [be careful ] It uses a lot so keep it on the stove. Overall not very practical and a lot of extra work. Also did you notice you can’t find recipes on Brinkman anymore. VERY strange.

September 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm
(38) Bruce says:

I have had a couple Brinkman smokers when I wore out the first one I kept the charcoal pan, it had a hole in the bottom which is necessary for good ventilation = good heat. I use a small sportsman and have had real good luck with venison

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