I recently wanted to prepare a series of Instructables, starting with how to break in a pellet grill/smoker and ending with smoking a Flat Beef Brisket:
- Pellet Grill - Breaking In
- Turnip Chips - Apple Wood Smoked
- Apple Wood Smoked Aspragus
- Pork Shoulder Roast - Apple Wood Smoked
- Flat Beef Brisket - Apple Wood Smoked
However, the weather forecast was not cooperating, although my local butcher's prices were. As you may know, pellet grills and smokers require electricity to run the auger that feeds the pellets into the fire chamber and power the electronic temperature controls and fans. My solution was to go through a series of steps to ensure the reliable operation of my smoker under adverse weather conditions - namely rain. This Instructable is the result.
- Pellet smoker
- Event canopy tent
- Zip ties
- Heavy duty outdoor extension cord
- Rain proof outdoor outlet cover (installation Instructable here)
- Oven proof thermometer or thermocouple and probe*
*NOTE: Scientific thermocouples and probes tend to be more accurate, more durable, and allow for monitoring multiple items in the smoker using one device. In the end, this can be cheaper than purchasing multiple cooking sensors and much more accurate than dial thermometers.
Step 1: Pitch a Tent and Power Up
Pitch your tent according to the manufacturer's instructions. I like to use open canopy tents because they allow for better ventilation and flexibility while still keeping the rain off.
Be sure you are using an "in use" type outlet cover and a heavy duty 14 gauge extension cord rated for outdoor use and at least 15 amps (if needed). Be sure to keep your cord off of the deck or ground. It might not be raining directly on where you plugged your grill in to your cord, but it is still going to get damp.
Since I was concerned about the wind, I attached the legs of the tent to my deck ballasters using heavy duty zip ties.
I then sited the grill in the tent with the chimney as close to the edge, and the pellet hopper as close to the center, as possible. This will help to vent smoke while ensuring the pellets and electronics (which are mounted under the hopper) stay as dry as possible. Even though the auger connection on most pellet smokers is sealed, oftentimes the face plate of the electronics is not, and we want to keep our electronics away from water.
Step 2: Fill 'Er Up
Fill the hopper as you normally would according to your grill manufacturer's instructions. Be sure the hopper is not getting wet from rain, either falling or splashing.
Step 3: Let It Roll
If you use outdoor tables a lot like I do, it helps to put the tables on wheels. This lets you easily rearrange your work surfaces to accommodate for shifting rain, wind, etc... I used 2" plate casters because the legs of the table are 4x4s.
NOTE: The drawback is that 2" plate casters all come with small wheels, so I won't be rolling these tables around on the lawn or in the dirt. Larger wheels may require the use of stem casters and stem caster inserts in the legs.
Step 4: Smoke Away!
I hope this information proved helpful in your outdoor cooking adventures. Here are two pictures of my results. I was pleased to note that the cooking times, pellet consumption, and final product weren't affected by the rain at all. The only thing I had to do, in order to adjust to changing winds, was to move my tables around to keep my work surfaces dry.