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Dual controllers — PID and Digital

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  • GirlGrilling
    Former Member
    • Oct 2019
    • 13

    Dual controllers — PID and Digital

    Just turned my older model Traeger in for an RT 700 (why is a long story) and I’m having trouble bonding with this Bull. The pellets supplied are Alder, from RecTec. For a while, I thought pellets had to be my problem. With my Traeger, the temperature swings were pretty big (sometimes 75 degrees) and I just adjusted the internal grill temp on my Smoke so it wouldn’t beep all the time and I had no problems w/the swing (except, perhaps, a longer cook). Never gave it much thought until I got this Bull. Anyway, as you know, the Bull has a PID and there are no temp swings. I get plenty of smoke, but it’s not the thin, blue, nice-smelling stuff my Traeger put out. Traeger’s smoke was not as heavy as the Bull, but it certainly produced smoke and it made everything delicious. Just read an article (link below) from Grilla on the differences between digital and PID (thanks to tip from another pitmaster); Grilla offers both in one controller now. If I had such a controller, my plan would be to use the digital for first 3-4 hours and then switch to PID. Thoughts? Agree/disagree w/theory? And does anyone know if there’s a dual controller out there I could use on my Bull? (As an aside, any way to convert internal grill light to WHITE instead of can’t-see-sh*t RED?)

    Here’s the Grilla article:
    https://grillagrills.com/pid-controllers/

    Many thanks in advance. I really want to love my Bull, now matter how much of a pain in the a** it is to put on and take off the cover.
  • Nate
    Banned Former Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 3808
    • Quarantined

    #2
    I have the Alpha controller on my Grilla. I almost always use the regular setting as opposed to the PID controller.

    I haven’t found the swings with the Grilla to be that extreme. Plus if you average the temp over a 6+ hour cook it is going to be pretty steady really.

    PID setting imho is best for temps below 225 or for baking.

    I love how Grilla incorporated both options.

    Comment


    • GirlGrilling
      GirlGrilling commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the input re how it’s working out for you. Agree w/you on swings — not a big deal, and the smoke itself is better (of course, that’s just my opinion). You were smart to get both options. The idea that a PID controller would put out different smoke simply never occurred to me until this Bull disappointed.

    • Nate
      Nate commented
      Editing a comment
      It is working out pretty well. I like the cooker. There are times I wish I went with silverback instead just because of the square grate however the small foot print of the OG works best for me... and it looks cool!
  • Nate
    Banned Former Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 3808
    • Quarantined

    #3
    Re: from your comment 2.1.

    As far as performance and how it is working out.

    I started out on a traeger jr. I think that makes a huge difference for some reasons.

    When I first got started I didn’t have a stick burner level smoke expectation since I didn’t know any better. My stick burner came later on... So when I decided to buy another pellet cooker I didn’t have this warped delusion that it was going to produce the same level of smoke... I kind of knew what I was getting into.

    The whole PID vs Standard controller thing caught my attention from the get go... I actually have some old threads in here where I posted about this same topic and got Doc Blonder in on the conversation. I will see if Here is the PID vs Non PID thread.

    Two things about my stick burner experiences made me lean hard towards the standard control vs the PID.

    1. 225 is a myth and consistent temps (while they may be something to aspire to) aren’t natural in stick burning. You have temp fluctuations because of air flow, weather, opening lid, etc... and over a multi hour cook a 10 degree swing here and there doesn’t matter much..... also temp drops tell you when you may need to add a log... which brings me to my next point....

    2. When adding a log to a stick burner you tend to get a bit more smoke for a bit (unless you pre burn) while it ignites and gets going.

    So my thought (and I could be totally wrong but it was my thought) was that I just didn’t care about the swing from a temp standpoint because my oven isn’t rock steady in temps either so..... the PID thing is basically just playing on the fears and mass delusion that if you don’t maintain exactly 225 with no variation for 10 hours cooking your pork butt that it is somehow going to create inferior bbq.

    The other reason I didn’t care about the swing was then... if the temp drops a good bit it is going to require more pellets to dump at one time and, like I mentioned in my second point, cause more smoke upon ignition as opposed to just a couple of pellets dropping on occasion.

    So I like the cooker. I am happy with the performance (I didn’t have stick burner level smoke expectations). I use standard 99% of the time. I put my meat on during ignition to get that extra few minutes of smoke blast from starting up.

    The reason I purchased the dual controller was it just came out less than a month before I purchased my cooker... so it was available in case I one day figured out why PID would be useful... best answer I have is to avoid flame out at low temp settings (sub 235) and maybe with baking.

    But I guess the million dollar question is if you did a blind test on PID vs non PID would a person be able to really discern... or is it all in our head?
    Last edited by Nate; October 29, 2019, 06:17 AM.

    Comment


    • Nate
      Nate commented
      Editing a comment
      I updated my post to include the link to my PID vs Non PID thread... I was looking for my thread on busting the 225 myth but it must have died in the slaughterhouse or was discretely removed by management for going against the grain lol...

    • GirlGrilling
      GirlGrilling commented
      Editing a comment
      Nate, thanks. Looks like jfmorris might have found that thread you were looking for, which I just read. Boy, oh boy, how I’d love to do a blind taste-test on two comparable brisket points — one smoked w/PID vs. non-PID. My $$ says you’ll get a different smoke flavor for sure. The temp swings on non-PID just make for better smoke — that’s my working theory, anyway.

      In any event, if switching pellets (even a few times) doesn’t do the trick, I’ll be back w/an update.

    • Nate
      Nate commented
      Editing a comment
      GirlGrilling , Actually I found the thread and edited post 3.0 to include it yesterday morning... it is in red... I also commented in 3.2 that I had done this.... basically the decision is out and your question as to which is superior all depends on what the user is looking for. if rock steady temps are the goal then PID wins... for smoke... there are different schools of thought.
  • jfmorris
    Club Member
    • Nov 2017
    • 3101
    • Huntsville, Alabama
    • Jim Morris

      Cookers
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      • Whatever I brewed and have on tap!

    #4
    Look at what Doc Blonder writes here in the thread Nate referenced: #23
    If the fan speed remains constant on the non-PID smoker, and it is controlling the auger rate, versus the fan speed with the PID controller, that could be a factor in what GirlGrilling is seeing.

    And... it could just be that Alder wood produces bad acrid smoke that she doesn't like.... I would try another kind of pellet before giving up on the Rectec.

    Comment


    • GirlGrilling
      GirlGrilling commented
      Editing a comment
      THANK YOU! $$ quote from Doc Blonder: “As to which creates ‘more or better’ smoke, I don't really know. One issue w/the PID controllers is they run the fan slowly during part of the cycle, starving the fuel of air, which makes for a darker & more bitter smoke. But w/o the PID, a threshold switch lets the fire burn out naturally, which can also be a problem.” (Explains my acrid smoke & why my non-PID Traeger fire-box went out about every 4 hours, triggering massive pellet dump & raging fire.)

    • GirlGrilling
      GirlGrilling commented
      Editing a comment
      Not giving up on the RT yet. Next step will be to change pellets. Just ordered some CookinPellets from Amazon. Fingers crossed. Believe you me, I want to stay with this dang Bull if at all possible.

      Thanks again, Jim, for your thoughtful comments & suggestions. Much appreciated.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      GirlGrilling glad to help! I don't have a pellet smoker, so don't have a dog in this hunt, but since I may get one some day, and have researched and window shopped them for a couple of years. I want to see you successful in your cooks.
  • shush
    Club Member
    • Sep 2016
    • 142
    • Northern Virginia
    • RecTec RT-680
      Brinkmann Bullet (Electric)
      Thermapen
      Maverick ET-732

    #5
    I realize your post said that you get enough smoke, but not the right kind of smoke. I have the RT-680. I wrote this up a while ago, and will just paraphrase here. I found that using pellets will generate smoke, but not quality smoke, so I wrote to RecTec. I got a call from them shortly after hitting send, and spoke with (IIRC) Jason. He suggested that I put chunks of whatever type of wood I want on the heat deflector. They do not get direct exposure to flame, so they smoulder quite well. This way, I use the Competition mix pellets, and then 'assist' with Apple, Pecan, whatever to get the profile I am looking for in the cook. It has worked wonders. I also tend to start my cooks at the lower temps, 'LO' or 210, to build some extra smoke, and then push the temp up... Depending on the type of cook, this doesn't really add a whole lot of time, but certainly improves the bark/flavor. I _think_ that the 700 is built very similarly to my 680, I just drop a few chunks (even mixing types on occasion) on the top of the heat deflector, put the drip tray back in place, the grates, then fire it up! Hope this helps.

    Comment


    • GirlGrilling
      GirlGrilling commented
      Editing a comment
      shush, thank you. I have heard of putting chunks directly on the deflector and I’m glad it’s working for you; will also try that. Lord knows, I’ve got plenty of chunks. I’m just disappointed (I guess?) in the quality of RecTec’s pellets: alder, and man, do they smell stink. The smoke is just awful — billowy, white & acrid. So starting out the grill on “extreme smoke” or ‘LO’ won’t do it for me unless I find some better pellets. Thanks for your help.
  • Troutman
    Club Member
    • Aug 2017
    • 7282
    • Tejas, Where Else?

    • OUTDOOR COOKERS

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    #6
    I agree with shush, the simple solution is to throw a hunk of wood on the deflector plate and move on. You can debate one pellet cooker versus another until the cows come home. By it's very nature you are not going to get the same results as burning wood or charcoal.

    So to take that thought one step further, here's a little contraption that I'm tempted to try out. The only thing that gives me pause is the $100 price tag. If it fits in my cooker though, I think it would solve the problem nicely. It's called the "Heavy D" stick burner deflector plate by Smoke Daddy.....

    Click image for larger version

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    Comment


    • GirlGrilling
      GirlGrilling commented
      Editing a comment
      shush, you read my mind. I saw this contraption yesterday in another BBQ forum & was intrigued. First I’ll try using better pellets, then adding chunks, & if that doesn’t work, using this SD contraption. That said, I’m not debating pellet cookers. They all work the same IMO. I have never expected results even close to charcoal or wood; I simply expected to get what I was getting from my Traeger, which seems reasonable to me. But that just ain’t happening on this RT w/the pellets supplied by RT.
  • GroceryBoy
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 49
    • Fort Lauderdale, FL

    #7
    Did anybody try the “Heavy D”? Just curious.

    Comment

    • MtView
      Club Member
      • Jun 2018
      • 64

      #8
      I use PID mode on the Silverbac when I need to hit or maintain a certain temp and smoking isn't the goal. For example, I just cooked a rib roast and kept it at 225 in Pro(smoke) mode until it was time to sear. Then I switched to PID and set the temp to 500.

      The Grilla smoke mode is designed to have temp swings to accomplish just what another poster stated about generating more smoke from pellets by needing to build the fire a little higher after the temp drops below the set point.

      Comment

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