Traeger Temp Control

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Aug 31, 2010
Bellflower, CA
We purchased a Traeger Jr last summer and have only used it a few times.  We opted for this make and model for its size and the pellets.  I had my first big success recently with some ribs so now I want to venture on with other meats.

Shortly after buying the smoker I bought the digital controller off the net.  It was the previous model versus the one they sell today.  After doing a short smoker warm up I put the ribs on and closed the lid.  The controller was set at 225.  I decided to sit and watch the controller for a while and noticed it would fluctuate from 220 to 270 like a yo-yo.  I called Traeger to see how much of fluctuation I should experience.  They said no more then 10 to 15 degrees.  I told them what I was getting and they blamed my warm up method.  So before I smoke my next item I will try to warm up the smoker their way.  But something tells me it is not going to make that big of a difference when the temps are going up and down after it has already been running for over 2 hours.  

Is the warm up that important for temp control when you start smoking?

The reason for this post is to find out from other Traeger owners if they are having the same problem I am experiencing with temp control?

Thanks for your time.
The Traeger rep was right IF he/she referred "10-15 degrees fluctuation" from the "target" temperature.  My experience with swing on my Traeger Texas is 15 to 40 degrees depending on a number of factors including the outside temperature, controller temp setting, and type of pellets.  My definition here of "swing" is the difference of lowest temperature reached on a given cycle compared to highest temperature.  After setting the temp and letting a few cycles pass, I look at high/low temperatures of the swing and use the middle as the cooking temperature (i.e., 200 low and 230 high = 215 cooking temp).

Temperature swing is normal for almost any stove/oven, especially a mechanized pellet smoker.  You should have good results as long as swing is not extreme and/or sustained for long periods (200 degree difference that cycles every 120 minutes probably isn't going to have good results).  My opinion on your experience of 50 degree swing, although a bit higher than I have experienced, should be OK as long as the swing is consistent over time and you use the difference in the temp (220 to 270 = 245) as the cooking temperature.

As to start-up method, perhaps for first few minutes of operation but not overall.  Once the pot is fired, the Traeger controller maintains temperature with a feed/dwell cycle that runs the auger for so many seconds (feed) and then idles for so many seconds (dwell).   Over the course of several hours, the swing should be reasonably consistent and your exact firing method is immaterial.  I DO recommend that you follow the firing instructions AND listen for the change in sound that indicates the pot is actually fired.  In a stupid moment, I did not do this, the pot overflowed and when it did start it exploded (loud bang and lifted lid a good 12" inches) and warped the heat baffle and drip pan.

The type of pellets you use will have an impact on swing.  Very dry pellets of faster burning wood type will burn down faster after the feed cycle than slower burning wood type with high moisture content.  Again, this won't affect your results if you use the middle temp of the range as cooking temp.

Finally, right after firing, changing the controller temperature, opening the smoker for more than a minute, all may cause some significant changes in temperature but only for a short duration and the normal cycle will resume shortly thereafter.
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