Pit Barrel Cooker Vent Setting (5 Simple Steps)

Not sure how to set up the vents on your PBC?

Below I’ll show, you exactly how the vent setting works and how you can adjust it.

Plus how to set them for each stage of your cook.

That way you can crank out the tastiest BBQ food possible, giving you pitmaster status at your cookouts!


Your Pit Barrel Cooker Intake Vent – How to Adjust

All Pit Barrel Cooker’s come with an adjustable air vent at the bottom of the gallon drum.

After purchasing and installing the Pit Barrel, you should adjust accordingly.

Before even thinking about adding and lighting a load of charcoal!

The adjustment is simple and only needs a screwdriver and a bit of elbow grease.

You will notice that the vent does not seal all the way.

This is because it controls air flow and achieves a consistent temperature.

But more of that later!

Adjusting the vent is based on altitude.

Note: These guidelines are directly from the Pit Barrel Cooker Company.

So you can be confident in our product guides.

0-2000ft Above Sea Level

Adjust the vent to 1/4 open if you are below 2000ft.

2000-5000ft Above Sea Level

Adjust the vent to 1/2 open if you are between 2000-5000ft.

5000-8000ft Above Sea Level

Adjust the vent to 3/4 open if you are between 5000-8000ft.

Sea Level Above 8000ft

Have the vent open if you are above 8000ft.

How Elevation Affects the Internal Temperature on a Pit Barrel Cooker

The higher you are the dryer the air.

There is also less atmospheric pressure and oxygen.

All these environmental factors change the cooking temperature in the Pit Barrel.

The higher level of elevation the longer the cooking times of your food.

So to counteract we increase the airflow by opening the vent.

This allows more oxygen and moisture to enter the barrel smoker.

Helping offset and create a stable temperature.


Do I Have to Change the Vent Settings Every Time I Cook?

Once you have adjusted the vent you can leave it.

That is until you move it to a new location with an increased or decreased elevation.

The ambient temperature will stay consistent.

This makes it easier to monitor your cooking times.

Via the weight of your food and the internal temp sweet spot.

How a Pit Barrel Cooker Disperses Heat

It is essential to understand how a pit barrel disperses heat in the vent settings.

This simple but effective design doesn’t come with electronic parts.

This style of smoker uses airflow and insulation to adjust or maintain heat.

A gallon steel drum sits level on a 3-point stand.

With a removable charcoal basket at the bottom and a standard grill grate on top.

You can add modifications like a stainless steel hook or chimney inside the barrel.

There is an adjustable air vent on the lower side with a sealable lid for the top.

The fuel is then lit and the heat travels up to your food.

Will Any Moderations To My Pit Barrel Cooker Effect The Vent Settings?

There are a variety of mods you can apply to your Pit Barrel Smoker.

This will enhance your cooking experience and make a perfect gift.

But will they have an impact on your vent settings?

Let’s find out.


Charcoal Chimney

A charcoal chimney is used for indirect barrel temp consistency.

Perfect for slow-cooking racks of ribs or a pork shoulder!

It also directs unwanted smoke out of the Pit Barrel.

When installing, make sure the chimney is not blocking the vent.

Blocking the ventilation will decrease airflow.

This can cause the temperature to rise.

Hinged Grate

Grates at the top of your Pit Barrel will not have any impact on the vent settings.

Hanging Rods

Meat hooks and hanging rods help you position and stabilize meat.

The rod holes are located at the top of the Pit Barrel.

The installation will not affect the air vents however the hanging meat may.

Generally, ingredients will not reach the coal basket or block the air vent.

But always check if your Barrel can fit your desired meat.

Otherwise, it will disrupt the airflow and render your vent settings useless.

Larger Ingredients or cuts of meat like turkey and pork butt will have an impact.

So consider that.

Step By Step Guide On Adjusting The Vent Settings

I hoped to have helped you understand how to adjust your vent settings.

It is important to understand how the settings impact the cook times and temperature.

So you are fully prepared to get the best out of your BBQ experience.

Below is a summary of the adjustments.

Remember that fire and ventilation safety is important.

Be conscious if using lighter fluid and always use a Pit Barrel outside.

– Install the Pit Barrel as per your instructions.

– Adjust the vent settings with a screwdriver as per the above, based on your elevation.

– You will only need to adjust the air vent once.

– Lump charcoal is our favorite choice & pick up some wood chips

– Monitor your temperatures accurately using probes.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *