For those lucky enough to already own a Traeger Timberline they have a pellet level sensor already installed on their pellet grill. Through the Traeger WiFire app, they will be able to quickly see and monitor the percentage capacity of BBQ wood pellets remaining in the hopper. Therefore, if they are on a long and slow cook of a brisket for instance and away from the grill with the WiFire app they can not only monitor and adjust the temperature but they’ll know if they are going to run out of pellets before the cook is done. However, if you own a Traeger Ironwood or second-generation Pro Series pellet grill you can now also add a pellet level sensor to your grill. Therefore with this post, I wanted to quickly run through how you install the pellet level sensor into your grills hopper and how to connect it up and calibrate it with the D2 control panel.
If you wish to remotely monitor the level of pellets in your hopper via the WiFire app the pellet sensor is worth considering: 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.
It is important to note however if you have a first-generation Traeger Pro Series with the original Pro Series controller you will not be able to install the pellet level sensor. After all, the first generation Pro Controllers are not WiFire enabled, so you can not remotely monitor those grills in any case.
Introduction To The Traeger Pellet Sensor
The introduction of WiFi (WiFire) integration to Traeger pellet grills means you can be confident how your food is cooking while you’re away at a game, down the shops or watching TV etc. Now, if you know you’re going to be away from the pellet grill for an extended period of time, its always best practice to brim the hopper full of pellets.
However, depending on the temperature settings the rate you burn through those pellets will vary. Furthermore, in the colder months of the year, your grill will use more pellets to achieve and maintain the same set temperature as it would in the warmer months of the year.
The Pro Series does not feature insulated side-walls like the Ironwood and Timberline. Hence, pellet consumption is higher to achieve and maintain a set temperature: Image – Amazon.com
This is particularly true with the Pro Series which does not feature insulated twin-wall construction to better keep the heat in. Adding an insulated jacket can help, but still, pellet consumption in the colder months of the year will be higher.
My point is even doing the same cook, on the same grill, will consume a different amount of pellets at different times of the year. Hence, installing a pellet level sensor can add some reassurance your cook isn’t going to stop prematurely. Its features like this that make Traeger pellet grills some of the best BBQs on sale today.
With the sensor installed through the WiFire app, just under the current and set temperature readings it will show the percentage of Traeger grill pellets remaining. The title image for the video above shows a very precise reading of 43%. In reality, don’t expect that level of detail, typically the level will vary based on a 5% difference.
When the pellets get down to below 25% the WiFire will start sending push notifications to your phone to alert you the hopper needs topping up. Now, obviously, if you’re still away from the grill and you can’t get back in time that’s not going to happen. But if someone else is at home and all they have to do is top up the hopper they don’t have to be a grill master like you to handle it.
How To Install The Traeger Pellet Sensor
After you have purchased the pellet sensor from somewhere like Amazon or Traegergrills.com its a pretty easy process to install it. After turning off the grill and emptying the hopper of pellets it basically involves removing the protective safety grate in the hopper with a couple of screws and removing a rubber grommet in the hopper located behind the D2 controller. Inside you will find a communications cable. Pull out that cable and connect that up to your pellet sensor. Then screw the pellet sensor into position.
However, when removing any screws inside the hopper please be very, very careful. You definitely don’t want to drop a screw into the bottom of the hopper. Not only will it mean you’re a screw-down to install the pellet sensor/put the safety grate back in but it will likely lead to a jammed pellet feed auger. In the installation video above Traeger recommend placing a cloth in the bottom of the hopper to avoid this happening.
This is good advice. However, you can only put a cloth in the bottom of the hopper after removing the safety grate/screws. So you still have to be very, very careful. Also, you better not forget to remove that cloth, otherwise, that’s really going to lead to a jammed pellet auger.
How To Calibrate The Traeger Pellet Sensor
As soon as you install the pellet sensor and power up the grill again it will automatically be registered by the D2 controller and should be displaying the hopper level in the Wifire app. However, to get the best/most accurate results you want to calibrate the pellet sensor. This is a very quick/straightforward process as you can see in the video below.
Under the pellet sensor settings simply select ‘Calibrate Now’. You will need the pellet hopper on the grill to be empty for the calibration to work. Therefore, you need to complete this step before putting the BBQ pellets back into the hopper.
You then confirm on the D2 controller the hopper is empty and the calibration will start. Next, it will then request that you put your hand directly underneath the pellet sensor. This is to replicate a full hopper of pellets. That’s it! You can now refill the hopper. However, please read my comments below before you do so.
Re-Filling the Pellet Hopper and Dust Affecting The Pellet Sensor
When putting the pellets back into the hopper I don’t recommend just pouring the pellets back in. As I discuss in my Traeger accessories post, try and get hold of some form of sieve to separate the pellets and dust. Every time you agitate pellets more dust/fines are produced. Now, excessive dust can potentially lead to problems with the pellet feed auger/combustion process.
However, in this instance, it can also lead to problems with the pellet sense providing accurate results. The pellet sensor is an optical sensor, it works by bouncing light off the surface below (pellet level) and seeing how long it takes for the light to bounce back. Well, if there is dust covering the sensor it could give a false reading, stating there are more pellets in the hopper on your grill than there really are.
Conclusions on the Traeger Pellet Sensor
If you own a Traeger Pro 575, Pro 780, Ironwood 650 or Ironwood 885 pellet grill the pellet sensor is worth considering. Alternatively, if your partner is the one who does the grilling/smoking the pellet sensor could serve a nice birthday/Christmas gift. Something I do want to note, however, is while wood pellets flow ‘like’ water, they don’t flow exactly the same as water.
What I mean by that is the level of pellets as the hopper empties is not completely flat as the level goes down. So while the pellet sensor reads in 5% increments, I personally wouldn’t pay attention to it in that much detail. I generally would pay attention to say 75%, 50% and then when you get alerts stating below 25% to fill up the hopper.
That’s its! Thanks for reading, I hope this post answered your questions on the Traeger pellet sensor in terms of how to install/calibrate it. If you require any more details or wish to order one just pop over to Traegergrills.com. I’ve got lots of other posts on many different pellet grills and wood pellets in general. Please browse 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.