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HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Posted by avidchef (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 4, 12 at 22:43

My grill will not reach high temperatures.
My husband and I purchased the Weber Performer grill with propane ignition. As recommended by people on this site, I have also bought lump charcoal. We have kept the bottom vent open, covered the grill, and closed the grill cover vents. We have spread out the lump charcoal in the center of the grill. Yesterday we waited an hour and a half, checking every ten minutes but the temperature would never go above 250 and most of the time it was 200. All I wanted to do was cook chicken cutlets and hamburgers. How can I increase the temperature?
I assume I want the temperature to be at least 450 before grilling - am I correct on this? How can I get the grill to heat higher? How much lump charcoal should I use? By the way, the brand I bought Cowboy as that is the only brand I could find. It has thick pieces. I also bought mesquite wood - will that give me a hotter fire? How should I use that?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

"Close the grill cover vents"?

If so then you closed off most all of the oxygen going to the coals, ALL vents should be wide open until the coals reach your desired temp then close them "slightly" to maintain what ever temp it is you wish to cook at.

You want oxygen to "flow through" the grill.

For "grilling chicken" I get my grill to around 350, that is chicken with the bones like wings and thighs.

Cutlets and Hamburgers probably 400-450 degrees.

On my Kamado grill I start my charcoal, open ALL vents top and bottom.
If I want 350 degrees it will be there in about 3 minutes, I then close bottom vent by about 3/4 and top vent by about 3/4 and it will maintain that 350.
If I want 450 it will get there in about 4-5 minutes or less, I then close the bottom vent by about 2/3rds and top by about 2/3rds and so on.
But you pretty much NEVER completely close ANY vent unless you are trying to put the fire out.

"Cowboy" charcoal is fair, but will have a bunch of crap in it, sometimes even PLYWOOD.
You would be better off with something like Royal Oak Lump.
That is available at Walmarts I believe and I doubt there's anyone in the country that doesn't have one of them within a 10 min drive.

The Mesquite wood "chunks" is for flavor mostly, just add 2-3 chunks on top of the coals for cooking something like Burgers. If you are smoking then use more.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

We have a Weber charcoal grill and easily get the temperature up over 500F, so something is definitely wrong with your setup. We use a chimney which holds about 2qts of charcoal. We use hardwood lump charcoal, I don't recall what brand but it's sold at places like Home Depot or Lowes. You need a fair amount to get it up to high temperatures. When it's spread out, it should be a fairly solid layer of coals as wide as your food. This is direct heat grilling, as opposed to indirect.

Also, as already stated, you need to have the vents open. You only close the vents when you want the temperature lower or you want more smoke.

HTH,
Cheryl


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

With enough air and fuel, you can soften steel like my blacksmith does with the horses shoes. To get such miserable results, you're lacking one or both of the ingredients in the proper amount here. Start off with supplying more air to the amount of charcoal you were using. More air makes for faster, hotter combustion. Faster hotter combustion takes more fuel. A cup or two of charcoal just ain't gonna do it for high heat grilling. Start off with about an 12"x12" mound that gets spread out when it goes white hot, but it will take some time to get that way if you aren't supplying enough oxygen.

And this is why I prefer gas to grill with. You can always add in some flavor chips if you want more smoke, but it's good to go in about 7-8 minutes instead of 20 or more.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

A good charcoal grill only takes 3-6 minutes to be ready to grill.
Mine will be 600+ degrees in under 7 minutes even for high heat searing of steaks.
and you cant really "smoke" anything decently on a gas grill.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

That's some grill You got there Nunya. We used to have a charcoal grill, now at my age too much of a Pita. We still go to parties at friends houses that have charcoal grills, We go to the mountains where they have charcoal grills, I have yet to see one where the charcoal is even remotely hot in much less than half an hour, and usually longer, and I've seen them use "Every trick in the book" to speed it up!

After having both charcoal and gas for many years, I really prefer the gas, especially the Infra Red. As Hollyspings says, You can "Kick it up a notch" using gas by adding whatever wood flavour you are in the mood for, mesquite, Hickory, etc etc and I have NO complaints about the finished product and I have yet to have any complaints from any of my guests.

Back to the OP's question, Yep, more fuel, more air and possibly more time.

Gary


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Then they/you are using a grill with not very good air flow, using regular charcoal "briquettes" and lighting them with either just lighter fluid or the usual chimney.
Yes that takes forever.
However if you have a good grill with plenty of airflow, my particular one is a Vision Grill Kamado, although ANY Kamado type grill will do fine like a Big Green Egg etc.
Also a decent Weber Kettle can work well.
You then pour in your charcoal, then light it with a TORCH.
I use a Weed Torch.
The coals are lit in about 20-30 seconds, if you want it to get really hot nice and fast you light it for about 45 seconds.
Open all vents top & bottom and you get a chimney effect going through the grill making it a virtual blow torch.
I am ready to smoke 200-250 degrees in about 2 minutes.
Grill 325-375 in about 3-4 minutes.
hot grill 425-475 in about 5 minutes and
Sear 600+ in about 7 minutes.

All you need is a way to light it fast (weed torch)and get plenty of air to the coals. Some people use a blow dryer or even a shop vacuum set to blow out if they are using a grill with not much air flow.
The coals take just a few minutes to be white hot.

Here is someone that even uses the Charcoal Chimney lighter over a gas burner and still gets his grill to 750 degrees in under 5 minutes, although he uses a stack pipe on his to get even more air flow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPsRJCJTf0M

If he used a weed torch to light it he could get his coals lit to 350-400 degrees in about 2 minutes with that stack pipe method.
I am perfectly happy getting mine ready to cook between 2-7 minutes takes me that long to get the food ready in the kitchen to bring out to the BBQ.
Gas grills have their place, especially "true" Infrared ones, like for searing a steak but that is about all I have any desire to cook on a gas grill.
Best use for a gas grill is a small portable one that you can take anywhere.
The flavor and juiciness just isn't there and there is no way you can actually "BBQ" on a gas grill.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Nunya, Gary just wants an invite over to try some of that prime rib you showed us a picture of a while back, is all...


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

We tried again tonight. We opened the vents. Put 12 X 12 single layer mound of
lump charcoal along with mesquite wood. Lit the grill using the propane ignitor. The temperature never rose above 200. We checked every 10 minutes for an hour and a half. This is the Weber performer grill - does anyone else have a problem with it? We are relying on the thermometer on the cover. But I know it is cool, because I have put my hand over the grill and can keep it there for awhile. The grill was assembled by a store so I assume it was put together correctly. I ended up starting the burgers on the grill to give them charcoal flavor and finishing them inside on the broiler - very frustrating. The fire never really gets going. The instructions are to leave the propane ignition on for at least 10 minutes. We ignite it multiple times - it seem very ineffective. I guess we will try a chimney or weed torch. I think the ignition is poor. I think I will post and see if anyone has issues with the performer ignition because it seems like we are doing everything else correctly. Does that make sense?


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Something sure isn't right.

I just checked the Weber website and someone listed the same exact problem as you, grill does not get over 200 degrees on the Weber Performer Grill.

The answer he got was this, I will cut and paste it here.
____________________
"""Try these steps in order.
1.Turn off the gas at the propane tank
2.Disconnect the gas line from the tank
3.Open the grill lid
4.Turn all control valves to high
5.Wait for about a minute
6.Turn all control valves to off
7.Reconnect the gas line to the tank
8.SLOWLY turn on the gas at the tank
9.Light the grill normally
10.Your grill should now heat normally""
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Have no clue if that will work, actually I cant see what difference it would make but then I have never used one of those grills so maybe worth a try.
The person that gave the answer "may" have been thinking about a GAS grill and not the Charcoal one, don't know.

If you can't get it to work I would take that thing back and get yourself a nice Kamado grill.
Only cost about $200 more and last a lifetime.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

I second the Kamado type grill. DH got a Big Green Egg last year for Fathers Day and it has been one of the best purchases we've ever made. We use it at least once per week year round, and almost every night during the summer. We use a chimney starter and are usually ready to go in about 10-20 minutes. We have used BGE charcoal, Costco, and even regular Kingsford (without any additives). We sear steaks at 600+, then close everything off and let the temp drop a bit. The temperature regulation is so much better on the BGE than any of the gas grills we had.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

To be fair to Nunya, yes all the Charcoal BBQ's I mentioned are not any of the fancy stuff, and the charcoal used is probably whatever was available and the cheapest at the local super market.

That being said, I wouldn't trade even the fanciest, fastest one for my new "Chineese" (yeah Nunya how about that)! bbq that I bought from BBQ's Galore. I just turn on the gas, then push in on the same knob that I turn the gas on with, and "Whammy", "Instant Gratification"---that's important when you're 70 years old!!!

Sorry Avid Chef, been too many years since I cooked with charcoal except for "Here and there"! I hope the experts here are able to resolve your problem --One hopes it's not just a bad thermometer????

Gary


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Nunyabiz1
Thanks so very very much. I didn't think to check the website for advice. We will try this as soon as I can persuade my husband to use the grill again. He is a "city boy" and is not thrilled about grilling after six unsuccessful and frustrating attempts. I will let you know if we succeed or not. If it doesn't work, I think I will either call Weber or the store we purchased from. Maybe when grills go on sale at the end of the season I will look for a gas infrared or the Kamando grill.
I did see the Kamando at Costco -and have no idea how I would get it home. I couldn't even open the lid. I think gas may be the way for me to go - but I do love the smell of charcoal and the way the food tastes.

Gary -I am pretty sure its not the thermometer - the coals didn't get hot. When we tried briquets they never ashed over. I can put my hand above the flame for 30 seconds and barely feel the heat.

Thanks everyone for your patience with me. Anyone in the NJ area? If I ever get this thing working I should have ya'all over for a barbeque.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Dodge,
Nothing wrong with Chinese made as long as its a Chinese company making their own product they usually aren't too bad.
My Kamado is Chinese made, so is my Gas Range.

Where the Chinese made stuff goes wrong is when an "American" company goes to China, gives the Chinese company all the details of what they want and and at the lowest price point possible. The Chinese naturally say, sure thing I will pound out 10 million of those for X amount, and what you get is crap. But that's what most American company's are going for, sell lots of crap for cheap.

But a Chinese company making their own product for sale they actually make some pretty decent things.
They are very good at making ceramic Kamado's.

There is something to be said about the ease of Gas grills and in another 15-20 years I may be headed that way myself, but right now I am finding that this Kamado is quite fast and easy.
I could leave my PC right now and in under 10 minutes total could be throwing a steak on the grill.
Bit more hassle true, BUT tons more flavor and that's what I "grill" for in the first place is that charcoal/wood flavor.

As opposed to a gas grill I would rather just throw steaks and chicken under the infrared broiler in my oven.
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Avidchef.

No problem.
It sure seems to me that you are not getting AIR to the coals, something must be wrong. I would check how it is put together around the vents, especially the bottom vents.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

The idea of the charcoal ignition is to help light off the charcoal, not cook your food.

I can't find any instructions for this thing, but I'll bet the flame is concentrated in one place. therefore, you do not spread the charcoal around, you pile it over the flame. You then wait for all the charcoal to light, then spread it around. I would suspect that during this lighting time you need to keep the lid OFF the kettle, and the bottom vents fully open.

If you are spreading the charcoal as an 'even layer', it will only light over the propane flame. The rest will never light. The brickets need to be in a pile over the flame.

Lump charcoal usually burns hotter than brick.

Wood chunks need to be soaked in water before you use them (usually). Else they burn up too fast. You put them on after the charcoal lights up.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

not getting above 250 after an hour and a half indicates there is a fundamental problem. I doubt the charcoal is even lit to any significant degree. My guess is you have run afoul the safety valve on modern propane tanks. It prevents uncontrolled release of propane if the valve is turned on with nothing attached. Once this triggers, you have to follow the basic procedure that Nunyabiz1 posted. The more abbreviated version is:

1. Turn off valve at tank.
2. Turn off all valves at grill.
3. Turn on valve at tank to max. Doing this slowly will help ensure it pressurizes ok. Around one full turn every few seconds is usually good.
4. Turn on valve at grill and light.

There's really no need to disconnect the tank unless you suspect a leak somewhere or other issues with the hose connections.

The most common way this triggers is the user turns on the valve at the grill to max but nothing comes out. Then remembers that they turned off the tank so goes and opens the tank valve while the burners valves are on at max. The tank valve "thinks" there's an uncontrolled leak due to the pressure difference. Always make sure the burner valves are shut when you turn on the main valve at the tank.

Good luck.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

I own a weber performer. I am actually on my 3rd one. I have been nothing but happy with this grill.
However, the propane ignition just doesn't work. The flame is no more than the pilot light on a water heater. The propane ignition will work if you give it about an hour.

If you want charcoal to heat up quickly, you need to light it using one of the methods already suggested. I like the chimney style charcoal lighter. I also have a mapp torch, but don't use it just because I am a cheapskate and don't like paying for cylinders. Charcoal is the easiest most foolproof method for beginners and old newspaper is free.

To sum this up, light the charcoal like everyone else does, or buy a gas grill.
Personally I love charcoal. Much better flavor and much more heat than you can get out of any gas grill. I own a weber performer and a large big green egg.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Whatever, leave the cover off until the coals are white hot, I cook steaks, burgers etc. with the cover off whenever possible to get the sear. If the flame does not contact the charcoal to light it there is a problem, as several suggested follow the procedure. I have 2 Webber charcoal grills, the newer one is 33 years old the older one is at least 40. They were built good back then I need to replace the rivets on the vents and the wooden cover handle on one of them. I live in Minnesota and they sit outside all year long. I just shovel a path in the winter. I grill at least once a week in the winter, more often otherwise. My son purchased a Weber one touch in 2004. It is junk. It is powdercoated, not porcelanized like the older ones. The shutter mechanism on the bottom fell apart in less than a year. Weber did not even acknowledge his complaint. They take 20 m in to light using fire starters that I make using paper egg cartons, hardwood shavings and parrafin, or old candles.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

I think the problem is as Nunyabiz and amcook described in their posts above. Basically, its a reasonable-sounding propane safety feature that gets entangled with the normal control webber put on their grill.

Avidchef, try that fix, and please let us know if it helps.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

I see you created two threads for this. I'll repost what I wrote in the other thread for continuity.

------

I have the Weber Performer. It's an awesome grill. I used a Weber kettle for years with great success, but in a moment of weakness I retired it for a Weber Genesis gas grill. Gas grilling is convenient, but it's not the same. Last year I purchased the Weber Performer to get the convenience of gas starting, but the cooking flavor/performance of charcoal.

First, the propane assist is just a charcoal starter. I stack the charcoal in a compact pile over the starter and ignite it. Of course the bottom vents are wide open and the lid is off at this point. After about 3 or 4 minutes, I can hear the charcoal snapping, popping, and smoking to indicate it's "lit." I turn off the propane and let the charcoal burn down until nearly all sides are covered with fine layer of ash. Then, I knock the pile down and spread it evenly across the bottom grate for cooking.

Now, I put the top grate and the lid on and open the top vent wide open. I watch the temperature climb to >400 degrees, then open the lid and brush the top grate to clean it. Close the lid and use the upper and lower vents to control the airflow and thus the temperature. After some experience, I know just about how much to close them down to hit a temperature range I'm after.

This assumes you're using good quality charcoal and not using too much of it. I prefer the hardwood "lump" charcoal. The old standard Kingsford briquets don't seem as high quality as they once were. If, for instance, I'm cooking hamburgers, I'll have just enough charcoal to cover the bottom grate with the chunks spaced 1/2" to 1" apart. Hamburgers cook pretty quickly.

Don't use the little half-round trays Weber includes to hold the charcoal for normal grilling. Those are for special circumstances when you want indirect heat.

When I'm done cooking, I close all the upper and lower vent to extinguish the charcoal. I use the leftover charcoal from the previous grilling as the base of for the next cooking and add a little more from the bag to make the pile I want.

One more tip, use the lower vent control lever in a back-and-forth motion BEFORE you begin to sweep the ashes into the built-in collection can. Clearing out any build up debris in the bottom of the kettle helps the airflow.

Return the lower vent to full open position before lighting the new charcoal.

If you aren't getting to the temperature you want, you may have crappy charcoal, inadequate airflow, or impatience.

------

After reading the additional information you posted in this thread, I'd want to reemphasize the need to mound the charcoal tightly on top of the propane igniter for the initial lighting and burn down. Turn the propane ALL THE WAY ON and leave it that way for the 3-5 mins it takes to light the charcoal well. It should sound like a weak torch with a touch of whistle to the outlet flame. Let the charcoal burn down in its mound before spreading it. Lid off and bottom vent fully open for the initial burn down.

The propane igniter works great.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

I have a Weber that is about 10 years old and have this same problem occasionally. I believe there is something wrong in the mechanism that opens the gas valves. When I light my grill, I open the front burner, press the ignition and the burner lights. Then I open the back burner and it lights. I close the lid, light the middle burner. A successful lighting ends in the middle burner making a solid "whoosh" sound. An unsuccessful lighting results in a quiet whoosh and a flickering whistle sound from the burners. The temperature doesn't get over 250 degrees.

I have a routine I do which works, either because it unsticks a sticky valve, or maybe because superstitious rituals really do help!

Before opening the gas tank, I go through the motions of opening and closing the regulator valves for each burner two or three times. I think I can feel if the valve is sticky and not opening right. This ritual has ended my issues of the temperature not getting above 250 degrees.

If your grill doesn't hit 450+ degrees in about 5 or so minutes, it isn't going to get there.

My two cents!


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Hmm sounds like the 10 steps I read on the Weber site is the way to go then.
This is the "safety valve" thing that Amcook mentioned.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

The OP has a Weber Performer grill.

It's a charcoal grill, not a gas grill. The references to propane are for the gas assist in lighting the charcoal. That's all the propane does. Gas is not used during cooking on the Performer charcoal grill.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Sorry, I posted before I was really ready. (I meant to preview to see the picture made it.) To continue...

As you can see in the picture, the propane bottle is attached to a valve mounted directly on the framework of the grill. There is no flexible gas line like you'd see on a regular gas grill. There is only one control knob as well. It turns the gas on or off. The 10 steps posted above from the Weber site appear to be general answer to a question about a gas grill not heating properly. The steps don't make sense for the Performer model, in spite of the specificity of the question.

The bottom line is the Performer is really just a charcoal grill. The charcoal could be stacked and lit by conventional means (lighter fluid, etc.) and operated exactly like a Weber kettle charcoal grill. The propane assist is simply a mechanism to light the charcoal similar to using a blow torch to do it. In fact, the mechanism is very much like a built-in blow torch.

Maybe the OP can weigh in with additional information. I'd be curious to know they can make it work fine by lighting the charcoal in a conventional way (not using the propane). Once lit and burned down for cooking, can they control the temperature by using the upper and lower vents?

My experience with this grill is getting all of the performance of the classic Weber kettle with the additional convenience of lighting the charcoal without lighter fluid.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

After rereading the OP response, I suspect the issue is properly stacking the charcoal for lighting.

"We tried again tonight. We opened the vents. Put 12 X 12 single layer mound of
lump charcoal along with mesquite wood. Lit the grill using the propane ignitor. The temperature never rose above 200."

It sounds like the charcoal was arranged in a single layer. That's the way it should be for cooking, not for lighting. It should look like this:

After it's lit, let it burn down like this until there is a bit of gray ash around all of the charcoal. Then knock down the pile and spread the charcoal out for cooking:

You should be able to hit >500 degrees with the vents wide open. Close them part way to lower the temperature.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

the other thing: if you are using wood chips or chunks and have soaked them in water (as you should), don't put them on until the charcoal has started (2nd picture above). Otherwise being wet they can put out the charcoal.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

Avidchef, I, too, wondered about the AMOUNT of charcoal you were using.

Also, keep in mind that Nunyabiz is the only poster that cooks when his coals are not ashy. He cooks because his incredible Kamado sets forth cooking temps and Nunya relies on this and gets great results. But other posters, over and over and over state that they wait for different levels of ashiness. We also don't know the amount of charcoal lumps Nunya uses to cook x amount of food.

That aside, it seems we now are closer to the mystery of your low temps. Likely a 12 inch square of single level charcoal will not get to sufficient temp., well, it hasn't yet in your husbands six valiant and frustrating efforts.

Gonna have to use more charcoal per session. And to insure that enough coal is used, you may have to get a chimney. Betcha you soon will be able to enjoy that lovely smoke and blazing flames. Good luck.


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RE: HELP- Grill will not go above 250

There is absolutely zero reason to wait until all coals are "ashy" when you are not using "Starter Fluid" to light the coals with. That is the ONLY reason to do so is to make sure the fluid is burned off. Especially with LUMP charcoal.

I normally use about 1/2 a bag of Lump Charcoal when I start fresh and when I am done I close the vents and put out the coals to use for next time, sometimes add a few chunks next time I grill and a couple of chunks of what ever wood.
The charcoal when smoking at 225 degrees will last for about 18-24 hours because I have done 2 different Boston Butts on it so far and both smoked for 11 hours and I had about 1/2 the charcoal left when done.
Using it for searing at high heat like 600+ burns up the charcoal much faster for obvious reasons plus because it takes so much longer to extinguish the coals afterwards.

The bags I use are 6.6 lbs and are all hardwood lump, so I use roughly 3 lbs of charcoal and that will last at least 2 times, so average 1.5 lbs of charcoal per use.

Their grill is supposed to light the charcoal, which IF it is working correctly should do so.
All they need to do is pile it over the burner and after the coals are lit then spread them out a bit.
If they need a chimney or a weed torch then I would take the darn thing back.


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