CharGriller Pellet Smoker temp charts

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by pillpusher, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. pillpusher

    pillpusher Fire Starter

    My Chargriller Pellet Grill came in yesterday, and I plan on starting a test brisket late tonight. So, today, I’ve been playing with the different p-settings trying to find the optimal way to go. My goal is to find the best setting to get as much smoke as possible, with as little variation and temp swings as possible from 225. First, my apologies for the length of this post. But, there have been a lot of questions on here regarding this smoker due to its great value vs the Traegers.. I mean, much larger and half the price? What's not to love? So, I thought I would thoroughly post my findings from today with it.

    The below tests were using Lumberjack 100% Mesquite pellets (solely because that’s the one I use least often, so I didn’t want to waste the ones I use most of the time), and it ranged from 80-90 degrees out today (Houston, TX). When restarting to change p-settings, I turned it off for about 30 minutes with the lid open, cleared out the hot pot, relit it on “Smoke” until the pellets ignited, set it to the desired temp/p-setting, then shut the lid and started recording the temps after about 45 minutes. This smoker always start off hot, but, after a few cycles, it will eventually settle down into a more desired range. So, in hindsight, I recommend, regardless of what setting you go with, to let it run for about 45 mins before putting the meat on. I had a few oven thermometers on the grates to look for hot spots, and while reading about 10 degrees cooler than the iGrill, the heating in the smoker seemed pretty even from front to back of mid grill, but slightly higher on the right side of the grill, likely due to the slope of the drip pan. So, if you only have one brisket on, I suggest putting it in the middle and running it from front to back. If it’s too long, give it a rotation half way through. Also of note, other than with the P0 setting (which was dead on), the reading on the iGrill2 was typically about 10 degrees higher that what the CG (Chargriller) and oven thermometers read. So, take from that what you will, depending on what you trust more.

    Note: When looking at any of the below graphs, the times when there is a decent amount of visible smoke coming from it is during the temp declines (when the pellets have a chance to smolder).

    225/P0- As expected, the P0 setting was very consistent. However, I cut this test run short simply because the CG just wasn’t putting out much smoke (At least not nearly enough for my taste), and I knew at that point I would never use this setting. If I want to grill, I have an actual searing grill for that. I want to use this solely to smoke. I'm sure this chart would look more attractive had I let it run a bit longer and level out, but I didn't see the point in wasting pellets. For the most part, the only times it would put out visible smoke were the brief periods when the auger turned. It also seemed that, once it settled in, it tended to idle at a higher temp than other settings, with briefer periods below the target temp… Not what I’m looking to accomplish.


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    225/P2 (CG manual’s recommended setting)-Obviously more temp variability, but much more smoke. The recovery time was very brief, and would typically get back up to its max temp within one auger cycle. Then, it would slowly cool back down over 3-4 auger cycles, producing nice smoke the majority of the time. After the first few cycles, the peak temp dropped some, helping to minimize the fluctuations. I’ll be interested to see what happens over the long run when I try this setting tonight over a long smoke. While the average temp reading from the iGrill2 looks higher than desired (about 240), the CG reading was consistently about 10 degrees cooler. Also of note, when I opened the grill at the end, less than a minute after the iGrill2 showed the temperature peak at 250, the oven thermometers on the grate still all read right around 225. So, as I said, take from that what you will, depending on what you trust more. The very short temp plateaus seen during a decline are when the auger turns and dumps more pellets onto the fire (damn this iGrill2 is cool).


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    225/P3-I was going to jump to P4, but with P2 being somewhat close to ideal, I thought I would see if even going to P3 was worth it since it uses about 20% more pellets vs P2 (P4 uses about 35% more than P2). P3 did pretty much what I expected it to. More smoke via further prolonged temp drops, and a slightly lower average temp. Once again, even though the avg temp was a little higher than target (about 235), when I opened the lid at the end of the last peak, the oven thermometers all read right at 225.


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    Ideal setting?: Well, it pretty much depends on what you are comfortable with on temp swings, and how much smoke you want (duh). But, hopefully the above info will be of use to those considering buying one and wondering how this smoker performs, or help to lessen the learning curve of those who have one. When using any setting  and you look at what the temp is doing, keep in mind that it typically only produces good smoke while the temp is decreasing. When it is increasing or stable, there is very little visible smoke coming from it, other than the brief period of the auger turning. Since Traeger advises against using a P-setting above 4 since it increases the chance of the fire going out (?), I didn’t even bother testing the higher p-settings… Especially with how pricey these pellets can run. If you’re a real smoke hound, I’m fairly confident the higher settings will work pretty well also, though. But, what I think I’ll do tonight is set it to 225/P2 and toss my A-maze-n tube in there for a little additional and more constant smoke. I think it’ll be more pellet efficient that way. If after a couple hours, the temp is still running a bit higher than I’m comfortable with, I’ll kick it up to P3.

    Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll be sure to post in this thread how the brisket turns out along with the temp charts.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  2. nated

    nated Newbie

    Thanks for the information. Mine was scheduled to be delivered on the seventh but I received a call from Lowes and they said the delivery date changed and should be arriving on the 2nd give or take a day. Hope it's here before the 4th since I'm having the family over. If you could provide some qview that would be fantastic.
     
  3. pillpusher

    pillpusher Fire Starter

    No problem. Brisket finished up about 45 mins ago and is resting in FTC currently. I'll start my write up on how it went while it rests and will post it with some qview once I carve up the finished product.
     
  4. pillpusher

    pillpusher Fire Starter

    Well, here's the results of my first try with the CharGriller Pellet Grill mentioned the other thread. Overall, it came out pretty good. It had great flavor and a nice smoke ring for aesthetic purposes. But, unfortunately, parts of the flat were a bit dryer than I would have liked it to be. In hindsight, I should have tested the IT with my Maverick as well to verify the temp since this was my first time using the iGrill2. After carving it up, some of it may have been to blame on the brisket itself (or at least that's what I'm hoping). Even though it had a Choice grading and looked good in the packaging, I didn't see very much marbling inside the flat once I carved it up. I should have known better when a 13pd Choice packer was about $26... Too good to be true. Last time I buy at Kroger. The point was very good however (although it's pretty tough to screw that part up). It was very stringy though, so I had to cut it thick and with the grain to avoid turning it into chopped beef.

    Anyway, here's how it went with some qview at the end:

    I put it on at 9pm and set it to 225/P2. Over the first couple hours, I was a bit surprised to find that, as opposed to my empty smoker tests, the iGrill2 was reading about 10 degrees cooler than the CG reading was, as opposed to 10 degrees hotter. I took the brisket of the fridge about 45 mins before putting it on, and while I was expecting a bit lower reading with food in the smoker, I didn’t expect a 20 degree difference. This also may have in part been due to the fact that I used mesquite for my test, and a mesquite/hickory/pecan/cherry mix this time. I call it the “kitchen sink combo”. The sharp drop you see at about 10:20 was me opening the lid to reposition the A-maze-n pellet tube. I first had it positioned in the front of the grill, and thought maybe it was blocking off the heat distribution from the ambient temp probe since temps were running so low at first. I positioned it in the back instead to make sure it got air circulation and it worked very well, never going out until it had completely burned off. At around the 2 hour mark though, the avg temp slowly started to rise. I noticed a little bit of this trend in my short term test, and this trend slowly continued until about 3am. I’m not sure what causes this other than possibly the core of the smoker simply heating up.


    After 3am, it stabilized for a few of hours with an avg temp of  235-240. I wasn’t overly concerned in the morning when I saw though this since the oven thermometers in my test read a steady 225 when the iGrill2 was showing similar readings to this. The iGrill2 never read over 250 though, so I was pretty happy about that. Then at around 6am avg temp slowly dropped and stabilized again between 230-235 and remained that way the rest of the smoke. I noticed that in the morning, well after the A-maze-n pellet tube had burned off, the CG was still putting out more than enough smoke by itself. So, the tube isn’t very necessary. I just like a lot of extra smoke for the first several hours, so I’ll probably continue to use it.



    As far as pellet consumption is concerned, I completely filled the hopper. Even after 16 hours of use, there were still plenty of pellets left. So, the P2 setting seems very efficient. After several hours though, I would recommend checking it occasionally and shifting them around a bit. It tends to create a hole in the midde where they enter the auger. Gravity doesn’t always do it’s job to feed the pellets down, resulting in something that looks like the pit monster from Return of the Jedi.


    When I woke up in the morning around 7am, the brisket was reading 175 mid flat, but already at 191 in the point. Knowing I still had a little ways to go and was a little worried about drying out the point, I turned it so the flat would be on the right (slightly hotter) side of the smoker. I pulled it around 11:30am when the flat hit 190, and a second jab into another area of the flat was 193. The point was at 205. I’ve heard it’s somewhat pointless to probe the point, but it’s something I’ve always done… Not sure why. Does anyone else reading this keep tabs on the point at all? Just curious. I meant to take a qview pic of it on the grill before I pulled it, but brainfarted and forgot. But, here it is before I FTC’d it. It's not as dark as usual, which is part of my reason for now wishing I had verified the IT with my Maverick.


    After a 2 hour FTC rest, I was Starvin' Marvin and carved it up. The point fell apart when I tried to separate it. Oops.


    The flat


    All carved up


    Time to eat


    So, not what I was hoping for this time around, but not bad for a first run. I'm far from an expert though, and am always open to suggestions for improvement.
     
  5. nated

    nated Newbie

    Nice smoke ring and the qview has officially made me hungry.
     
  6. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Pill,
    many times its a good idea to separate the point from the flat when the temp differential gets that far off. Just wrap it and rest it and continue to cook the flat.
     
  7. pillpusher

    pillpusher Fire Starter

    Thanks. Yeah, I considered it, but since it was just a test run and was only cooking for myself, I thought I'd let it ride to see how it turned out. Next time, I'll likely start with the point on the left side. Right now, my main concern is what caused the avg temp to rise so much overnight. The flat blew through the plateau pretty quickly, and I wonder if that's why it was on the dry side. In fact, it didn't really plateau at all... The curve trajectory just flattened by about 50% around 170, and then kept the same rate from that point on. Not sure if the CG's temp increase is to blame, or the lack of marbling in the flat.
     
  8. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    OK.....firstly, great info and probably, hopefully, more than I will ever need. I say this because I just brought home a CG pellet pusher Thursday, got it set up Friday and did the burn out late Friday afternoon. Up at 3 AM today for work and just home now so no time yet to play with the new toy or even think about cooking something or join the pellet group. In fact I haven't even posted pics of the new beast on here yet. I currently run a Smokin' It #3 electric SS tank of a smoker but have wanted a pellet unit for months now but could not justify spending the 800 +/- for a SMALL Traeger and didn't want to incur S&H costs for other units elsewhere. Regardless, my initial concern/fear of getting a bummer right outta the box with a bad brain as others have has not happened BUT, it's early in the game yet and my luck with these things is not the best, if you get my drift. I actually even read the manual before doing anything after initial set-up...surprising myself. So, I had planned on using P2 as recommended in the manual at maybe 225/250 max for the first cook which will more than likely be a butt. Briskets here are running about $4-5 a pound, getting worse as time goes by, and butts are now around $2 and I have more experience with them. Thinking now I may even do a whole chicken, cheaper yet, for the break in smoke & some internal splatter and that would probably be at around 275 degrees. It would test the controller at higher temps where some have experienced error codes. I've had my eye on these for months, the 2 places selling them sold out & Lowes just got only 3 in stock soooooo I jumped on one. I have a dual probe Mav and a couple of single probe strays to check for hot spots and know that a large chunk of meat in there will make a difference. I used up some stray Traeger pellets for the burn in and have a 'good' (?) bag of Bear Mountain Washington Apple pellets made here in Portland Or. I understand Traegers are mostly Alder, not a great wood, with flavored oils added. I also have my AMNS dust burner to test out which I have mod'ed to burn pellets to see how that performs. It was hard to keep lit in the ultra tight Smokin' It so I'm hoping for better results in the more traditional pit setting. I'm thinking baby steps at first to learn the curve. I've been re-reading past posts on pellets and, of course, seriously looking around locally for a decent price point on a good pellet. I can't see burning crap to save a few bucks only to have them burn faster BUT $14 a bag for the Bear Mountain seemed a bit high at the local feed & seed joint that sells Green Mountain Grills for $800+. Long post....thx for following it....hoping to see more of your posts, pics and input........Willie
     
  9. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The more I hear from owners of these CG pellet munchers the more I'm convinced its one of the best values out there. Willie, my AMAZN trays were hit and miss in my pellet cooker (mostly miss).....the pellet tube worked better.
     
  10. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    The same is true in my Rec Tec...the maze didn't perform well but the tube works great.

    Congrats on the new pellet pooper Willie! I know you've been wanting one for a while now. Can't wait to see the Qview! And congrats to Pillpusher and NateD as well!

    Red
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2014
  11. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thx Red.....yeah, finally pulled the trigger due to the obvious shortage of units around up here. At work again but might get a pizza done later for grins. Will post some pics (depending) LOL
     
  12. nated

    nated Newbie

    Picked mine up today and after unboxing realized I was left without a manual on assembly and operation. Called Chargriller at 5:45 p.m EDT and after two rings a gentlemen answered my call and said he could email me a manual which was awesome since I wanted to get it up and going. Seasoned it for longer than suggested on high since there was some weird sticky film on the drip pan after removing the plastic wrapping on it but the grill seemed to be fine on high for the couple hours I had it going. Have some whole chickens in some brine for tomorrows test run looking forward.
     
  13. Been using the Char-griller pellet smoker for about a year now, and was looking for ways to keep the temperature swings, while holding more heat.  I put 4 large bricks in the bottom of the grill to add some mass that would hold heat better than than the air that is there now.  The bricks are the type with holes in them (not pavers), I put then so that they had airflow under them and kept away from the firepot.  The idea was I wanted them to pick up and let off heat easily.  

    This actually increased my temperature swings during the warming up of the grill (1st 30 minutes) due to the bricks being cooler, but then reduced my temperature swing for the remainder of the cook.  The bricks held onto the heat and reduced the speed of the temperature drop.  

    Ended up with two other benefits I did not consider when I started to use them.  It reduce the amount of pellets I was going through for my longer cooks since the grill was able to hold onto more heat and at a more constant temperature. Second, I ended up with a smokier meat / fish / poultry, since the grill was in the smoke phase (just adding pellets to smolder P1-P5) for longer periods of time versus the heating phase, which burns to clean to add any much smoke.
     

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