Looking for wisdom from anyone... Long post warning!
I've owned my SM025 for going on 3 years now. In general, all has been well except a problem at the beginning with not enough oxygen getting into the firebox and I would end up at the end of a smoke with charcoal bricks out of a wood piece instead of ash.
On to a current issue that I cannot understand. I do not like how it controls temperature some of the time.
1) A long pork butt smoke at 225 F - taking 14-16 hours - it seems that right about when I'm wondering why the meat isn't moving through the stall, the box temperature starts fluctuating / dropping. I will be holding within a degree or two of 225 for the first 10-12 hours and then start dropping to 215 or 210 with no opening of the door or other changes. Why would this happen and why wouldn't the controller kick on the element to a higher duty cycle to overcome whatever is going on inside?
2) This Easter I did something I'd never done before. I smoked a few turkey breasts expecting it to take about 5 hours. I added a precooked spiral sliced ham just to heat it when there was about 2 hours left. Door was open for 30 sec to slide in the ham and close. The temperature never recovered - it dropped down below the 225 set point and an hour later was at 208/209 and holding. The element was still cycling on and off. I know that adding this mass to the smoker was a heat sink, but the controller should have seen the temperature deviation from the set point and started increasing the duty cycle of the element to compensate.
Avoiding issues such as these and resulting greater unpredictability are the whole reason I spent more $ to get a digital instead of simple rheostat controlled smoker!
I emailed with Cookshack and they offered to test my controller so I shipped it in. Today I received a call telling me it is operating perfectly. They loaded an SM025 with a pan of water and ran it for 16 hours using my controller. They reported to me that the temp stayed consistent at the 225 set point and so all is well. This didn't make me feel better - the problem I have will still be a problem. In emails I was told that this is a PID style controller as I expected, but in the phone conversation I got a hint of a statement that the commercial controllers are PID, but this is "proportional" (didn't really get a clear answer).
Does anyone have insight? Is this controller actually not a PID controller? Do I need to scrap the stock controller and start hacking my own using something from Auber? Has anyone done this?
Thanks for reading the long post and for any possible advice.