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My New Pit Boss Electric Smoker - long post

Inscrutable

Smoke Blower
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Ok, after peppering PB with questions and getting pretty quick reply - even today (and hope I fare better than you BPCR if/when problems arise) going to pull the trigger on one of these.
At this point just weighing digital vs analog. PB said not much difference in the controllers, and have a 4-probe Inkbird on the way and a 2-probe ThermPro here anyway, and identical otherwise (if you don’t mind electric blue :emoji_astonished:)
Only a $40 diff ... not much, but would stock the maiden voyage.
Any thoughts on analog vs digital? Leaning to digital as just a little easier to develop repeatably-used calibration curves for various temps on controller set point.
 

jnorth

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Joined Apr 11, 2012
I'm partial to digital. I'm also looking at replacing my old MES40 with a Pit Boss. Just trying to figure out which version to go with.
 

Inscrutable

Smoke Blower
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I ordered the series 3 analog version. Controller pretty much the same anyway, and if it swings too much will put the extra $ toward an Auber PID controller.
 

sigmo

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I've posted about this before, so I won't go into great detail here.

But the thing to realize is that is extremely hard to get accurate temperature control throughout the entire chamber of any oven. The air stratifies and fails to circulate in corners. Wet, cool meat cools the air next to it. Hot air rises directly off of the heating element, and "short circuits" through the chamber, etc.

Even in fancy laboratory ovens, we often found variations of 15 degrees C (27 F) from place to place.

The only way to improve this is to employ rather vigorous stirring of the air with a fan system.

So be careful how you measure and interpret temperature readings in any oven or smoker.

I ran across a Pit Boss series 3 smoker at Wal Mart here tonight. and that's why I came back to this forum... to see what people's experiences were with these.

(EDIT to say that what I saw was a 5-Series model)

The unit seemed sturdy and the fit of the door and various parts seemed good. It had a huge pellet hopper (holds 60 pounds of pellets or some such). And as with the unit reviewed here, had all of the guts underneath, which left a huge open area in the cooking chamber. It also had adjustable holders for the racks, which would be really handy!

The pellets were fed by a motorized corkscrew affair. The vent was a stovepipe coming out of the middle of the top. And it supposedly has a circulating or air-feed blower. That all seems nice.

But!

The only heating element was a mere 200 Watts. And the temperature was only supposed to go up to something like 215 degrees F.

I'd like to find a unit with all of the features of this one, but with that 1600 Watt heater so I can cook at higher temps, and have it be reliable when it's cold and windy outside.

I don't want to derail this thread, bit does anyone know more about this series 3, or know if there is a model that has all of these features in one unit?

I could modify this unit by adding a high power heated good control. But I'd be afraid that the insulation and other parts of this unit are not designed to handle higher temperatures
 
Last edited:

Inscrutable

Smoke Blower
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No, the 1600w (will see 1500-1650 in literature) element is only in the all electric ones, the pellets only need the lower wattage to achieve ignition - the heat comes from the pellet combustion. And those pellet-fed ones are rated to get to 450* and the all-electrics to 325* (will also see small variations in literature).

And yes I know there will be variations horizontally and/or vertically on all grills/smokers - that’s why I’ve gotten a 4-probe monitor in addition to my other 2-probe one - and the variations are also temporally as the heat source cycles. So don’t really rely on any of the built-in gauges or monitors, and can develop something of a calibration curve spatially, and at least recognize the temporal variation and judge/adjust the average/setpoint in light of the frequency/duration of the excursions. And all of this is probably way over-thinking it :emoji_sunglasses:


WRT your cold weather concern, at least in my moderate climate I’m not anticipating with this element not being able to sustain at least 250-275 (which exceeds any of my smoking temp needs) and will just finish/crisp as may wish on my gas grill. Guess I’ll find out in about 8 months :emoji_wink:
 

sigmo

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Thanks!

I was wrong in my post above about what version of Pit Boss I saw at the store. Looking at the photos I shot of it and its instruction manual, it is a Copperhead Wood Pellet Vertical Smoker (5-Series). Model PBV5PW1.

It must be one like you described, designed to achieve the heating by burning the pellets. And that's why it had such a huge pellet hopper: "60Lb, Rear-access hopper allows for 18-24 hours of uninterrupted smoking time". That makes a lot more sense now, because 60 Lbs of pellets, in my MES40 using the trusty AMNPS, would last me a year!

The 200 Watt element would just be used to ignite the pellets, and the feeder would operate much as the feeder in a pellet stove operates, maintaining the desired temperature by feeding the pellets at a rate required to achieve the desired temperatures.

I've got a heavily modified MES40, and love it. But the size of this Pit Boss unit was impressive, and I really like the fact that you can adjust the positions of the racks, so it really caught my eye.

However, I do not want one that's heated by the pellets. So I'd be looking for one of a similar size, but with the high-wattage electric heating element. Probably one like yours.

Also, according to the manual for this unit that I saw at Wally, it doesn't go to a high enough temperature. I think it said 215 degrees. I normally smoke pork butts and ribs, etc., at about 225, and I'd like to be able to go higher, plus, it gets very cold and windy here, so I want something that can easily heat to whatever temperature I want. So again, this unit that I saw at the store would not be suitable.

I have done precision temperature control, logging, and monitoring for 40 years with my own company as well as for a chain of environmental laboratories. They have various incubators, coolers, and precision ovens, and what you've said is true.

You see wide variations from point to point within the same oven, and even fan-stirred ovens are not as uniform as you'd like. And as you say, if the oven, incubator, refrigerator, etc., cycles on and off, the temporal variations can be huge, as well.

For the purposes of cooking, cycling isn't a problem as long as your monitoring method lets you see the average. Still, I always try to use a PID type control with a fairly short cycle time along with fan stirring if the application is critical and I don't want to see any thermal cycling.

What I'd like to find is a reasonably priced, electrically heated smoker that is good up to a fairly high temperature, with plenty of room, adjustable racks, and ideally, a circulating fan already installed. Then I'd control the unit with a remote I/O "brick" connected to the PAC system I have at my house. Not that any of that is really necessary, but it's fun, and gives me something more to play with along with the smoking. Why not combine a few hobbies!

So I was hoping that the unit I stumbled across might be a good "carcass" to start with, but I didn't see any of the all-electric units on display there. The one you got sounds a lot more like what I'm after.

Like jnorth above, I, too may replace my MES40 with a Pit Boss, mostly for the larger capacity and heavier-duty build.

Thanks again for your good review and explanation of the model you got!
 

Inscrutable

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Apr 4, 2019
Thanks!

I was wrong in my post above about what version of Pit Boss I saw at the store. Looking at the photos I shot of it and its instruction manual, it is a Copperhead Wood Pellet Vertical Smoker (5-Series). Model PBV5PW1.

It must be one like you described, designed to achieve the heating by burning the pellets. And that's why it had such a huge pellet hopper: "60Lb, Rear-access hopper allows for 18-24 hours of uninterrupted smoking time". That makes a lot more sense now, because 60 Lbs of pellets, in my MES40 using the trusty AMNPS, would last me a year!

The 200 Watt element would just be used to ignite the pellets, and the feeder would operate much as the feeder in a pellet stove operates, maintaining the desired temperature by feeding the pellets at a rate required to achieve the desired temperatures.

I've got a heavily modified MES40, and love it. But the size of this Pit Boss unit was impressive, and I really like the fact that you can adjust the positions of the racks, so it really caught my eye.

However, I do not want one that's heated by the pellets. So I'd be looking for one of a similar size, but with the high-wattage electric heating element. Probably one like yours.

Also, according to the manual for this unit that I saw at Wally, it doesn't go to a high enough temperature. I think it said 215 degrees. I normally smoke pork butts and ribs, etc., at about 225, and I'd like to be able to go higher, plus, it gets very cold and windy here, so I want something that can easily heat to whatever temperature I want. So again, this unit that I saw at the store would not be suitable.

I have done precision temperature control, logging, and monitoring for 40 years with my own company as well as for a chain of environmental laboratories. They have various incubators, coolers, and precision ovens, and what you've said is true.

You see wide variations from point to point within the same oven, and even fan-stirred ovens are not as uniform as you'd like. And as you say, if the oven, incubator, refrigerator, etc., cycles on and off, the temporal variations can be huge, as well.

For the purposes of cooking, cycling isn't a problem as long as your monitoring method lets you see the average. Still, I always try to use a PID type control with a fairly short cycle time along with fan stirring if the application is critical and I don't want to see any thermal cycling.

What I'd like to find is a reasonably priced, electrically heated smoker that is good up to a fairly high temperature, with plenty of room, adjustable racks, and ideally, a circulating fan already installed. Then I'd control the unit with a remote I/O "brick" connected to the PAC system I have at my house. Not that any of that is really necessary, but it's fun, and gives me something more to play with along with the smoking. Why not combine a few hobbies!

So I was hoping that the unit I stumbled across might be a good "carcass" to start with, but I didn't see any of the all-electric units on display there. The one you got sounds a lot more like what I'm after.

Like jnorth above, I, too may replace my MES40 with a Pit Boss, mostly for the larger capacity and heavier-duty build.

Thanks again for your good review and explanation of the model you got!
Correct on the Copperhead, except the temp ... if you saw 215* it has to be Celsius, which translates to about 420*F which is about right.

PB should come in soon, may be able to get together this weekend and will start a new thread after maiden voyage.
 

sigmo

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Well that would make a lot more sense. 215F seemed ridiculously low. 215C would be fine for anything I would be doing!

I'll try to get back to that store and peruse the manual more carefully, but I'm sure you're right.

If I happen across one like yours, with the 1600 Watt electric element, I am going to be seriously tempted to get it. The one I examined seemed to be well made.

I'll be interested to hear how the new unit performs for you.
 

BPCR

Newbie
6
2
Joined Mar 30, 2019
Either/both of your issues cured?
Wondering how hot will they go? (Think website says 350)
I thought I'd give an update on my Pit Boss series 3 Digital . I've now replaced the internal temp probe, control board, and am waiting for a new meat probe which went belly up after the first time I used it. The temp readout on the control panel is now off by 50* instead of 100*. Believe it or not I still like this smoker! Just don't rely on the control panel temp for an accurate reading! Pit Boss has good customer service IF you can get someone to answer the phone! I can't tell you how many times I was on hold for over 1/2 hr waiting for a pick up. I have a hard time believing their recording that they are with another customer when I call them at 4:30am.
 

Bat119

Newbie
20
3
Joined Mar 26, 2019
I thought I'd give an update on my Pit Boss series 3 Digital . I've now replaced the internal temp probe, control board, and am waiting for a new meat probe which went belly up after the first time I used it. The temp readout on the control panel is now off by 50* instead of 100*. Believe it or not I still like this smoker! Just don't rely on the control panel temp for an accurate reading! Pit Boss has good customer service IF you can get someone to answer the phone! I can't tell you how many times I was on hold for over 1/2 hr waiting for a pick up. I have a hard time believing their recording that they are with another customer when I call them at 4:30am.
Mine is exactly the same temp off by 35-50* I use my temp pro to monitor the temp I do still like the smoker it works well but with the temp offset my max is 315* really not a problem I never go that high when smoking. The first thing I noticed when assembling is the temp probe is to low and close to the heat source if it had a longer wire I would move it up to the center of the cabinet.
 

BPCR

Newbie
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2
Joined Mar 30, 2019
Mine is exactly the same temp off by 35-50* I use my temp pro to monitor the temp I do still like the smoker it works well but with the temp offset my max is 315* really not a problem I never go that high when smoking. The first thing I noticed when assembling is the temp probe is to low and close to the heat source if it had a longer wire I would move it up to the center of the cabinet.
I don't know,that might make it worse! At this moment I'm double smoking a ham.The internal probe close to the heating element reads 170*, my ThermPro mounted on the middle rack next to the ham reads 225*!
 

Bat119

Newbie
20
3
Joined Mar 26, 2019
Confirmed my Pit boss series 3 is out of whack 3 thermometers a therm pro a dial inside and an analog all agree the control panel is wrong. Not a big deal if you know the correction my first shoulder took 16 hours to reach 195* the crowd was getting unruly from hunger so I had to pull it I bought the Thermpro and found out why I was cooking at 200* instead of 245.
IMG_1095.JPG IMG_1094.JPG
 

Omnivore

Smoke Blower
148
120
Joined Jul 11, 2019
I thought I'd give an update on my Pit Boss series 3 Digital . I've now replaced the internal temp probe, control board, and am waiting for a new meat probe which went belly up after the first time I used it. The temp readout on the control panel is now off by 50* instead of 100*. Believe it or not I still like this smoker! Just don't rely on the control panel temp for an accurate reading! Pit Boss has good customer service IF you can get someone to answer the phone! I can't tell you how many times I was on hold for over 1/2 hr waiting for a pick up. I have a hard time believing their recording that they are with another customer when I call them at 4:30am.

Just curious how long it took to receive those parts and if it were fairly easy to replace the control board. I'm on the fence with the Pit Boss electric vertical and other MES smokers but if the warranty is solid and customer service is legit, I'll gladly go with Pit Boss.

Couple other questions - have you been using an a-maze-n tray with pellets instead of wood chips? Also, do you feel like the temps are swinging a lot or just off by a predictable amount for most of the cook? (I really don't want to be out there fussing with temps every 45 min).

Thanks for taking to time to report on your smoker, it's been super helpful.
 

BPCR

Newbie
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2
Joined Mar 30, 2019
Just curious how long it took to receive those parts and if it were fairly easy to replace the control board. I'm on the fence with the Pit Boss electric vertical and other MES smokers but if the warranty is solid and customer service is legit, I'll gladly go with Pit Boss.

Couple other questions - have you been using an a-maze-n tray with pellets instead of wood chips? Also, do you feel like the temps are swinging a lot or just off by a predictable amount for most of the cook? (I really don't want to be out there fussing with temps every 45 min).

Thanks for taking to time to report on your smoker, it's been super helpful.
Omnivore, The internal temp probe took 2 months,the control panel took 1month and the meat probe I'm still waiting on,although they did say it may be awhile. Replacement of the panel is relatively easy,plug and play. The hardest part for me is getting a hold of a rep,expect 1/2 hr or more of hold times. I'm using a a-maze-n tray and it works great,funny thing is one of the reps told me the reason my control panel temps were so far off was because I wasn't using the water pan or their smoker tray! I told him that the probe doesn't know if there are chips or water in the pan or not!--Sheesh!
 

Omnivore

Smoke Blower
148
120
Joined Jul 11, 2019
Omnivore, The internal temp probe took 2 months,the control panel took 1month and the meat probe I'm still waiting on,although they did say it may be awhile. Replacement of the panel is relatively easy,plug and play. The hardest part for me is getting a hold of a rep,expect 1/2 hr or more of hold times. I'm using a a-maze-n tray and it works great,funny thing is one of the reps told me the reason my control panel temps were so far off was because I wasn't using the water pan or their smoker tray! I told him that the probe doesn't know if there are chips or water in the pan or not!--Sheesh!
Thank you for the response! I actually called them yesterday to ask a warranty question - Dansons picked up immediately, sounded like they didn't really know what to do when someone calls with a Pit Boss question, and then transferred me to an agent. I was on hold for a little while but then my 7 month old woke up and it was time to go lol. Not a big strike against them but not a huge vote of confidence.

Again, thanks for all the info!
 

Inscrutable

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Joined Apr 4, 2019
Since seems most smokers built in probes and controls are off, I just saved a few bucks and got the analog version, and ignore its own thermometer.
Maybe lucky with mine ... swings in temps as it cycles isn’t too bad, usually 10*, maybe 15* sometimes. There’s more variation at different places than the cycle variations (eg always X amount cooler or warmer at this rack position vs that, and front vs back, especially near the vents.
Again, seems I pretty much hear/see this in most smokers, but easy to manage with a multi probe Inkbird or equal, and placement of the meat.
I’ve been really happy with mine and have done ribs, butt, chicken, meatloaf, beans, ... lots of different time/temp requirements and all came out good.
 

BPCR

Newbie
6
2
Joined Mar 30, 2019
Since seems most smokers built in probes and controls are off, I just saved a few bucks and got the analog version, and ignore its own thermometer.
Maybe lucky with mine ... swings in temps as it cycles isn’t too bad, usually 10*, maybe 15* sometimes. There’s more variation at different places than the cycle variations (eg always X amount cooler or warmer at this rack position vs that, and front vs back, especially near the vents.
Again, seems I pretty much hear/see this in most smokers, but easy to manage with a multi probe Inkbird or equal, and placement of the meat.
I’ve been really happy with mine and have done ribs, butt, chicken, meatloaf, beans, ... lots of different time/temp requirements and all came out good.
Inscrutable, I think you've got the gist of it.My replacement control panel is off by 50* instead of the 100* the original panel was. I just use the temp readout as a reference number and read actual temps with my ThermPro. Like you I do like the smoker!
 

Bat119

Newbie
20
3
Joined Mar 26, 2019
Just an update I smoked some sausage sticks, the outside temperature was -21 C -29 C windchill the cook went well. The 1600 watt element kept up even in extreme conditions although the cook temp dropped from 180* to 130* quickly the burner kicked in and was able to keep up, looking into making an insulated blanket or cover for the future.
 

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