Nowadays many people run almost all aspects of their life through their phone, whether that’s as a means of communication or for organising their day. Well, many people now also want to the same for their grill, and the demand for WiFi pellet grills/smokers has been growing year on year. There are genuine benefits to WiFi/App integration when it comes to long low & slow smoking sessions. Being able to remotely monitor and adjust the cooking process while you’re out and about is a valuable feature to many people. But what about older/legacy grills, can they be upgraded with WiFi/App functionality?
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Pit Boss is now offering SmokeIT control panel upgrades for their older/legacy pellet grills so existing Pit Boss customers can upgrade their pellet grill to benefit from the Pit Boss SmokeIT app. Now, can this upgrade be done to every legacy Pit Boss pellet grill/smoker? Not currently, so we’ll also discuss which Pit Boss models cannot currently benefit from this upgrade option.
Introduction to Pit Boss SmokeIT and WiFi/App Support
So first a bit of background, SmokeIT is the smartphone App for Pit Boss grills where you can monitor and adjust the cooking process. SmokeIT first appeared on the Pit Boss Platinum Grills and then later on the Gen 2 Pit Boss Pro Series pellet grills. Now, originally on the Platinum Grills the SmokeIT control panel could only communicate with a smartphone via Bluetooth and not WiFi. I go into the difference more if you’re not aware in my WiFi pellet grill article. But in the simplest terms, Bluetooth only enables short-range communication, within your own house/backyard. Whereas WiFi functionality opens up the options to be able to control the grill via a WiFi/Celluar network from pretty much anywhere with a connection.
However, Pit Boss has since upgraded the Platinum Grills with WiFi technology, and the Gen 2 Pit Boss Pro Series Grills also feature WiFi technology. The legacy SmokeIT controllers we are discussing in this article also feature WiFi technology, though Bluetooth connectivity is still included as it is used as the first stage of communication to set up the device with your phone/WiFi network.
Which Pit Boss Grills Can Be Fitted With A SmokeIT Controller?
Now, Pit Boss historically (and still do) produce a huge range of various pellet grills. This is partly down to the deals that Pit Boss like to make with outlets such as Walmart/Lowes etc and providing them with exclusive models with different paint finished etc. This also means that over the years Pit Boss has been fitting a wide range of differently shaped control panels to their pellet grills. They pretty much feature the same technology, however, the different shapes and sizes have made the WiFi control panel retrofit option more complicated than it probably needed to be. Likewise, not all Legacy Pit Boss pellet grills can use the two current SmokeIT upgrade panels.
As you can see from the image above, the two currently available legacy upgrade SmokeIT panels are both horizontal models, the CAT-02-PG shown in the left in the image above, also referred to as the trapezoid panel and the CAR-01-PG on the right also referred to as the rectangular panel. So which legacy Pit Boss pellet grills/smokers can use these panels? Well, here are the current models which can use each SmokeIT panel.
- SmokeIT CAT-01-PG Rectangular Panel
- Navigator Series-(PB850G / PB1150G )
- Sportsman Series-(PB0820SP/ PB1000SP / PB1100SP)
- PRO SERIES-(PB820PS1 / PB1100PS1)
- NASCAR® SERIES-(PB700NC1 / PB1000NC1)
- SmokeIT CAT-02-PG Trapezoid Panel
- TAILGATER / PB340TGW1
- THE CLASSIC / PB700FBW2
- AUSTIN XL / PB1000XLW1
How To Fit The SmokeIT Legacy Controller
If you own a Pit Boss pellet grill that can be upgraded with the SmokeIT controller you will likely be wondering how complicated it really is to swap out the control panel. Well, its relatively simple, and Pit Boss have produced a short video below to guide owners through the process.
After removing the bottom panel on the hopper to get access to the wiring harnesses and rear of the control panel its simply a case of unclipping all the cable connectors and control panel from the body of the pellet grill hopper. Now, the wires are all colour coded which will help to guide you. When in doubt though, take pictures of all the cable connections with your phone before you dismantle anything.
How Much Is The SmokeIT Legacy Controller?
Well, as of writing this article, both the rectangular and trapezoid legacy SmokeIT control panels are being charged at $150. However, please check the links above for each control panel on the Pit Boss website as those prices may change in the future. Now, $150 for a new control panel with WiFi support is currently cheaper than other upgrade WiFi control upgrade panels from other brands. For example, the Camp Chef Gen 2 upgrade controller is typically $199, likewise for the Grilla Grills AlphaConnect control panel. However, the Pit Boss Legacy controllers are missing a feature those control panels have that I wish Pit Boss had also included, more on that below.
No PID Temperature Control?
So PID stands for Proportional, Integral, Derivative, its basically a mathematical algorithm. What a PID control on a pellet grill will do is constantly monitor the internal temperature inside the grill against the set temperature on the control panel. The control panel will then make constant adjustments to the pellet auger feed rate and fan speed to maintain an accurate temperature, typically within 5 degrees of the set temperature.
I have a separate article on PID control panels if you want to learn more. Pellet grill control panels not using a PID algorithm (typically older pellet grills) run a time-based algorithm, in other words, run the auger/fan for a certain amount of time and stop, it will keep doing that until the set temperature is achieved or the internal temperature drops by a certain amount below the set temperature.
Now, Pit Boss does produce PID control panels, they are included in the Platinum Series and Gen 2 Pro Series, so what about these Legacy SmokeIT control panels? Unfortunately not, Pit Boss has decided to keep these control panels running time-based temperature algorithms with 25 to 50-degree temperature increments. Therefore, going back to the question above on price, yes these Pit Boss WiFi upgrade control panels are cheaper than their competitor’s WiFi upgrade options. However, both the Camp Chef Gen 2 Controller and the Grilla Grills AlphaConnect are running PID algorithms. Therefore, while they are more expensive, they are also more advanced.
What About Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smokers?
Most domestic vertical pellet smokers today are produced by Pit Boss, yes there are a few alternatives such as the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker, but really its Pit Boss who currently leads the market on vertical pellet smoker sales. Now there are several Pit Boss, vertical pellet smokers, with the same size/shape of control panel as these Legacy SmokeIT upgrade controller as you can see from the image below, so surely they can be upgraded too?
Unfortunately, you cannot currently upgrade any of the Pit Boss vertical pellet smokers with the Legacy SmokeIT control panels. Its not that they won’t physically fit etc, its a problem of temperature settings. The Legacy SmokeIT panels designed for the Pit Boss horizontal pellet grills/smokers have a temperature range of up to 500 degrees. Well, vertical pellet smokers are not designed or need to achieve such high temperatures, and their control panels are limited as a result, in the case of the vertical pellet smoker above its limited to 420 degrees.
Conclusions On The Pit Boss SmokeIT Legacy Controller Upgrade
First off, I’m happy to see that Pit Boss is offering existing customers the ability to upgrade to WiFi/SmokeIT functionality. I know of several people who were sceptical of WiFi functionality on a pellet grill/smoker before they realised the time-savings it can actually provide, its not just a gimmick. In one sense its also good that Pit Boss is offering the Legacy SmokeIT control panels at a very reasonable $150 price point.
However, it is disappointing that more precise PID temperature control is not provided. Furthermore, there are still lots of legacy horizontal pellet smokers that cannot benefit from these control panels, and as discussed above, none of the Pit Boss vertical pellet smokers can currently benefit from this upgrade either. Hopefully, these first two control panels are part of a wider range of WiFi upgrade options.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this summary article on the Pit Boss SmokeIT upgrade control panels interesting/useful. If you have more questions about the Pit Boss range, please check out my Pit Boss FAQ, or please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to review all of your options. 🙂
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