The Weber Kettle is by far one the best grills and even smokers to exist; It's versatile, durable, and most importantly, inexpensive.
However, as someone who uses the Weber kettle to smoke with, it has an intrinsic problem - the lid thermometer is on the wrong side.
This problem is easily rectified by installing a new thermometer for the Weber Kettle.
The lid thermometer on the Weber kettle isn't inherently bad.
If you're someone who only grills on the Weber kettle and you only use a one-zone fire to grill hamburgers and hot dogs, you don't have to worry about the lid thermometer; It's accurate and does it's job of measuring the temperature inside the kettle.
However, the problem becomes apparent if you smoke meat on the Weber kettle - The Lid thermometer is on the wrong side.
When smoking meat on a charcoal grill like the weber kettle, you want to place the meat on the opposite side of your fire and below the exhaust damper. This way you're smoking with indirect heat and the smoke is pulled over the meat.
However, since the lid thermometer is on the opposite side of your meat, it reads the temperature above your fire - which is much hotter than heat in the indirect zone.
What I've found is 400F over the fire is roughly 250F in the indirect zone.
However, if you're someone who likes to be super precise with temperatures (like me), you can fix this problem by installing a new lid thermometer in the correct location.
The easiest way to sus the problem with the lid thermometer is by buying a new thermometer and installing it on the exhaust damper side of the grill.
In order to do this, you'll need a few things, namely a new thermometer.
Over the years of owning different types of smokers and grills, I almost always go with the brand Tel-tru. They make thermometers for a variety of industrial applications, as well as barbecue - meaning, they need to be accurate and built to last.
Tel-tru has a number of different styles and types of thermometers. I'd suggest getting one with a bigger dial (2 inches) and a stem at least 2 inches long. With that said, I also wouldn't go above 3 inches on the off chance you're smoking a larger cut of meat like brisket.
You also don't need a thermometer that goes upwards of 700F+. The reason being, this thermometer is for smoking meaning we just need to know temperatures between 225 - 275F.
The standard lid thermometer can also be used for high heat searing of 600F+.
This process is super straightforward. You're essentially just drilling a hole into the lid and threading the thermometer through the hole.
For this guide I used:
Note: The Tel-tru thermometer I received was different from the one in the photograph. It didn't have a wing nut and the hole was much bigger than advertised. Rather, it used a locking nut. The step drill bit also eliminates the need to measure.
The first thing I did was decided where I wanted the thermometer. I opted to install it below the exhaust damper, near grate-level. This way when smoking I have a better idea of the temperature where the food will be placed.
I then removed the locking nut and colored in the circle with a marker.
I then took my mallet and pin punch and tapped in the center of the circle to make a hole for the drill bit.
Note: You don't need to hit the pin punch hard. Also don't fret if you crack the porcelain. This happened to me and it was drilled out.
With the step drill bit and my drill I then started drilling out the outline I drew. As I started to approach the size, I started testing the thermometer to see if I could thread it.
Eventually, I was able to thread the thermometer through. I turned the thermometer until it was both threaded and had the temperature gauge upright.
Here's the thermometer fully threaded:
Once threaded, I then turned the lid over and fastened the locking nut.
That's all there is to it.
So while the above is the best way to fix the problem with the lid thermometer, some folks may find it intimidating to do so - which I don't blame you.
For a really long time, I didn't even have a lid thermometer on my Weber Kettle. My older model didn't have a heat deflector on the handle, the lid hanger, or a thermometer, but it worked fine.
Whenever I opted to smoke on the weber Kettle, I would simply take my wireless meat probe (the Thermopro TP20) and dangle it inside the exhaust damper.
This way we're measuring the heat above the meat.
The above worked fine for me for a number of years and also put out wonderful barbecue.
As shown above, installing a new thermometer for the Weber kettle is a pretty straightforward process.
If you find it intimidating, you could also opt to do what I did and simply dangle a wireless meat thermometer like the Thermopro TP20 through the exhaust damper.
You also now know that 400F over the fire is roughly 250F over the meat (which is perfect for smoking).