Pit Boss P Setting – What Is It & How/When To Adjust It?

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If you have looked at your Pit Boss control panel and seen the ‘P-Setting’ and wondered, ‘ what the heck that!?‘, you’re in luck. With this article, I’m going to explain what the P-Setting is, what its for and when to use it. Now, not all Pit Boss grills have a P-Setting, its mostly older/legacy models. However, Pit Boss is now bringing back the P-Setting on newer models, and we’ll discuss why.

Pit Boss P-Setting On Pellet Grills/Smokers
The P-Setting is mainly found on legacy models but also some of the latest pellet grills/smokers

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Introduction To The Pit Boss P-Setting

The P-Setting on a Pit Boss control panel simply stands for ‘Pause Setting’, and the pause refers to the timed gap between the auger turning on and off when in the Smoke Setting.

You may have heard some people complain that ‘pellet grills/smokers don’t actually produce much smoke!’. Now that’s a very general statement that’s partly wrong and partly right.

When a pellet grill/smoker is running efficiently and tightly controlling its temperature, it will produce less smoke, as smoke comes from inefficient combustion (smouldering pellets).

To make a pellet grill/smoker produce more smoke, on some models, a ‘smoke setting’ is provided that will deliberately make the pellet fire burn inefficiently, producing more smoke.

The P-Setting can be used to increase or decrease the period of time between new pellets being fed into the burn pot. The standard P-Setting is P4 which is a 115-second pause time.

A lower P-Setting means a shorter pause time, and a higher P-Setting means a longer pause time

So on the right-hand side of the graphic above from Pit Boss, you can see a reference to the outdoor temperature, and this is why you may need to adjust your P-Setting.

When & How To Adjust The P-Setting

Let’s say you’re using your Pit Boss on a nice mild day. Then the default P4 setting may be perfectly suitable, with the pellet grill/smoker running an internal temperature between 160 to 180 degrees on the smoke setting.

However, on a warm summer’s day, with the default P-Setting of P4 on the smoke setting, your Pit Boss may end up running hotter, closer to 200 degrees. If you didn’t want a temperature that high, increasing the P-Setting could lower the internal temperature.

Alternatively, let’s say its a cold winter’s day, then on the default P-Setting of P4, the temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker may be too low for your needs. Hence, a lower P-Setting number would raise the temperature.

I know it can seem a bit counterintuitive, with a lower P-Setting causing the temperature to rise and vice versa. I’ve included an owner’s video below to demonstrate the effect of changing the P-Setting.

This Pit Boss owners video demonstrated the impact of changing the P-Setting on temperature

Now you understand what the P-Setting is, what it’s for and how to change it. You maybe thinking you want to increase your P-Setting from the default of P4.

That’s fine. However, you only want to increase the P-Setting gradually, one setting at a time, and there is a good reason for this…

Be Very Careful Running A Higher P-Setting

So you now know that with a higher P-Setting, there is a longer pause between more fresh pellets entering the fire pot to feed the fire, hence potentially more smoke and a lower temperature.

You may be thinking you want as much smoke as possible, so why not just go straight up to P7? Well, the reason is that jumping up to a higher P-Setting could lead to a flameout situation.

A flameout is where the fire goes out (pretty obvious). However, on the smoke setting, your pellet grill may just keep feeding in pellets, and this can create a serious/dangerous problem when you try to start up the Pit Boss again.

If the burn pot is full of pellets on start-up, then a lot of smoke will be produced before the fire ignites. When it does finally ignite, it could result in a smoke explosion.

Hence, when increasing the P-Setting, move up just one setting at a time to make sure the fire is stable. On a higher P-Setting, the fire is more at risk from a gust of wind blowing out the fire, causing a flameout.

Which Pit Boss Models Have A P-Setting?

It’s mostly legacy Pit Boss models which have a P-Setting along with a Smoke Setting on their control panel, popular examples being the Austin XL.

Other examples include the Pit Boss Mahagony range, the Sportsman range, and the Navigator range. These models all have a Smoke Setting with P-Setting adjustment.

Even the SmokeIT upgrade panels for legacy Pit Boss models still feature the P-Setting for adjustment when operating in the smoke setting.

However, over recent years you will find several Pit Boss models that don’t have a P-Setting/Smoke Setting. Examples are the Gen 2 Pro Series and the Platinum Series.

Pit Boss Grills Without P-Setting
The Pit Boss Pro 850 (left) and Platinum Laredo (right) are two examples which don’t have a P-Setting

The reason being, these later-generation models are running what’s called a PID control panel instead of a time-based control panel like older-generation models.

My article on PID control panels goes into more detail, but essentially a PID control uses a mathematical algorithm which is constantly monitoring and comparing the set temperature against the actual temperature of the pellet grill/smoker.

The result is a PID control panel can hold a much tighter temperature to the set temperature than a traditional/legacy control panel based on timed-gaps in feeding pellets.

However, as I stated at the top of the article, with more efficient combustion, you get less smoke. Therefore, Pit Boss has taken a different approach with their latest models.

The Return Of The P-Setting

Some of the latest model ranges from Pit Boss are the Competition Series and Onyx Series, which do feature a Smoke Setting and P-Setting.

However, these models also feature a PID control panel with 5 degree temperature adjustment and tight temperature control around the set temperature.

New Pit Boss Grills With A P-Setting
The Competition 850 (left) and the Onyx Savannah are examples of new Pit Boss grills with a P-Setting

In other words, these latest Pit Boss models are the best of both worlds. Accurate PID controlled temperature when you want it, and higher smoke production at lower temps when its required.

Something to note though, on the Smoke Setting of these new models, when the P-Setting is in use, there will be wider temperature swings than when the PID temperature settings are used.

Conclusions On The Pit Boss P-Setting

This is pretty much the same article as my Traeger P-Setting post, however there is notable a difference. No modern Traeger’s feature a P-Setting, and only some models feature Super Smoke.

Likewise, not all of the latest Pit Boss models feature the P-Setting and it could be argued they are less capable smokers for smoking brisket etc as a result.

Anyway, if your Pit Boss model does feature a P-Setting, be careful when adjusting it, especially if you want to use a higher P-Setting to avoid a flameout situation.

Also, keep your Pit Boss out of the path of direct wind gusts, especially when operating in the smoke setting as that’s when you are most at risk of a flameout situation.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, as always, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to learn more about all your current options in the world of pellet BBQs.

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