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Pellet Smoker Grate Temp vs. Set Temp

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by G-Rod, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Hi all, I recently got a Pit Boss 700fb to primarily use for smoking food. I also recently upgraded to the PelletPro PID controller after experiencing crazy temp swings when doing a brisket with the stock controller. For more about that story see here. Anyway, after installing the new controller, I have been very happy with the temp control (no more crazy temp swings!), but during my last cook, I noticed that the temp on the grates was about 30 degrees higher than my set temp of 225. I have a grate attachment to get the temperature at that grate.

    So my question to all my fellow brothers (and sisters) of the smoke...Have any of you with a pellet smoker monitored your grate temp vs your set temp?

    My set temp is very consistent with my dome temp. And it makes sense that the grate temp would be higher as the source of heat is directly underneath it.

    To combat this, I simply lowered my set temp 30 degrees (to 195), to get to my desired 225. But something interesting happened and I experienced burn back which I wonder if it was caused because my temp was so low and the pellets were getting fed TOO slow.

    So, coming back to my main questions.
    1) If you have a pellet grill/smoker, have you monitored your grate temp vs your set temp?
    2) If so, what (if any) was the difference in temps?
    3) What kind of Pellet grill/smoker do you have?
    4) Have you ever experience burn back?

    Thanks for reading my thread and I hope to hear from some of you with your thoughts!

  2. BandCollector

    BandCollector Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    1) I never monitor my grate temp because I don't intend on eating my grates.
    I monitor the meat I am smoking and the set temp.
    2) Only looking for my target temp in the meat.
    3) I have a Camp Chef Woodwind and love it!
    4) No burn back here.

    I hope this helps,

    SonnyE likes this.
  3. Hey G-Rod,

    I did check my grate temp with the RTD and it was different. With the Savannah Stoker Controller you can calibrate your temp. So I matched my RTD with my grate temp and they now match.

    No I do not have any burn back.

    I have the PitBoss 820D.

    I think you are getting the burn back because your fan is not running steady all of the time. The PitBoss doesn't like that at all.

    Guess that's it..

    G-Rod likes this.
  4. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    1. Well, no. But I have a smoker I burn pellets in for smoke. Grate temps always depend on where the stinking probe is.
    2. Please see the last sentence above.
    3. A highly modified MES 30, with an AMNPS I put pellets in.
    4. Well yeah, if I leave my shirt off in the dam spa in the Summertime with the Grandkid's. But I try to avoid getting Burn Back.

    However, the other day I was fiddlin around and caught my AMNPS in fire. Now that right there was a back burned mess.
    I pulled that wreck out and called it a done deal.
    I just hope I can get it right before I die.

    I know, I know.... not the answers you were hoping for.
    But as honest as you'll find anywhere. ;)
  5. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Haha, thanks for the reply! Yeah, I'm not planning on eating my grates anytime soon either. But my meat is laying right on top of those grates! :) For shorter cooks I'm not concerned about it but for longer cooks like a packer brisket, that higher temp could make the bottom of it pretty tough.

    I've heard good things about the Camp Chef Woodwind. If I can't get my current set up dialed in, I might take a look at those next.

    Thanks again for your input!
  6. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Hey Sonny! Thanks for your reply. I had a Masterbuilt smoker as well and really liked it. I wish I had heard about the AMNPS before I moved on to my pellet smoker. That was my biggest gripe was having to add woodchips all the time.

    Haha and yeah hope you keep your burned back to a minimum this summer! ;)

    Thanks for the reply!
    SonnyE likes this.
  7. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Hi Phil and thanks for your answers. Man, they really seemed to think of everything with that Savannah Stoker you got. Love that calibration option. Makes so much sense.

    Glad to hear you haven't experienced any burn back. What temp do you usually do your cooks at? Ribs and brisket in partiicular?

    So with your Savannah Stoker Controller, your fan doesn't pulsate?

    Thanks again...really appreciate it! :)
  8. My fan does not pulsate. It runs steady.

    I usually use the cook program in the controller for briskets and pork butt.

    I set the first stage at 180 degrees for 7 hours
    Then the second stage I set the smoker for 225 degrees and cook until I hit 203 internal temp.
    Then the controller automatically goes into a hold program that I have set at 150 degrees.

    For my baby back ribs I also use the cooking program.

    I set the first stage at 180 degrees for 2 hours
    Then the second stage I set the smoker for 225 degrees and cook for another 3 hours.
    Then the controller automatically goes into a hold program that I have set at 150 degrees.

    I hope this helped to answer your questions.

    G-Rod likes this.
  9. bregent

    bregent Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1) If you have a pellet grill/smoker, have you monitored your grate temp vs your set temp?
    2) If so, what (if any) was the difference in temps?
    It's always within a degree or two
    3) What kind of Pellet grill/smoker do you have?
    Memphis Elite
    4) Have you ever experience burn back?
    No, not possible on the Memphis due to the pellet delivery system

    As far as grate vs set temp, as long as the difference is consistent it's fine with me.
  10. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Hi Phil and thanks for the additional info. Yeah, I'm bummed as it looks like I should've gone with the Stoker. Love how you can have that level of customization. For my brisket I like to smoke at 225 till I get to an internal temp of 160, then I wrap in butcher's paper and go until an internal temp of 201. Then I pull it out, wrap it in a towel and put it in an empty cooler to sit for 1 1/2 to 2 hours before slicing.

    For ribs, I usually do the 3-2-1 and do the "2" of it with foil. Tried the "2" with butcher's paper and wasn't happy with it at all.

    Really appreciate you taking the time to share your info with me Phil. Hope I can return the favor at some point in time.
  11. I'm just glad I could help..
    G-Rod likes this.
  12. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I entered into getting my first "store bought" smoker knowing I'd modify it. That constant tending was a con for me, also I need to be able to cold smoke. SMF was very instrumental in my changes from a modified ugly drum smoker (UDS) with a Bradley puck pusher grafted into it, to a MES 30 and a mod with an AMNPS.
    A pellet smoker was a consideration, but I have a gas burner grill already, and I needed a low temp smoker.
    If you haven't yet, you could add an AMNPS to your Pit Boss and have both.
    Seems like there is always more stuff to buy.... :rolleyes:
  13. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Sounds like a cool set up! And yeah, I added a pellet smoker tube to my pellet grill when I added the PID smoker as I had read that smoke production would dimish a bit. Agreed, always looking for my next "something" for the smoking addiction. LOL.
    SonnyE likes this.
  14. John Charles

    John Charles Newbie

    Hi G-rod!
    I recently joined the Forum and I am really new to smoking. Just bought a Pit Boss 820 D last week, was on vacation and took all week to play with it. I work as an electrician / controls tech in an oil refinery so I have a lot of experience playing with controls, both electrical motor controls and instrumentation. I used to be a nuclear reactor operator the Navy on submarines, (retired now!) so I've been around technical crap all my life.

    I beleive the difference you're sitting between your hood or grill temp and your controller temp is do the location of the probes and the fact that the probe that is sitting at / on grill level is seeing not only the temperature at the grill but also seeing additional heat in the circulating air. Once the unit gets up to running, the circulating air will become superheated and run at a slightly higher temperature than the controller probe, which is typically located over on the side of the unit. (I tend to call that the "display" temperature because the probe on the side of the unit is what displays the temperature on your controller box.)

    Notice that at lower temperatures, like smoking (and cooking in general before the air becomes superheated) the two temperatures should track very closely together. This is also true if you were following your display temperature and just a regular hood mounted thermostat, assuming the thermostat is accurate. Once the superheat effect takes place though, your probe on the grill / hood thermostat will take off and show that increased temperature of the air.

    I figure it's best to more or less ignore the hood or grill probe for temperature input, just use it as an indicator of when superheat is or is not taking place and just use the display temperature to cook by. I saw someone mentioned somewhere about calibrating the two gauges together ( to read the same temperature) and I don't think that be a good idea because there's a specific reason as we're talking about here as to why those two are different. Best to just let them run on their own and understand why the difference is there, I think.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  15. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Hi John and welcome to the forum! Appreciate you adding your thoughts to my post! That's what makes this forum great. People exchanging experience with people. :)

    Good thought and yeah, I don't want to get too caught up in grate temp vs set temp. I understand what you're saying but the probe is right where my meat is. So in theory, that meat is getting that increased heat as well. The only reason I started down this path of thought is that my previous smoker was an electric MasterBuilt. Was great at holding temps and I'd monitor temps on the grates my meat was as well. Was very consistent with my set temp. Once I got my pellet smoker, the first couple of cooks I did, my ribs came out a little dry and overcooked. That's when I started looking at the grate temps on my pellet smoker.

    At the end of the day, I smoke at low and slow and as long as I'm not getting huge temps swings (which I'm not anymore thanks to my new PID controller), I now mostly monitor internal meat temps.

    All that said, for me...I LOVE the Pit Boss pellet grill BUT it is not optimal for smoker at lower temps (225 degrees). They do however have a new vertical smoker that includes a water pan (like my previous electric smoker) which I'm sure absorbs some if not most of the temp swings with the original controller. That is on my short list!

    Not getting rid of my Pellet grill though. I love grilling burgers, chicken and reverse searing 2" plus steaks on it. Do the initial cook on the pellet grill to internal temp, then finish off on my charcoal grill at 900-1000 degress for the final sear. Always a show stopper! Alright, I'm starting to ramble.

    Thanks again and have a great rest of your evening! :)

  16. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter

    G-Rod, interestingly enough, I just posted a thread on temperatures for the Pit-Boss using thermocouples. One of the thermocouple probes is at the original sensor location, while the other one is at the center of the grill, about an inch above, where the meat is usually placed. Per the graph (I didn't post the raw data as it was too much), the temperatures between those points on the PitBoss 820D is about 10 degrees F. See "Pit-Boss 820D: Temperature Controller".
  17. G-Rod

    G-Rod Fire Starter

    Hey Banjo. Thanks for the head's up. Going to go check out your post now. :)