dschaef: I have done it both ways. I don't know that it makes a lot of difference one way or the other. You will really like using these smokers in the cold. I have used mine in below 0 weather, and they have run just fine. Set them and forget them. I have several of the remote read thermometers, and it is really nice sitting in the house and knowing what is happening in the smoker. Some of the new ones work with smart phones. I haven't tried them since I am not smart enough for a smart phone.