I was browsing the big box store websites as I do to find new pellet grill/smoker models and on Lowes.com I came across a couple of new Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grills. In my previous article on the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills I discuss how their grills have several features I like but the lack of PID and WiFi functionality is going to put off some potential buyers. So do these new Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grills come with those features? Well, it appears a maybe on PID but a no on WiFi, but they do have some new tricks.
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Introduction To The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider Gen 2 Pellet Grills
As things currently stand, Oklahoma Joe’s are still selling their gen 1 Rider 900 pellet grill with their first-generation Pit Control System. That unit typically retails for around $545, and I’ll discuss in my conclusion how I think that unit compares to the new Rider 900 DLX and Rider 1200 DLX.
Notable, the new Rider 900 DLX and 1200 DLX have the same sized main cooking grate as the first generation Rider 900 at 578 square inches. The 1200 DLX may provide a larger cooking area overall due to its additional cooking racks. The point is though that these second-generation Rider pellet grills are not providing a larger cooking area over the previous generation.
So what are the improvements? Well, there is the new Pit Control 2.0 which now monitors two internal temperature probes for smoking or searing. There is also a new higher-powered auger motor (PowerFeed System). Right, let’s discuss each of these improvements in turn.
IMPORTANT: There is a first-generation Rider DLX pellet grill, if you are looking for one of these new second-generation Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX pellet grills they are also referred to as the ‘L Series’.
Oklahoma Joe’s Pit Control 2.0
The second general Pit Control 2.0 panel fitted to the Rider 900 DLX and the 1200 DLX has a larger screen than the previous generation and with good reason, it has to give the user more information. The most significant upgrade with these Gen 2 Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grills is the use of two temperature probes.
As before there is a temperature probe mounted inside the cooking chamber which is monitoring the air temperature, just like on any other pellet grill. The Pit Control 2.0 can prioritise this temperature probe for heating the cooking chamber when cooking over the whole of the main grate and the upper racks above.
However, the Pit Control 2.0 can also be set to prioritise the second temperature probe fitted just under the centre of the cooking grate, this is referred to by Oklahoma Joe’s as ‘Fire Focus’. Hence, the control panel will keep burning pellets until that grate level temperature probe is at temperature.
This really is a unique design/means to control a pellet grill which we have yet to see any other brand adopt. Along with the Smoke/Sear lever on these Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grills to provide direct-flame access when desired, high temperature grilling at 650 degrees is a possibility.
I must admit I’m impressed by this Air or Grate temperature probe setup, providing the user with the ability to focus on heating up the whole cooking chamber or focus on getting a hot grate for searing/grilling. It really should provide a lot of user functionality.
However, after I browsed through these prominently promoted improvements for the Pit Control 2.0 I thought to myself ‘is there now PID and WiFi?‘. Well, on the WiFi front and the ability to control the Rider 900 DLX or 1200 DLX via your phone that appears to be no, but on PID its rather vague.
PID Or Not PID, That Is The Question…
If you’re not aware of what PID is why you should care it stands for Proportional, Integral, Derivative. But what the hell does that mean?! In the simplest terms, it means the control panel is fitted with an algorithm that is constantly monitoring the air temperature probe (or grate sensor) and comparing that against the set temperature.
The control panel then precisely adjusts the auger motor and fan speed to feed the fire as precisely as possible to provide an accurate temperature. Don’t all pellet grills work like this? No, check out my article on how a pellet grill works to understand more.
Basically though, the pellet grills which control their temperature most accurately are those fitted with a PID control panel, and I have an article discussing PID pellet grills. Therefore, the question is, do these new Oklahoma Joe Rider DLX pellet grills and the Pit Control 2.0 have PID functionality?
Now, on most PID pellet grills such as the Traeger Pro Series, Pit Boss Pro Series or Camp Chef Woodwind you will have the ability to control the temperature in 5 to 10-degree increments. This is only possible due to PID technology.
So can these Gen 2 Rider DLX pellet grills control the temperature in 5 to 10-degree increments? Well, it doesn’t appear so. Again, within the brochure linked above no reference is made to this level of precise temperature control.
However, on this Lowes listing for the Rider DLX 900 you can see within the video the temperature dial is rotated and it jumps in 25-degree increments. Does this mean its not a PID control panel then? Well, not neccessarily.
There is a range of Z Grills PID pellet grills that have temperature jumps still in 25-degree increments. You’re still getting accurate temperature control, you just cannot control the temperature as precisely as you would probably like to, which I think is a mistake at the price point of these new Rider DLX pellet grills.
Oklahoma Joe’s L Series Rider DLX Pricing
Ok, so the key improvement from Gen 1 to Gen 2 on the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills is the Pit Control 2.0 and its additional temperature probe monitoring of the grate temperature. While not confirmed I believe the control panel does feature PID technology, even though the 25-degree temperature adjustment jumps is disappointing.
I should note there is also a more powerful auger motor which is good to see. I’m not sure if its now DC powered as is the case with the Traeger D2 Direct Drive system though. So how much more do Oklahoma Joe’s want for these new second-generation Rider DLX models?
Well, if you checkout Lowes.com the current pricing is around $999 for the L Series Rider DLX 900 and just under $1,100 for the Rider DLX 1200. Hence, you’ll currently pay about double for a Rider DLX 900 over the previous generation Rider 900 at $545.
Conclusions On The Oklahoma Joe’s L Series Rider DLX Models
First the positives, there are many things I like about the Oklahoma Joes pellet grills as I discussed in my previous article. I like their hopper emptying feature and the Smoke/Sear lever. I do think the new Pit Control 2.0 is an improvement and the dual (air/grate) temperature probes is a good idea.
It would also appear Oklahoma Joe’s are using PID temperature control technology which is good to see, though the 25-degree temperature adjustments is disappointing and so is the lack of WiFi/App support. These lacking features are all perfectly acceptable if the price is right.
However, at their current price point of around $1,000 these second-generation Rider DLX pellet grills are not competitive with other options in my best pellet grills under $1,000 for instance. Though I suspect their high price point is only temporary due to low supply.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I’m going to wait a little bit to see if the price of these L Series Rider DLX models comes down before updating my comparison articles such as Oklahoma Joe’s vs Traeger and Oklahoma Joe’s vs Camp Chef. Though check out my Wood Pellet Grill Guide to read more of my articles 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.