Heatermeter on Pellet Grill

KyleH

New member
I recently purchased a Pit Boss 820 because it was on sale at Lowes for $400. I've done my research and found that it has issues with large temperature swings which brought me to the Heatermeter. I know this topic has been explored before, but I've only seen discussion. It doesn't appear that anyone has actually posted a successful method for setting up a pellet grill using the Heatermeter.

For those of you not familiar with how pellet grills work, I will give a short explanation. There are 4 major components: the auger, fan, igniter, and fire box. On startup, the igniter is lit and the auger feeds pellets to the fire box. The fan will start up and this will give you an initial burn. If startup is successful the fire box will have a flame and pellets are fed into the firebox where they are burned throughout the cook. In the case of the Pit Boss, the pellets are fed to the fire box through a user determined duty cycle. The length of the duty cycle is determined by the "P-setting". The auger will always run for 18 seconds each duty cycle. The length of "off" time will be set by the "P-setting". Higher "P-settings" mean longer duty cycles generating more smoke. As you can imagine, this creates the large temperature swings.

I am going to connect the auger to the Heatermeter in place of the fan. An SSR will need to be added to take the 12V input voltage from the HeaterMeter and control the 120V fan. The fan settings for the Heatermeter will be adjusted to pulse mode. This will mean the fan (auger) will be ON/OFF. My duty cycle will be a set 20 seconds and the auger ON time will now be variable instead of a set 18s using the OEM controller.

I believe this will work out well, but the part I'm struggling with is the start up. I was thinking about having the fan, igniter, and auger attached to toggle switches to swap them to manual mode and do the startup manually. However, is there a way to automate the startup? I was thinking maybe an alarm that would run the auger, fan, and igniter if the temperature was below X degrees. This would also help recover from a flame out during a cook.

Any thoughts?
 

KyleH

New member
Going to do my first cook this weekend with no controls to try to understand the pit a little better. I believe everything that I am looking to do can be controlled through programming. However, I have limited knowledge on the programming. I was still thinking of using the same concept as above where the startup is performed manually. I'll switch it to auto mode where the auger will be controlled by the HM "fan" pulse function. The fan will be 100% and the igniter will be set to off.

I'm also considering tinkering with the fan. I think having two PID loops controlling the auger and fan will get complicated. Instead I was looking at having the fun run a fixed ON/OFF duty cycle. The thought here is that the fan will run for x number of seconds to keep the fire going and will shut off for y number of seconds to let the fire die down and hopefully produce more smoke than a 100% ON fan.

I think this can be done using the programming, but not sure if I'm going to be able to figure that out. So I was looking to connect the fan to an adjustable cycle timer circuit that I found cheap on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B074V863MR/tvwb-20
 

KyleH

New member
So I'm looking to finally start this project. Here is my electrical schematic:


What I came up with is a manual override on
1. Fan
2. Auger
3. Igniter

I use the override on start up to
1. Feed the pot pellets
2. Turn the igniter on
3. Turn fan on once pellets have fire

I use the override on shut down to:
1. Run the fan to burn out what's left in the pot.


Once start up is complete, I turn all overrides off and control is given to the HeaterMeter. I will have a 20 second duty cycle where the Auger & Fan will be 100% on OR Auger off & Fan at a %setting.

I'm trying to get a "burn phase" where I build temp, but then a "smolder phase" where I stop feeding fuel and I drop the fan speed. I hope this will create more smoke.

I just ordered the Heatermeter parts. I'm going to wait to order the rest of the circuit in case there is any input that might change it. Looking forward to hearing what you guys think!
 

KyleH

New member
Pretty sure I achieve the same result with a much simpler circuit:



The "Fan Override" will be kept closed. When the solid state relay contacts close, they will override the variable fan speed setting and operate the fan at 100%....at least I hope
 
Last edited:

John_Matthews

New member
I too jumped in on the Pit Boss pellet grill at Lowes. Much as I couldn't use the Heatermeter to control the grill, I could monitor the first few cooks and see just how bad the shipped controller was. And it really is ugly from a stable/set temp perspective.

I did think about adapting the HM for the pellet grill but ultimately decided against it as the Savannah Stoker (https://www.savannahstoker.com/) is a drop in replacement PID controller (and it does an excellent job). Now, it doesn't have wifi but if I need that monitoring aspect, I'll rig up a HM and let it run alongside.

I'd download the user manual for the above if you're looking for input as to igniting, detecting flameout etc. From my running so far, the fan is always on (can't really tell if there is a variation in the speed) and I think the fan remains on so that there isn't any back burning up the auger path.

HTH,

John
 

RJ Riememsnider

TVWBB Super Fan
Thanks for the info and link. I really woud rather use the heatermeter but I agree it would be much easier to just replace it with a pellet controller. I'm now
thinking of trying to retrofit the rec-tec, its only 99 and has wifi.
 

KyleH

New member
Hey guys, I started traveling heavily for work shortly after making the post. I never got around to do it.

I may do this in the next couple of weeks. Heatermeter has been sitting in my garage for almost a year now! If anyone is interested, here are the components (still in my amazon save for later) I planned on using.

SSR: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0087ZTN08/tvwb-20 $9.99
SPST Switch: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZWWZ0GK/tvwb-20 $7.98 (includes 3)
Fan Speed Control: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000F9DAL2/tvwb-20 $16.67

If I get around to this, I'll probably create a model for the enclosure that can be used for 3D printing. I will also do my best to document so others can follow.

EDIT: To anyone else looking to do this. The circuit I previously posted will not work the way I wanted it to.


I'm a mechanical guy so I thought, oh I just need a check valve for the branch of the solid state that powers the fan. I don't think adding a diode will work the way that I want it to in an AC circuit.

I will post the final build if I am successful. I think I will need two solid state relays, one for the auger and one for the fan. That will isolate the auger so that it will only be powered when I flip the normally open switch during start up or when the heater meter decides to turn it on.
 
Last edited:

John_Matthews

New member
One thing I would say is that you need to make sure that the SSR you use is genuine. It's worth paying a little more for one vs getting a dodgy one that fails closed.......

John
 

Nick T Wellman

New member
I see that this thread has gone dormant for a few months, but I would love to resurrect it again. I just got a Pit Boss Pro Series 1100, and while it has been pretty great so far, I too would love to adapt my HM to work with it. I was very happy with the HM on my cheap offset smoker, but I can definitely see the potential that is possible with the HM controlling my new Pit Boss. Has Kyle or anyone else, put anything together yet to give this a try? I've seen all of the other various posts through the years which started down this road, but it seems that nobody has ever taken it all the way through to testing. Here's to hoping that someone is, or will be working this soon!

Nick
 

VicusJ

New member
I see that this thread has gone dormant for a few months, but I would love to resurrect it again. I just got a Pit Boss Pro Series 1100, and while it has been pretty great so far, I too would love to adapt my HM to work with it. I was very happy with the HM on my cheap offset smoker, but I can definitely see the potential that is possible with the HM controlling my new Pit Boss. Has Kyle or anyone else, put anything together yet to give this a try? I've seen all of the other various posts through the years which started down this road, but it seems that nobody has ever taken it all the way through to testing. Here's to hoping that someone is, or will be working this soon!

Nick
I'm with you Nick; I love my HM with all its features and graphs etc. Recently got a GMG JimBowie WiFi model as a Fathersday gift from my sons. I now use the pellet smoker regularly instead of firing up my UDS & HM, but each time I do, I miss all the bells and whistles of the HM. Whilst it is doing what it is designed for, the GMG controller and its app feels so 'basic' now compared to the HM.

I'm sure I could hack the HM (hardware wise, not software) to sort of control the auger and blower, but it would be so great if controlling a pellet smoker can become part of the HM design, thus including control of the startup and shutdown of the pellet smoker etc.

I would be happy to be a guinea pig; unfortunately I can hardly program my name in my mobile phone, let alone write any code. I am quite handy with electronics etc though (been my job a few decades ago)
 

Nick T Wellman

New member
Hey guys, I started traveling heavily for work shortly after making the post. I never got around to do it.

I may do this in the next couple of weeks. Heatermeter has been sitting in my garage for almost a year now! If anyone is interested, here are the components (still in my amazon save for later) I planned on using.

SSR: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0087ZTN08/tvwb-20 $9.99
SPST Switch: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZWWZ0GK/tvwb-20 $7.98 (includes 3)
Fan Speed Control: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000F9DAL2/tvwb-20 $16.67

If I get around to this, I'll probably create a model for the enclosure that can be used for 3D printing. I will also do my best to document so others can follow.

EDIT: To anyone else looking to do this. The circuit I previously posted will not work the way I wanted it to.


I'm a mechanical guy so I thought, oh I just need a check valve for the branch of the solid state that powers the fan. I don't think adding a diode will work the way that I want it to in an AC circuit.

I will post the final build if I am successful. I think I will need two solid state relays, one for the auger and one for the fan. That will isolate the auger so that it will only be powered when I flip the normally open switch during start up or when the heater meter decides to turn it on.
Hey KyleH, did you ever get around to doing a test build of your design? It looks like you are probably the best equipped to try it out, and there are a few of us who would genuinely be interested in helping you reach the end result. I’m all in with my PitBoss 1100 smoker/grill. I’ve been using it regularly to do everything from hamburgers to our thanksgiving turkey this year! I do like how the pellet grill is a bit more “hands off” during longer cooks, but I miss the ability to remotely monitor and make changes, set-up and get custom alerts, and I’d love to be able to hone the temp control a bit tighter than it is right now.

Let us know if you’ve made any progress, and thanks for the info you’ve given so far!

Nick
 

Gary V

TVWBB Member
I going to chime in here with my opinion and ideas on this heatermeter use. First off I believe you will need two SSR`s. Also be aware that SSR`s can be tricky to use since they are solid state devices and the switched output connection is a semiconductive junction. That means some SSR`s can leak through across the junction. I am thinking you will need one for the fan and the other for auger. As you know the auger on all pellet devices are regulated using a duty cycle approach. That means some sort of regulated pulse to the auger SSR. The fan can be controlled by regulating the speed. I know the heatermeter has a pulse mode, but I have never tried it. Brian could give you more info on how that feature works. The ideal setup would to control the auger with a pulse regulation and fan with a voltage mode. The last issue is for the pellet ignitor. Not sure if the grills have this feature which ignites the pellets with a burner like they have in auto start pellet stoves. Hopes this helps. It only my opinion and ideas.
 

Paul Frere

New member
I popped on here with a WiFi problem and noticed this thread. Maybe throwing cold water but ...

There are frequent discussions of temperature control on the BBQ Brethren Forum (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/) Typically people who feel that the temp swings on their cookers are too wide. In several years of reading, though, I have never once seen anyone claim that these swings affected the food in any way. This pretty much makes sense to me. Yesterday I cooked a spatchcocked turkey and a ham in my pellet cooker. The HM gave me a pit temperature of 220 in the center. If that temp had ranged up to say 275 or down to 180 it would only have been the very outer skin of the meat that was even aware. Below the skin, the temperature changes very slowly and the meat has no idea that the temp may be swinging in a way that alarms the cook. Obviously extremes hot enough and long enough to char the skin or to burn sugar rubs and glazes would be objectionable and extremes cold enough and long enough to noticeably slow the cook would also be objectionable, but none of the BB forum discussions ever mention these situations. Mostly it is people who see +/- 20 deg. swings and think they are too much.

I have both a Camp Chef DLX and a Traeger Lil Tex. They are essentially identical, sometimes swing +/- 20 or more, and I have never seen any food-related reason to worry about this. So I don't.

Some of the discussion on the BB forum is stimulated I think by people who sell supposedly "better" controllers and cite temperature swings as "problems" so that they can offer to solve them.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
I popped on here with a WiFi problem and noticed this thread. Maybe throwing cold water but ...

There are frequent discussions of temperature control on the BBQ Brethren Forum (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/) Typically people who feel that the temp swings on their cookers are too wide. In several years of reading, though, I have never once seen anyone claim that these swings affected the food in any way. This pretty much makes sense to me. Yesterday I cooked a spatchcocked turkey and a ham in my pellet cooker. The HM gave me a pit temperature of 220 in the center. If that temp had ranged up to say 275 or down to 180 it would only have been the very outer skin of the meat that was even aware. Below the skin, the temperature changes very slowly and the meat has no idea that the temp may be swinging in a way that alarms the cook. Obviously extremes hot enough and long enough to char the skin or to burn sugar rubs and glazes would be objectionable and extremes cold enough and long enough to noticeably slow the cook would also be objectionable, but none of the BB forum discussions ever mention these situations. Mostly it is people who see +/- 20 deg. swings and think they are too much.

I have both a Camp Chef DLX and a Traeger Lil Tex. They are essentially identical, sometimes swing +/- 20 or more, and I have never seen any food-related reason to worry about this. So I don't.

Some of the discussion on the BB forum is stimulated I think by people who sell supposedly "better" controllers and cite temperature swings as "problems" so that they can offer to solve them.

Yes, and no.

20 degree +/- swings arent even controlling
Its basically turning heat on and off, out of sync with the heating dynamic of the system.



Temp swings can be bad.
They can produce bitter white smoke when unburned fuel ignites with excess air, and rapid heating occurs. When this occurs too much in long cook, it will affect the smoke taste.

Fire management is a part to producing tasty bbq.

Low temps dont produce bark as well. High temps can produce dried out hard surface on long cooks. In the middle, is forgiving cook conditions.

A little variation may not matter, but being consistent in all ways, is the key to getting consistently good results.

The heat transfer into meat center, at any point in time depends on the temperature difference , ie the pit temp. When this fluctuates wildly over a long period ,you can see the heating curve of the inside meat probe follow, flatten, steepen, even decrease in some cases. It may not matter to anything but time, but it is seen by meat interior.
 
Last edited:

RJ Riememsnider

TVWBB Super Fan
Hey KyleH, did you ever get around to doing a test build of your design? It looks like you are probably the best equipped to try it out, and there are a few of us who would genuinely be interested in helping you reach the end result. I’m all in with my PitBoss 1100 smoker/grill. I’ve been using it regularly to do everything from hamburgers to our thanksgiving turkey this year! I do like how the pellet grill is a bit more “hands off” during longer cooks, but I miss the ability to remotely monitor and make changes, set-up and get custom alerts, and I’d love to be able to hone the temp control a bit tighter than it is right now.

Let us know if you’ve made any progress, and thanks for the info you’ve given so far!

Nick
Ok, I'm game. I don't have a lot of time either but I just put together a Louisiana 7 series and would love to have wifi capabilities on it. I successfullty converted my electric 'smokin-it' smoker and have been a heatermeter user since the very beginning.

Lets get some progress on this together.
 

Rob W in San Jose

New member
I'm game. I have a Pit Boss 700, which is cooking things up fine so far. The heatermeter adds the remote UI and control, which is very nice.

I can see what was being said above about temperature swings not causing bad cooks. Has anyone figured out the P settings? I used a stopwatch while at 350F, and we could hear the auger on for 18 seconds, and off for 115 seconds. As the manual (and lots of information online) says, the P settings table only holds true while we are on the smoke mode.

If we could recreate the standard Pit Boss cook settings, without PID control of the fan for perfect temperature control, I'd count that as quite the upgrade to this grill / smoker.
 

Top