Do you like the flavor of charcoal on your food but you have difficulties maintaining an even temperature for a long time?
Before going and spending your money on an expensive smoker, you can improve your existing one by adding a temperature controller.
They automatically regulate the cooking temperature of your smoker by increasing or decreasing the air flow, based on your desired temperature.
We have prepared a list with some of the best bbq temperature controllers for you to take a better look and pick the one which fits your needs and preferences.
Note: If you are in a hurry, you can read our quick comparison table below or just click here to jump to our conclusion.
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick Comparison Table
- 2 What is an Automatic BBQ Temperature Controller?
- 3 Why You Should Trust Us?
- 4 Reviews of the Best BBQ Temperature Controllers
- 5 Final Thoughts
- 6 How Do Automatic Temperature Controllers Work?
- 7 Do you need a Temperature Controller?
- 8 Where is an Automatic Temperature Controller Used?
- 9 What Types of Temperature Controllers Should You Get?
- 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of an Automatic Temperature Controller
- 11 Things to have in Mind when Using a Temperature Controller
- 12 Factors to consider when buying a BBQ temperature controller
- 13 FAQs
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Quick Comparison Table
7.1 x 7.1 x 3.5
9 x 8.5 x 3
13.2 x 10.5 x 3.5
11.1 x 10.2 x 4.8
5.2 x 1.2 x 3.8
What is an Automatic BBQ Temperature Controller?
Automatic BBQ Temperature controllers are dedicated units which give you the ability to have full control over the temperature of your smoker and grill, offering you a set and forget experience from your charcoal grill or smoker.
These devices are usually connected directly to the grill’s cooking chamber and will give you an automated airflow to evenly distribute heat and regulate the temperature during the cooking.
You just have to set the desired temperature and you are free to go and do some other activity. Thanks to some models having WiFi capabilities, you can even control and monitor the temperature no matter where you are, as long as you have a working internet connection.
Why You Should Trust Us?
Trying to make the best decision when purchasing a new product can be difficult, especially if there are a lot of options to choose from.
That’s why reading product reviews are important. You get a better insight into the construction, features and all the advantages and disadvantages of each product, giving you the ability to do a better choice based on your needs and preferences.
On our previous articles, we have tested and reviewed a lot of WiFi thermometers, digital bbq thermometers, and instant-read thermometers, gaining experience on knowing which are the most important factors to consider when picking an automatic bbq temperature controller.
So, without further a due, let’s jump into the reviews of the products we featured in this list.
Reviews of the Best BBQ Temperature Controllers
1. Flame Boss 300 - Best Automatic Temperature Controller
The Flame Boss 300 is probably the best overall bbq temperature controller you can find on the market. It comes from a reputable company, which is well known to produce high-quality products for a long time.
One thing which stands out from the competitors is the WiFi capabilities of Flame Boss 300. It allows you to use a wireless connection to check and control your cooking where ever you are. And that combined with the simple to use interface makes this product one of the best choices.
For those who like multitasking, the Flame Boss 300 accommodates up to three meat probes, giving you the ability to monitor several temperatures at the same time. In the package, there are only two probes, one for the meat and one for the pit, so if you want more, you have to purchase them separately.
It has an alarm feature to notify you after your meat has reached the set temperature, making your cooking sessions even easier.
Even though it has a simple to use interface, a few users have faced difficulties when connecting to WiFi. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and there are several tutorials online as well as on the instructions manual included in the package. If you don’t use the WiFi connection, the only way to get temperature data is to view the controller unit or activate the text message option.
As for compatibility, the Flame Boss 300 is compatible with most smokers and grills, making it a great choice for everyone who wants to step away from their BBQ and let the controller does the work for you.
2. BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 - Runner Up
The BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 may not have the greatest design but it is surely capable of giving you full control over your smoker/grill cooking temperatures.
The BBQ Guru claims that their DigiQ DX2 product resolves once and for all any temperature swings your smoker may have, making sure your meat doesn’t get burnt, tough or dried.
It offers precise temperature control, holding the set temperature pretty well, making sure that the food comes out juicy and tender. The product has a high-tech digital temperature control unit which keeps track of the internal food temperature and controls your grill’s/smoker’s temperature just like an oven.
There is a nice audible ‘Food Ready’ alert which beeps once your food has reached the desired temperature. If you don’t like it, there is an option to decrease or increase the volume, from 0 to a 10 level.
There are a few users who have complained about the meat probes going bad or not working properly and that the BBQ Guru hasn’t provided the promised support but the majority of customers are very satisfied with this product, giving it a very high rating among its competitors.
As for product compatibility, it fits Medium, Large & XL Big Green Egg, Cypress Grill, Dragon Fire, Kamado Joe, Primo Grills & Vision Classic Ceramic grills.
Overall, the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 provides an effective and simple solution to take control of your grill’s or smoker’s temperature with no fancy design but impressive results.
The CyberQ Cloud bbq temperature controller is another product worth considering. Even though it is a bit more expensive than its competitors, it offers plenty of features to play with.
We think that this model is the best value product on this list, considering its revolutionary features and construction.
It features an exclusive ramp mode, which will make sure that the CyberQ Cloud will perfectly cook your food every time. What is unique about this feature, is the ability to automatically reduce the cooking temperature as the food is close to being finished, around 30°F before finish off.
As for alerts, it has multiple options to receive alerts via e-mail, text or audio, depending on your preferences. You can even incorporate with the Amazon Alexa, giving you the ability to get the temperature by just simply asking Alexa.
One thing which we don’t like a lot about this model is that the remote controlling and monitoring is made via an online website. So, there is no app to install for more convenience and you have to access the website every time you need, which makes the process a bit longer.
Apart from that, the unit offers great temperature regulation, is very fuel efficient and offers you to share your food online with the community.
As for product compatibility, this particular product works great with all Weber grills and smokers but there are other models from the same manufacturer which work great with other grills too.
The Pitmaster IQ120 is a bbq temperature regulator kit which promises to give you better control over your smoker and grill temperature. It is a widely marketed device, with several TV advertisements and personalities recommending it.
This model comes at a very affordable price range, especially when compared to the other competitors.
The device is not made of very high-quality materials, which can be expected at such price point, and is focused more on bringing great results than looking good.
When it comes to performance, the Pitmaster IQ120 is great at holding the desired temperature and making sure that your food comes out tender and juicy.
We would recommend this unit for the fans of low and slow cooking as this unit does a great job on that, no matter the weather outside.
Other mentioning features are the 12 adjustable parameters for food cooking, the food-ready alerts, and the digital display.
Overall, considering the performance, the features and the price which this product comes, we think that this is the best budget pick you can find on the market.
The Flame Boss 200 is the entry-level product from the Flame Boss products. It is a smaller and more compact model when compared to the upper Flame Boss 300, offering you the same attractive design and versatility.
It features a beautiful LCD display which makes the reading temperature easier if you are not using the wireless connection.
The WiFi connection makes the process much easier, allowing you to set and forget the food since you can monitor and control the cooking temperature no matter where you are.
Once the food has reached the desired temperature, you get a text alarm that will notify you that the food is completed.
One small feature, which we found interesting, is the automatic mode which allows you to cook at the same temperature as you did on your previous session. We think that this is pretty convenient and cool small touch.
As for set-up, the product is pretty easy to put together and features an adjustable stand at the bottom for more personalized positioning.
One drawback which we found for this product is that setting up the WiFi for the first time can be a little bit confusing for a few. There are plenty of tutorials on Flame Boss's website and after the first time, the things are pretty straight forward.
Overall, the Flame Boss 200 is a great choice for beginners, offering tons of features at an entry price point. Even though the WiFi connection can sometimes be confusing, the controller provides even and precise temperature control.
Flame Boss 200 Video Review
We decided to include a bonus model on this list since we thought that it is worth it and is packed with useful features, including a few which are not on other models.
The LavaLock Automatic is built entirely to be used for smokers, so it will not be compatible with a few grill models.
Even though this will limit the ability for this unit to be used on several grills, it will allow it to be used on a larger range of smoker brands.
It has a nice and sleek design, with a shiny brushed aluminum look. On top it features a small screen to give you the needed details in a clear and easy to read display and a knob to allow you to easily change the temperature. The knob design may be a lot more useful for many as it is easier to control temperature on a knob than it is using tiny buttons.
It doesn't have any fancy WiFi or voice control features but the manual option is very high quality and very well built.
This unit supports up to 4 probes at the same time, meaning that you can cook up to 4 different kinds of meals at the same time and this model will still keep perfect track of all of them.
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How Do Automatic Temperature Controllers Work?
But how do these devices work? Basically, the automatic temperature controllers are small computer units, which run one probe to the grill/smoker grate to monitor the cooking temperature and one probe into the food to monitor the internal food doneness.
It gathers these data and calculates the time and optimal temperature needed for your food to reach the desired temperature.
To regulate the temperature, temperature controllers have automatic fans which control the amount of oxygen inside the cooking chamber to increase or decrease the fire intensity, based on needed temperature. The fan works automatically and responds that user temperature matches the temperature inside the chamber by increasing or decreasing its speed.
This provides an even and precise temperature for hours of cooking, making the meat cook to perfection.
So, you just set the temperature for the food you are cooking, the temperature for the smoker/grill and the cooking time. The rest is handled by the controller.
There are a few basic models which don’t offer remote controlling, but most advanced models offer WiFi connectivity and remote control for you to change and adjust the temperature based on your needs, without having to go near the grill.
You can control everything from the app or the browser and also engage in online smoking communities to share your food and progress.
Do you need a Temperature Controller?
If you have smoked food before, you should know that one of the most important factors of cooking meat to perfection is knowing how to control the temperature.
If you master the temperature control and are able to maintain a stable and even temperature for long periods of time, especially when smoking meats which require more than 8 hours of smoking, your results would be amazing.
The rubs and brine are one part of the process but timing and temperature are probably the most important ones in the whole process.
On our previous articles, we have taken a look at the best smoker thermometers and how important is to know the internal food temperature. Having total control over the air flow and the cooking temperature of your smoker will make your cooking experience much more enjoyable and fuel efficient.
Set and forget style is what makes most people switch to a gas grill or electric smoker but before you ditch your charcoal smoker or grill, you should know that now it is possible to have total control over the temperature of these models using an automatic temperature controller.
Where is an Automatic Temperature Controller Used?
Not every model need a temperature controller. Models such as pellet, gas or electric smokers don’t need one as they already have built-in controllers.
So, they are mostly used on Charcoal Smokers and Grills, mostly on Ceramic Kamado smokers, Water smokers & kettle grills.
What Types of Temperature Controllers Should You Get?
There three types of temperature controllers available:
In our case, the PID models are what we recommend and what makes more sense. They are a bit more expensive but they have advanced technology incorporated.
Advantages and Disadvantages of an Automatic Temperature Controller
Temperature controllers will help you keep a steady and consistent temperature required for long cooking sessions as the environment and the heat may change and fluctuate the temperature from a few to hundreds of degrees.
But, just like every product, there are advantages and disadvantages of using one:
Things to have in Mind when Using a Temperature Controller
Just like everything, you may face a few issues during the setup or during the cooking sessions with these devices. Here are a couple of most known issues and things to have in mind when things go bad.
The Temp Runs Away and Gets Too Hot
If the temperature is starting to run away and it gets too hot, even though you have set-up everything correctly, then there are a few possible causes to this:
Your vents are fully closed and the controller unit cannot control the temp. This is more an issue with the smoker not being sealed correctly and is not directly connected with the controller unit.
Another cause of temperatures getting too hot is that the air is leaking somewhere and the controller is not doing the job properly. In this case, you need to check the seals, double checking the positions of the vents, replacing them if necessary or using kill plugs if required.
Tips to Prevent Issues
Here are a few tips for you to prevent any future issues with automatic temperature controllers:
- Keep the probes clean. If the dirt is accumulated, it will have an insulating effect and cause lower readings. This will lead to the temperature being too hot and the food will probably become overcooked and dry.
- Make sure that the fans are clean of dirt, ash or any kind of debris.
- Don’t exceed the thermometer’s maximum temperature. Doing so will probably make the thermometer go bad and not functional anymore.
- Always follow the instructions about the vents positioning.
Factors to consider when buying a BBQ temperature controller
There are a few factors to consider when buying a temperature controller in order for you to make the best possible decision based on your needs and preferences:
If you are going to spend an extra hundred dollars on a temperature controller, you should definitely check if it is compatible with your grill or smoker. You should always make sure that the model you are picking is fully compatible with your model so you won’t have to return it or end up with a useless device.
Next, you should consider the price. Make sure to consider how much you are going to spend on such device. Having a unit with the latest features and fancy options is always cool but is it worth the extra money? There are several models available which come at affordable prices and are packed with the most useful features for most people.
Having a wireless connection to your smoker is always a good idea. You don’t have to go near the grill to check it but just use your smartphone or web browser instead. You have the ability to control and monitor the cooking and food temperature, no matter where you are.
- Also Read: Best WiFi BBQ Thermometers
Having alerts and notification alarms telling you when the food is ready to be removed is always good. You won’t need to keep an eye on the temperature all the time and you will know exactly when it is time to go and remove the food from the grill.
Also, alarms may help you know when the temperature reaches a certain point or goes lower or higher than needed. So, you will take action and prevent it from going too hot or too cold in case something is wrong.
Most models offer several types of alarms, such as text, email, sound, etc. so you are free to choose which one is best for you.
A pit probe is used to monitor the temperature of the cooking chamber and the food, so the controller can precisely know the actual temperature.
Even though two probes are more than enough for the average family, some models support several probes so you can monitor multiple food’s temperatures at the same time in the case when you are cooking different cuts of meat.
In case you have a question, check out our section with the most asked questions:
How Does a Temperature Controller Work?
A temperature controller is equipped with a sensor to provide feedback in real-time about the temperature changes of the food and the grill.
In response to the user temperature, the controller adjusts the airflow to maintain an even temperature, usually by increasing or decreasing the amount of air (oxygen) inside the cooking chamber.
How to Use a Barbecue Temperature Controller?
The barbecue temperature controllers are very easy to use. You only have to set the desired food temperature, the cooking temperature and the cooking time. After that, the unit will do the work for you.
Should I Buy a Temperature Controller for my Gas Grill?
Pellet, electric and gas grills don’t need an automatic controller as they have already built-in from the manufacturer.
You should get a temperature controller only if you have a charcoal grill or smoker.
How to Install a Temperature Controller?
If you are a little bit concerned if the installation process of your smoker temperature controller is complicated or not, then let me tell you that it is actually pretty straight forward.
To start, you need to connect the adapter of the unit to one of the vents of your smoker. This will connect the blower.
The exact step by step installation will depend a lot on what type of smoker you have. In most models, you need to close off the bottom vents and mount the adapter to one of the vents.
Also, you should have in mind to close completely the other bottom vents, so there is a air flow coming only from the temperature controller. (If you prefer, you can leave the top vents slightly open).
As I said, the exact method of mounting the adapter will depend on your controller. The CyberQ from BBQ Guru featured in this list comes with a flat plate that you will use as a mounting bracket. You can mount it in several ways, based on your smoker model.
Here are a few resources to help you connect your temperature controller: