Pit Boss vertical - cabinet temps significantly lower than set temperature

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Smoke Blower
Original poster
May 15, 2012
Howdy all,

So I got my Pit Boss Series 5 Copperhead back up and running with a Rec Tec (or now Recteq) controller.

My problem is that I set the controller temperature to 225, the controller shows an actual 225, and the Rec Tec remote probe sensor hanging in free air in the cabinet shows 130-140. Is this normal, do I need to just run it hotter, or do I need to change something like the controller RTD temp sensor?

I also connected my Inkbird remote probe thermometer and it also shows roughly the same cabinet temperature as the RT remote probe. I managed to get the cabinet temps to 225-ish, but I had to crank the controller temp to 300. Another remote probe on the lower rack shows 190-200-ish. One thing I wonder about - the stock Pit Boss vertical RTD sensor is a lot shorter than the Pit Boss grill sensors, would it be better to get the longer sensor in order to get it above the water pan? BTW - there is currently no water in the water pan, but I do have some chicken in the smoker.

I also have a GMG Davy Crockett, and if I set it to 225, the open air temperature is really close to that.
Thank y'all for any help.
I can't really speak for the Rec Tec controller and using it in the Pit Boss but I have an RT 700 and noticed a difference between set point and actual temps. Called Rec Tec and they said that due to the type of thermometer (some odd science to it that I don't remember) and the placement of it in the unit, you'll get a differential of about 10%, grate temp being lower than set point and reading on the controller.

That makes sense. I set it to 320 and I get the 240 in the cabinet that I want, so I guess I need to just account for that temp differential. 300 on the controller gets 220-225 in cabinet.

The Rec Tec controller is dead-nuts accurate compared to the old controller.
The Rec Tec controller is dead-nuts accurate compared to the old controller.

Once again I cannot speak for how you have it set up but I will say that in the Rec Tec, even though there is a temp differential the controller is consistent to the point that I trust it without question. Yes, you make the adjustment on the controller to account for the difference but once made, it stays where you set it within a couple of degrees.

Keith, I might not be understanding. Did your RT controller come with both a RT remote temp probe and a fixed temp probe for the controller? That 2nd one is the one that's shorter than your original? Yes, you want the end of that one to approximately be where you place your meat, and if the RT is mostly used on flat grills and you're using it with a more vertical smoker, you'll want to relocate it eventually. The end of the new probe should be about where the original PB probe was....you might have to drill a new hole in your PB to get there.

But unless it's way too low, it shouldn't be giving a reading of 225 to the controller when the rest of the cabinet (and verified with a 2nd trusted probe) reads 140---that's too big a difference. You might have resistance (dirt? sauce?) in the wiring to the probe, or it's not well connected.

Or maybe you're just opening the door too much? Most of these pellet smokers move quite a bit of air so they equalize their temps, or at least reach a steady state, in less time than most cookers. Still you need to make sure you wait a good 15 minutes from the time you shut the door/lid to the time you can expect accurate readings.

Plus, did you just add the (cold?) chicken? That would explain why a probe closer to the crucible would read considerably higher that probes closer to the meat.

It's not uncommon for folks to add (or subtract) ~10F to what they enter into their controllers to get the temp they really want (and trust). But if that "correction" is >80F, you'll probably be limited from reaching your peak desired temps some day because your controller wont set to that peak + 80.

Pictures are always useful.
bill1 - the RT controller came with just the controller body and 2 remote probes with long cables. No fixed temp sensor, I watched a few youtube videos and everyone just re-used the fixed Pit Boss temp sensor. I'll have to re-check the sensor connection. Part of the issue may be that the sensor is right at the water pan cutout - there's1 cut out in the front and 1 in the back of the pan tray, with louvers on the sides of the water pan tray. I suspect the fixed temp sensor might be getting a lot of the hot air, throwing off the reading.

I tested it with the RT and Inkbird probes just free-hanging in the cabinet after 20-30 minutes, still shows anywhere from 70-90 below the set point. The temps were actually lower in the lower grates. That water pan tray blocks of a significant part of the burn pot area. I did add cold chicken, but the temps were checked 1.5 hrs after the start of the cook. I just need to do more testing.

And you're right bill1, I am kinda shoehorning a square peg into a round hole with this controller. Other folks seemed to be happy with how it turned out, and the RT is FAR more consistent than the old PB controller, I just need to work the kinks out.

tx smoker - apologies if I came across as putting words in your mouth or something like that. I had wanted to provide my limited experience with the RT controller that despite the issues, I'm happy with the controller itself.
I took out the water pan tray from the PB Series 5 cabinet, and with the controller set at 250 and the fixed sensor stabilized at 250, now the probes are reading from the top rack #1 -257, #2 - 261, #3 and #4 - 259, and the 2 Rec Tec remote probes on the bottom rack #5 are at 250 (probe A) and 253 (probe B). This is with no food in the smoker.

It seems that even though there's forced air, it's mostly circulating the heat below the water pan tray, regardless if there's water in it or not. the wp tray seems to block off a lot of airflow.
Might be worthwhile to put a rack where the water pan tray goes and just put a water pan on top of that to help with circulation.

The only downside I see to not using the water pan tray is drippings can now get to the bottom and the burn pot heat deflector.

I'll keep testing and report back if y'all are interested.

edit - about 15-20 minutes later all the remote probes are at 262 except #2 - 259 and A at 260. I'd almost call it the same within normal probe accuracy.
Last edited:
Keith, from your last post it appears all temp probes are working correctly/consistently so that greatly reduces our trouble-shooting. And it doesn't appear there was an issue, in principle, in re-using the PB fixed probe that serves as the controller's input. However it does appear to be located in a poor location. A picture of this probe and where and how it's attached would be useful to suggesting where to re-locate it.

And of course this apparent PitBoss design flaw has nothing to do with the change to a RecTec controller...it's just the better expected performance made you notice it. Have you checked this and other forums to see if others with this vertical have had a similar issue?
TempSensor (2).jpg

That little nub in the back is the temp sensor. It's only about 1.25" in length. The rack in the pic is the position of the bottom-most rack, the empty rack rails you see would normally hold the water pan tray. The box is the burn pot heat deflector on the bottom of the smoker. All the remote probes are as close to the center of the rack as I could get them. Burned my leg a bit getting this pic! :emoji_head_bandage::emoji_grin:

Temp probes at time just before pic were all 266-260, with 4 of them at 266. #2 was 262, A was 260.

I was thinking of getting either a 3.5" or a 7" tall sensor from Amazon to get it a little bit more away from the burn pot. The probe is held on by 2 screws on either side of the sensor, with the cable snaking down in the body/bottom to the connector in the channel at the bottom. It looks like a Traeger (7") or a longer PB grill probe (3") would bolt right up.

I haven't checked another forum other than first trying to google search my problem before I came here. This is one of the best BBQ forums, and I knew I wouldn't be trolled/yelled at by y'all. :emoji_sunglasses:

And for reference, here's a shot of the whole interior - taken from amazingribs.com's review of the PB Series 5.
Wow, that little nub sticking up in the back is the cabinet temperature probe? In my opinion, it's way too close to the crucible, even if you don't use the water pan, and the water pan was surely intended to be used by PitBoss. In fact their User Guide says keep water in it at all times

Don't do it when it's hot (sorry you got burned) but can you get to whatever's holding it there without much trouble? You mention two screws. If you loosen them (be careful, there could be nuts on the other side that could get away from you) could you just pull the sensor up another couple inches so the end (which is always where the sensor is) is at least above the water pan?

The on-line User Guide makes it sound like the factory controller comes already wired to the fan, auger, starter, and probe but you must have figured our where/what all the wiring was to install the RecTec. Worse case, you could disconnect and forget the PitBoss probe, if you can't move it, and just dedicate a remote probe to the RecTec sense input. You alluded to this in your original post but I didn't pick up on that.

Easiest would be to drill a hole , only a few thousandths larger than the intended probe, through both an inner and outer side wall so the probe comes through right between the two middle racks/grids, but that might look a little crude and is pretty easily damaged sticking out like that. It would be nice to have the probe come up at that rear seam like the original does but I don't know how easy that would be. Certainly there's nothing special about centering the probe along the back and since the moving auger comes in along the center, I'd avoid the center anyway.

I note there's a large hole in the bottom pan for the grease to drain out, so it should be possible to drill a small hole right up against the back wall as well and bring a straight probe up from the bottom pan but flush against the back wall that way. You never want to clamp a probe at the end since that's where the fragile sensor is, but down a few inches you could fashion a little clamp screwed to the back wall to keep it from falling out. Also since it will stick up further than the original, the water pan or other rack could slide in and damage the end so you'll want to put in a couple screws and spacers to act as a "stop" for the rack(s) and thus protect the probe end.

I'd call this a PitBoss design shortcoming , but I suspect PB figured it was easier to just correct for the resultant high reading in their controller electronics than to re-design the probe to be in a better location. RT may or may not have a way to program in a big delta like this as well but it would be better to do what PB didn't and just locate the controller temp sensor to a better position.

Let us know what you end up doing.
bill1 - thanks for all the input!

BTW - final temps before I shut it down - set 250, controller reading 250, all probes between 259 and 266.

I think there are captured nuts under the screws, the PB video for replacing the probe just shows 2 screws being undone. I could bend some sheet metal into a long "C" shape to elevate the sensor. Amazon sells a 2-pack of Traeger 7" sensors for $15 with a 1.2 meter wire.

What I could also do is just get the Traeger sensor, drill a small hole in the side and use self-tapping screws to hold it in. Might could use a small metal electrical box to protect the end that sticks outside the smoker. That sticking out the side isn't a huge concern as I've got a Smokin-It Bella smoke generator coming in that I'm going to hang off the right side anyway. Only real concern is food being near the sensor and throwing temps off either due to cold food or hampering air flow if I put the sensor between the middle racks.

I won't be able to make an update until Wed at the earliest as that's the fastest I can get the sensor in. No one locally seems to have Traeger spare parts, and they all cost 2.5x Amazon's prices.

*sigh* - I'd really like to just say, "Sod it" and get the Yoder YS1500S, but that's a $4000 smoker. :emoji_disappointed: I am looking at the Smoke Daddy vertical, it's $1400 and looks pretty nice. But it looks like my Franken-Smoker with PB, Rec Tec, Smokin-It, and Traeger parts should turn out nicely once I get the minor bugs worked out.

edit - Also, why do I suddenly have a hankerin' for a Lang 36 Deluxe Patio?
Last edited:
Keith, great find on that video. I didn't see any such link at the product page. Is it easy to post it for us?
Thank goodness PB has made it at least possible to replace that cabinet temp probe. I assume it has a right angle bend that keeps it out of the auger path. Maybe you can find another that just sticks out longer after the bend? That would be the cleanest fix. I believe PB uses 2-wire Pt1000 RTDs although that info is not always forthcoming on the typical Amazon page.

Probes specifically meant for cabinet temps (instead of meat insertion) tend to be flat at the end so are a little more rugged for cleaning. But before you drill for a Traeger replacement, make sure you take a resistance reading. I think most of the early Traegers used Pt100 instead of Pt1000 RTD sensors.

PitBoss makes a lot of machine for the money. Their vertical pellet design is one of the easiest to setup and cleanup. I wouldn't give up on them too quickly.
Here's the Pit Boss vertical probe replacement video.
Looks easy enough. The probe wire snakes around the auger to the wiring channel. Another video showed taping a wire to the probe connector to help feed the replacement probe wire back through the probe hole.

Shouldn't have to do any drilling. I assumed the Traeger probe was the same resistance since Smoke Daddy's controller lists the Traeger and PB sensors as compatible. We'll see when it comes in, I found a probe for $10 on Amazon and they're really good about returns.

But I am seriously looking at the Smoke Daddy vertical smoker as a "someday" smoker, what do you think? I couldn't get it until this coming spring at the absolute earliest, and with the Heavy D attachment I can reasonably afford the $1500 price. Their factory is about 7 hours away from me so I could even drive there to pick it up.
By all means, don't pull out the old one without a long guide wire attached to the connector to simplify installing the new one. I didn't realize there was a ledge on the rear of your model so getting to it and finding a longer replacement sounds pretty straightforward.
Most kitchen ovens are Pt1000 so I just searched on oven and RTD and found this:

Perhaps that's the $10 one you meant?
This one will set you back a full $14 but it appears to have the very PitBoss connector on it you'll need:
Ha! That first one is the one I already ordered. Great minds think alike (or something).
The second one seems great with the PB connector, but it's about 3 inches shorter.
The one I ordered gets here Wed, so I'll have to see how well (or not!) it works.
Here's the Pit Boss vertical probe replacement video.
Looks easy enough. The probe wire snakes around the auger to the wiring channel. Another video showed taping a wire to the probe connector to help feed the replacement probe wire back through the probe hole.

Shouldn't have to do any drilling. I assumed the Traeger probe was the same resistance since Smoke Daddy's controller lists the Traeger and PB sensors as compatible. We'll see when it comes in, I found a probe for $10 on Amazon and they're really good about returns.

But I am seriously looking at the Smoke Daddy vertical smoker as a "someday" smoker, what do you think? I couldn't get it until this coming spring at the absolute earliest, and with the Heavy D attachment I can reasonably afford the $1500 price. Their factory is about 7 hours away from me so I could even drive there to pick it up.
SmokeDaddy is a great family owned company and they stand behind everything they sell. Any questions you may have, give Dennis a call tomorrow, I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about their Vertical Pellet Smoker.
And good luck.

Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi
I don't know how many other cookers you have but I like to have a variety of tools. A vertical pellet smoker is fairly unique. For your next purchase, you might want to consider a charcoal-based unit (Weber kettle? Weber Smoky Mountain? Masterbuilt Gravity feed?) or a more grill-like pellet machine (like Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro)...your work surface is then easy to get to, you can add a rotisserie, etc. And I assume you have a normal gas grill...can't beat them for speed.

But I certainly agree Smoke Daddy is helpful and makes a quality product that truly gets put through it's paces before it goes to market.
RCAlan - I messaged through the website late last night, got an email early this morning! I asked if the wifi controller could be added, it's a $200 option. I think I'll pass, I don't really have a need and that $200 will go a long way towards a Fireboard 2. I did email back asking about factory pickup, haven't heard back yet, but it's Sunday, I didn't expect any response at all.

bill1 - Got a gasser, hardly ever use it! Mostly for burgers or searing steak. I want to get the SD vertical just because I want something nice that'll last and I've never heard anything bad about them. And for $1500 w/Heavy D it's cheaper than an IVS or Insulated Vertical Smoker from Lone Star! Not buying until May-ish at the earliest, so I might change my mind by then if the PB Series 5 works out very well. I'm also thinking of getting an Oklahoma Joe horizontal offset off Craigslist for a cheap stick burner. It ain't a Lang, but it's not as bad as the thin $120 offsets you see at Walmart, and used ones don't cost much more than that in decent shape.

But it'll be a good while before I get anything else - my better half would string me up if I didn't!
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: RCAlan and bill1
So the new temp sensor came in early today - got it all wired up.

Initially things looked promising, all the probes and the controller sensor were reading 70-74 at room temperature. Problem is, it's 27F outside in Nebraska with no real wind and the smoker is at 250 according to the controller temp sensor. BUT, none of the probes are reading anywhere near that right now. I think they're reading from 208-246, with the top rack and bottom rack reading the lowest, the second from lowest is reading 246. I think the extreme cold differential from outside temps to set temps are throwing things off a bit.

But it's only been running for 40 minutes. At the 20 minute mark I turned it up to 300 and the smoker never got there, highest temp at the controller sensor was 298. At the 30 minute mark I turned it down to 250 again and the probes are still all reading fairly low. This is a lot different from a couple days ago where all the probes were within a few degrees of each other.

I need to do some troubleshooting - check for leaks and let it run for a bit longer. I also need to test to see how it will operate with the water pan tray installed with this new sensor.

Makes me wonder what smokers are the best for wintertime smoking. Those expensive insulated vertical smokers should do well, but they're, well - expensive. About the only affordable IVS is the Backwoods Chubby 3400.

edit - so the lowest temp probe at the top had apparently been sitting against the back wall. I don't have any probe grill clips - have them on order - but I used some binder clips to hold them in position a little better this time.

edit 2 - OK, I'm calling this a failed experiment. Seems the probe didn't want to play nice, it was reading far too high and it was VERY slow to react. So slow that the Rec Tec controller had a hard time with overshooting/undershooting. I might either try a different probe higher up through the wall or just learn to account for the stock probe reading low, but seemingly a consistent low.
Last edited:
SmokingMeatForums.com is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads