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Traeger Digital Thermostat is a POS
April 5, 2010
12:38 am
CWorden
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I bought a lil tex 070E and have owned it for approx 2 seeks. It came with a digital thermostat made by Traeger (it is the model that has the 180 setting). So far I have gone through three of them in the short time period that I have owned it. The first thermostat consistantly cooked much hotter than the setting (easily 15 – 25 degrees higher minimum temperature).

I called Traeger and they replaced it. Turns out the second thermostat was the wrong one (no 180 setting only smoke/225). I figured "oh well", went ahead and installed it just to see if it worked. Same results. I called Traeger up and they had me come back in (I live in Portland) and they gave me a third thermostat as well as a new temperature probe. They said they were seeing issues with the probes wiring (where it is split in between the controller and the probe itself). I am still getting erratic temperature fluxuations. The only difference is that now I am getting close to the desired temperature, however it is only for a few moments before the temperature skyrockets to 40-50 degrees above the desired temperature. To add insult to injury I still see the augur motor (2" fan to the left of the big fan) come on periodically when the temperature is still above the desired dial setting.

At this point I am ready for my money back. If I wanted to be handcuffed to a bbq and watch it like a hawk I would have bought a weber (could have bought 5 of them for the same price) and used charcoal.

So far I have wasted a lot of time uniinstalling components, driving to Traegers office/warehouse in Wilsonville, OR, re-installing compnents and running various trials at different settings hoping that the bbq will demonstrate a steady temperature.  All the results have been similar – POOR!!!

My friend bought a 180LV from the pellet grill outlet. This appears similar to the one that came with my Traeger, but is just a little different. He gets a steady temperature that consistantly stays +/- 5 degrees. He said that when it is really hot outside it will stay on the higher end of that, but rain or shine he gets a consistant +/- 5 degrees.

This same friend was cooking on his Traeger today (Easter) the same time I was.  he lives only a few miles away and was cooking in the same weather conditions – cool with a little drizzle.  His thermostat kept his temperature consistant and at the most had +/- 10 degrees, but generally was pretty steady at his dial setting.  This sounds reasonable to me.  At the same time mine was all over the place.

If anyone has any insight or a similar experience I'd love to hear it!

At this point I am pissed off and will ADVISE EVERYONE NOT TO BUY A TRAEGER, until Traeger solves my problem. I am really dissapointed with the tremedous amount of money I have wasted.

 

I will be happy to revise this post if/when Traeger can resolve this issue.

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April 5, 2010
8:24 am
homebbq
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ok, first.. Thanks for stopping by, second, sorry your having such an issue with it. And 3rd, this post borders on an outright flame.

I'm not sure if you have been reading/watching the news lately but public bashing of companies on the internet, has resulted in heavy duty fines, you can get us both in trouble. Let's tone this down a bit, or I will have to remove the post. Send them a nasty email, and phone call, heck your right close to them, just go there and stay until you think the issue is resolved.

I have the exact same cooker, and mine has been great. Those controllers have been around a long time, I had those contollers on my original FEC 100's, and they were great. Traegar started with the 180 degree controller, then went to 225 degree controllers (because people complained of the lower setting). Just as an FYI, you will never get that controller sit at a temp, it will fluctuate as much as 10 to 15 degrees above and below the desired temp. The swings you mentioned did seem to be beyond this norm. Also as an fyi, irregular sized pellets can cause an issue as well, mainly if they are too long. In those case some pellets may hangup in the auger until they are eventuall chewed up, and when they finally move through you can have a huge dump of pellets into the fiire pot. This initially would cause a drop in temp, but then it would go way above the desired temp.

Most of the issues like this are a result of either the thermostat probe placement, wires cut, not wired into the controller correctly, etc..  But, sometimes it is the controller itself, however it is unlikely you would get several bad ones in a row. But, anything is possible.

Kevin
HomeBBQ.com

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April 5, 2010
5:19 pm
CWorden
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UPDATE  Traeger has agreed to have me bring in the grill and they will trouble shoot it.

I am sorry if you thought my original post was a 'flame', but after I spent $700 bucks on a BBQ and replaced 4 different components on a bbq that was less the 10 days old I was pretty ticked.

I will update this thread once Traeger evaluates the issue.

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April 6, 2010
7:02 pm
CWorden
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UPDATE:  Traeger has installed a fourth digital thermostat.  They still have it in their shop and have run trials at different temperature settings and are seeing the same large temperature swings (well outside 15 degree swings).  The auger is cycling correctly and all systems check out out so far.  The are going to continue trouble shooting to figure out exactly what is going on.

I am glad they were able to duplicate the results that I was seeing so that I know that I was not crazy and my disapointment was justified.

I am really looking forward to getting it fixed and to try my hand at some of the recipes and techniques I have seen on these forums.

Traeger appears to be doing their due diligence in resolving the problem and I am hopefull everything will work out.

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April 15, 2010
12:58 am
CWorden
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Traeger called me today after having my BBQ for a week and a half.  They said they have modified the timing of the auger and that the best they could do was to get the fluctuations down to 20 degrees.  The traeger tech rep said that if I set it to 250 degrees that it might drop down to 240 degrees, have the auger kick on and bring it up to 270 degrees. 

Is this acceptable?  Does this example mirror what you see as Traeger owners with the 180 digital thermostat?  This is more than what Kevin suggested about (10-15 degrees fluctuations).

Please help… any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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April 15, 2010
11:29 am
Tim_Abrahamson
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I am not going to disparage traeger but Im not sure I would be satisfied with that answer.  You may have a lemon.  I own an offset smoker and a big green egg so I cant exactly relate to a pellet feed system.  The whole goal for buying a pricier cooker is to maintain consistent and stabel temps in your cooking.   IF this is not stable enough for you to tolerate I would push for a refund and look at other options.   My egg, for instance, cost me about $1000 but I have cooked butt for 8 hours straight at 250 +/- 2 degrees without ever adding fuel in the process. Pretty cool imho.   All cook types have their plusses and minuses (Eggs minus is the capacity is rather small) but the one thing they should all have is stable temps, otherwise they are useless as a cooker.

just my 2 centsLaugh

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Tim Abrahamson - Eureka, MO
April 15, 2010
7:18 pm
homebbq
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OK… First I am going to answer CWordens question then I will give my response to the latest comment..

This is what happens in that cooker, when the auger drops pellets into the firepot, the temp drops.. This can account for a substancial drop in temp, then as the pellets catch fire, the temp rises, and because the fan is on constantly the temp will push higher than the target temp. It will begin to drop again, as the pellets burn off. It will very rarely ever hit the target temp stay for any length of time. Thats just the way it works.. What they adjusted is a pot that has a numbered dial on the controller, which helps control the speed of the auger. 

Now, in all fairness I don't sit and watch mine cook, I understand what its doing  and understand there will be a swing in temp, and know why its happening. It is entirely possible that sometimes there are swings in temp like you mentioned, and it cooks just fine.

Now, the latest comment…

Very few cookers will ever maintain a consistent temp on their own, you have to make adjustments to air flow, and on some fuel.

This is especially true if your having to add fuel throughout the cook, and to say those cookers are useless is wrong, and. I have a BGE as well, and your not having to introduce fuel throughout the cook, so the temp is controlled by tightly controlling the airflow, and a highly insulated cooking environment. Now with a stick burner (not using a charcoal basket), you experience temp swings as well, in fact in much the same way, as your adding fulel, and as it burns down. the only way this might differ is if your modifying the airflow, as it's happening.

The meat does not really feel that wide of a temp swing, when it's happening that quickly, at least not like that little probe for the digital thermostat. In fact if you had a regular oven thermometer (not digital) and if you had a way to monitor it, you would not notice as much of a swing.

Kevin
HomeBBQ.com

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April 16, 2010
11:33 am
Tim_Abrahamson
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A suggestion: This is what I do with my offset. I hang a probe thermometer inside the cooker attached to a remote unit (I stick mine through a corn cob so its not touching anything metal). I set the thermometer to beep at me when the temp falls more than 15 degrees… (Gota find one with a high and low temp alert) I dont have to watch the pit so much as keep an ear out for the beep.  As the moderator said above, 15 degree swings is nothing to get too alarmed about as long as you are aware of them and are able to understand how it affects your que (dryness or tenderness of the meat, cooking time, appearance etc…)…after all BBQ can be more of an art than a science.  And with art…remember that a concert pianist practices countless hours every day to make the music beautiful…the more you play your BBQ instrument the more comfortable you will be with predicting the outcome of all your effort!

(BTW. in my offset I actually have 2 oven thermometers inside, two probe thermometers and the ones mounted in the doors. I believe you will find that your Traeger is probably easier to maintain temp than an offset. Some of those beasts can be tempermental if they are not quite tuned right…heheLaugh)

PS – "useless" was probably too strong a wordConfused….should have said "frustrating to use"

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Tim Abrahamson - Eureka, MO
December 3, 2010
7:03 pm
barnab
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I echo the above, you cant expect it to be as steady as an oven. I actually had the opposite experience (PGO with big fluctuations, Traeger 15-20* swing). I would offer 2 things… be patient, the more you open it, the less stable. Also, consider adding firebrick around the firepot. I added about 40lb to my 075 and now see about 10* swings. I think that is about the best you can ask for (we are cooking with wood afterall).

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February 7, 2011
5:38 pm
CWorden
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Checking back in….

I have had my Traeger for around ten months now.  I agree with the feedback that has been posted above.  If I had to do it all over again I don't think that I would do anything different.  The temperature swings are not as big of a deal as I thought they'd be, however I would have appreciated if the Salesman was a little more upfront with me when he sold me on the unit.

I have noticed that the temperature actually stays a lot more consitent when it is cooler outside.  During the summer the temp would run up a lot.  I have also thrown into my arsenal toggling with the "p setting" from 2 to 3 at times to get a more consistant cooking temp depending on the external temperatures.

Thanks for everyone's feedback.

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August 30, 2011
8:15 am
pelletisfuture
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Pellet smoker is a good idea. But Traeger shall do more research.

Instead of simply turn on and off in certain time interval, modern computer chips can do it more clever.

pay US$1000 to an Indian electronics engineer, he can develop a better device to controll auger and blower to run faster or slower instead of simply turning on or off. Temperature fluctuation can be kept with +-2F.

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