How does a pellet smoker work? Oak is the ‘backbone’ material used to make wood pellets for grills and smokers, but other hardwood species such as apple, cherry, and hickory are also utilized to produce diverse flavors. Even charcoal pellets are now available. Pellet grills and smokers do not employ softwood pellets; instead, softwood pellets are used to heat pellet stoves and boilers. Softwood pellets will burn in a pellet grill, but they are not rated as “food safe,” and they do not impart a smoky flavor in the food that is nearly as appetizing.
How Does A Pellet Smoker Work? : Basic Guide
I offered a very basic description of how a pellet grill/smoker works at the top of this piece (image above). This section goes into further depth, but it’s still a basic overview compared to what I’ll cover later in the article. Now, you’ll notice that I’m mentioning Traeger a lot. It’s not because Traeger is the sole pellet grill/smoker manufacturer; far from it. Pellet grills/smokers now come in over 30 different brands.
Traeger, on the other hand, was the first company to introduce pellet grills in the 1980s, and they remain the most popular brand to this day (here’s proof). Now, not every pellet grill works the same way as Traeger’s pellet grills (which I’ll go over in greater detail below). In case you’re looking for the best pellet smoker? We have some recommendation for you.
I offered a very basic description of how a pellet grill/smoker works at the top of this piece (image above). This section goes into further depth, but it’s still a basic overview compared to what I’ll cover later in the article.
Now, you’ll notice that I’m mentioning Traeger a lot. It’s not because Traeger is the sole pellet grill/smoker manufacturer; far from it. Pellet grills/smokers now come in over 30 different brands. Traeger, on the other hand, was the first company to introduce pellet grills in the 1980s, and they remain the most popular brand to this day (here’s proof). Now, not every pellet grill works the same way as Traeger’s pellet grills (which I’ll go over in greater detail below). He
How Does A Pellet Smoker Work? : The Hopper
There will be a hopper for the pellets whether you’re looking at a dedicated vertical pellet smoker or a hybrid horizontal pellet grill/smoker. The size of that hopper now fluctuates greatly. Some portable pellet grills, for example, have a hopper that holds only a few pounds of pellets. When it comes to large pellet grills/smokers, the hopper capacity might reach 20+ pounds.
The larger the hopper, as you might guess, the longer the pellet grill/smoker can operate unattended. How long do you think it will take? That depends on a number of variables, including the temperature you select and the outside temperature. However, as a general rule, will you utilize 1-2 pounds of pellets every hour while smoking ‘low and slow’?
How Does A Pellet Smoker Work? The Auger
The wood pellets pass via the hopper and into an auger (a screw) driven by an electric motor linked to the control panel. When the pellet grill/smoker is turned on for the first time, the auger motor will feed a large number of pellets into the burn pot to get the fire started.
Once the fire has reached the desired temperature (as determined by an internal thermostat within the grill), the control panel will instruct the auger to slow or stop feeding pellets. The auger motor’s operation varies depending on the type of control panel installed on the pellet grill; more on this in the advanced guide below.
How Does A Pellet Smoker Work? : The Fan
As a result, the auger delivers pellet fuel to the burn pot. However, for efficient combustion, you’ll need a significant amount of air (particularly, oxygen). The combustion/induction fan, on the other hand, is critical to the cooking and smoking performance of pellet grills/smokers. The fan aids in the distribution of heat/smoke throughout the cooking chamber, ensuring that the food cooks/smokes evenly.
The fan, like the auger, is regulated automatically via the control panel (the fan speed is not adjustable separately). However, just like the auger motor, the efficiency of the fan on a pellet smoker/grill is determined by the type of control panel used.
How Does A Pellet Smoker Work? (Advanced Guide)
Okay, I’ve already covered the fundamentals of how pellet grills work. Now, let’s talk about what you truly need to know about pellet grills/smokers in order to find one that meets your demands and fits your budget. PID controls, WiFi capability, and direct flame access are all features that are often seen on more expensive pellet grills/smokers.
This isn’t always the case, as complex features like PID controls and WiFi connectivity are becoming more popular, even on low-cost pellet grills. If you’re looking for the greatest pellet grills/smokers under $500, $1,000, or $2,000, I have three articles for you.
The Different Types of Pellet Smoker Control Panels
A control panel that appears very similar to the image above may be seen on early Traeger wood pellet grill/smokers. The latest generation Traeger control panels based on the D2 Direct Drive platform, on the other hand, are considerably different, and I’m not just talking about how they look; I’m also talking about how they work.
This was previously discussed in my Traeger Pro Series Gen 1 vs Gen 2 post. Traeger control panels of the previous generation were time-based. To put it another way, the control panel would turn the auger/fan on and off for a specific length of time to attain and maintain a set temperature. It works, but when using this time-based strategy, the actual temperature can vary by up to 25 degrees from the desired value, sometimes even more.
The current Traeger D2 control panel uses a PID algorithm, which is as follows: Traegergrills.com image The latest Traeger Pro Series and Ironwood Timberline models all have similar versions of the aforementioned control panel that work on a PLC (programmable logic controller).
The auger and fan speed are constantly adjusted by a PID controller, resulting in significantly more accurate temperature control. As a result, a PID controller will usually keep the temperature within 5 degrees of the set point. As a result, they are far more precise than the preceding generation of time-based controllers.
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Hi there! I’m a food enthusiast and journalist, and I have a real passion for food that goes beyond the kitchen. I love my dream job and I’m lucky enough to be able to share my knowledge with readers of several large media outlets. My specialty is writing engaging food-related content, and I take pride in being able to connect with my audience. I’m known for my creativity in the kitchen, and I’m confident that I can be the perfect guide for anyone looking to take their culinary journey to the next level.