The most likely reason you’re reading this article right now is your Pit Boss control panel is showing Er1, and through reading about Pit Boss error codes, you have found out that’s an issue with your RTD temperature probe. However, you might not have actually got the error code, maybe you just feel your Pit Boss is not reading its temperature correctly. Within this article, you’ll learn what the RTD probe is and how to replace it on your Pit Boss. However, you’ll also learn how to test it and what are ‘normal’ temperature swings.
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.
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Important: If your Pit Boss won’t turn on check out my linked article to track down the cause of the problem.
Introduction To Pit Boss RTD Probes
RTD stands for Resistance Temperature Detector, you can read out how they work on Wikipedia. Essentially, inside the RTD probe is a small wire that’s sensitive to temperature changes.
As the wire inside the RTD gets hotter, its harder for electricity to flow through it. The control panel can measure the electrical current that’s able to pass through the wire and interpret that into a temperature reading.
RTD probes work well, the problem is that the thin wire inside the RTD probe is fragile. Hence, any impacts/movement, especially when the temperature inside the grill is hot, can cause the wire to snap.
A typical cause of failure could be bumping the RTD probe inside the cooking chamber with a tray/utensil etc. Or maybe you had to move the pellet grill/smoker while it was still hot inside the cooking chamber.
Anyway, if the wire snaps inside the RTD probe it will result in an Er1 error code on your Pit Boss and the RTD probe will need to be replaced.
A couple of years back, Pit Boss produced the video above on how to replace an RTD probe. The basic process is to unplug the unit, remove the hopper, locate where the RTD probe connects to the control panel, remove the RTD probe from within the unit, replace and reassemble.
However, Pit Boss produce a huge range of products, from horizontal units to vertical units to gas/propane combination units. As a result, the process of removing components to get to the RTD connections is a little different on each unit.
There is now a collection of specific videos on the RTD probe replacement process for a range of Pit Boss models which I’ve included below. First, you’re going to need a replacement RTD probe though.
What I would advise is as RTD probes are a relatively cheap component, purchase two. As I’ve stated above, these are fragile little guys. If you have a second RTD probe on hand, if this issue happens again, you’re good to go.
Pit Boss Model Specific RTD Probe Replacement Videos
Below I’ve provided specific videos that Pit Boss has released for changing the RTD probe on different models, just as I did in my Pit Boss auger jam/replacement article.
Is every single model shown in the videos below? No. However, many Pit Boss models, while they don’t share the same name, share many of the same components. So even if you don’t see a video below for your specific model, one of the videos below will be the process you’ll need to follow.
Pit Boss Copper Series RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
The Copper series from Pit Boss includes the Tailgater, Classic, Lexington Charleston and the ever popular Austin XL seen on the left. The RTD replacement process starts with taking off the lower access panel under the hopper, after disconnecting the power cord of course (safety first). You shouldn’t need to remove the hopper to access the RTD probe wires, but you will need to remove all the content of the cooking chamber to get to and remove the probe itself. Then put in the new RTD and reassemble.
Pit Boss Navigator Series RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
There are currently four models within the Navigator Series, the 550, 850, 1150 and 1250. As shown in the video below, the RTD probe replacement process is very similar to that of the Copper Series above. Take care when cutting the cable ties around the wires from the auger, fan, RTD probe and hot rod leading to the control panel. Once the RTD probe is disconnected, you’ll need to remove all the grates, racks etc to get to the RTD probe.
Pit Boss Sportsman Series RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
The Sportsman Series includes the 500, 820, 1000, 1100 and 1230 and essentially is very similar to the Navigator Series above. The differences are really just cosmetic. As such, the process to swap the RTD probe is essentially the same. Remember to fix the protection plate back over the new RTD probe as shown in the video. As I’ve discussed above, RTD probes are very sensitive to impacts and need to be protected where possible.
Pit Boss Pro Series RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
If you purchased your Pit Boss from Lowes you potentially own a Pro Series model. As the video below shows, to get to the RTD probe wires will require removal of the lower access panel on the hopper and cutting the zip ties to loosen the cables. After the new RTD probe is fitted its very important to fit a new cable tie around the wires under the hopper, why? Well, loose wires can get caught up in the fan blades, potentially leading to damage. So please don’t skip fitting a new cable tie under there.
Pit Boss Pro Series Vertical Smoker RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
The Pit Boss Pro Series line of vertical pellet smokers is also a Lowes exclusive. The process of replacing the RTD is different to that of the horizontal Pro Series pellet grills/smokers above. There is a dedicated access panel to the RTD. However, as shown in the video below, in some cases, you may also need to remove the control panel to get access to the RTD probe wires. Seven screws hold in the control panel (which seems a bit excessive) and once removed you will be able to get to all the wires.
Pit Boss Platinum Laredo RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
The Laredo is part of the Pit Boss Platinum Series, an exclusive line of products only sold through Walmart. The process of removing and replacing the RTD probe on the Laredo is pretty much the same as most of the other Pit Boss models above. Get access to the RTD probe wires from under the control panel and then remove the contents of the grill to remove the probe itself. After installing the new RTD probe, its simply a reversal of that process.
Pit Boss Platinum Brunswick RTD Probe Removal/Replacement
The vertical pellet smoker as part of the Platinum range is called the Brunswick. As with the Laredo above, its another Walmart exclusive. When it comes to replacing the RTD probe you’re in luck, its easier to do it on the Brunswick than any other Pit Boss product. There is a dedicated panel for the RTD probe. Once that panel is removed you simply undo two screws for the RTD, disconnect the wires and replace it with the new one. Easy!
Testing the RTD Probe & Temperature Swings
Ok, let’s say you haven’t got the Er1 error code as yet, but you want to test your RTD probe. Maybe you have just swapped out your RTD probe and you want to check how accurate the new one is. Either way, let’s discuss how you can test it.
With your Pit Boss empty of the grates, grease tray etc so you can see the RTD probe turn on your grill and set a temperature. The exact temperature you set isn’t really important, 250 degrees will do fine as an example.
You’re going to want to get hold of an IR heat gun to test the RTD probe. Once there is some heat in the cooking chamber, open the lid and quickly aim the IR heat gun as accurately as you can at the RTD probe and take a reading.
Now, don’t expect the reading on the IR heat gun and the control panel on the Pit Boss showing the temperature of the RTD probe to match exactly. However, if the RTD probe is working correctly, you should expect to see the figures within a few degrees of each other.
What is important to understand is if you are seeing temperature swings above and below the set temperature beyond what you think should be ‘normal’ that’s not to do with the RTD probe.
What’s ‘normal’ for temperature swings on a pellet grill/smoker is based on the particular control panel technology your Pit boss model is using. To learn more, check out my article on temperature swings.
My Final Thoughts On Pit Boss RTD Probe Replacements…
The most common component to fail on any pellet grill/smoker (from any brand) is the RTD probe. As I stated in the introduction above, they contain a very thin wire. The repeated heating and cooling of the RTD will lead to it failing eventually, it is what it is.
However, you do also want to protect the RTD probe as much as possible. Hence, you want to make sure you don’t hit it with any BBQ implements for example, especially when the grill is hot and the RTD is most fragile.
Due to its fragility, when you purchase RTD probe replacements is a good idea to purchase two, so you have a spare probe to hand. As eventually, if you own the pellet grill/smoker long enough, the RTD probe will likely fail again at some point.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope the above has helped you to sort out the RTD probe replacement for your particular Pit Boss model. If you would like to learn more about other makes and models, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
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