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PitBoss 820 w/upgraded wifi controller - temp swings

smokingcrater

Newbie
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Joined Aug 4, 2021
Just want to get the group's opinion on this. The temperature swings seem excessive, even for a non-PID controller. Low of 196, high of 287. No wind, 77 degrees, grill wasn't touched. (and this isn't unusual, it sometimes swings even more) (PitBoss 820ME with the upgraded Pitboss Wifi/bluetooth controller)


Thoughts?
pitboss.PNG
 
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kilo charlie

Master of the Pit
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Joined Sep 25, 2017
Welcome to SMF!

Pellet smokers cycle... they get hotter when more pellets are added and then cool off then get hotter when more pellets are added. It's the nature of the beast - your oven in your house does the same exact thing. If you put an oven thermometer on the grate or a remote probe on the grate you'd see that the temps there are stable.
 

smokingcrater

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Joined Aug 4, 2021
Thanks first of all!

Yeah very familiar with pellet grills, this is my 3rd pitboss in about 10 years. Had previously been a purist with charcoal in a weber barrel. (what a pain!) I've had smoke daddy controllers on my other two pellet grills, and the temperature varied maybe 10 to 15 degrees. Granted that is a pid controller, so I expected more swing on this non pid one, but.. 100 degrees seems excessive.
 

RCAlan

Smoking Fanatic
351
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Joined Aug 26, 2018
Just want to get the group's opinion on this. The temperature swings seem excessive, even for a non-PID controller. Low of 196, high of 287. No wind, 77 degrees, grill wasn't touched. (and this isn't unusual, it sometimes swings even more) (PitBoss 820ME with the upgraded Pitboss Wifi/bluetooth controller)


Thoughts?
View attachment 506702
2 questions… How are you starting up your Pit Boss 820 and what brand of pellets are you using? Always start your smoker with a burn pot that is completely clean of ash from previous cooks and since your PB 820 is using a Non PID controller, it’s very important to preheat your grill for at least 20 mins. What steps are you following to start your grill?? Once’s that’s known, then we can get to solving your grills temp swings issues. Temp swings of 30*-40* degrees are completely normal for a Non PID controller pellet grill… Temp Swings of 70*-100* degrees are not.

__________________

Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi
 

RCAlan

Smoking Fanatic
351
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Joined Aug 26, 2018
Smokingcrater, here’s some detailed information about Pit Bosses Non PID Controllers from two separate owners manuals…. It’s a long post, but hopefully, helpful info.

This is the instructions manual for the WiFi/Bluetooth Non PID Controller.. https://dj4htnsq11to6.cloudfront.ne...15_80029_80030_WifiControlBoard_manual_EN.pdf

On page 5. it say to refer too your grills original owners manual on how to properly start your grill. FYI…. Pit Boss made things very frustrating and confusing a few years back when for some pellet grill owners manuals, like the Pit Boss Austin XL, they instructed to preheat the grill for about 20 mins at a temp of 350* degrees on page 15 of its owners manual.. https://images.pitboss-grills.com/catalog/manuel/75953_20180205.pdf. Quote :
Page. 15… PREHEATING
It is important to allow your grill to preheat before every cook session. This allows the grill and cooking grids to heat up quicker, kill off bacteria and other pathogens leftover from past grill sessions, and the grill is then able to maintain its cooking temperature once your food is placed in the cooking area. Preheat with the lid closed.
IMPORTANT: The outdoor ambient temperature, weather conditions, and quality of wood pellets will all affect your cooking temperature. Observe the time it takes to reach your desired temperature, and adjust the cooking time as needed.
AUTOMATIC START-UP PROCEDURE
1. Plug the power cord into a grounded power source. Open the main barrel lid. Check the fire pot to ensure there is no obstruction for proper ignition. Open the hopper lid. Ensure there are no foreign objects in the hopper or auger feed system. Fill the hopper with dry, all natural barbecue hardwood pellets.
2. Ensure the Temperature Control Dial is in the SMOKE position. Press the Power Button to turn the unit on. This will activate the start-up cycle. The auger feed system will begin to turn, the igniter will begin to glow and the fan will supply air to the fire pot. The grill will begin to produce smoke while the start-up cycle is taking place. The barrel lid must remain open during the start-up cycle. To confirm the start-up cycle has begun properly, listen for a torchy roar, and notice some heat being produced.
3. After a fire has started, begin to preheat your grill with the lid closed. Turn the Temperature Control Dial to 177°C / 350°F, to allow the unit to preheat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
4. After preheating is complete, you are ready to enjoy your grill at your desired temperature!… End quote…

While for the PB 820 PS1, there owners manual says nothing about preheating at all…. Page 15. https://images.pitboss-grills.com/catalog/manuel/72770_PB820PS1_manualUSA_EN_FR_ES.pdf
Even though they both have the same Non PID Controllers. I always preheated my PB Austin XL and I never had wild temp swing issues. The preheating helps to stabilize the controller and once completed, then your able to set your grill to your desired temp. Give the instructions from PB Austin XL’s owners manual a shot with the preheating and Good luck.

__________________
Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi
 

JWFokker

Smoking Fanatic
443
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Joined Mar 5, 2019
I've always found preheating helps, and running a lower p-setting if you have that function on your new controller. Also a flame deflector over the firepot can help. If you have the direct flame sliding drip pan on your grill the firepot doesn't have a deflector like most pellet grills do, which I think changes the burn rate and how much heat the firepot retains.
 

smokingcrater

Newbie
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Joined Aug 4, 2021
2 questions… How are you starting up your Pit Boss 820 and what brand of pellets are you using? Always start your smoker with a burn pot that is completely clean of ash from previous cooks and since your PB 820 is using a Non PID controller, it’s very important to preheat your grill for at least 20 mins. What steps are you following to start your grill?? Once’s that’s known, then we can get to solving your grills temp swings issues. Temp swings of 30*-40* degrees are completely normal for a Non PID controller pellet grill… Temp Swings of 70*-100* degrees are not.
Pitboss competition & hickory pellets The graph from above was a from a 20# bag I had just bought the day before.

As far as pre-heating, it is a little hard to see, but if you look at the graph, the swings actually get worse, not better, the longer the grill runs. I started it at 9:15 AM, the two largest swings were 10:35 and 10:50. I was out of time to test any longer, but I suspect based on the trend they would have continued to be that large or larger. I'll try the pre-heat to 350 method and see if that makes a difference.


Pitboss support has been less-than-helpful so far. Very responsive, but they are going through the basic steps. There is apparently an upgraded firmware for this controller that fixes the problem, but it isn't user-upgradeable. Has to be shipped in to support.
 

RCAlan

Smoking Fanatic
351
174
Joined Aug 26, 2018
Pitboss competition & hickory pellets The graph from above was a from a 20# bag I had just bought the day before.

As far as pre-heating, it is a little hard to see, but if you look at the graph, the swings actually get worse, not better, the longer the grill runs. I started it at 9:15 AM, the two largest swings were 10:35 and 10:50. I was out of time to test any longer, but I suspect based on the trend they would have continued to be that large or larger. I'll try the pre-heat to 350 method and see if that makes a difference.


Pitboss support has been less-than-helpful so far. Very responsive, but they are going through the basic steps. There is apparently an upgraded firmware for this controller that fixes the problem, but it isn't user-upgradeable. Has to be shipped in to support.

First, If you can locate and get a bag of Lumberjack or Kingsford brand 100% Hickory pellets, you’ll get a better burn from one wood type ie. 100% Hickory versus burning multiple wood types when using the PB Competition blend.. IMHO. FYI.. I know Walmart carries the Kingsford brand Hickory pellets… Temp swings often times do get worse, not better the longer the grill is running.
On your next cook/test, give the preheating a try, but instead of setting your grill at 350* degrees, set the temp at 300* degrees. During cold climates, 350* degrees works best and during the Spring and Summer months, 300* degrees works just fine. The preheating not only helps the Controller to stabilize, it also helps to bring the entire grill up to temp. As for the P-Settings, start with the factory default which is P-4. Give the understanding of the P-Settings a good read on page 14. In the owners manual. FYI. Making to many P-Setting adjustments can cause a whole new world of problems… To bad there’s no way to get a Firmware update for your grills controller via the WiFi.. I hope the turn around of having to send your grills controller back to Pit Boss for the Firmware update is not to long. Hopefully they’ll get everything figured out and corrected. I’ve read that they have had issues with some of their PID Controllers as well. Keep everyone posted and Good Luck.

__________________
Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi
 
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JWFokker

Smoking Fanatic
443
157
Joined Mar 5, 2019
I'd also recommending trying a higher grade of pellets. Pitboss pellets are 70% alder and burn fast, which will cause a temp spike then drop. Lowering the p-setting can help somewhat, but you should really try Lumberjack or Bear Mountain pellets.
 

Tokarev

Fire Starter
50
29
Joined Sep 17, 2020
I'd also recommending trying a higher grade of pellets....try Lumberjack or Bear Mountain pellets.
I've seen Bear Mountain brand at my local Safeway for about $10 per 20# bag. They only seem to stock a couple types however.

Does Bear Mountain actually make their own pellets or is it more of a marketing thing? As with Pit Boss and Traeger brands, I would guess 90% of the pellets sold under various labels are produced by just a handful of companies.
 

JWFokker

Smoking Fanatic
443
157
Joined Mar 5, 2019
Bear Mountain claims to be one of the largest and oldest wood pellet manufacturers. They got started making fuel pellets apparently.
 

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