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Pellet Smoker - Electrics Help (LG)

dragonsm

Newbie
5
1
Joined Aug 3, 2017
bill1 bill1 I own a LG vertical pellet smoker and while I must say I really like pretty much everything about it, I have had no problems. I do notice something though on my Danson design the igniter draws 200W to 700W which would indicated this design has a 200W igniter. I'm sure this is easy to check with a amp clamp and see what is being pulled. The entire design of my smoker design is different, much more simplified imo (auger, element, thermostat, controller, burn pot, 🔥 arrester).
However if my smoker was blowing through electronic PID controllers and stupid elements, I'd be all over LG 😎

Since the beginning, I have been on LG. When I first bought the grill, their customer service was good....not great....but good. Actually, my first PID (it was a g.2) lasted for a year before I ran into my first major issue. (I needed to adjust the parameters for it to get it to hit lower temps....but worked after that until it died on me). However, LG is always quick to just throw parts at it rather than trying to correct an issue. When they replaced the first PID....they replaced it with their new g.3 PID. Different parameters and that is when the regular headaches began. Each time I contacted LG.....it was "Toss new parts at them".....even when I told them this was not a new issue and I was wanting to figure it out....new PID and hot rod.....sometime in 2019.....all their grills purchased before late 2018 that had a 5 year warranty, were moved to a 3 year warranty....so other than the PID and hot rod due to annual replacements, everything else is outside of warranty now instead of having 2 more years....but the rest of the grill (the bones) has been decent with no complaints. Current PID will have a warranty until June 2021 (1 year).....still waiting on the replacement hot rod from them they were to send in June. Phone calls now get you an automated answer where you leave your # and you are called back at somepoint later and when the call comes....the techs have little knowledge or advice...just toss more parts. Thus the reason I told myself if this PID was a problem again....I'd just go aftermarket and be done.

Thinking this weekend I'll be able to really tear into it and hopefully figure out something.
 

3-2-1

Fire Starter
★ Lifetime Premier ★
73
49
Joined Aug 31, 2020
I found a Treager troubleshooting guide/manual that might be worth reading just as a comparison and also possible troubleshooting adaptation. http://georgianhottubs.com/pdfs/traeger_grill/Traeger_Service_manual.pdf
Interesting how Treager gives you an extra 5A fuse that can be used for troubleshooting. Curious have you blown the 5A fuse on any of the controllers? Not sure about your environment where you live at or how you store the smoker but Treager points out moisture could be a problem which I'm sure you know. Does your smoker sit in direct hot sun or in the shade, hot ambient or radiated heat from the sun can cause problems and/or early controller failure. Covers can also trap moisture, day to night temperature swings can cause relative humidity levels to rise and fall pushing moisture around.
Not sure on your tool set but volt meter and amp clamp will help debug. If you have a good surge protector you might want to consider adding this and if you have an inverter generator to provide clean power, you can compare house power readings to inverter generator. Residential power that is coming out of an outlet can in itself cause gremlin behavior. Good luck 👍
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
474
138
Joined Apr 25, 2015
Nice find 321! Even Traeger says 90% of blown fuses are due to igniter rod problems. So I mustn't leave the impression that 300W igniters are all bad and troublesome and 200W units (of the same size) are perfect and problem-free.

And I agree "amp clamp" clamp-on ammeters are great diagnostic tools and save the hassle of cutting into wires so you can use the ammeter scales of conventional multimeters. (Only run ONE of the igniter leads through the clamp.)

But I still point out that current and power for nichrome-based heating elements shouldn't vary more than 10% over their operating range. The ranges LG gives makes me wonder if they're using tungsten or some element/alloy more appropriate for lightbulbs than heaters. Over a normal multi-year lifetime, the insulation resistance (resistance from the leads to the case) may degenerate from megohms to 10's of kiloohms, but that will trip a GFCI outlet, not blow a controller board fuse. The actual lead resistance shouldn't decrease by more than 10% over the lifetime of the heater, and hence the power draw shouldn't increase by more than 10%. If it does, that's a sign of turn-to-turn shorts, which I'd attribute to an overly-aggressive filament design, and is a sure warning of impending failure. I suspect a 300w heater in the same size package as a 200w model may be up against those design constraints. The design might be OK for melting plastic in a 3d printer, but not for sitting outside in the flames of a bbq crucible.

Good point about moisture. It almost certainly leads to more rapid degradation of the insulating potting inside these igniters. But the can should help hold things together, more or less, although I agree the more aggressively-designed heaters would then be more likely to develop turn-to-turn shorts if the insulation becomes powder or chunks instead of a strong backing. I'd be a little more leery about designs that didn't have a can outside them (and not just for electrical safety)...the failing potting then falls away from the turns and ends up on the ground.

And shock and vibration is a big contributor to premature heating element failure too. A cooker that stays parked in the same location for years has a lot easier life than one that gets wheeled over 20' of cracked concrete every Saturday morning.
 

3-2-1

Fire Starter
★ Lifetime Premier ★
73
49
Joined Aug 31, 2020
Exactly bill1 bill1 the igniter is almost always the problem child in a simple smoker circuit because it glows red hot, probably the most often replaced part. To try and troubleshoot igniter failure if this alone is the failure point is easy...is there 110v power at the igniter or does it ohm out open...no need to check amps, igniters run on 110v power right out of the living room outlet. Igniters whether in your hot water heater or smoker fail eventually unfortunately and so much can influence longevity. Tough to diagnose over a keyboard.
I believe the 5A fuse is there to protect the controller when the igniter does fail to point of frying so bad internally and shorting out, this is the protection for the controller...igniter cheap, PID controller $$ Now zapping controllers is different then igniters (especially when the 5A doesn't blow) and these guys are more sensitive to voltage induced problems, low voltage, high voltage, surging, wire size, run length, ohms law. I guess you could check the amp draw on the igniter but I would also have a kill-a-watt meter on the outlet side to see overall pull and other values amazon" style="max-width:120px">Now mixing different generation controllers with igniters could be problematic if there is a difference in compatibly or output power, highly unlikely but again, igniter on/off (110v power present). Why they state 200W/300W to 700W is a little puzzling when you do the math using 3.3A, what is pulling all the power when the igniter is the power hog of the bunch at 200W or 300W @ 2.6A +/-10% I wonder if when the igniter starts failing this causes an increase in draw, something doesn't seem right but I'm not an EE.
There is really only 3 variables here, smoker electronics, incoming AC power, and pellets. Doubt it's pellets but treager won't honor warranty if they find out you aren't using strictly thier proven pellets. It does appear as though LG or thier parent company slightly dropped the igniter voltage, was 300W to 700W, now its 200W to 700W. Knowing this if my pellet beast was using a 300W, I would try a 200W if I was having igniter failure unless of course I realized the failures was my fault from 20 foot rolling over choppy concrete (shock and vibe), excessive moisture (humidity), or some other possible cockpit error. Controller failures I would possibly start considering my power source and look at that. I know if I plug my smoker into my pool equipment outlet, it pops the gfi. If I plug it into a dedicated 20A circuit I added right off the main panel, nothing trips that gfi. Goes without saying which outlet I use 🤓
 

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