Pit Boss has released a new range of pellet grill/smoker models in their Pro Series, specifically models such as 850, 1100 and 1600. However, there are models such as the 600 which may appear to be a second-generation (Gen 2) model but are missing an important feature, PID temperature control. We’ll also discuss the slightly bumpy launch that Pit Boss has gone through with these Gen 2 Pro Series grills with their new PID panels and how the problem is being resolved. Also, while the Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series do have WiFi/App integration (mostly), it would appear there is room for improvement.
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So if you have previously read my Traeger Pro Series Gen 1 vs Gen 2 article, this is all going to seem very familiar. As Traeger and Pit Boss are two of the most well-known pellet grill brands currently (proof here), the competition between these two brands is pretty fierce, its even a legal battle at times (see here). So when Traeger upgraded their own Pro Series with WiFi/PID functionality, it was only a matter of time before Pit Boss would do the same.
However, as I’ve discussed previously and in my Traeger vs Pit Boss comparison, these two brands are really heading in different directions. Traeger is trying to position its self as a more premium brand with higher-priced products. Whereas Pit Boss is focusing on the budget end of the market, putting them in competition with the likes of Z Grills etc.
Now, the potential problem here for Pit Boss is offering more features (WiFi/PID) for the same or even lower price point than previous models brings up the question of quality/reliability. Is it really possible to produce products of this size with these features for these prices that still have reasonable quality? Well, we’re going to discuss that more below.
Pit Boss Gen 1 Pro Series Features/Summary
So before we look at the latest Gen 2 Pit Boss Pro Series pellet grills we need to look at the existing previous models in the Pro Series range. Pit Boss likes to establish exclusive distribution partnerships with big box stores like Walmart and Lowes. For instance, their top of the range Platinum Series is exclusively distributed through Walmart. Whereas the Pro Series, both Gen 1 and Gen 2 model are exclusively distributed through Lowes.
So as you should be able to tell from the image above, the Pro Series 820 is the smaller offering compared to the 1100. Also as you have likely guessed, the model numbers indicate the available cooking area. Now, don’t presume that means the grill has a 820 sq.in or a 1100 sq.in on the main cooking grate. Each pellet grill also has a small upper smoking/warming rack. Therefore, part of that cooking area is likely made up of the upper rack as well. Many manufacturers specifically state the dimensions of the main grate, however, Pit Boss tends not to, I have no idea why.
In terms of features, like most Pit Boss grills they come with a direct-flame flame broiler and cast iron cooking grates. Hence, searing/grilling performance on Pit Boss pellet grills, as a result, is usually pretty good. In terms of hopper size its 19lb on the 820 which is really odd. Why they didn’t just make it 20lbs to take a full bag of BBQ wood pellets? On the Pro Series 1100 its a much larger 35lb pellet hopper which should be more than sufficient based on average pellet consumption to smoke for around 16 hours, maybe more.
So the control panel fitted to the Pit Boss Gen 1 Pro Series pellet grills/smokers is what’s generally known as a ‘time-based’ temperature controller. It works in a very similar fashion to the Gen 1 Traeger Pro Series control panel. To achieve a set temperature the pellet feed auger/fan is turned on and off for a set period of time until the set temperature achieved. This relatively simple method of pellet grill control has worked reasonable well for decades. However, the downside is the temperature can only be set in 25-degree increments. Hence, temperature accuracy is not a strength of time-based control panels.
Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series Features/Summary
Right, now let’s look at the latest range of Pro Series pellet grills/smokers from Pit Boss and how they have been improved, but also to discuss some potential issues. Again, due the exclusivity deal Pit Boss have with Lowes, you will only find these pellet grills/smokers at Lowes. So first off there are the horizontal grills the Pro Series 600 ($399), Pro Series 850 ($499), Pro Series 1150 ($599) and the Pro Series 1600 ($899). There is also an upgraded Pro Series pellet/gas combo grill ($649). I have a separate article discussing where a pellet/gas combo grill can come in handy.
In terms of the cooking area provided with these pellet grills/smokers again, you guessed it, the model number indicates the ‘total’ cooking area provided. As you can tell above with the Pro Series 850 in the image below, the general design of the cooking barrel/shelving remains the same as the Gen 1 Pro Series. Unfortunately, the analogue temperature gauge on the lid has been removed for another Pit Boss badge.
So both the Pro Series 600 and 850 above still include the best features of the Gen 1 Pro Series with regards to the porcelain-coated cast-iron grates and direct-flame sear function. However, the flame broiler has been improved with an external leaver, instead of having to lift up the grates to use it which was not a great design choice. What does need to be noted though about the 600 is it still features the old Gen 1 Pro Series time-based control panel. All other Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series grills feature their latest PID/WiFi control panel. As a result for $399, I don’t think the Pro Series 600 is a great deal, with the 850 just being a little more at $499.
The New Pit Boss PID/WiFi Control Panel
So the main difference between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pit Boss Pro Series (except for the 600) is the control panel. PID stands for (Proportional Integral Derivative). I’ve previously discussed the benefits of PID controlled pellet grills, but essential a PID controller is a ‘smart’ controller where a time-based controller is not. So a PID control panel is constantly monitoring the temperature to make constant adjustments to the pellet feed auger and combustion fan. The result (most of the time) is a temperature accuracy to within 5 degrees of the set temperature.
So the improved temperature accuracy of a PID controller is great, however, there are some potential issues. First off, the precise temperature accuracy comes from more precise/efficient combustion, which also means reduced pellet consumption which is a benefit. However, the potential downside is less smoke production, as smoke comes from inefficient combustion. Now, Camp Chef on their Woodwind range, and Grilla Grills have both developed PID control panels with smoke settings which will increase the smoke at the expense of temperature accuracy. Unfortunately at this point, it doesn’t appear Pit Boss have sorted out a means for their PID controller to do the same. However, there has been another issue with temperature accuracy.
A PID controller works on an algorithm (software), hence, a PID controller is only as good as the software it runs on. Well, the first batch at least of these PID Pit Boss controllers fitted to the Pro Series 850, 1150 and 1600 has had some issues. Now, problems happen, its one of those things. You would have expected since the control panels are also WiFi-enabled it would be a quick download/software update and all good! However, as you can see in the video above from a Pro Series 1150 owner, they had to actually send their control panel in the post back to the Pit Boss for a firmware upgrade.
Other Pro Series Gen 2 Differences/Improvements?
So the other main differences between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pit Boss Pro Series pellet grills/smokers is the hopper emptying chute and ash cleanout system. I’m happy that Pit Boss is starting to offer a hopper emptying chute (pellet dump) across their entire range as are many other manufacturers. Leaving pellets in a pellet grill for an extended period of time in the hopper only increases the risk of pellets going bad by absorbing moisture from the air. That’s not only a waste of pellets, it could also in extreme cases even result in an auger blockage. Hence, if a pellet grill comes with a pellet dump feature, use it.
Ok, currently I’m not entirely convinced on the design of the new ash cleanout system. Pit Boss has designed the Pro Series grills so effectively the whole burn pot can be removed from the base of the grill for cleaning. Now, I’m all for making cleaning a pellet grill easier, as its important to remove excessive ash build up in the burn pot. However, I’m concerned that during the process of removing the burn pot the ash is going to go all over the place before you even get a chance to suck it up with a shop vac.
Once we have more owners posting videos etc of their experiences we will start to know if there is an issue or not. Several pellet grill brands now have removable ash cups below the grill (i.e Camp Chef). However, with those designs, you are simply removing a small cup, not the whole burn pot.
Conclusions On The Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series
So first the good things, I’m happy to see Pit Boss retain the porcelain-coated steel grates and direct-flame access their pellet grills are generally well known for. I’m also happy they have included the feature to control the direct-flame searing function by an external leaver, it just makes the function so much more practical. It’s also good to see PID/WiFi integration in the Gen 2 Pro Series even though Pit Boss still obviously has some work to do on the software side of things to get the panels working as they should.
As stated above, personally for the price of $399 I don’t think the Pro Series 600 is a good deal, especially as its fitted with a Gen 1 control panel. I’m also not completely convinced with the removable burn pot idea for easier cleaning, I can potentially see it making more mess. Though owners don’t obviously have to use the feature, they could you clean it the ‘normal’ way from above by removing the grates.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this quick summary of the Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series interesting/useful. I’ve done various comparison articles such as Pit Boss vs Camp Chef and Pit Boss vs Z Grills you may want to check out. Otherwise please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to review all your options on the market today. 🙂
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.