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This is a well-known brand so chances are high that you have owned or you own one right now. Basically, this is the best choice when it comes to home-based usages. These grills are great for home parties, for grilling in the backyard and etc. You will definitely going to enjoy using them. They are also simpler to use than the first brand here, so this is an advantage.
Although the Pit Boss cook surface ran a bit hotter on the left side, it was reasonably even. With cooking temp set at 225° we measured temps at 240° left – 220° right. The difference increased exponentially as set temp went higher. At the "High" maximum position on the controller dial we monitored actual temps at 520 left – 475 right. Controllers respond to a thermostat inside the oven and increase or decrease pellet feeds to the firepot to maintain set temperatures. Your indoor kitchen oven works the same way with a controller that turns gas burners or electric elements on and off as needed. And while some sophisticated controllers are very good at keeping temps within a tight tolerance, it is not unusual to see some temp swings as the unit cycles on and off. The Pit Boss controller has wide temp swings that allow it to go way below and above your set temp. Although everything we cooked on Pit Boss came out with good smoke flavor and good smoke rings, we noticed a slight tendency to overcook the surface of meats on the cooking grate side. This led us to flip meats once or twice while cooking. We speculate this may be caused by the soaring temps PB's controller allows before cutting off the pellet feed.
In terms of changing pellets, this sort of depends on the brand and model you go with. In the newer Pit Boss models, they have a “cleanout chute” where you can unscrew the hopper and allow the pellets to come out. In the Traeger models they have a door and pellets come out that way instead. This is something that brands like Pit Boss and Traeger recognized as being a problem and obviously it is now being implemented. When making your purchasing decision, definitely do your research and ensure the model has an option on the hopper to remove the pellets.
Packaging was good inside and out. All parts were secured to prevent damage and we liked the colorful graphics on the hopper and under the hood that explained how a pellet smoker works for a first time user. When the 820 was almost fully assembled, we noticed an unused bag of washers that were not mentioned in the assembly instructions except in the parts list. After being on hold with customer service for ten minutes, we were advised to unscrew everything and refasten all parts adding the washers to the screw and lock nut assemblies.
***Update 2...Now over a year in. I have easily fired this beauty up at least 150 times...yes, 2-3 times a week. With the cover, the care, and occasional, deep clean (just deep cleaned it for the 4th time..about a 1-2 hour simple process) it honestly looks like it did the day I set it up and works just as well. My pizza is the talk of my son's youth group buddies (don't want to tell them its Wal-Mart take and bake) and I can now cook/smoke/grill literally anything on this pit. My biggest problem now, if you read below about not using my 4K Cal Flame gas grill anymore (STILL haven't since), is that my wife if busting my chops to tear out my original 'outdoor kitchen' to free up more space on the patio! I'll keep making excuses to avoid that, but truth be told, this pit rendered my Cal Flame useless. Not one complaint...don't hesitate to buy this pit (remembering the $400 target price).***