Temperature Swings - Why Should I Care?


I see a ton of discussions on various ‘Q’ boards about temperature swings of up to 100 degrees F in pellet grills. My Camp Chef Woodwind SG runs around 30 degree swings max. I’m new to the pellet grill arena and have only had mine for a year. So far, I have never given the temp swings any thought at all. The only thing I’ve paid attention to is the internal temperature of the meat I’m smoking. Setting my smoker to the HIGH SMOKE (220) mark, I put the meat in, plug in the remote INK BIRD probes and wait until I get to the desired temperature recommended for that particular cook.

A lot of you fret about having temp swings of less than 5 degrees and buy PID units to make it so. I do have a PID unit for my Bradley smoker and have used it successfully for about 10 years now. But the real benefit for me on the Bradley is the ability to program different temps for different time cycles, not temperature control +/- 1 degree. My smokes prior to using the PID were just as good; they just required more time and interaction by me to manually adjust the temps at pre-ordained times.

So far, on my pellet grill, my cooks have reached the required/desired meat temperature in the suggested time frame shown in the recipes. So, why should I care what the temperature swings are in my pellet grill?


Great post! It's been a while since we've talked about this on here.

Some guys really freak out over temp swings and, as you elude to, under normal circumstances it's not a problem!. Temp swings, within reason, are perfectly normal AND expected! The temp dropping below a set threshold is what triggers the controller to feed more pellets. Temp swings of 5° or less are NOTHING! You can't expect any better than that!

If people only knew the kind of temp swings they get in a typical home oven, they'd be surprised, maybe even horrified. Its just that our pellet burners are telling us the actual average pit temp, whereas our home ovens are not, so we simply don't see the temp swings.

PID controllers are superior to regular controllers because they "learn" what the normal temp swing timings are for your grill and anticipate them, giving a better overall steady temperature.

Now, if your grill is having temp swings of 100° then that IS a bit bothersome, indeed, and should be addressed.


30º temp swings are basically a yawner but if they are approaching 100º, something is not right and should be addressed.


See BP’s sticky on obsessing on pit temps.


As Tent said, 5 degrees no big deal. 100 degrees, something is not right,
Thank you Sir, for that link. I also read the link Big Papa offered in the link you provided. What I have learned from all this discussion and discussions on other 'Q' sites is this - the answer to my question about why should I care about temperature swings is this: I shouldn't. The swings on my grill are normal for this equipment. They are of no real consequence and can be totally ignored. And i shall! :cool:


New member
I am not sure if temp swings were my issue when I had a pit boss, but they would swing 60-80 over set temp, then go down 5-40 of base temp - and sometimes keep going, flaming out.

That happened to me several times, and 4x on the last cook. That was the deal breaker for me. That and the igniter burning out the 2nd time I used it.

The temp swings did produce some nice smoke though.


New member
Our Daniel Boon was having some major temp swings and I switched to some dryer pellets which resolved the problem. I think what happens is also similar to what happens while making pellets, if there is to much moisture in the feed stock, the heat drives it out and the cooler layer above it soaks it up. This is evident by all the steam coming out of the pellet press, and then the process stops for a while until enough moisture is steamed off. I believe pellets behave similarly in the hopper and eventually the moist material hits the fire box and doesn't burn well. The auger keeps feeding to raise the temp and then off it goes and you've got a big fire and to much heat.

The heavy smoke mentioned is also a clue of to much moisture. I bought a small infrared moisture detector and confirmed this a couple of weeks ago. The pellets on top of the hopper measured 8% and the bottom they measured 16%! Moisture is a tricky thing to measure accurately with inexpensive testers because the only see slightly below the surface and moisture is constantly changing to maintain equilibrium with ambient conditions. We are building a pellet testing lab here and will eventually have a gravimetric thermal hydrometer ( oven and scale ;-) to test sample weight before and after baking out the moisture.
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