Every Traeger pellet grill uses a control panel to operate the pellet auger, hot rod ignitor and combustion fan. The control panel receives temperature information from inside the grill via the RTD probe. If you are having issues with your Traeger grill not operating correctly it may be an issue with the control panel which you may need to replace. Alternatively, your control panel may be working correctly but you would like to upgrade to the more modern/advanced digital Pro Series control panel. Whichever is the case with this post I wanted to discuss how to change a Traeger control panel. Though I will also discuss how to determine if your Traeger is actually faulty, or if the problem lies elsewhere.
Replacement/upgrade of a Traeger pellet grill control panel is relatively straight forward once you have watched the videos below: Image – Amazon.com
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.
If your Traeger grill is still under warranty you should get in touch with Traeger to discuss any issues your having. Within the warranty period, you should not be going out of pocket on a faulty control panel. However, as I’ll discuss below the problem may not actually be with the control panel itself. Hence, Traeger will likely request that you follow the various checks I describe below first before they determine the problem is with the control panel.
How To Check If Your Traeger Control Panel Is Faulty
If you are having issues with your Traeger grill no longer achieving or maintaining the set temperature the control panel may be faulty. But how can you be sure that’s where the problem lies? After all, a new Traeger digital control is not cheap. So you don’t want to go to the expense of replacing a perfectly good working panel. Before you can really determine if the Traeger control panel is faulty your going to have to run a fire up test.
Step 1: Thoroughly Clean The Pellet Grill
Before you can run a fire-up test to see if the control panel is faulty you are going to have to thoroughly clean the pellet grill. By thoroughly I mean top to bottom, for instance, empty out all the pellets and vacuum out the hopper, auger and burn pot. Secondly, you are going to have to de-grease the RTD temperature sensor within the grill. If you are not sure how to do this I have a post on how to properly clean a pellet grill.
You need to use a safe/natural grease cleaner around the RTD probe before you conduct the test burn to check if the control panel is faulty: Image – Amazon.com
Step 2: Put Some Pellets In The Hopper And Turn On The Pellet Grill
Now the grill is completely clean put a small number of pellets back into the hopper to conduct the test burn. Make sure you have sieved the fines/dust from the pellets as they can impact the temperature of the fire. My post on the best Traeger accessories includes details on a pellet sieve bucket to remove any fines from the BBQ wood pellets. Turn on the grill and set a temperature.
You also want to have an infrared heat gun to hand. First, you want to listen to tell if the auger is working and moving pellets. If not the auger motor could have failed. If the fire fails to start at all the hot rod ignitor could have failed and may need replacing. Alternatively, the induction fan may be faulty. If the temperature within the pellet grill starts to increase and the digital readout is displaying a temperature you can use your infrared heat gun to test if the temperature readout on the control panel is accurate.
When purchasing an infrared heat gun to read the temperature within your pellet grill make sure its can read up to high temps such as this model: Image – Amazon.com
Traeger Pellet Grill Temperature Inaccuracy
When testing the temperature within the pellet grill with the infrared heat gun you want to aim directly at the RTD temperature sensor. After all, that’s where the digital control panel is getting the temperature information from. If there is a more than a few degrees difference between the readout on the heat gun and the temperature readout on the control panel there is a problem.
Now, the problem could be the RTD probe or the control panel its self. As you will notice from the image above of the Traeger control panel they often come with a new RTD temperature sensor. You may wish to try and fix the issue first by just replacing the RTD temperature sensor as I’ve discussed in a previous post. Otherwise, if you are going to replace the control panel you should always replace the RTD sensor at the same time.
Before you go to the expense of purchasing a new Traeger control panel you may wish to try and change the RTD temperature probe on its own first: Image – Amazon.com
How To Replace/Upgrade A Traeger Control Panel
Now, how easy and quick it is to replace the control panel on your Traeger pellet grill will vary slightly depending on which model you have. For instance, getting access to the wiring looms is easier on the larger grills as there is more space available. On the Traeger Tailgater portable pellet grill access to change the control panel can be more tricky.
To replace the control panel you will need to remove the bottom plate under the hopper to access the wiring loom and connectors. If you are struggling to do this with the pellet grill in its standing position you may want to gently lower the grill onto its side. Ideally, do this on your lawn so as not to damage the grills paintwork. Below I’ve included three videos on how to change a Traegers control panel. Two official videos from Traeger and one amateur video.
Standard Traeger Control Panel Upgrade/Replacement
Now if you have a very early Traeger you won’t have a digital temperature readout on your control panel. There will simply be the option of Smoke, Med or High. This control panel is no longer available, but any Traeger can use the digital temperature readout control panel. The video below from Traeger shows how to change out the control panel with a few important tips.
Changing the over the old control for the new one is simply a case of changing the cables like for like. The new control panel cable colours are the same as the old panel. However, a personal tip I would give when doing these sorts of jobs is before you disconnect any of the cable connectors, get out your phone. Take good clear pictures of how each cable connector goes to the other and of the back of the control panel. That way you have a quick reference to check if you get lost.
This is the standard Traeger digital controller. Though you may wish to upgrade to the Pro Controller (see below): Image – Amazon.com
How To Upgrade To The Traeger Pro Controller (With Meat Probes)
The standard Traeger digital temperature control panel shown above is a vast improvement on the original three heat option panel. However, you can upgrade any Traeger pellet grill to the Pro Series control panel as well. Where the Pro Series control panel differs is that it offers the monitoring of two separate meat probes. As you can see from the video below from Traeger the installation of the Pro Series controller is just as simple.
Now the video above is very brief, hence as it doesnt show the installation of the Pro Series controller in much detail I’ve included a much more in-depth installation video below. However, there is a very important point made in the video above. When you are finished you must use cable ties and keep the wires away from the fans under the hopper. If you don’t when you turn on the grill the fan, wires or both could be damaged.
While the Traeger Pro controller does cost a little bit more than the standard controller personally I would choose the upgrade. I think it gives the grill much more utility to cook the best food possible. Sure, there are aftermarket digital meat probes but they can get in the way more. Having the ability to monitor the internal temperature of the meat through the main control panel is just more convenient.
This is the Traeger Pro Series controller with two meat probe connections: Image – Amazon.com
Conclusions On How To Upgrade/Replace A Traeger Control Panel
Unless you have already carried out a thorough clean of your grill and used an Infrared heat gun as described above I would hold off on purchasing a new control panel until you are sure that’s the actual issue. The problem may actually lie with the pellet feed auger, hot rod ignitor or RTD temperature probe.
However, this post is also not just about replacing a faulty Traeger controller, its for those who may wish to upgrade. If you have a first-generation Traeger without the digital temperature readout upgrading to the Pro Series controller could give your old grill a whole new life. Not only being able to see the actual temperature inside the grill but with the meat probs as well it would be a whole new cooking experience!
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this post useful. My website is about all the various means to produce and use wood pellets. For instance, you may wish to learn how Traeger wood pellets are made. Please visit my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to learn more! 🙂
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.