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EggheadRalph

How much more charcoal does a 42" use?

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@tekobomight be the authority on this one, having owned most sizes of KK, but my gut tells me that while it will take proportionately more fuel to heat soak (given the increased surface area/volume), but once at temp, it probably will take roughly the same amount of fuel to maintain it as other sizes. At that point most of the BTUs from the fuel are going into heating up the food - which is independent of grill size, and directly about the amount and size of protein that you're cooking. Assuming that all KK wall thickness is the same across the portfolio, a larger grill will lose a bit more heat than a smaller one through the walls - again directly due to increaded surface area. However,  given how efficient they all are, it might be difficult to determine how much more fuel is needed to maintain temp in the larger sizes. 

My conclusion  - don't base your decision on which size to buy based upon the difference in the amount of charcoal that it will use. Size choices are about personal budget, and the amount of food that you need to cook at a time and how frequently? Dennis can guide you through this decision without ANY concerns about being up sold to spend extra money.

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KKs are inherently very efficient.  I have a 16, 23 and a 32 but not yet a 42.  What I have noticed is that the larger the KK, the quicker your fire forms.  I am guessing that is because the volume of air through the fire box increases with size of KK.  Once I have the fire going I have not noticed any significant difference in use of char between the KKs but I have to admit to not having done any direct comparisons.  As @tony b said, I would not base your choice of KK on use of char. You will be surprised by the efficiency and the basket splitters help you turn a big KK into a smaller, focussed cooking machine.  Have fun making your decision.  

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@EggheadRalph Here's some detail from my first weekend.  I, too, am an egghead.  I went for the 42 over the 32. My decision was based on wanting to be able to smoke or grill food for a large party, but also have a nice versatile tool for everyday grilling.  I am pleased that this is going to be the case.  One advantage to the 42 over the 32 is that both the lower and. main grates are split into 3 sections so you can take out just the middle section or a side section.  I liked that setup the best.

Charcoal detail from my first weekend with my 42:

I went through about 45-50 lb of charcoal this weekend with my new 42, but it was running all weekend from friday at 1PM to Sunday at 3PM. 48 whole hours.  AND I both cooked and "vented" the grill (a break-in step).  With venting you go up to 500-600 degrees and keep it there.

I took out the basket splitter and used the entire firebox of the big 42.  I did ribs friday night and I didn't realize I had left a probe plug port open on it.  Just that one little 3/8" hole gave this huge grill enough air to keep the dome thermometer of the KK at 225 all night long after I shut it down.  I put on briskets saturday.  Saturday after my briskets were done at ~6:30PM I took the KK up to 550 to start the venting.  It vented some, then I shut it down (but when I opened it it still had some smoldering coals that I was able to get the next fire going with).  When I woke up Sunday morning I smoked a whole chub of bologna and then finished the venting.

I would imagine from my experience I could probably cook low and slow all weekend very easily with only one basket.  Could probably do a 12 hour low and slow with the basket splitter on one 15lb bag of royal oak, which is about 3x what my large big green egg would use if I were filling the firebox all with brand new charcoal at the start of a cook.

Compared to my large big green egg, the 42 inch KK is several times bigger maybe 5 times more cooking area for smoking, but it takes only about 3x more charcoal to keep it going.

My uneducated guess just extrapolating from the weight of the two grills, the 32 will consume about 55-60% the amount of charcoal as the 42.  In other words, the 32 will take about 2x more charcoal than your egg (give or take a little).  The 42 will take 3x (give or take a little). 

 

 

Edited by johnnymnemonic
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The volume of insulation/ wall thickness is the same in ALL models  from 16-42".  It will take a bit more BTU's to heat soak the walls,  but from that point on they all burn very little charcoal to maintain low and slow temps.. To give you an idea.. A 23" with my dense coconut shell charcoal can go 85 hours at 235ºf on a single basket.  The 42" with a much larger basket can go 215 hours at 235ºf on a single basket! The only time charcoal consumption is noticeable is when you are grilling at high temps and then the KK consumes charcoal at the same rate as every other grill.. but using the charcoal basket splitter helps to reduce consumption because you only need to light and use an appropriate volume for the meat you are cooking.. Crank it down and a 42" is suddenly cooking with the same volume as a 23" with splitter.. I've never heard of anybody commenting about charcoal consumption in a KK except when baking Napoleon pizzas at very high temps 800-900º.. these actually should be done with a baking steel at 450º will get the same leoparding on your crust.. much safer and less fuel.. 

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I don't know if you have ordered yet @EggheadRalphbut I wanted to update.

Here's the reason to buy a 42.  Check out this real estate inside.  I bought 2 pork butts.  One that I'm doing as just pulled pork BBQ and the other I am doing "Tacos Al Pastor".  The smaller chunk of shoulder is the remainder / the portion I'm not using for Al Pastor on the 2nd pork butt.  Check out how much real estate this thing has.  I opened the grill up to test the pan I want to use for Al Pastor tonight. The thing will fit in here lengthwise!  And I've only used 2/3 of the room - I still have room to get all the way down to the firebox if I need to reload.  Note I don't even have the lower grate on so I can just get directly to the firebox.

Anyway, I'm personally glad I got the 42.  Once all this lower temp stuff is done later, I'm going to put the lower grid right down above that fire and grill some chicken and vac seal for the week ahead.  But in fact, I could grill at the same time as smoking if I wanted to (I just don't want to open the lid that often).  Anyway - talk about versatility.  The 42SBB is the ultimate in versatility and space.  And it's an awesome smoker.  Can't wait to taste the food tonight, the al pastor and the pulled pork!

As far as the charcoal usage for this cook, I am using the basket splitter 50/50, charcoal only on the left side.  I have only loaded it with about 8lbs and I don't think I'm going to have to add any.  I burned so much my first weekend b/c I ran it at 500 a very long time.  It's not 3x what your big green egg uses, it's more like 2x, and you get at least 5x the room.  Amazing machine this thing is.

 

 

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