I've seen a lot of posts from owners of older smokers or the 008/009 smokettes that complain of large temperature fluctuations, and usually this is met with responses of "don't worry about it if the meat turns out tasty." Well, this answer isn't good enough for me.

I am a new owner of a SM008- was looking for a SM025 but found a great deal on a stores last SM008 so had to go for it. But now I'm wondering if the extra $$ would be worth it for the electronic temperature control unit vs the mechanical method.

Are there any owners of multiple Cookshack units out there that can give an evaluation of the difference in the BBQ using a smoker with the electronic controller vs the mechanical controller? I would think that there would have to be some difference in quality when one unit holds temperature within +/-10-20 degrees and the other allows fluctuations of +/-40 degrees.

The reason why I've grown concerned with this is because I started thinking about smoking at low temperatures. If you have large temperature fluctuations when cooking a 10lb brisket at 225, how bad are those fluctuations (relative to the desired temperature) going to be when smoking 2 lbs of fish at 200. With something like fish, not only with the fluctuations be more noticeable, but since you are only smoking for a few hours, you have less time for the temperature fluctuations to balance out.

Maybe I'm being too negative. I just keep thinking back to days when I smoked pork on my propane grill with wood chips, and I was able to keep a more constant temperature than the mechanical temp control unit in my SM008 without too much effort.

So let me know guys- do the temp fluctuations on the mechanical controllers cause problems with foods that take shorter cook times. Have you seen a difference in quality of the meat between a controller that kept a very constant temperature (electronic) and one that allowed more fluctuations (mechanical)?
Original Post
I can't speak for the mechanical controller, but maybe can shead some light on the electronic controller, since my cs020 has one.

I was convinced that my smoker held tight temps since I could see the temp readout on my display and since I bought it in the winter I only checked ever hour(really cold here). I took the smoker to my trailer at the lake,set it on the back porch and here is where things got interesting.

I just sat around in the afternoon with a few cold drinks and an extra probe dangling in the top hole. I don't believe anymore that the temps are as tight as I first thought. Early in the smoke when coming to temp the display read 235*, but the top one read 280*. Later in the smoke the display read 235* and I'll be dang that's what the top read.

I did a turkey and late in the smoke with the temp set at 300*, the smoker display read 258* and the top read 298*. Oh well, trust me it turns out the BEST Que that I have ever ate and I live right in the middle of Que country.

I haven't had any problems smoking my Crappie and it is a short smoke period.

That smoker you have has a long history of excellence, I believe, almost a half century.

Don't worry, you're going through the Newbie pains of smoking on an electric smoker, that seems like it can't be a simple as it is. Trust me, I tried to over think my first couple months and I'm dang glad it was cold out so I couldn't stand over it and worry about the temps.
Time for a Smokin Post...

It's not you mastiff, just the question (which comes up from time to time) so I need to address it in general, hence the "smokin post" (which is where I get rather long winded).

Nothing wrong with asking the question. This forum is certainly her to help everyone get better

If you ask me, it's much ado about nothing. Don't overthink it, it's just BBQ (another Smokin Phrase, copyright).

I think it's also easy to "notice" the post about issues with smokers than see the positive posts about no issues (think about it, how many owners have NEVER posted)?

Long before the internet, and even since, briskets and other meats have been cooking. The smokers that have been around just didn't hold temps that close. They are certainly better at it now, but that doesn't mean the BBQ is better. Don't get me started on the quality of the meat, I think that matters a WHOLE lot more than temp fluctuations.

And the CS manual dial was around for decades and no one asked about it. Why? Because it puts out a great product.

The key is the average. If you're wanting 225, what's the average over an extended cook? You're gonna lose temp when the door opens, how does it recover (that's more a function of the heating element than the dial/controller).

Keep in mind, there are many that are "over thinking" the art of BBQ and they tend to map the temps min by min, hour by hour and want it to be exact.

The meat doesn't care. The fluctuations don't matter (well, within a reasonable range, which I'd say is +/- 50 degrees).

Cook a brisket a 225 and 250 and you'll find no difference in the end result.

My opinion, there's too much thought into the small details.

There are the Type A who have to analyze each and every detail. I can be that type... but not in BBQ. I think those types tend to get a little troubled with BBQ because, after all it's not just science, but there's a fair bit of art to it and the art part throws them off.

If someone says there's a difference in the meat because of the controller, I'll just have to say I disagree. Does it help? Maybe. Does it matter? No.

Here's how I feel about it. BBQ is a noun, it's a verb, it's an adjective, it's not a formula.

Enjoy the Q. You'll produce great results with whatever smoker you have if you keep good notes, so you can repeat success and not repeat failures. Yes, you need to learn your smoker, it's tendencies, it's weakness. That's what all us Pitmasters have had to do. Cook on it, and learn how it cooks.

Now, let's throw some meat on the smoker and get to eating some Q.

Thus endeth the Smokin' Post...
How much temperature swing did cooks get over an indirect fire while smoking a full pig? Stick burners? Heating elements cycle on and off on electric smokers. Temperature swings are unavoidable.

Here's another thought. Set your house oven to 375* and the temp shows a constant 375* because the thermostat shows the set temperature not the actual temperature once the oven gets to temp. However, your oven heating element is cycling on and off to maintain the requested temperature. Your house oven has temperature swings. Place your remote Maverick or Taylor in the oven and check it out. Guy Fiere and Emeril (and MAXQUE) still get the job done.
Last edited by pags
yep, all oven temps do 'swing' as they cycle to maintain the set temp. If it is important to know if there is a difference in the average temp and the dial setting invest in a oven themometer that will calculate the average for you; they actually come in handy for verifying the kitchen oven if you do a lot of baking. Maverick makes on; some reading on the Thermometer forum
I am an OKie convert.

I have stopped posting as much and cook a whole lot more.

I dont care what my temp swings anymore, I let the results speak for themselves.

I will say this, I just did a 4 day motorcycle tour through VA, MD, PA, OH, WV, and back to VA. I ate at 3 different BBQ places, all their food was down right terrible compared to what I putting out now....not that I have any special skills or talent, I just let the cooker do its thing and eat the rewards.

Stop thinking and start cooking, you will be fine.

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