7 Most Functional BBQ Temperature Controllers to Be a Master of the Grilling Process
Last updated: May 13, 2020
57Hours of Research
For barbecue lovers, there’s nothing more exciting than the delicious smell of a perfectly cooked steak. However, while every steak can smell good, your meats have to be cooked to perfection for the taste to actually match the mouthwatering smell. It seems like you must invest a lot of energy, which involves you taking numerous trips to the smoker every now and then to inspect the meat. That can be very tiring, which is why you need the best BBQ temperature controller to help you achieve perfection.
Apart from ensuring that your food is cooked at even temperatures, these automatic controllers also double as an excellent alarm system that alerts you whenever your attention is required. With that said, we believe you now know how instrumental these devices can be. In light of that, we’ve put together the top seven BBQ temperature controllers on the market, with the overall best being the CyberQ BBQ Temperature Controller. Thanks to its wide temperature range, incredible versatility, and Alexa compatibility, this portable unit from CyberQ is the real deal.
Top 7 BBQ Temperature Controllers Review 2020
Having said that, we must also note that some important factors were considered for our selections, with some of them including the temperature control range, the quantity of included probes, and dimensions. For the structure, we decided to adopt the usual one, which comprises of a comparison table, followed by a review section, and a buying guide section.
Our editor’s pick is the CyberQ BBQ Temperature Controller, which despite being more expensive than most rivals, offers a plethora of features to justify the high price tag. In fact, we think this is the best value-for-money product on our list as it comes with an incredible construction and a lot of revolutionary features, the first of which is a unique ramp mode and a revolutionary fan. The ramp mode ensures that the unit helps to cook your food perfectly each time by automatically reducing the temperature to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit when the food is almost done.
Meanwhile, the revolutionary fan helps regulate the temperature by throbbing the ideal amount of oxygen in the smoker/grill to produce the ideal temperature for you. In terms of alerts, it comes with multiple options for receiving alerts via text, audio or e-mail, based on your preferences. Also, it’s even compatible with Alexa, which allows you to be able to get the exact temperature by just asking Alexa. The only thing we don’t appreciate about this unit is that the monitoring and remote control is done through an online site.
Therefore, there is no smartphone app, which might cause some inconveniences as you need to access the site each time you need something. That apart, the controller is fuel-efficient, provides excellent temperature regulation, and gives you the chance to share your food with the community online. It’s also worth noting that this product also works with every type and brand of grill and smoker, which aids convenience and ensures that you don’t need to buy new controllers each time you change your grill or smoker.
One of the most difficult things when shopping for a temperature controller is finding a model that looks good, provides great performance, and is technologically advanced. Thankfully, the BBQube TempMaster Pro Temperature Controller is an example of such a model that combines everything. Just name what you want and this unit will give it to you. To begin with, the controller comes with an extremely innovative design, which makes things a lot easier for users. The fan and the thermometer can be separately controlled, so you don’t need to go through the stress of them working together.
Furthermore, you don’t need to recharge this temperature controller until you’ve used it for up to 100 hours. That means it can go for up to ten sessions without needing to be recharged, which is excellent. Plus, you can easily dial through the menu with the utmost convenience as there’s no need for you to be pushing the buttons to get to the value you desire anymore. We must also not forget to mention that this device turns a slower cooker into a sous-side machine, which allows the grill to cook slowly while still being evaporation-free.
That’s not all; the device also comes with other extras like air hose, four probes, a grill adapter, a user guide, and a power adapter. Apart from coming with four probes, the probes are also a lot faster than the probes from their rivals, thereby allowing you to get accurate measurements of your meat temperature without any hassle. Like most advanced models, the BBQube TempMaster Pro has wireless features that allow for voice command. In truth, it’s difficult to fault this device, but if we must mention something, it should be how it comes with outdated LEDs.
The Flame Boss 500 Temperature Controller is one of the best controllers on the market at the moment, behind only our Editor’s Pick. For a reasonable price, it combines all the things you may be looking for in a controller, one of which is an excellent temperature control function that will precisely handle everything on your behalf once it’s properly set up. It will increase and reduce the temperature as necessary, ramping it up at the beginning and later cooling down when your food is close to being done. Apart from the temperature control function, the components are also well-built, with the controller body and blower working in sync perfectly with each other.
While this model is not certified to be either water-resistant or waterproof, it’s sufficiently durable, and you should not really have anything to worry about as far as dampness is concerned. However, we urge you not to test it in a downpour and make sure it’s covered for a long time when it’s outside. We must also mention its ease of use and installation, which makes everything much effortless for users. It also has a small profile, with all the wires streamlined and well-organized, which makes it even easier to use. It’s also worth noting that the controller supports as many as three meat probes, which is remarkable considering that most models in this category support only one.
You can also use a variety of methods to control the device – you can either set it or make your adjustment on the device’s face, though we admit that the small buttons are a little difficult to utilize compared to the other control options. You can also control it with your computer or phone via its Wi-Fi connectivity or even activate it with your voice, especially since it’s compatible with Google voice control and Amazon Alexa. Probably the only drawback you’ll find is that this temperature controller works only with more standard grills – it does not work with Kamado or ceramic style grills and isn’t also compatible with electric and gas grills.
Temperature fluctuation usually occurs when you open the grill constantly, which might cause your food to be cooked unevenly. Of course, that’s where the DigiQ DX3meat thermometer enters the picture. It monitors the intensity of the oven heat and the food’s temperature simultaneously and accordingly adjusts. With this, you’re able to avoid lifting the lid up by tracking the temperature of the food and then controlling the temperature of the grill. This is possible because the grill self-regulates the oxygen required in the oven by the charcoal by changing the revolutionary fan’s speed.
Thus, the grill is able to keep the whole flavor in while cooking the meat to the highest tenderness state. However, to reduce the chances of overcooking further, it gives you a cooking method referred to as ramp mode. As soon as the food temperature gets close to the temperature you’ve preset, it reduces the intensity of the heat, thereby giving you more time for the removal of the meat. Also, the meat thermometer also features the universal adaptor, which makes it usable in other grills such as the Weber and the Big Green. You only need to purchase the right adaptor for your grill or smoker model.
Lest we forget, the temperature controller also comes with an inbuilt technology that prevents your food from being overcooked. As soon as the food is cooked properly, the transmitter will send a message to you along with a loud alert. It’s also worth noting that the alert volume can be adjusted from zero to ten to adjust according to the noise level in your environment. However, we must also mention that this controller has a quite flimsy construction and that it comes with a hard-to-navigate instruction manual.
The LavaLock 4-Probe Automatic BBQ Controller is a quite different model, sporting a design that makes it seem like it was built for smokers rather than smokers and grill. Of course, this makes it a little less versatile in kinds of cookers it’s compatible with, but enables it to be suitable for a wider range of smoker brands. The control mechanism of this unit is also great, as it allows you to change the temperature with a knob instead of buttons. Sadly, it doesn’t come with voice control options or Wi-Fi, but even the manual option is quality enough to not make you miss the voice control options too much.
Furthermore, the temperature controller offers support for up to four meat probes concurrently, which is nothing short of awesome. That means you can cook up to four different meals simultaneously, and the device will perfectly monitor all of them. With this, you can comfortably and peacefully relax rather than having to shuffle between monitoring all of them manually. The readout has clear and easy-to-read numbers, which is an excellent addition that allows you to read the information from a fairly distant spot.
In terms of construction, we must mention that this unit features a very durable construction. If you maintain if well, it could last for many decades, depending on if you still want to keep using it. Of course, the unit lacks the advanced features of costlier models, but we think its performance matches its price. It’s also an excellent option for beginners since it doesn’t come with many complexities and is thus easy to set up and use.
Supports four meat probes simultaneously
Sturdy stainless- steel construction.
Great knob for temperature control.
Easy to set up and use.
Compatible with a wide range of smoker brands and variants
Given all its apparently unique appearance and design, the PartyQ BBQ Temperature Controller is a quite interesting temperature controller compared to the other models in its category. The first awesome feature about it is its incredible portability, which allows it to be super versatile. Whether you want to take it on a camping trip with your smoker or grill or you want to take it to your friend’s to play amateur grill master, this portable and lightweight control fits the bill, especially as it’s compatible with a wide range of grills.
This unit is also battery-powered, which is unlike most other models. The fact that it’s portable and battery-powered means it’s the best choice for you if you’re looking for a model that’s ideal for travel. However, the primary drawback of this controller is its interface. In exchange for its compatibility with a huge number of grills and portability, the controller comes with a very simplistic interface. The only thing it does is set the grill’s temperature, so there’re no presets, and control options such as voice control options or wi-fi controls.
Nevertheless, the unit comes at an extremely fair price that it’s easy to overlook the things it lacks, especially since we don’t recommend it to be used as your primary temperature controller. It can be perfect as a backup controller or as an ideal choice when you’re going on a trip though. The fact that it has a high battery consumption also means it can’t be relied on for an extremely long time, especially if you don’t have enough money to be buying batteries every now and then.
To be honest, Pitmaster is one of the smaller brands when it comes to the production of automatic temperature controllers. The Pitmaster IQ IQ120 Temperature Controller was their first attempt, and we think it’s a decent one. It shares a lot of similarities with the PartyQ BBQ Temperature Controller, especially in how it utilizes a fan for airflow regulation and heat control. Added to that, it also comes with simple controls and one clip-on probe. Despite being an affordable model, this unit also features a digital display, which outputs accurate temperatures.
Everyone wants a temperature controller that they can easily set up and operate without many complications, and this unit from Pitmaster offers that. Setting it up and using it is painfully easy, which a lot of users will appreciate. This device also allows you to set other parameters, which include programmable cooking temperature changes and alarms that inform you when your food is done. A probe is also clipped to your grate to keep a tab on the grill’s internal temperature. There’s another probe, which provides your food’s temperature.
Also, this unit is versatile, as it’s suitable for a wide range of brands, including Weber, Char-Broil, Brinkman, Viking, and other cookers with a fire vent damper that’s less than five inches in diameter. Having said all that, we must also mention that this controller isn’t without some drawbacks. The first drawback is that it comes with is a plastic construction, which makes it vulnerable to heat. Also, it comes with a very short cord, which makes it difficult to use sometimes.
Great digital display
Easy to set up and use
Accurate food temperatures
To make sure you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need to buy the right controller for your needs, we have included this detailed buying guide.
How BBQ temperature controllers work
Oxygen is one of the primary fuel sources, so it’s important to control the airflow in and outside of your grill or smoker’s chamber. Of course, air enters the chamber and exits it through the vent, with the exhaust damper being at the top and the intake damper being at the bottom. This is, however, where a temperature controller comes into the picture. Basically, temperature controllers are little computer units, which are designed to help regulate airflow both un and out of your smoker or grill’s chamber.
But how do these little devices work? Well, they help regulate the airflow by putting a fan in your intake damper. Then, the intake damper is connected to its central control system. Depending on the reading of the temperature probe, the fan installed will tweak the oxygen intake to help sustain your desired temperature. Certainly, every grill and smoker experience temperature fluctuations, and there are many reasons that could cause them – not only airflow. Just bear in mind that temperature fluctuation is inevitable, but your reaction to it is the most important thing. In short, a temperature controller offers the best way to handle temperature fluctuations.
Some contemporary models even come with Wi-Fi features, which allow you to control the devices from your smartphone, setting it to the internal temperature you desire.
A temperature controller will keep a tab on temperatures and actually learn the way your smoker or grill reacts to airflow tweaks overtime. This means that it becomes a more efficient method of maintaining a steady temperature when cooking.
Features to consider when choosing a BBQ temperature controller
Now that you are better acquainted with temperature controllers, it’s time to find out the most vital factors you need to consider when shopping for the best model for your needs.
Temperature control range
This is the primary work of your controller, and how a certain controller handles this task determines its overall performance. Here, precision is extremely important since you want your cooking to stick to your recipe as perfectly as possible. However, keep in mind that there are bound to be small variations, so opt for the model with the least variations for the best results.
If and how many meat probes are included
Another vital factor is if meat probes are included and the number of probes included. There are two primary kinds of probes – the meat probe and the pit probe. The meat probe is put in the meat you are cooking while the pit probe is used to measure ambient temperature. While you will find temperature controllers that have only one probe, there are others that have two or more probes, like the BBQube TempMaster Pro that comes with four meat probes and one pit probe. Besides, different brands usually provide different methods of handling the temperature info from one or numerous probes.
The fan is probably the most important component of any temperature controller, so you need to ensure that it is produced using premium-quality materials. They usually feature a unique adapter, which you ought to use to secure the chamber and make sure it is airtight. For the controller to be effective at its job, the fan needs to be the one and only air source in the chamber. Thus, make sure you pay attention when picking the most ideal model for your smoker or grill.
These fans usually have either variable rotation speed or use an on and off switch for airflow regulation. Fans that use variable rotation speeds may sound great, but that is actually untrue. Simple ones that use the on and off switch usually perform the job of regulating airflow effectively, but in a rather different way. Obviously, variable speed fans often add a little to the equation since they offer more reliable and consistent temperature control.
If you do not mind adding some extra dollars just for this feature, then go for it. If you are, however, looking to save some money, then the variable fan speed feature might be a redundant one.
When perusing through the different models on the market, you may realize that there’re some models that come with a display, while there are some that do not. Those with a display often have a regular digital display of varying intricacy. For sure, costlier models will feature more comprehensive options, including advanced features like fan speed, food temperature, the actual pit temperature, and the set.
Some models, on the other hand, come without any display whatsoever, and typically, they are often less expensive. Of course, these display-less devices will still perform the same fundamental task of managing the temperature of your grill, but they do not display the measurements.
Whether you want to spend some extra money and choose a unit that can show all the intricate details or you are good with a device that only sets the temperature is entirely up to you. Generally, we would suggest that you get a model with live feedback, but you would be better off saving a few dollars if you find this feature unnecessary.
While we hope you won’t need these, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Certainly, you are getting a controller to make smoking more worry-free, but things can still go wrong sometimes, and the device can do absolutely nothing about the situation than to alert you. An instance of such problems could if you didn’t add sufficient briquettes or charcoal, regardless of how hard the fan blows, you will not get the required heat. Thus, the temperature will drop, and as soon as it drops below a particular point, the alarm will go off.
Another factor you need to think about before buying a new temperature controller is its installation and mounting. Since smokers and grills are a potential fire hazard, you’ll need to put everything in place to reduce the risk to the barest minimum. To do that, you will have to determine where the controller will be placed. Every model comes with a mounting system, which can range from magnet holders to wall-mounted or standing holders. Ensure that you measure the distance between the nearest electric outlet to the intended mounting spot. Also, remember to check the length of the cord included and see if it’s enough before your final decision.
The warranty is a very important factor when buying anything, especially if it’s an electronic device such as this one. The reason is that electronic devices are prone to sudden damages, so it’s always nice to have a warranty in place in case anything goes wrong. That said, make sure you go for a device with a warranty of two years at least, such as the CyberQ BBQ Temperature Controller.
How to grill your food to perfection
If you are buying a temperature controller for the first time, there are chances that you are also a beginner at grilling. Therefore, we have decided to supply you with some tips that could help you achieve perfection while you’re at it.
Prepare your space – The first thing you need to do is preparing your space. Make sure you have a side table as it will be useful for prepping and plating your food. Many grills usually come with a little side table and maybe an additional burner to cook in a pot or pan, along with your grilled or smoked food. Ensure you have a clear space to set your food down and hold your cooking accessories.
Select a meal – When grilling, there’re three primary basic settings to take into consideration. The first one is whether you’ll be using direct heat or indirect heat, the second one is how hot your grill or smoker ought to be, and the third one is the length for which your food will be cooked.
Just the way you pre-heat your oven, make sure you always pre-heat your grill or smoker before cooking. Regardless of the temperature at which you’ll be cooking, the best thing is to pre-heat your cooker on high before turning it down to the setting you want to grill at. Spraying a thin layer of cooking oil on your smoker or grill as it is heating up can also help prevent your meal from sticking.
Beef – Hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, and generally every beef product has to be cooked via direct heat and on high settings. You can turn the heat down a bit for hot dogs and thinly cut steaks. Medium-cooked burgers and steaks are usually done in less than ten minutes, so don’t get distracted or wander off if you don’t want them overcooked. Steak especially requires time for resting after it’s been removed from the cooker, so allow it to sit while covered in foil for around five minutes before you cut it.
Pro tip: if you want more tender, evenly-cooked, and flavorful steaks, try to score your meat. Use a knife’s tip to make shallow cuts across the grain one way, and then the other way. Do this on the other side as well. Now, season the steaks very well and then cook each side on medium-high for one or two minutes.
Chicken – It takes a little more time to grill chicken, and you need to do this at a medium-heat setting. We all know chicken can dry out easily on a grill, which makes it important to slowly cook it and apply a sauce or marinade or brine it over the night to maintain its moistness. For bone-in chicken, cook over indirect heat for 30 to 40 minutes at least. Always make use of your thermometer to find out when the chicken is done.
Pork – Pork is usually grilled in the same way as beef – cook it over direct heat but turn the temperature down to medium-heat. Bear in mind that pork chops cook quickly and based on the density only need two to four minutes to cook per side before they are done.
Seafood – Fish cooks nicely on grills and will not leave a funky smell in your kitchen. For the best results, cook it over direct medium to medium-high heat and a lot of cooking oil, so that the fish wouldn’t stick. Also, seafood and fish do well when cooked in foil with seasonings and butter, which prevent the fish/seafood from sticking to the smoker.
If your temperature controller is not made by Weber smoker, that doesn’t mean it’s not compatible with your Weber smoker. Just make sure it comes with a universal adaptor, and it will be compatible with a wide variety of brands, which include Weber.
There are two tips of probes, as we mentioned earlier. Depending on the type you need, you can either buy pit probes or meat probes. Fortunately, each type comes in a standard design to fit every controller, so you shouldn’t have any trouble buying extra probes.
It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and we agree that this statement is true in most cases. While the CyberQ BBQ Temperature Controller is not the cheapest option, we assure you that it’s totally worth the price. Not only does it come with a plethora of advanced features, it’s also backed by a two-year warranty, which is a further justification of why we regard this model as the best BBQ temperature controller on the market.
Coming right behind it is the BBQube TempMaster Pro Controller, which is a product that is innovative in both design and performance. Accurate, easy to use, and built to last for years, this sturdy-looking controller offers probably everything you may be looking for. The device is also smartphone compatible, which further highlights why we think it offers a lot of value for the money.
Lastly, the Flame Boss 500 Temperature Controller takes the third place, thanks to its excellent performance, versatile control options, and sturdy construction, and ease of use. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line temperature controller that offers many things in a rather small profile, you can’t look beyond this.