Akorn Kamado Control with SMOBOT

Greetings All, We got the SMOBOT up and running on the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado, and are generally pleased with the performance. Before we could run it accurately at low temperatures, we needed to improve the leaky ash pan gasket, as detailed in our previous blog post. Searching the internet for advice and opinions on low temperature operation of the Akorn, we've learned that most people find it to be excellent at maintaining temperatures upwards of, say, 235-240F, but difficult to control reliably at 225F or less.  This is consistent with our findings as well. The first couple times we tried to control the Akorn with SMOBOT at 225F, the pit simply flamed-out and died shortly after it reached the target.  Through some experimenting with vent settings and startup methods, we uncovered two tricks to starting up for low temperature operation, which are specific to the Akorn:
  1. Make sure the charcoal is very thoroughly lit on startup.  Normally, we barely light a small glowing "kernel" of fuel in the center of the charcoal pile in a ceramic kamado, and let the controller slowly bring the pit up to temperature.  That didn't work well for us on the Akorn. Instead, get a very substantial, energetic fire going to startup the Akorn.
  2. Even with the ash pan gasket improved, the inlet should be only about 1/8" or less open.

Here is a plot of the first successful, and last attempted 225F test we ran.  It's a little wobbly (though generally within 5 degrees of set point), and the fire almost went out once, then miraculously recovered:

At higher temperatures, the Akorn was very stable and controllable, as shown below:

As we've shown, controlling the Akorn smoker down at 225F may be manageable, but a person should be vigilant and keep an eye on the cook, since there's some risk that the fire could go out.  The WiFi and remote monitoring SMOBOT offers, and the forthcoming alerts will help you there. Certainly if any of you out there do or have already developed a good approach for achieving robust low-temperature operation of the Akorn, please feel free to comment below. Kind regards, The SMOBOT Team

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