If you have a Traeger Pellet Smoker the usage is fairly straight-forward and the temperature is as easy to set as the dial on your oven. ‘Set it and forget it’ as they would say on the infomercials. Starting the grill is as easy as opening the lid and selecting the ‘Smoke’ setting. In approximately 2 minutes it’ll start to smoke and in less than 5 the fire will start to roar. Drop the lid and bump it up to whatever temperature you need. Simple.
One question I get asked a lot is how to change the temperature of the smoke setting. The older Traeger manuals covered this, but were worded very poorly. Here is a quick rundown of how the smoke setting works. Since the smoke setting is used to start the unit the it isn’t governed by a temperature, rather it is a cycle that will run the pellet auger for 15 seconds and then pause for a pre-determined amount of time. This pause is adjustable and is referred to as the "P-setting". It ranges from P-0 to P-9. From the factory this is set to P-2 (a 65 second pause). Under most circumstances this should net a temperature of about 150 to 180. Although I've seen it up well into the 200's before.
Should you need to adjust the cycle you can use a small screwdriver or bent paperclip inserted into the small hole by the temperature knob (pictured). Also, be please read my note of caution below. Lightly press the button in the hole and the readout will show the P followed by the current setting. Each increment will result in an increase of 10 seconds to pause between auger cycles. Here is a table to show the settings:
Traeger recommends staying within the P-0 to P-4 range. Running consistently below 150-160°F may cause your fire to go out in the firepot. I’ve run mine steadily lower than this, but any dip in temperature due to wind, etc., may cause you to have to go through the proper re-lighting procedure (below).
Proper Re-lighting Procedure (in the event you lose fire)
This is addressed in the Traeger manuals, but I’ll cover it here as well for safety purposes. Not properly following these steps may result in "over firing", as they call it, which can be very dangerous. It can even cause permanent damage to your grill. I’ve seen this happen with an overly greasy grill and a grease fire like that can be a very, very dangerous event. So take the time and do it right.
- Turn off your grill and allow it to cool (approximately 10-15 minutes).
- Open the grill. Remove the grate, drip pan and heat baffle.
- Remove the unburned pellets and ash from inside and around the firepot. In the manual they state that you can use a shop-vac, but be very careful doing this. If you have any remnants of hot ash the vacuum will suck it in a fuel it with the airflow and cause a fire in your vacuum or filter.
- Replace everything and start it as you normally would.
A reader recently told me they had tried to adjust their P-setting, but the pin hole didn't line up perfectly with the settings button. Be cautious of this and make sure you can see the button inside the hole the first time you use it. Grab a flashlight to verify and then gingerly push it with a bent paperclip. The hole on this reader's thermostat didn't line up and their board shorted out as a result. Traeger sent a replacement, but it isn't worth the headache.