For those lucky enough to own a second-generation Camp Chef WiFi Woodwind pellet grill they have a controller which is WiFi-enabled. Hence, through the Camp Chef app, they can monitor and control the temperature of the grill while they are down the shops or watching TV for instance. However, if you own a Gen 1 Woodwind (none WiFi) or you own a SmokePro pellet grill you did not have WiFi capabilities. However, Camp Chef has now launched the Gen 2 WiFi Controller which can be retrofitted to all older Camp Chef pellet grills. Though its important to note, the Gen 2 WiFi panel is also a PID controller. So below I’ll discuss what that actually means and why it can improve the cooking performance of your existing Camp Chef pellet grill.
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Upgrading pellet grill control panels has been an option with other brands. For instance, older Traeger grills could be upgraded with their Pro Series controller with twin meat probes. However, the Traeger Pro Series controller does not feature WiFi and its not a PID controller. Therefore, the Camp Chef Gen 2 WiFi controller upgrade is the first example of a manufacturer providing PID/WiFi features to their older/first-generation pellet grills. Before I forget, the Gen 2 WiFi controller is also an upgrade option for the Pursuit 20 portable pellet grill.
Introduction to the Camp Chef Gen 2 WiFi Controller
Camp Chef now offers all of the SmokePro range with this updated Gen 2 controller. However, it is important to note that not all Gen 2 controllers are WiFi/Bluetooth enabled. To help clear up any confusion when comparing the features of the Gen 2 Standard, Gen 2 WiFi and Woodwind WiFi controllers Camp Chef have produced the video below.
As the video shows, all Camp Chef controllers now feature PID technology with Smoke Control settings (1-10). While Smoke Control is enabled the temperature will fluctuate slightly more than it would with the feature turned off. Particularly if the Smoke Control setting is set to 10 for maximum smoke production. The reason being, to produce more smoke the combustion fan is slowed for a longer period of time at set intervals. However, the temperature is still controlled within around a 5-degree temperature range.
What Is Feed Mode?
Feed mode is a common feature found on all pellet stoves and boilers. Let’s say for instance you are using the grill for the first time, or you ran out of pellets, or you have cleaned the pellet grill hopper. Well, the auger feed chute will not be pre-loaded with pellets. Therefore, if you press the start button without feeding BBQ wood pellets through first its going to take longer than necessary to start and warm up the grill. The reason being the controller doesn’t know the auger chute is empty of pellets, and it doesn’t want to put too many wood pellets into the firepot. Therefore, it will continue to slowly feed pellets until the temperature starts to rise indicating to the controller that the fire has ignited. So using the Feed Mode can prime the firepot with wood pellets. Therefore as soon as you turn the grill on the hot rod can get to work starting the fire.
What Is A PID Controller?
While being able to control an older Camp Chef pellet grill with WiFi through the Camp Chef app is definitely a nice feature to have, I think the most important upgrade with this controller is its PID functionality. Camp Chef also emphasizes this feature in their promotional videos. However, the videos above on the new Gen 2 controller never really explain what a PID controller is and why its an important upgrade over the older control panels.
First let’s discuss the old, none-WiFi, none-PID Camp Chef controllers. The way they worked was to turn the auger on and off with a timer, based around a set temperature. However, there is a delay between feeding pellets into the firepot before the temperature increases. Therefore, that’s why the original Camp Chef controllers had a jump in temperature settings of 25 degrees. Because the panel was simply not able to be more precise when maintaining the temperature due to the delay.
PID stands for Proportional Integral Derivative, but what the heck does that mean?! Well, put simply, a PID controller is constantly and continuously monitoring the temperature of the grill and making adjustments. Hence, it doesn’t suffer from the delay which the older Camp Chef controllers suffered from. Therefore, a PID controller can maintain a temperature within a 5-degree temperature range, hence its much more accurate/precise.
Gen 2 WiFi Controller vs The Woodwind WiFi Controller
If you own a second-generation Woodwind pellet grill you already have a PID/WiFi controller. Therefore, the Gen 2 WiFi controller is not intended as an upgrade replacement for these grills. However, if you own a first-generation Woodwind pellet grill you do not have a PID/WiFi controller. Therefore the Gen 2 WiFi controller upgrade is worth considering. The question then becomes, what’s the difference between the Gen 2 WiFi controller and the Woodwind WiFi controller?
Well, they both feature the same 1-10 Smoke Control feature and can be remotely monitored and controlled through the Camp Chef app. However, the Woodwind WiFi controller does benefit from 4 external meat probe connections where the Gen 2 WiFi controller has just 2. In saying that though pellet grill controllers fitted to high-end pellet grills such as the Traeger Timberline, Ironwood and second-generation Pro Series only have one meat probe monitoring connection.
The only other real difference between the Gen 2 WiFi and Woodwind WiFi controller is the screen. The Woodwind WiFi controller does feature a wider/full-colour screen which is easier to read. Not only because its full colour and brighter but because its angled up towards the user, so it provides a better viewing angle. However, the Gen 2 WiFi controller is a significant upgrade for first-generation Woodwind and SmokePro grills.
How To Install The Camp Chef Gen 2 WiFi Controller
Changing/upgrading a controller on a first-generation Woodwind or SmokePro pellet grill to the new Gen 2 WiFi controller is very straightforward. First, you must turn off and disconnect the mains power cable to the pellet grill. As the video below shows, you just have to remove six screws. Two which are holding in the old controller and then four screws on the bottom of the pellet hopper.
You need to remove the panel from the bottom of the pellet hopper to be able to get proper access to the wiring loop connections which link the controller to the auger motor, induction fan, temperature sensor and hot rod igniter. Before you disconnect the connector blocks from the back of the old control panel you may want to take a picture with your phone for future reference. As shown in the video, the connector blocks should have stickers on them with letters. In that case, you simply match up the cables to each letter accordingly. However, if the stickers have fallen off the auger motor will be either red or green wires. The power connector will be black and white wires. Orange or yellow wires are the combustion fan. Finally, there is a hot rod wire which is purple and white. Then simply screw the new Gen 2 WiFi controller back in and re-install the bottom plate on the hopper.
Conclusions On The Camp Chef Gen 2 WiFi Controller
If you already own a Camp Chef first-generation Woodwind or SmokePro pellet grill I think you should definitely consider upgrading to this Gen 2 WiFi controller. If your grill has been maintained and still has many years of life left in it adding the Gen 2 WiFi controller will give the grill a whole new level of functionally and cooking/smoking accuracy. Add a Sear Box or SideKick on the side and you could completely change/upgrade the cooking experience. While I do like the WiFi functionality of the Gen 2 WiFi controller as stated above its the PID integration which I personally find most appealing. To enable an old grill to cook and smoke food more precisely is pretty special.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. You can order the new Gen 2 WiFi controller directly from Campchef.com. To find it just put ‘Gen 2’ in the top right search box, or copy and paste this model number ‘PG24-82WFR’. If you would like to learn more about pellet grills, please check out my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. 🙂