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Pit Boss way off

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  • Airsick
    Former Member
    • Jun 2017
    • 8
    • Odessa, FL

    Pit Boss way off

    I set up my Pit Boss for smoking bacon at 200 knowing it usually runs hot. It kept trying to go up as high as 250, so I increased the P setting to 7. The heat started to come down and I was temporarily happy until I checked again and saw that the temp was down to 180. I thought it might have lost it's prime, so I gave it one press of the prime button, but no change. The fire had gone out! I manually lit the pot, set the temp at 200 and kept seeing plenty of smoke, so I thought all was well. When I went back outside, the temp was 450 and I had a small grease fire. I removed my finished bacon, and kept the lid open to let it cool, but the thing stayed around 250 whether the lid was open or closed. I turned it off to let it cool down, then I'll try the startup again to see what happens. Any ideas what happened to my smoke? The unit is 2 years old and I've replaced the once. Is it time for a Savannah controller?
    Last edited by Airsick; April 3rd, 2020, 07:33 PM.
  • HawkerXP
    Club Member
    • Jul 2016
    • 4915
    • Northern Virginia
    • 3 Weber kettles, and a PBC
      Thermopop
      Dot w two probes
      Slo n Sear
      Cold beer

    #2
    I'll never say my Boss is "way off". I'll be sleeping on the couch. Someone will be along to help soon..

    Comment

    • Airsick
      Former Member
      • Jun 2017
      • 8
      • Odessa, FL

      #3
      While waiting for help, I ordered the Pit Boss PID and fan. CAVU Hawker.

      Comment


      • Huskee
        Huskee commented
        Editing a comment
        Hard to beat a PID controller. I hope this helps you out. I'd be quite alarmed if my pellet cooker behaved that way. Mine runs ~15-20 deg hot, pretty consistently.
    • zx11ninja
      Club Member
      • Mar 2020
      • 13

      #4
      Hi Airsick.


      You have a fairly unique screen name.

      When you were using your Pit-Boss, did you also use a separate external thermometer probe to measure temperature at the grill grate level? The problem I find with my Pit-Boss 1100 Pro Series is that the temperature being reported by the Pit-Boss controller is way off from the actual temperature at the grill grate level. I set my temperature on the controller for 225F, yet when the Pit-Boss display reports reaching that temperature, the external thermometer probe at grill grate level reports at least 100F higher. At one time, my grate reached a temperature of 360F, and basically burned the bottom of my meat. FYI, I confirmed that my external thermometer probe is accurate against another known good thermometer via a water boil test from 50F to a rapid boil at 212F. There was only 2F degrees difference throughout the entire test.

      Grate level temperature is what counts, as that is where your meat is. The problem with Pit-Boss (and I assume other pellet smokers) is that the internal temperature probe sits vertically on the left wall of the cook chamber. That temperature probe is reading the ambient temperature at where it is located. If the probe were somehow mounted at grate level, the temperature reading would be more meaningful.

      To the best of my knowledge, Pit-Boss does not use a PID controller. Therefore, I switched to a Savannah Stoker PID controller. I had the same issue with it as I did with the original Pit-Boss controller in that the actual grate temperature far exceed the reported temperature on the Pit-Boss display. However, the nice thing about the Savannah Stoker is that it has a calibration offset feature where you can increase the value if the internal temperature probe is reading too low and decrease the value if it is reading too high. In my testing, I found that the internal temperature probe was reading at least 60F+ degrees too low when my external temperature probe at grate level read 225F. After calibrating the internal temperature probe setting (Pb1) by +60F, I reached a condition where my set temperature, the internal temperature probe, and my external temperature probe at grate level all read 225F for a few minutes. Mission accomplished!

      Because the heat in a pellet smoker comes from the bottom, I believe that the grill grate temperature will always be higher than any other part of the smoker. I think part of this is due to the radiation. If the burn pot of a pellet smoker were located outside of the main chamber so that the pellet smoker behaved like a stick burner (off-set smoker), then only hot air would be entering the main chamber (convection) and the temperatures throughout would be more stable. In the meanwhile, if Pit-Boss would mount their internal probe at grate level somehow or just below it with a small shield to protect it from food drippings, the display would show a more meaningful temperature, as it would be showing the grill grate temperature.

      If it helps you, you may want to read through the following post: Smoke Tube Causing Excessive Grill Grate Temperature Even At Lowest PID Temperature Setting"

      If I were you, I'd set the Pit-Boss controller back to factory values, find a temperature setting that gets you as close to the grill grate temperature that you are seeking, and stick with that. But then, the Pit-Boss controller does not have many in-between temperature settings. That's another reason I went with Savannah Stoker.


      Good luck in your troubleshooting efforts.



      Take care.
      -Z

      Comment

      • Airsick
        Former Member
        • Jun 2017
        • 8
        • Odessa, FL

        #5
        Z, thanks for the good advise. The controller I retrofitted was a Smoke Daddy, (not Pit Boss as I wrote). Dennis and Dan are trying to help, but even after they re-calibrated it, it was way off last night. I tried to smoke salmon at the lowest setting of 160. The RTD indicated temps ran as high as 225, so grate temps were probably higher. I've now got a butchered up Pit Boss with a malfunctioning Smoke Daddy PID controller, new fan and auger and lots of frustration.

        Comment

        • tmelosi
          Club Member
          • Sep 2019
          • 46
          • Southwestern Illinois
          • 22" Weber Kettle
            26" Weber Kettle
            Slow N Sear
            Camp Chef 24 Pellet Grill w/sidekick
            Old Offset Barrel Smoker
            Electric Smoker
            Weber Smokey Joe (Charcoal)
            Weber Go Anywhere (Gas)
            Thermapen MK 4
            Maverick XR50

          #6
          I seem to remember that someone else had an issue with temp swings - on a Camp Chef Pellet grill. After talking to support they figured out it was the brand of pellets. I know I get some temp swings when using Pit Boss pellets on my Camp Chef but have not had an issue when using Lumberjack pellets.

          Might be worth a try.

          Comment

          • Airsick
            Former Member
            • Jun 2017
            • 8
            • Odessa, FL

            #7
            Here's why brand of pellets shouldn't matter: A true PID controller will sense the temps and fluctuations and modulate faster or slower as needed.
            ANYWAY, the bottom line is, from my experience, STAY AWAY FROM SMOKE DADDY. Caveat Emptor! They are very polite, and tried to help, but I don't feel their controller is all they advertise. Dennis told me they have trouble with Pit Boss AFTER I told Dan I had a Pit Boss and what did I need to buy to make their controller work. Never did they tell me of the potential problems I might have. So, I'm going to spend another $50 and get a diffuser, use my jury rigged smoker until Masterbuilt gets the bugs out of the WIFI and get their gravity smoker.

            Comment

            • zx11ninja
              Club Member
              • Mar 2020
              • 13

              #8
              Hi Airsick.


              I'm very sorry that you are still having issues with your Pit-Boss. Hopefully, you can resolve the issues with minimal future expense.

              I myself have still had temperature swing issues, even with the Savanah Stoker PID controller installed. Yesterday (Sunday, June 7), I noticed that my external temperature probe went to 325F, even though I set the PID to 225F. Apparently, I had to tune the PID controller's probe temperature offset again. After setting "Pb1" to 30, I managed to reach a sustained few hours where the external temperature probe stayed between 240F and 225F, even though the PID was set to 225F. I was satisfied with this.

              One thing in which I need to invest is the ThermaQ WiFi (https://www.thermoworks.com/ThermaQ-WiFi) so that I can both accurately measure temperatures as well as log the temperature changes over the entire cook. I'm trying to figure out if the temperature swings/spikes just after the auger puts fresh pellets into the burn pot and they ignite. If that is the source of the temperature spike, I also want to know how long it takes for the spike to dissipate. This will help me to figure out this pellet smoker once and for all.

              The other thing I need to do is to open my GrillEye Pro (8 probe Bluetooth/WiFi temerature monitoring) and find all of the hot spots in my Pit-Boss. At least to me, it seems that the food to the left of the cook chamber cooks faster than that at the right of the chamber. I've heard of people using the "biscuit test" to find the hot spots. In my opinion, that's an approximation. Actual temperature probes would be a more accurate test.

              One thing I also found was that the location at which you place an external temperature probe makes a lot of difference. Previously, I can been placing the probe at the front center of the pellet smoker. On my last cook, I changed that so that the probe is closer to the actual center of the cook chamber. It seems that doing that made a world of difference in terms of temperature tracking. I previously didn't do this, as I thought that the fact that the burn pot is right below the deflector the center of the cook chamber, it would cause the temperature reading to spike whenever freshly added pellets get ignited and there is a live flame. A live flame is hotter than actual embers.

              I saw in your post that you smoke salmon. I do as well, but only farm raised thusfar. I have not yet smoked fillets. I have smoked steaks only. The final product turns out great, but not as great as when done on an offset wood smoker. Nothing beats it.

              I wish you good luck in your corrective attempts to tame your Pit-Boss. Please keep us updated.


              Take care.
              -Z

              Comment

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