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Pit Boss vertical - cabinet temps significantly lower than set temperature

bill1

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Joined Apr 25, 2015
couple more ideas Keith:

1. The short PitBoss controller probe sat in a bit of a recess so its tip was ~.25" inch from the wall. This taller one may have it's sensing tip too close to the back wall??? For the typical single-wall smoker, the wall is cooler than inside cooking air, because its cooled by room air on the outside. But for this double-wall design, it could be that the inside wall is hotter than the air inside...it is conductively connected to the fuel pot after all. So if you space up just the rear of the new sensor's mounting plate with a bike spoke or bobby pin it should then angle inwards at the top, away from the rear wall...does that give you a lower reading, thereby comparing better with your other (independent) probes? Of course be careful that sliding in a rack doesn't then damage the probe.

2. It's harder than it sounds to get a true pan of boiling 212F water. But even though it will be a little less, all the water an inch below the surface should be very equal in temp. It sounds easy to loosen the chamber's 2 mounting screws and pull out that probe by ~6". If you stick it, and all your reference probes, into a near boiling pan of water on the closest rack/grate, how close do they read?

3. Although it's not expecting too much of modern Chinese manufacturing methods to produce wound resistors at 1-2% accuracy (in this case within 20ohms of 1000ohms,) that doesn't mean you get 1-2% accuracy in temp with these RTDs. (Even if you use an "absolute" scale like Kelvins or Rankines.) Instead, the RTD is measuring temp by a small amount of resistance change with temperature, so I'm afraid 20F errors are not uncommon. A lot of temperature controllers let you correct for the fact that two different RTDs will measure the same temperature differently. You might want to ask RecTec if that isn't possible with yours? A lot of controllers have features that aren't really spelled out in the manual so don't expect the first person who answers the phone to know about these "hidden features". (Think of it like being the only person who knows to order Animal Style fries at In-N-Out Burger.) If not, at the price of these probes, you can afford to buy a few, and use the one that's the most accurate...a lot of electronics have this sort of variation and get sorted this very way so you pay a premium to get the "just right" one.

4. You sounded like you might have thought that the recent colder temps might be making your machine less temperature-stable and to have more inner spatial variation in temp. These double-wall units aren't usually too hot outside...you might want to try slipping a cardboard box over the thing so only the air entry at the bottom and the exhaust pipe at the top is exposed. Corrugated cardboard is a amazingly good thermal insulator and can really help with winter temps. If nothing else, it acts as a wind block, and cold gusts can cause hot and cold regions in a cooker you don't have in the summer. The factory box is probably too small (with the handles installed) but maybe a shortened hot water heater box?
 

keithd

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Joined May 15, 2012
bill1 - OK, it seems you're a genius - and that's not sarcasm. :emoji_sunglasses:

So I did testing all last night and today. I couldn't do boiling water, so I used my sous vide circulator to test the probes at various temperatures. It seems that the replacement probe is really out of whack - it acts like a PT100 but with a narrower resistance range - K-type maybe? Anyway, the stock Pit Boss probe tracked a little off but that off was fairly linear and easy enough to dial out. Once the offset was, well, set the PB sensor was dead-nuts on for temperature.

So - bill1, here's where your smarts come in. I relocated that stock probe (kind of like you said) to on top of the bottom grate - this time all probes were held with proper grill clips. I didn't want to drill the side wall just yet, so I ran the protected part of the probe wire to the door so that the unshielded part of the wire wasn't in the smoker. Testing that showed a lot more temp stability, but the probes on all the grates showed a wide temperature variance - with sensor @200F, the remote probe range was from 221-208 or thereabouts. You had mentioned that PB says to always run the water pan with water. So I did just that to see what would happen, and early testing shows probes 1-4 within 2F of each other, and their temps are much closer to the controller sensor and set temp. Not perfect, but improved.

Who knew the PB engineers might have known something? But the system seems to be running much better with the probe above the water pan. I think I'm going to buy the Recteq probe - it's 7" long and I know it'll work with the controller - so it should be easier for thru-wall mounting and operation. The current testing setup looks and is real janky.

I'll report back after a while to see how it works out - 200F looks okay, but I want to test at 225, 250, 275, 300 and maybe even 350F. I mostly only care about 225 and 275 but sometimes chicken does better with a short while at 350F, and it'd be nice to not have to always fire up the kitchen oven.

My only real question right now is how should I run the chimney cover - close to the chimney or far away?


edit - quick update after about 10-12 minutes - the set temp is 225, the sensor is 225, probe B right next to it is 226. All the other probes are at 239-234, sometimes reading a little closer than that. The sensor and probe B are off to the right, so they might be in a "cooler" zone, all other probes are in dead center.

edit 2 - Tuning this thing is frustrating - a few inches in any direction can give a 20% (or more) difference in temperature it seems - backed up by putting the remote probes in different spots or the same spot as the controller sensor. Difficult to tell where is the "correct" temp. I'm going to call it a night - I will try to get a longer wire so I can try the sensor on one of the higher racks tomorrow.
 
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bill1

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Joined Apr 25, 2015
Keith, get some rest. Tomorrow's always another day for experimentation. You are hitting pay dirt My Friend!
I agree, now is no time to drill holes in that pretty copper side wall.

But you said something that gave me pause...you didn't see "Type K" in any of your probe or controller literature, did you? That refers to a type of thermocouple, not RTD, and is a totally different type of temperature sensor. They need a totally different approach to wiring. I've been assuming everything is RTDs, and that the only gotcha's could be whether the base platinum resistance for the RTD was 100, 200, 500, or 1000 ohms. Pt1000 pretty much dominates this field now and since your potential temp errors have been 10's of degF and not >100, I think we've got that nailed down.
 

keithd

Smoke Blower
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Joined May 15, 2012
So this'll be the final update for this thread, unfortunately.

The Rec Tec controller died. :emoji_disappointed: It was having problems turning on before, but a light tap seemed to un-stick the power relay. Now it's not turning on at all, and I don't think it's the relay that's gone bad. It's time to call it quits. That controller was designed for a grill - the RT-680 I think - and wasn't intended for a vertical but I managed to shoehorn it in for a while.

I've registered my smoker with Pit Boss and put in a support ticket. I don't expect to get a free controller, but the PB website doesn't show any replacement controllers for any of the verticals and $75 for the original analog controller if they have one in back stock isn't too painful. My hope now is to go back to the stock controller and learn to live with it. My original reasons for changing the controller out is 1) the PB controller sucks, 2) the smoker kept tripping all the GFCI circuits I tried it on, and 3) the main reason is I love to tinker and fix it even if it ain't broke. For 1) it is what it is, but it's designed for that smoker and probably wasn't what caused my electrical issues, 2) replaced the igniter, never had any issues with GFCIs since, and 3) I'm at the point where I'd like to just start using it and not keep chasing gremlins - as much as I like to tinker. I've decided to wait until Spring to get another smoker if I don't get this one back up and running.

Who knows, maybe PB will finally release a legacy PID wifi controller like they have with the grills. :emoji_slight_smile:

I'd like to thank bill1 and others for being patient and lending a lot of assistance and support. I won't be going away - I still have my GMG Davy Crockett and I'm sure I'll need help with that one too. :emoji_grin:
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Apr 25, 2015
Keith, I was big on getting you to replace the short PitBoss chamber probe with a longer one to work better with the RecTec. But if you're giving up on RecTec and going back to PitBoss support, I'd re-install their probe and limit your discussion with them to your experiences with their controller and their probe.

Keep us posted how it all turns out. Always good hearing from you. Your excitement is contagious. (And in a way much better than Covid!)
 

GeekChef

Newbie
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Joined Feb 22, 2021
Keith, I was big on getting you to replace the short PitBoss chamber probe with a longer one to work better with the RecTec. But if you're giving up on RecTec and going back to PitBoss support, I'd re-install their probe and limit your discussion with them to your experiences with their controller and their probe.

Keep us posted how it all turns out. Always good hearing from you. Your excitement is contagious. (And in a way much better than Covid!)
Well I gave in and swapped out my controller....I tried to stay with the New Pit Boss controller for my Series 4 Rev 2 Smoker....but the temperature took off on me twice.....and most other times it would never seem to reach temperature. So I took out their controller(until they get an update) and I installed a spare RecTec controller that I had for my RT-340. I used a piece of Lexan and bought and soldered the pins for the proper Molex and ST RTD connectors, so I could make it swappable. I put it in and did a three probe average of temperature and the RecTec controller allows you to add an offset to the RTD measurement, so I took the average of the temperature across the grate where the RTD is located. See pic below the temperature within the cabinet at the 3rd Rack grate where the RTD is located is rock solid at 280 degs. Also this controller has 5 deg increments across the entire span....so that is really nice....AND the app just works and has a graph over the entire cook.

The Controller fired up immediately and got to 225 in about 14 mins at 34 degs outside....and I tested it up and down from 200 to 350 and would get to temps really fast and hold it consistently. I did a Hot and Fast Pork butt in the smoker at 280 and it held there for 6 hours....no movement at all. Pellet usage was noticeably less during that cook. I have to say that mechanically hardware wise...this is the best smoker on the market for the price.....maybe even $200 above this price....but now with the RecTec....the controls are perfect too! To be able to clean out the ash and grease is fantastic...and I just love the clean smoke flavor of a vertical smoker. I bought some black paint to cover the Lexan....called Hammered Black....it is textured, so hopefully it will blend in and you won't even notice the cover.

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keithd

Smoke Blower
88
18
Joined May 15, 2012
Hey! Sorry for no updates.
I went with a Savannah Stoker setup - I put the included probe through the side, it works much better.

IMG_20201212_222023.jpg


IMG_20201213_210319.jpg


Apparently there's a transistor in the Recteq controller that has a loose solder point. It still works, but that would have to be shored up before being put in use. It's collecting dust for the forseeable future.
The SS controller works a lot better for me. It wasn't cheap at about $200-ish, but it works and the Facebook group is really great for support and troubleshooting.
Funny thing is, I went an bought a Recteq Bullet smoker to "replace" my regular propane grill. I haven't done a single cook on it yet - bad snow hit just when I got it in early January.
 

GeekChef

Newbie
4
2
Joined Feb 22, 2021
Hey! Sorry for no updates.
I went with a Savannah Stoker setup - I put the included probe through the side, it works much better.

View attachment 486380

View attachment 486378

Apparently there's a transistor in the Recteq controller that has a loose solder point. It still works, but that would have to be shored up before being put in use. It's collecting dust for the forseeable future.
The SS controller works a lot better for me. It wasn't cheap at about $200-ish, but it works and the Facebook group is really great for support and troubleshooting.
Funny thing is, I went an bought a Recteq Bullet smoker to "replace" my regular propane grill. I haven't done a single cook on it yet - bad snow hit just when I got it in early January.
Dang...that looks amazing....! Sheez.....great work there.....
 

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