What Is the Pit Boss P Setting and How Should You Use It

pit boss p setting

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Have you bought a new Pit Boss Pellet Grill and wondered what that little P setting on the controller is for and how it works?

Even though it is explained briefly in the owner’s manual, we’re going to explain in further detail so you can learn how, when, and why you should use it (and perhaps more importantly, when you shouldn’t).

Although they are phasing out the P setting in newer models, many of their current grills still have this unique feature. 

What is the Pit Boss P setting

Every temperature controller on a Pit Boss Grill has adjustable settings. Most controllers will have Smoke, 200°F, 225°F, 250°F, 300°F, 350°F, 400°F, 475°F, and “High”.

Pit Boss 700FB temperature controller

“Smoke” and “High” are the only temperature settings on a Pit Boss where the ambient temperature of the grill has no influence on the timing of the auger. 

With the P setting, you can control the timing of the auger on a Pit Boss Grill (and how many pellets are fed into the burn pot) when the controller is set to “Smoke” mode only.

The main purpose of the P setting is to allow the user to smoke “low and slow” during extreme temperatures since external temperatures can affect the internal cooking temperatures of the grill.

It has no influence on any other controller setting. “High” only has one set interval. It is meant for searing meat or vegetables over an open flame with the lid open.

How pellet grills work – the basics

Before we explain how the P setting works on a Pit Boss, you should understand the basics of how a pellet grill works first. In a nutshell, every pellet grill has these basic components:

  • Hopper 
  • Auger 
  • Burn Pot
  • Temperature Controller
  • Ambient Temperature Probe

The hopper holds the pellets aside until the grill is turned on and activated by the temperature controller. Then, the auger spins and feeds a small amount of pellets into the burn pot where they are ignited. 

Temperature is determined by how many pellets are fed into the burn pot within a specific amount of time. This timing is determined by the temperature setting on your controller and the internal ambient temperature of your grill. 

The higher the temperature setting, the faster the pellets are fed into the pot. 

Once the internal temperature probe in the grill reaches the temperature set on the controller, the auger slows down. If the temperature probe indicates a minor drop in ambient temperature, the auger will speed up until the set temperature is reached. 

This explains why most pellet grills will have mild temperature swings during any cook.

Diagram showing how a pellet grill works

The way these components work together is what makes pellet grills so appealing in the first place. When working properly, a pellet grill is a truly “set it and forget it” tool that eliminates the need to constantly monitor grill temperatures or learn how to be a master at fire management. When working properly, the pellet grill will do the hard work for you.

How does the P setting work?

The P Setting has different numbers to control the timing of the auger and how many pellets get fed into the burn pot. The default setting is 4 while the lowest setting is 1 and the highest setting is 6.

The “P” in P Setting stands for “Pause”. The numbers reflect how long the auger pauses before feeding more pellets into the burn pot. 

The default setting of 4 is meant to set the internal ambient temperature of your Pit Boss to fluctuate between 160°F – 200°F. In a “normal” environment (between 40°F – 90°F) this setting creates that optimal, thin blue smoke meant for gently cooking delicate meats and vegetables low and slow for hours. 

Pitt Boss Sportsman Pellet Grill Auger Cycle Chart
Pitt Boss Sportsman Pellet Grill auger cycle chart

Now, this is where it gets confusing. The higher the setting, the slower the auger feeds pellets into the burn pot. In a normal environment, this will result in lower internal ambient temperatures. Conversely, the lower the P setting, the higher the temperature.

Recommended settings and adjustments

The P setting was designed to help your Pit Boss “Smoke” during extreme environmental temperatures. Let’s say you live in Phoenix, AZ and you want to smoke at low temperatures in the middle of July. Since the grills are made of steel and painted black, naturally the 110°F external temperature is going to influence the ambient temperature inside the grill. 

Thus, if you’re trying to gently smoke a salmon at 180°F, your grill could easily reach internal ambient temperatures of 225°F or more, overcooking your salmon.

Adjusting the P setting above the default setting of “4” will help prevent this scenario from happening. 

Now let’s say that you live in St. Paul Minnesota, and you’re looking to smoke that same salmon during December. Due to the extreme cold environment, you would want to set your P setting below 4 so your auger will feed pellets into the burn pot faster and keep the internal ambient temperature consistent.

An important note about the P setting

One thing that is important to point out, is that other than situations similar to what was described above, the P setting should be set at the default at 4. 

During normal conditions, a high P setting can sometimes cause flameouts. 

A flameout occurs when the fire goes out in the burn pot before more pellets are added to the fire. If you’re not watching the temperature of the grill, this can lead to a situation where a large amount of pellets are dumped into your grill. 

Since there is no flame to burn the pellets off, over time a large amount of pellets can build up over the burn pot. If you were to turn the grill off and back on without clearing out that huge pile of pellets, all those pellets would ignite, causing a dangerous fire. 

Pit Boss, as a company, debated whether or not to even talk about the P setting for fear that people would unnecessarily tinker with it. In older models, you could only adjust it with a needle or pin. They have since added a push button control to newer models, and have published content on their site explaining the P setting. 

It is recommended to contact customer service if you still need guidance on how to use it properly.

Which Pit Boss grills have a P setting?

There are many Pit Boss models with the P setting feature, but here are some of our favorites:

  • The Pit Boss Sportsman Series
  • The Pit Boss Navigator Series
  • The Pit Boss Mahogany 440D
  • The Original Pro Series
  • The Austin XL
  • Pit Boss Classic
  • Original Pit Boss’ including the 700FB , 820 FB, and 1000SC

Conclusion

While the P setting is a nice feature to have on your pellet grill, it is certainly not something to mess around with or take lightly. Adjusting it under the right conditions can be extremely helpful towards making your pellet grilling experience an enjoyable one.

We highly recommend checking out any Pit Boss Grill with the P setting option, especially if you live in an area where weather conditions vary wildly throughout the year. 

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