If you’re a first time owner of a Pit Boss Pellet Smoker you’ve probably also been a bit confused about the so called “P Setting.” I had the same problem when I first got a Pit Boss Smoker, so I did some research. In this article we will look at what the P Setting is, how to use it when smoking and more. First I will give the short answer then we’ll go into more detail.
The P Setting basically means how often pellets are put into the firepot where they’ll burn and generate heat and smoke. You can think of P as “pause” so setting a higher P setting means there will be a longer pause between pellets going into the firepot. Therefore, a higher P setting will produce less heat and more smoke and and a lower P Setting will produce more heat and less smoke. The reason for the difference is smoke us due to the fact that the lower temperature causes the pellets to smolder. The default P Setting is P4. It goes from P0 to P7. You can adjust it to get the temperature you want (you can see the temperature on the display panel).
What the P Setting and What Does it Do?
The P Setting is used mainly used when set on the “smoke” setting on a pit boss pellet smoker. It allows you to compensate for difference in outside temperature as you will need more pellets for the same temperature if you’re in colder weather. Direct sunlight, humidity, rain, cold weather, heat waves, wind and so on all affect your grill. The P Setting can be adjusted to get the right temperature in different weather conditions.
The “P” stands for pause, or how long the pause will between pellets being dispensed, and therefore how hot the grill gets. The P Setting allows you to control the pellet feeding cycles, or how often pellets are fed into the firepot. The factory default is P4 but ranges all the way from P0 to P7. The higher the P Setting the longer will be the pause between pellets being dispensed which results in a higher temperature and vice versa for when at a lower P Setting.
The Auger and the P Setting
The auger is the screw that feeds pellet from the dispenser into the firepot. Normally, on most pellet smokers as well as the temperature modes on a Pit Boss, you set a temperature and the pellet smoker automatically feeds pellets, but P Setting is basically a human override that allows you to determine how often it feeds pellets which then give you a temperature.
As said “P” stand for pause. Here’s a chart that shows how long the Auger is turned on or off at different P Settings.
|P Setting||Auger is on||Auger is Off|
|P0||18 Seconds||55 Seconds|
|P1||18 Seconds||70 Seconds|
|P2||18 Seconds||85 Seconds|
|P3||18 Seconds||100 Seconds|
|P4||18 Seconds||115 Seconds|
|P5||18 Seconds||130 Seconds|
|P6||18 Seconds||140 Seconds|
|P7||18 Seconds||150 Seconds|
As you can see on the chart the P Setting determines how long the Auger is turned off.
This will not only determine the temperature but also the amount of smoke you can generate. We will look at that next.
The P Setting and the Amount Smoke
Higher P Setting = More Smoke and Less Heat
Lower P Setting = Less Smoke and More Heat
The P Setting will not only regulate the temperature but also influence the amount of smoke that is emitted from the pellets. If pellets get to sit for longer in the firepot at a lower temperature they will have an easier time smoldering instead of just lighting on fire. Smoldering pellets is what causes them to smoke and you will therefore get more smoke at lower P Settings. A high P Setting produces less heat, but since it allows the pellets to sit in the firepot and smolder it also produces more smoke.
A higher P Setting results in a deeper smoke ring and is what you want to do if you want to smoke your meat low and slow while getting it to absorb the most amount of the smoke flavor as possible.
Also remember that smoking is not really about how much smoke you can get, but more about how long you smoke for. If I want to get the most smoke flavor possible the main thing I would do is to maintain a low, constant temperature with a good amount of smoke and let the meat cook low and slow. There difference of smoke when changing the P Setting is minimal anyways, and the main thing is to get the right temperature under whatever weather conditions you’re in. More about that next.
Why have P Setting At All?
The main advantage of the P Setting is that it can get the smoker to the right temperature in different weather conditions. Most pit boss pellet smokers already have set temperatures, so why not just use them right away right? The reason is, that if you start out by dialing to let’s say 225°F it can often results in temperature swings because the smoker has not been adjusted to the weather. You need to set it to “Smoke Mode” where the P Setting is before you turn the dial to the desired temperature. We will look more specifically how to do this a bit further down.
The P Setting can also be used if you want to smoke at a temperature lower than 200°F. There is no dial lower than 200°F, so you’ll need to adjust the P setting on smoke mode and wait until it gets to the right temperature.
How to Use the P Setting?
As said there are really two different purposes to use the P Setting, the first is where you sort of warm the grill up and the second is if you want to cold smoke at a temperature lower than 200°F. There are two examples below which is what works for me.
Note that the P Setting will only work one SMOKE mode, if you switch the dial to one of the temperatures the P Setting will disappear.
Example 1 – Smoking at 225°F (or one of the temperature settings)
Let’s say you want to smoke at 225°F. Here’s how to go about it. First turn the dial to SMOKE. automatically the P setting will be P4. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before the temperature is constant. I find that P4 usually around 170-180°F on normal weather conditions. The goal is to get the smoker up in temperature so there won’t be so much of a temperature swing when you dial to a temperature setting.
Let’s say you’ve set it to P4 and after 15 minutes you’re only at 150°F. Then you’ll have to lower the P Setting to something like P3 or P2. Once you temperature is close enough to 225°F (I find that 180°F is good enough even if you want to grill at 300°F) simply switch the dial to that temperature. The Pit Boss will now automatically stay on that temperature and the P Setting will be deactivated as you’re no longer on SMOKE mode.
Example 2 – Smoking below 200°F
On Pit Boss smokers there is no temperature setting below 200°F, so if you’re want to smoke at for example 160°F you’ll need to do it in smoke mode. To do it simply set the dial to SMOKE, and choose a P Setting. In normal weather conditions you’ll need to increase the P Setting as you need a lower temperature. You’ll probably be look for a P Setting of P5 or P6. Wait around 15 minutes for the temperature to stabilize. If you have you’re now ready for smoking
I hope this article wasn’t too confusing. Trust me, it will is really straightforward and it’s a lot easier when you get to do it yourself. The main thing to remember about the P Setting is: that it ranges from P0 to P7, the higher the P Setting there will be more smoke and a lower temperature and vice versa for lower P Settings, and that the P Setting is used on SMOKE mode to get you’re smoker to the right temperature adjusted to the weather conditions.