• Canning

    I picked up a large never fired vertical pellet smoker a couple of months ago. He purchased it near 2 years prior, so there is no warranty on it. I’ve never owned one, all of my smoking has been done with charcoal, wood and wood assist gasser which I’m getting rather decent with after 45 years at it. :grin:

    I used it for the 2nd time as a smoker yesterday afternoon and inserted a probe on the grate that held my small rib roast. The temp probe is Thermoworks Smoke X4. I knew the were swings in temps so I tried to monitor it somewhat and record its mood swings.

    Now I don’t trust the controller dial to tell me the real dirt on what is happening inside the cabinet so that is the reason for the Smoke X4!

    Now granted I have a large capacity (tall) cabinet and my 3rd party temp probe was in the top 1/3 level of the cabinet 1 inch in front of the roast. I’m doing a visual here, thinking that my temp probe is easily 16 plus inches above the factory temp probe on the grate. Factor temp controller probe is @ the top of the water pan. And yes the water pan was used to capacity.

    My Question Is,
    When your smoker is monitored by a reputable 3rd party digital thermometer ( in my case Thermoworks), how much of an actual mood swing does your pellet smoker go through when it is set at about 225? Tell us it’s high temp then the timeline till it hits it’s low temp before it raises once again over the next timeline??

    I appreciate your response!
    Thanks Chefs!!

  • Team Orange PK100 Sous Vide Power User

    I also use a Thermoworks remote thermometer (Signals) to monitor my cooks. I don’t know if I can be specific about 225 F, but I know I get 15-20 degree swings on my Camp Chef horizontal, and I’ve seen wider swings than that. Pellet cookers tend to be poorly insulated with fairly thin metal (mine is), so I only expect so much from them. Wind really can do a number on it. I have a canvas tarp and a welding blanket that I sometimes throw over my offset in high wind or cold weather, so I’ve also thrown that over the pellet cooker at times to help.

    Yes, having run an offset stick burner for 15 years or so before getting a pellet cooker, the swings took a little getting used to. The food coming off that cooker has been just fine, though–no complaints from me or others, so I don’t fret about it too much!

  • I recently purchases a Pit Boss Sportsman vertical. Just completed first cook, 8 slabs of pork ribs. I monitored the ambient temperature and meat temperature with the Thermoworks 4 probe device . I was QUITE AMAZED that the two temperatures were perfectly matched most of the time. There were variances when the door was opened to spritz but quickly went back to matching or 1-2 degrees difference. Also some some differences when I increased the controller temp from 225 deg to 275 deg. then settled in to a match again or just a few degrees different. AT THIS POINT (1 COOK) , I am really pleased. Tender beef jerky is next cook.

  • Team Orange Sous Vide Regular Contributors

    I think mood swings are normal with lots of smokers. My “Q” smokers, the cookshack smokette, swings a bit. I also heat the house with a pellet stove and the swings are CRAZY due to the controller dribbling fresh pellets into the burn pot. My suggestion is, Let it ride. Enjoy the outcome.

  • Regular Contributors

    As was mentioned, smokers with a single wall uninsulated chamber don’t hold heat that well and actually radiate quite a bit of heat. What that means is wind and low temps can cause the internal temperature to vary a lot. A pellet burner uses controls to try and compensate for the heat losses but that is a pretty hard for even the best ones to do.
    Double wall uninsulated smokers do a better job of maintaining a constant temperature, which I think the Pit Boss vertical is, and do a better job of maintaining temps.
    The best smokers for temperature control will have a layer of insulation between the inner and outer metal walls and can hold relatively constant temps over long periods of time.

  • Canning

    I set the temp on my Copper Head series 7 Pitboss to 225 for the cabinet cooking temp. During an amount of time it read after falling to a low of 167.5 degrees then over 16 minutes it rose to 276.7.
    After a while the low was 183.5 and a while the high was 293.4.
    Then when the low was 174.8 it took 18 minutes to raise to 272.4 and 13 minutes passing it fell to a low of 202.

    This smoker only had the door opened once to sprita the roast and refill the water pan. The water pan is on the bottom rack where the factory temp cooking probe just protrudes above the water pan. The meat was on a rack about 2/3rds up from there. I had a factory meat probe in the meat and a probe attaches to the Smoke X4 as well as a cabinet temp probe hooked on to the cooking grate within 1 inch of the roast.

    The smoke took place in the mid afternoon last week started about 3:15, 68 degrees and a light breeze SW @ 5 to 8 mph.

    I don’t have an issue with the cabinet temp probe being a higher temp than the probe attached at the grate, that just makes sense to me. But the set temp and the actual swing temp of 100 degrees plus to minus is an extreme in my way of thinking!

    Today I have 2 yard birds in the same smoker. started @ 3:00. Cooking temp set @ 225. Air temp is (at 4oc) 73 degrees partly cloudy, Wind SSW 5 mph and humidity 40%. Not a heck of a difference from the last smoke. First temp swing watch low to high 171.0 to 268.4 degrees in 5:16 min. Way too much of a variance.

  • Canning

    YardBirds in the PB.jpg
    167.1 to 273.2 degrees in 4:54 minutes
    Then fell to 194.5 degrees in 9:45 min.

    I’m not trying to be [censored] but given my experience of over 45 years, and I can really dial in a Weber Kettle and A GOSM big block (Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain) and it’s smaller version before it,

    Doesn’t this seem rather extreme??

  • Regular Contributors

    DennyO said in Pellet Smoker Mood Swings?:

    YardBirds in the PB.jpg

    Doesn’t this seem rather extreme??

    At first glance most would say yes.
    I think it is important to remember a couple of things though.

    First, from a cold start, the temperature swings will always be greater than further into the cook cycle. You have a room temperature smoker with cool or cold product that will absorb the heat from the fire pot when it cycles on at start up. This causes the big temperature drop after the initial rise on start up. These larger swings continue as the cook continues.

    As the smoker and the product begin to warm up and approach the smoker temperature setting, they will absorb less heat from the burner than than they do early in the cook cycle.

    The fact that everything that was once cool at the beginning is now warm has the effect of holding the temperature more constant later in the cook cycle and you should see the temperature swings begin to decrease.

    Since less heat is being absorbed by the product later in the cook cycle, the controls will throttle back the burner as just enough heat is generated to maintain the temperature setpoint.

  • Canning

    Paul, I agree with your rationale for the most part, my gasser does not swing anywhere like this. Granted the PB is making the adjustments to add fuel and to tone it down. I waited for an hour before recording and they were in the second and third hour of a 3-3/4 hour smoke total.

    When I do it on the gasser. I will have my GOSM @ 225 cabinet temps after I put the meat in inside of 15 to 30 minutes and only have a + or - cabinet cooking temp variance of maybe at most 7 degrees and for the duration 3 to 5 (and I don’t touch it then), Not +and- 50!

    To all of you it sounds like I’m complaining, Right? Ya ok guess I am, just seems to me that we try to keep a level cabinet cooking temp right?? I have learned with a cheep mod to make my gasser cook really steady. Last week I had a prime rib in that was a in the PB and yesterday a pair of yard birds that were also swinging heavily in temps in their confined space it the PitBoss. Both were setting on the counter for maybe at least an hour accepting the rub before I introduced them to the smoker.

    A couple of you claim your “PitBoss” is dead nut steady and spot on, humm. Our prime rib and smoked yard bird dinners was tasty. Seems the swing is wasting pellets to me as I’ve learned that temps of low, slow and steady is supposed to be key.

  • Regular Contributors

    I guess you can never rule out the possibility of malfunctioning smoker controls and resulting in the temp swings.

    The control systems for pellet smokers/grills are more complicated than systems for other fuels. They are controlling pellet feed rates and an air blower to try and maintain temperatures.

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