How to keep a Smoker Going Overnight

How to keep a Smoker going Overnight

If you plan to arrange a barbecue party at your place or on a trip, you might be worried about many things, and the most important of them is probably keeping your smoker up overnight. You don’t want to get interrupted again and again to look after what your smoker is doing with the food.

If you have experience in smoking food, you probably know how hard and hectic it can be to make your smoker going overnight. Whether you have the top electric smoker, a pellet one or a charcoal one, the need to keep it going overnight more or less remains the same. So, addressing your hardcore problem, in this article I will share the flexible tricks to keep the different types of smoker going overnight.

Keeping and Electric Smoker Going Overnight

Electric smokers are the most popular smoker as they are much easier to operate. But the question is, can an electric smoker work overnight? If the answer is yes, then how. Because you have probably tried doing so but failed and began to wonder if it is even possible, that is the reason you landed on this page, right?

Electric Smoker Working Mechanism

Let’s have a quick know of electric smoker’s working mechanism. It will help us understand the dos and don’ts if we want our electric smoker up overnight. Electric smokers are vertical smokers. Starting from the bottom are one or multiple electric heating rods and vents for the intake of oxygen.

How to keep an electric smoker going overnight

Above or around electric heating rods, there is a wood chip tray that produces smoke. Above that, there is a water pan to provide water vapor that helps to moist the food all the way. And above these components is the cooking area where multiple cooking grates, shelves, or grill are placed horizontally above each other.

There are one or multiple vents or dampers that work as an exhaust for excessive smoke and heat at the top. Electric heating rods produce heat, and wood chips in the tray are burnt slowly to produce smoke; the burning process is boosted or controlled by air intake vents or dampers. The mixture of hot air and smoke cook the food placed in cooking grates with a convection process. Temperature controls, analog or digital, are outside, which dictate the temperature of the cooking area.

Now that we know how an electric smoker works. Let’s discuss few things that will ease your overnight cooking.

Preheat your Smoker

If you have just got this new electric smoker and you are throwing your first barbecue party. It is very important that before starting to smoke your meat, you preheat your smoker for a while. So that when you place your meat in cooking grates, it reaches cooking temperature easily. Preheating lets you know if your electric smoker is ready for a full-fledge barbecue party and:

  • How long will it take to reach the required smoking temperature, and what will be the settings of your vents and dampers.
  • Whether the smoker maintains its inside temperature or not (is there any leakage of heat from the cooking chamber or a problem with the amount of airflow.
  • For how long a specific amount of wood chips create smoke, so you can check and change wood chips after that time.

With all of this information, you can place your food in a preheated electric smoker. The temperature will go down for a bit, but it will start going up in a bit. Now you know exactly after how much time you need to change fresh wood chips with burnt ones.

Use a DIY Wood Chip Tray

Usually, built-in wood chip trays in electric smokers cannot hold many wood chips, which compels you to refill it with new clean wood chips after a certain time.

What if you make your own DIY wood chip tray that can hold more wood chips and produce smoke for longer? Yes, you can do it. Or you can purchase an aftermarket wood tray component that can hold more wood chips than your built-in wood chip tray, all you need to make sure is that it fits in your electric smoker.

Final Comments

These two tricks will certainly not help you to leave your electric smoker alone. But it will decrease your efforts, I am sure.

If you follow these two tricks, your efforts are going to be minimized. All you need to do is calculate the time your wood chips take to be replaced, and meanwhile, you can pop up a beer or lay down for some time setting an alarm.

Keeping a Gas or Propane Smoker Going Overnight

Propane smokers are the second most popular barbecue smokers after electric smokers. Gas smokers are not so different than electric smokers, except the heating source in propane or gas smokers is a gas burner fueled by a propane tank.

How to keep a propane smoker going overnight

All other components are much like the electric smoker. Gas or propane smokers are inferior to electric smokers in terms of power source, as you cannot experience electricity break down very often.

Your electric smoker can keep working no matter what, but the propane tank can be consumed and be empty after a certain time, depending on the size of the propane tank or the consumption speed of gas burners.

The second problem we face in making our propane smoker work overnight is that the wood chips will not last forever, and you will have to replace them with new ones. So keeping in mind these two important things, we can minimize our efforts by doing these tricks.

Using Multiple Propane Tanks

You know how frustrating it can be if you run out of propane for your gas smoker. The simplest solution to it is that you purchase a bigger propane tank. The other solution can be multiple propane tanks. Either way, you are going to save yourself from that frustration.

Use Bigger Wood Chips Tray

Just like in electric smokers, either you need to build a DIY wood chip tray bigger than your built-in wood chip tray, or you are going to purchase a bigger aftermarket wood chip tray that can fit in your propane smoker as well.

Final Comments

The above-discussed two tricks can prevent the hassle created by any of the two important components.

Keeping a Pellet Smoker up Overnight

We all love pellet smokers. It’s never safe to leave your pellet smoker alone unattended. Pellet smokers use compressed wood pellets as fuel to work. The wood hopper is filled with compressed dry wood pellets delivered to the burn pot by a long electronic screw-type device called “the auger”

The temperature is set from outside the pellet smoker by an analog or digital thermostat, and it dictates the speed of circulating screw or delivery speed of wood pellets. The air intake from fans present in vents nearby helps them burn and produce smoke and produces hot air convection throughout the circular cooking chamber.

Now that we know the working mechanism of pellet smokers. We can identify the important components and how we are going to use those components to work overnight.

Bigger Pellet Hopper

We need a bigger pellet hopper in pellet smokers that can hold more and provide pellets continuously to produce heat and smoke. It will help us to take some time off. Fill the wood pellet hopper, and you will not have to worry about it for several hours.

A Clean Pellet Smoker

A clean pellet smoker is very important for uninterrupted smoking. There can build grease very quickly in a very short time that will block the drip pan area or even the chimney. This can mess up your whole cooking process. So before reusing your pellet smoker, we recommend you clean up your pellet smoker at the end of every cooking session.

Quality Wood Pellets

The quality of wood pellets is a very important factor determining your good or bad cooking experience in pellet smokers. You should always purchase dry and good quality wood pellets. Several brands are selling their wood pellet bags of different wood types and in different sizes. Before purchasing any wood pellets, please do some research, it will save you a lot of cost and hassle.

Tricky Cooking

We always recommend that pellet smokers should be used for low and slow cooking. Smoking in a low and slow manner not only develops the taste and prevents any burning meat, but low and slow smoking will consume fewer wood pellets resulting in a longer period of ease.

BBQ Thermometer with Wifi

You can easily find a good thermometer with WIFI capability in the market. It will help you to monitor and control the temperature of your smoker. With the WIFI barbecue thermometer’s modern technology, you can be alarmed from a distance about dropping food temperature.

So, you go and check and solve the problem with the smoker. There is some Wireless meat thermometer available that can work over a distance of up to 300feet. I mean, is it not incredible? Smoking overnight can be easy to do with this small tool.

Favorable Weather

It would helpful if you always consider bad weather, as it can be a bit hard to smoke your food during bad weather. During rain or cold weather, you must shelter your pellet smoker because if not, wood pellets will burn faster to maintain the temperature, and it will be a “no-no” for overnight cooking.

Final Comments

Overall the pellet smoker is a smart choice and can cook overnight. But you cannot just leave your barbecue alone. It takes out all the fun.

Keeping and Offset Smoker up Overnight

Offset smokers have become more demanding and popular among barbeque lovers. Before learning to keep an offset smoker fire going overnight uninterrupted, we need to understand the mechanism of offset smokers first.

Mechanism of Offset Smokers

Offset smokers are divided into two main chambers/drums. The bigger chamber is normally the main cooking compartment in which food set on many shelves is smoked with hot smoky air coming from burning wood and charcoal in a smaller chamber (which is called a firebox) attached to one side. The temperature gauge lets you know the temperature of the cooking chamber. .No matter what type of offset smoker you are using, the mechanism of cooking the food remains the same in each.

If we want to smoke overnight with an offset smoker. The key to making all of this work is to:

  • Provide sufficient airflow so that air can get into the firebox.
  • Provide a sufficient opening at the stack end the exhaust side of the offset smoker so you can create that draft.
  • Use dry clean burning hardwood fuel in the firebox and maintain that fire throughout the whole process.

Smooth Airflow

So, once we provide the firebox with the type of fuel it needs which is dry hardwood splits. We give it enough airflow so the vent and the exhaust are open. For smooth airflow, I like to leave the firebox lid open. Why is that? Because small vents do not let in enough air to let the wood burn steady or produce more heat.


Your job is to control that hot air draft that enters from one side of the cooking chamber and exits from the damper. Control that fire in the firebox so that it’s always lit and it’s always producing a constant amount of clean-burning heat.

If the lid of the firebox is left open, with smooth air intake your wood piece will burn with full flames and it will not let the temperature of the cooking chamber go down.

Fuel Type

I just prefer to use natural lump charcoal because it burns hotter and longer and some people say that it produces a better flavor because it’s less refined and it’s closer to the real thing than a charcoal briquette.

Whatever I’m aiming at in this case for my example, it’s 250 degrees Fahrenheit now how can you anticipate when your fire is going to start decreasing in temperature. There’s a way out:

You can just measure the amount of time that each hardwood split produces heat so you’ll know that each split of a similar size produces heat for about 30 to 40 minutes so that means about 20 to 30 minutes in you need to add a new split so that it can start catching fire and start contributing to that temperature by the time the old split burns out.

Final Comments

The fueling strategy and air flow settings work together for overnight cooking in offset smokers. Air flow is responsible for both burning the fuel and smoking the meat in the cooking chamber.

Keeping a Charcoal Smoker going Overnight

You can follow these easy methods for overnight cooking and make your charcoa6l smoker work like a charm.

The Minion Method

 You can follow this method in 3 easy steps:

  • Place enough charcoal briquettes to fill the burn pot in deep and even layers. Make a hold for your starter coal in the center of the placed coals.
  • Use a chimney starter to lit up the charcoals. You can also use a blow torch to make it easy.
  • Adjust the air vents both on top and bottom to maintain a required temperature, let’s say 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to keep a charcoal smoker going overnight

The Snake Method

The snake method will keep your charcoal smoker going for more than 12 hours without any hassle. For this purpose, you need to make a C-shape arrangement with charcoal by placing them around the burn pot’s outer sides.

How to keep a charcoal smoker going overnight

The Coil shape should be about three coals thick, leaning against each other. Leave a gap for the water pan. Add some wood chips and small chunks at the beginning of the snake—light up the coals of the coil at one end.

Choosing the end you want to burn is important, so you should know which end to light up so that you can place your meat above it. You can easily maintain 225F degrees temperature with this method.

The Top-Down Burn Method

Fill up your bun pot ¾ of the way with charcoal. You can place dry wood chunks in between, making a layer. After starting the fire, you can add more coals and wood chunks at the top. But be careful of putting too much.

How to keep a charcoal smoker going overnight

How to keep a Kamado Grill up Overnight

Kamado Grills have gained a lot of popularity recently. Kamado grills use burning wood as fuel and have thick walls for perfect insulation. Air vents are at the top and bottom for proper airflow. Kamado grills can smoke or grill in the same device. Kamado grills can work overnight as well by taking some precautionary measures.

Use Larger Wood Chunks

It would help if you had large wood chunks placed over charcoal to work longer without putting in new wood chunks. But remember, large wood chunks can produce bigger flames which can burn your meat as well.

So, while putting large wood chunks, you need your vents to be adjusted accordingly so that the fire remains under control. The key factor here is, you should keep wood chunks near air vents and charcoal near food; this way, you will not burn your food.

Otherwise, you can wood logs that take longer to burn and burn slowly. Even then, you need to put those logs closer to the air vents.

Using BBQ thermometer with Wifi

The best BBQ meat thermometer with wifi allows you to be updated from the inside temperature of the meat. From that you can anticipate how long will it take to get the meal ready. In this way if your meal has to get ready in 4 to 5 hours, you can have a long rest provided that other things like fuel and outside weather remains supportive.

Final Comments

Applying the two methods you can elongate the single shift of a Kamado Grill.

Final Verdict

Before ending up the guides, we need to know exactly what we mean when we talk about keeping a smoker up overnight. Actually, make your mind that there is no such thing as set and forget in smoking the meat. Theoretically, maybe one or types of smokers can be up overnight, but practically you cannot leave them alone after placing food and starting the smoking process.

To make a smoker go overnight means maintaining the required temperature and amount of smoke during the cooking process, whether it takes 6 hours or 18 hours.

You cannot just leave the smoker and go to sleep during that time. But what you can do is that you can minimize your efforts to make things work effectively.

The goal is to make a minimum effort so that the smoker maintains its required cooking temperature and smoke simultaneously. That being said, let’s take a look at the different types of smokers and how we will keep our smokers up overnight with minimum effort.

In addition to the above, the methods to use the various smokers going overnight are flexible to use among each other.

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