If you own an older Traeger pellet grill or a current Traeger Tailgater, Renegade or the Scout portable pellet grill you may be able to adjust the P-Setting. But what the heck is the P-Setting and why should you want to learn when and how to change it anyway!? Well, the P-Setting is an abbreviation of Pause Setting. Essentially, the P-Setting dictates the timed gap between turning the pellet feed auger on to feed in fresh grill pellets into the firepot to maintain the set temperature. Through adjustment of the P-Setting, you may be able to get your Traeger to more accurately hold its set temperature.
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So just to make this absolutely clear, if you own a Traeger Timberline, Ironwood or second-generation Pro Series pellet grill the P-Setting is not something you have to worry about. The D2 Controller along with the D2 Direct Drive System and WiFire works completely differently to the older/budget Traeger pellet grills with the earlier generation control panels.
Introduction To The Traeger P-Setting
As stated above the P-Setting stands for Pause Setting. I also stated above that any modern Traeger on the D2 platform doesnt have a P-Setting button on the control panel. Well, just to make things a bit more complicated not every earlier generation Traeger grill controller actually has the P-Setting button either.
If your controller does have this button it will be to the right of the digital readout display, likely with a small ‘call service’ sticker over the top. To access the P-Setting button you will need to take that sticker off. The official video below from Traeger discusses the P-Setting button in more detail and when you would want to adjust the auger pause settings.
I have heard reports that while some Traeger controllers don’t have an actual ‘P hole’ on the outside to access the P-Setting button, the button is actually there on the control panel underneath. Some people have therefore drilled holes on the front panel to access this button. However, that’s not something I’m going to get into with this post.
It could just lead to too many scenarios to either damage the control panel or electrocute yourself. Therefore, if your Traeger pellet grill doesnt have a ‘P hole’ hence no access to the P-Setting and you want more control over your grill its probably a better idea to just purchase a new controller with the P-Setting button accessible.
Not all replacement Traeger controllers have the P-Setting accessible via a ‘P-Hole’ such as this example: Image – Amazon.com
When/How To Adjust The Traeger’s P-Setting
As stated in Traeger’s official video above on when/how to adjust the grills P-Setting, if you are using the grill in an area/time of year with an extremely cold/warm climate, adjustments to the P-Setting may pay dividends in terms of a more accurate cooking experience. If your Traeger pellet grill is operating far below or far above the set temperature on the dial (more than 25 degrees) then you should consider adjusting the P-Setting where possible.
If the pellet grill is running in excess of the set temperature you adjust the P-Setting up to a higher number. If the pellet grill is running significantly below your set temperature you adjust the P-Setting down to a lower number. Unless you have adjusted the P-Setting before, its only recommend jumping 1 number at a time. Once you are more familiar with how changing the P-Setting alters the performance of your pellet grill you may have a preferred specific number for a specific outside temperature.
However, even though in the official Traeger video above a screwdriver is used I personally wouldn’t do that. After all its turned on when you are adjusting the P-Setting with 110V flowing through it. I would personally use a wooden toothpick or something similar.
Traeger Owners Video On P-Setting Adjustments
While the official Traeger video above on adjusting the P-Setting is better than nothing, I don’t think it really goes into enough detail on the matter. Therefore, I wanted to include in this post the video below. I believe it does a far better job of explaining the circumstances and scenarios of when to change the P-Setting on a Traeger pellet grill.
As discussed in the video with P-Setting adjustments you may be able to get more smoke at a lower temperature setting than leaving the grill in the 2, 3 or 4 P-Setting which is the default. Hence a higher P-Setting will give a longer pause between the auger feeding new pellets into the burn pot. Therefore the pellets smoulder for longer as there isn’t sufficient fuel for true combustion.
Risks With Using A High Number P-Setting
Something which is mentioned in the video above which is very important to pay attention to are the risks of using a high number P-Setting, say the maximum of 9 during windy conditions. As new fuel is fed into fire pot very infrequently, there is a risk that as the wind picks up it could extinguish the smouldering pellets altogether.
However, the pellet grill controller will not know the fire has gone out, so it will keep feeding in wood pellets. In that scenario, you cannot just turn the pellet grill off and on again. There will be a significant volume of wood pellets in the firepot. If you just turn the pellet grill on again it will likely lead to a smoke explosion.
So if the pellet grill fire does go out completely you will need to clean out the burn pot of pellets before can start the grill up again. Its scenarios such as this that make the quick ash/pellet removal feature on Camp Chefs Woodwind and SmokePro pellet grills very useful indeed.
Traeger P-Setting Examples/Results
At the end of the above video, some useful examples are given in terms of P-Settings at certain outside temperatures which they found to work well. For instance, with a 70 degree outside temperature and no wind, they found that the factory P-Setting on their Traeger pellet grill of 4 produces a temperature of between 150-160 degrees while on the smoke setting. However, compare that to the example of smoking brisket on a cold winters evening. In that scenario, they found that a P-Setting of 0 was required to achieve a constant temperature of 160 degrees.
Conclusions on Traeger P-Setting Adjustments
If your Traeger pellet grill has the option of amending the P-Setting is it something you may want to consider doing. If you want to use your pellet grill to smoke during the coldest and warmest months of the year its unlikely you will be getting the best performance possible on the default P-Setting.
However, as stated above, only make gradual single-digit adjustments until you are sure what impact each pause setting has on the grill at a particularly outside ambient temperature. Also, bear in mind, in very low outside temperatures as discussed in my Traeger accessories post, you may want to consider an insulated jacket for your pellet grill.
In very low outside temperatures you may want to consider fitting an insulated blanket to your Traeger pellet grill: Image – Amazon.com
The last thing I wanted to reference in this post, is if your Traeger pellet grill is not maintaining a reasonably consistent/accurate temperature you may be experiencing component failure. For instance, the RTD temperature probe may be faulty, or it may just require a good clean. Or potentially the auger motor or induction fan are on their way out. Potentially, the Traeger control panel may need to be replaced.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope the above content/videos help you to adjust the P-Setting on your Traeger pellet grill to get the best results possible. I have lots of other pellet grill and wood pellet related content, please review my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
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.