Maintaining Temperature Control on a Pellet Grill

Owning a Pit Boss Pellet Grill can be an awesome experience for any griller. Temperature control functions that had to be done manually on any gas, charcoal, or stick smoker can now be done in a more automated fashion thanks to the wood pellet fuel system. Much like a convection oven, once temperature drops, fuel is delivered (via the auger) to the system raising temps until a desired set temperature is reached. At that point, the fuel (pellets) are cut off until the temperature drops, and the process repeats itself.

Because of this process and the nature of pellet grills, some mild temperature swings can be expected. When pellets are added to the fire, the temp will swing up, then the controller restricts feeding pellets until the temp swings down again and the cycle repeats itself to maintain average temperature over a period of time. Some users, however, have experienced wider fluctuations.

8 Tips for Better Temperature Control

In this article, we’ll explore possible causes for temperature swings and what you can do to minimize the more dramatic fluctuations.



One of the biggest causes of temperature swings on a pellet grill can be something beyond anyone’s control...the weather. Cold weather, wind, rain, hot weather, direct sunlight or humidity can all affect the temperature of your Pit Boss and cause fluctuations that are abnormal.

Adjust the “P” Setting

If you experience temp swings while on SMOKE, or set temperature is below 200°F, try adjusting the “P” setting on your grill.

What is the “P” Setting?


The “P” setting stands for PAUSE. When you increase your “P settings” you are then increasing your pause time between pellet cycles. By doing so it can result in additional smoke because you are withholding pellets for a longer period of time; this will also result in a lower temperature. When you decrease your “P settings” you are then decreasing your pause time between pellet cycles. Doing so can result in less smoke because you are feeding pellets more often and not allowing them to smolder; this will result in a higher temperature

“P settings” are designed to be used in the “SMOKE” mode because the “SMOKE” mode is the only setting on your Pit Boss that is completely controlled by timing. They can affect some of the lower temperature settings between 200-250, but again are designed for “SMOKE”.

Important things to know about adjusting the “P” Setting

By changing the P-Setting, you are changing the pellet flow and frequency of the auger. Be very cautious to adjust P-settings one at a time and give them the time, about 30 minutes, to settle in. Adjusting your P-setting too far or too frequently can cause further temperature issues, including the flame dying out or massive temp swings.

If your pellet grill is losing its flame or is seeing large swings in temperature, dropping in temperature before swinging extremely high, you should go down in P-Setting, never up.

Pit Boss always recommends using your grill at the factory setting of P-4 before ever adjusting P-settings.

Use an Insulated Grill Blanket

Get weather protection and grill no matter the season with an Insulation Blanket. The thermal blanket provides a warm buffer and helping to protect from elements like snow and rain while you grill. This blanket helps to ensure consistent temperatures in extremely cold conditions, ensuring you don’t waste pellets, so your grill runs at peak efficiency.

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The Dome Thermometer


While the dome thermometer doesn’t directly cause temperature swings, it is a source of confusion for users using it to gauge temperature readings.

Dome thermometers are meant for quick reference, not an accurate indication of actual internal temperatures. This is because of where their probe is located, which is near the highest point of the grill. As heat circulates, it slowly rises to the top point of the grill. So, temperature readings on the probe are actually higher than where the important stuff is located (like the meat, for example).

Use a meat probe and your temperature control panel instead

The gauge for the temperature control panel is much closer to the source that we care about, the meat, so it can give you a much closer read to actual temperatures. This combined with a good meat probe (or two) can give you a good indication if internal is out of the ordinary. If the temperature of the meat is rising too fast for the type of meat and cook you are doing, and the control panel is showing a higher than usual temperature, then something might be wrong.

Make sure your probes are clean


Unclean probes can cause inaccurate readings, so be sure to clean your probes regularly, even the dome thermometer.

Clean your Pit Boss after each use


A dirty grill can cause flame outs, auger jams, and grease fires. Use a wet/dry shop vac to clean out your grill after each cook out. Clean all ash from the burn pot and be sure to remove all of your unused pellets from the hopper and the auger. Perform a burn out after each use to clear excess grease and debris from the grill. Be sure your grease collector and grates are cleaned as well.

Pit Boss Grill and Smoker Cleaner and Degreaser


Restore your grill’s shine with the Pit Boss Grill and Smoker Cleaner and Degreaser. It’s the perfect choice for deep cleaning stainless steel and enameled surfaces. Our powerful, fast-acting formula allows you to skip the heavy duty scrubbing and remove, dissolve, and lift tough stains, burnt on grease, and stubborn charred debris. It’s effective on the interior and exterior of your grill, smoker, oven, and microwave.

Use high quality, food grade hardwood pellets

Cheap pellets can break apart easily causing saw dust which burns at a much faster rate than usual. This can cause high temperature swings. Also, if you’re using charcoal pellets, or a mix of charcoal and wood pellets, this can also influence temperatures. AND, it’s crucial that pellets are stored properly in a cool, dry place, preferably in a sealed and dry bucket. If pellets get wet or accumulate moisture, your Pit Boss will never perform the way it was intended to.

We highly recommend using Pit Boss Brand Pellets. They are high quality and were made to go with our grills.

Keep your lid closed

As they say in BBQ, if you’re lookin’, it’s not cookin’!

Make sure your burn pot is free of corrosion or holes from use and wear


If there are holes in your burn pot, it’s easy for heat to escape and fluctuations to occur. This usually only happens to older grills. If this has happened, you can either replace the burn pot for a new one or consider purchasing a new grill.

Keep your grill in the shade

Direct sunlight can also influence internal temperatures as these grills are made from steel after all. So, if you have a covered patio or a structure you can place your grill under that is safe, doing so can help control temperatures on your grill.

Remind Yourself that You are Burning Wood

Please remember that temp swings, even big ones of 50°F plus are not necessarily cause for alarm if the grill settles back into a more level state shortly after. We are burning wood here after all and sometimes there can be a flare up or two that causes temperatures to go up. If your temperature swings but then settles back down then the grill has done its job and your cook should still be on schedule.

Call Pit Boss Customer Service

If you’re still having issues with your Pit Boss, we invite you to speak with our customer service experts who will help trouble shoot your issue and determine if a part is faulty and needs to be replaced. You can call customer service at 480-923-9630.

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