5 Best BBQ Temperature Controllers of 2020
Nothing beats the taste of charcoals for barbecuing meat but it often requires you to spend lots of time tending to your barbeque's temperature. With a BBQ temperature controller, however, that task becomes as easy as ABC.
There are different makers and types of BBQ temperature controllers, but they all have certain features in common, and that is to check the grill's internal heat and to regulate a fan that controls the charcoal's heat.
This BBQ temperature controllers review helps you in making the right choice by providing a list of the top offers in the market, as well as different helpful guides.
5 Best BBQ Temperature Controllers – Review
1. BBQ Guru PartyQ (Best Entry-level Controller)
2. BBQ Guru DigiQ (Best Value Mid-range Controller)
3. Flame Boss 200-WiFi (Powerful Mid-range Controllers with Plenty of Features)
4. Auber Instruments (Features 3 Different Fan Control Modes)
5. Flame Boss 300-WiFi (Easy-to-use with Variable Speed Blower)
1. BBQ Guru PartyQ
(Best Entry-level Controller)
2. BBQ Guru DigiQ
(Best Value Mid-range Controller)
3. Flame Boss 200-WiFi
(Powerful Mid-range Controllers with Plenty of Features)
4. Auber Instruments
(Features 3 Different Fan Control Modes)
5. Flame Boss 300-WiFi
(Easy-to-use with Variable Speed Blower)
1. BBQ Guru PartyQ – Best Entry-level BBQ Temperature Controller
- Fits: Weber smokers, Big Green Egg, Primo, Cypress grill
- Power: 4 AA batteries
- Number of Food Probes: 1
BBQ Guru makes great temperature controllers that additionally fit a range of smokers and grills. But if you're just starting out and you're not ready for their top product, then here's an offer that's perfect for beginners.
It's the best smoker temperature controller for those who want a high-quality system but without the extras. So, there's only one pit probe and no WiFi. There's also just a 3-digit display, but which is large enough once you understand how it works.
BBQ Guru also makes this a lovely and trendy little controller with high-tech functions. The design is unique, simple, and looks good on nearly every grill or smoker.
Another advantage is that it fits a range of smokers and grills, thanks to BBQ Guru's extensive list of adapters and it comes backed by a 1-year warranty.
2. BBQ Guru DigiQ – Best Value Mid-range Temperature Controller
- Fits: Green egg, dragon, Kamado, e.t.c
- Power: 12V Adapter
- Number of Food Probes: 2
Here's another top-rated BBQ temperature controller from BBQ Guru and this time, it comes with certain unique features, including a ramping down function and an audible food-ready alert.
The ramping down function starts to cut down the heat inside the smoker or grill slowly, once it notices that the meat is about 30 degrees to getting done. This feature needs you to insert the meat probe into the meat anyway and produces excellently cooked meats.
BBQ Guru outfits this controller with two probes, one for the pit temperature and the second as a meat probe. This setup also makes it possible to get an audible alert from the controller once your food is ready.
You also get the other BBQ Guru's advantages, like the vast range of adapters that make it easy to fit on different smokers and grills. You just have to choose the right kit.
One downside of this offer, however, is the lack of a WiFi function. It comes with a large display anyway, and BBQ Guru backs it with a 1-year warranty.
3. Flame Boss 200 – Powerful Mid-range Controllers with Plenty of Features
- Fits: Kamado, Green Egg, Primo grills, e.t.c
- Power: 12V adaptor
- Number of Food Probes: 2
This Flame Boss 200 device is nearly identical to the 300-model, with the only difference that the 300-model can handle up to three probes, while this model can only handle two probes and not more.
Asides from that, it offers you features like Flame Boss' variable speed technology, which makes it possible to drive the fan blower at the exact speed needed to reach the desired charcoal temperature.
It also comes with a WiFi interface, which opens up new possibilities like monitoring and controlling your pit's and meat's temperatures from the comfort of your smart-phone, tablet, or PC.
The downside is that it's designed mainly for kamado-styled smokers like the Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, and Primo. So, unlike BBQ Guru devices, this controller's scope of compatible products is not very large.
On the brighter side, it includes an auto-learning function, a keep-warm function, and Open Lid detection function. Flame Boss backs it with a 1-year warranty as well.
4. Auber Instruments SYL-2615SYS-G – Features Three Different Fan Control Modes
- Fits: Kamado-style smokers
- Power: 12V power adapter
- Number of Food Probes: 2
Here's another of the best BBQ temperature controllers in the market and it comes from Auber Instruments and features lots of impressive technologies.
The first big advantage is its WiFi connection, which makes it possible to connect to the controller using Auber Instruments' custom-designed smart-phone app.
This app is available for both iOS and Android devices, with an easy to set up WiFi configuration and an intuitive and easy to understand app interface, including temperature data plots, an impressive parameter settings page, and the ability to check many controllers at once.
One last feature is the flexible three control modes for the blower. It allows you to choose between a fan speed control mode, a duty cycle control mode, and manual control. There's also multi-step temperature control and an open-lid detection feature.
Flame Boss 300 – An Easy-to-use Controller with a Variable Speed Blower
- Fits: Weber Smokey Mountain, Char-griller, e.t.c
- Power: 12V adapter
- Number of Food Probes: 3
The Flame Boss 300 is the answer for those looking for the best automatic BBQ temperature controller. It features the best of Flame Boss' technologies, including a variable speed blower and WiFi connectivity.
Unlike most other BBQ temperature controllers in the market, this variable speed control from Flame Boss allows the unit to select the exact speed for the blower to generate the desired temperature inside the grill or smoker.
Asides from that, it lacks a switch, which means it automatically gets to work once you connect it. It simply carries on with whatever program is available, so you only need to make changes if you want something different from last time.
There's a dual-line display with easy to read digits and it will accept up to 3 meat probes using a y-cable for connection. It's also WiFi enabled and Flame Boss backs it with a 1-year warranty.
BBQ Guru vs. Flame Boss BBQ Temperature Controller
BBQ Guru and Flame Boss are the two biggest brands when it comes to BBQ temperature controllers, so many newcomers often find themselves wondering which of the two brands to get.
Both brands are deeply dedicated to making the barbecuing process more pleasurable but BBQ Guru began earlier in 2003, while Flame Boss got founded by Roger Collins a decade later in 2013.
The similarities between the two brands include being founded by barbecue enthusiasts with engineering backgrounds and offering a range of temperature controllers with different features and specifications. Your end choice, therefore, may depend on which of their features best meet your needs.
Following is a closer look at the brands and how they fare in different areas.
BBQ Guru wins the compatibility showdown because they have a large inventory of custom-made adapters, guaranteeing that you'll always find a compatible adapter for your smoker.
The reason for a compatible adapter is precision and accuracy. When an adapter fits well, then there are no gaps or leaks of any kind. This makes the smoker or grill get hotter or cooler as it should.
Flame Boss, however, offers a smaller range of adapters, including an adapter for ceramic cookers and for Weber Smokey Mountains smokers. This makes Flame Boss' adapters less precise in general because they are more likely to produce gaps and leaks.
2. Temperature Accuracy
Flame Boss offers a variable speed fan and this makes it more precise than the systems from other makers. A variable speed fan is a fan that's powered by a variable electric motor, which allows the exact speed that's needed to get selected, so as to keep up a given temperature.
On the other hand, Flame Boss controllers have less fitting adapters than BBQ Guru. So, in a situation where there is no airtight connection between a Flame Boss controller and the grill or smoker, the temperature accuracy will be lower because air can enter the smoker on its own.
3. Temperature Probes
When it comes to temperature probes, BBQ Guru tends to deliver more superior and heat-resistant probes than Flame Boss, whose probes are more prone to heat damage.
Also, the top models from each company, namely Flame Boss' 300 and BBQ Guru's CyberQ both come with two 6-ft long probes each. One pit probe and a meat probe.
Both models also allow the use of up to two more meat probes, although you'll need to buy them separately. BBQ Guru's CyberQ, however, comes with three ports, ready to plug into all three probes, while the Flame Boss 300 needs extra Y-cables to handle up to three cables.
How to Buy the Best BBQ Temperature Controllers
BBQ temperature controllers are a special kind of electronic devices with a specific job. You'll, therefore, need to get some understanding of their underlying technology and mechanisms, if you want to make an informed decision when choosing a temperature controller.
Following are the most important aspects of the average controller and what you need to keep an eye on when deciding on the best BBQ temperature controller for your needs.
This is obviously the first issue that you should consider when deciding on which BBQ temperature controller to get for your grill or smoker.
A brand like BBQ Guru, for instance, has the largest variety of adapters, which you use to connect the temperature controller to the grill and this makes it the most compatible brand.
Other brands, while being less compatible generally, often feature an adapter for one or more specific smokers or grills, so it's left for you here to check and make sure that what you're planning to buy will fit.
Another important consideration is the type and number of probes that you need or think will best suit your barbecuing style.
There are two types of probes that you'll find in BBQ temperature controllers, and they are the pit probe and the meat probe. The pit probe is for measuring ambient temperature, while the meat probe gets stuck into the meat that you're cooking.
You'll find controllers that come with just one probe, while others come with two, three or more. Also, the different manufacturers offer different methods of managing the temperature information from single or multiple probes.
3. Temperature Control
This is the main job of the temperature controller and the way a particular controller handles it is what sets the champions apart from the rest.
Accuracy is very important here because you want your cooking to stick as perfectly to a recipe as possible. Keep in mind though, that there'll always be slight variations, so for the best results, go for the controller with the least temperature variations.
4. Accessories & Extras
Some models come with extra features or accessories that make it more convenient or easier to use. An integrated magnet, for instance, makes it easy to stick a controller to the metallic side of a grill or smoker.
Open Lid Detection is another interesting feature that detects when the grill's or smoker's lid is open and then either reduces or completely cuts out the fan, to retain the heat inside.
WiFi capability opens up many options for using a BBQ temperature controller. So, for instance, you can watch your cooking from far away and even update an online cooking log.
5. Build Quality & Materials
You want a product that'll last you for as long as possible, so keep an eye out for the materials used and the construction quality. Plastic encased controllers are okay, but you need a fan and probes that can withstand the heat and last you a long while.
How Does a BBQ Temperature Controller Work?
The working process of a BBQ temperature controller is relatively simple and it involves constantly checking the temperature inside your smoker and then adjusting the airflow inside the chamber to regulate the heat.
Following is a closer look at the major processes.
1. Monitoring using Probes
The first part of this system is to have a probe that translates the ambient temperature into electric signals that the Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) system can work with. Some temperature controls come with just one probe, while others come with two or more probes.
You can also insert the probe into the meat that you're cooking to check its internal temperature, so you don't overcook it. This feature depends on your specific temperature controller and whether it offers it, anyway.
Simply keep the probe where you want it, and that is, on the grate or inside the meat.
2. The Programming
This part has to get done by you and the way you'll do it depends on the temperature controller that you're using. In a nutshell, you need to set your desired temperature that the controller will try to keep it up.
As I said, this step depends on many factors, so check your user manual for programming details and for any extra features the device may have to offer.
3. Adjusting the Fan
Once you've got the system running, it'll measure the probe's temperature readings against what you set in the program.
If the probe's temperature is higher, it will cut down on the fan's speed, if the probe's temperature is higher, however, it will increase its speed.
This fan controls the lower vents, how much air, and thereby, how much oxygen gets to the charcoals. This, in turn, determines how hot the charcoals glow.
How to Install the Temperature Controller
There's no single installation procedure for BBQ temperature controllers because there are so many grill and smoker design out there and each controller either fits or does not fit certain air vents.
This means that you need to make sure first that any controller you're about to buy will fit your grill or smoker. The next step then is to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions to get it installed and working.
Generally, installing the controller is a simple process and the important steps are below.
1. Install the Adapter
Nearly all the temperature controller kits will come with an adapter that you'll need to attach to your smoker's lower air vent. This is the deciding step because once the adapter is in place, everything else will easily fall into place.
2. Attach Pipe & Fan
After installing the adapter, the next step is to attach the fan to it. Depending on the product, they may be a pipe as well, or not. Simply follow the instructions for this one.
3. Connect the Cables
After fixing the parts, you'll then need to connect the cables. This part also depends on the make, but it'll generally need a connection between the fan and the controller, plus a power cable from the controller to your mains AC outlet.
4. Power On & Test
Once everything is in place, power on your newly installed BBQ temperature controller and set a temperature according to the manufacturer's instructions, then inspect your work and make sure it's functional.
We've come to the end of this BBQ temperature controllers review and as you can see, your choice will depend on a lot of factors that you'll need to consider first.
This includes the type of grill or smoker that you've got and the type of temperature controller that you're looking to buy, along with desired features like blower control and WiFi connectivity.
In the end, the final choice will remain yours alone to make because you're the one that knows what you really need and can happily afford.
- 5 Best BBQ Temperature Controllers – Review
- 1. BBQ Guru PartyQ – Best Entry-level BBQ Temperature Controller
- 2. BBQ Guru DigiQ – Best Value Mid-range Temperature Controller
- 3. Flame Boss 200 – Powerful Mid-range Controllers with Plenty of Features
- 4. Auber Instruments SYL-2615SYS-G – Features Three Different Fan Control Modes
- 5. Flame Boss 300 – An Easy-to-use Controller with a Variable Speed Blower
- BBQ Guru vs. Flame Boss BBQ Temperature Controller
- How to Buy the Best BBQ Temperature Controllers
- How Does a BBQ Temperature Controller Work?
- How to Install the Temperature Controller