If you have looked at your Pit Boss control panel and seen the ‘P-Setting’ and wondered, ‘ what the heck that!?‘, you’re in luck. With this article, I’m going to explain what the P-Setting is, what its for and when to use it. Now, not all Pit Boss grills have a P-Setting, its mostly older/legacy models. However, Pit Boss is now bringing back the P-Setting on newer models, and we’ll discuss why.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Introduction To The Pit Boss P-Setting
The P-Setting on a Pit Boss control panel simply stands for ‘Pause Setting’, and the pause refers to the timed gap between the auger turning on and off when in the Smoke Setting.
You may have heard some people complain that ‘pellet grills/smokers don’t actually produce much smoke!’. Now that’s a very general statement that’s partly wrong and partly right.
When a pellet grill/smoker is running efficiently and tightly controlling its temperature, it will produce less smoke, as smoke comes from inefficient combustion (smouldering pellets).
To make a pellet grill/smoker produce more smoke, on some models, a ‘smoke setting’ is provided that will deliberately make the pellet fire burn inefficiently, producing more smoke.
The P-Setting can be used to increase or decrease the period of time between new pellets being fed into the burn pot. The standard P-Setting is P4 which is a 115-second pause time.
So on the right-hand side of the graphic above from Pit Boss, you can see a reference to the outdoor temperature, and this is why you may need to adjust your P-Setting.
When & How To Adjust The P-Setting
Let’s say you’re using your Pit Boss on a nice mild day. Then the default P4 setting may be perfectly suitable, with the pellet grill/smoker running an internal temperature between 160 to 180 degrees on the smoke setting.
However, on a warm summer’s day, with the default P-Setting of P4 on the smoke setting, your Pit Boss may end up running hotter, closer to 200 degrees. If you didn’t want a temperature that high, increasing the P-Setting could lower the internal temperature.
Alternatively, let’s say its a cold winter’s day, then on the default P-Setting of P4, the temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker may be too low for your needs. Hence, a lower P-Setting number would raise the temperature.
I know it can seem a bit counterintuitive, with a lower P-Setting causing the temperature to rise and vice versa. I’ve included an owner’s video below to demonstrate the effect of changing the P-Setting.
Now you understand what the P-Setting is, what it’s for and how to change it. You maybe thinking you want to increase your P-Setting from the default of P4.
That’s fine. However, you only want to increase the P-Setting gradually, one setting at a time, and there is a good reason for this…
Be Very Careful Running A Higher P-Setting
So you now know that with a higher P-Setting, there is a longer pause between more fresh pellets entering the fire pot to feed the fire, hence potentially more smoke and a lower temperature.
You may be thinking you want as much smoke as possible, so why not just go straight up to P7? Well, the reason is that jumping up to a higher P-Setting could lead to a flameout situation.
A flameout is where the fire goes out (pretty obvious). However, on the smoke setting, your pellet grill may just keep feeding in pellets, and this can create a serious/dangerous problem when you try to start up the Pit Boss again.
If the burn pot is full of pellets on start-up, then a lot of smoke will be produced before the fire ignites. When it does finally ignite, it could result in a smoke explosion.
Hence, when increasing the P-Setting, move up just one setting at a time to make sure the fire is stable. On a higher P-Setting, the fire is more at risk from a gust of wind blowing out the fire, causing a flameout.
Which Pit Boss Models Have A P-Setting?
It’s mostly legacy Pit Boss models which have a P-Setting along with a Smoke Setting on their control panel, popular examples being the Austin XL.
Even the SmokeIT upgrade panels for legacy Pit Boss models still feature the P-Setting for adjustment when operating in the smoke setting.
The reason being, these later-generation models are running what’s called a PID control panel instead of a time-based control panel like older-generation models.
My article on PID control panels goes into more detail, but essentially a PID control uses a mathematical algorithm which is constantly monitoring and comparing the set temperature against the actual temperature of the pellet grill/smoker.
The result is a PID control panel can hold a much tighter temperature to the set temperature than a traditional/legacy control panel based on timed-gaps in feeding pellets.
However, as I stated at the top of the article, with more efficient combustion, you get less smoke. Therefore, Pit Boss has taken a different approach with their latest models.
The Return Of The P-Setting
However, these models also feature a PID control panel with 5 degree temperature adjustment and tight temperature control around the set temperature.
In other words, these latest Pit Boss models are the best of both worlds. Accurate PID controlled temperature when you want it, and higher smoke production at lower temps when its required.
Something to note though, on the Smoke Setting of these new models, when the P-Setting is in use, there will be wider temperature swings than when the PID temperature settings are used.
Conclusions On The Pit Boss P-Setting
This is pretty much the same article as my Traeger P-Setting post, however there is notable a difference. No modern Traeger’s feature a P-Setting, and only some models feature Super Smoke.
Likewise, not all of the latest Pit Boss models feature the P-Setting and it could be argued they are less capable smokers for smoking brisket etc as a result.
Anyway, if your Pit Boss model does feature a P-Setting, be careful when adjusting it, especially if you want to use a higher P-Setting to avoid a flameout situation.
Also, keep your Pit Boss out of the path of direct wind gusts, especially when operating in the smoke setting as that’s when you are most at risk of a flameout situation.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, as always, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to learn more about all your current options in the world of pellet BBQs.
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.