The joy of smoking can go horribly wrong if the temperature isn’t consistent throughout the smoking process.
And so many things can change the temperature: Diminishing charcoal, external air temperature, quality of smoker (e.g., does it leak?), or trouble figuring out the air vent settings.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the stable temperature control of an indoor oven outdoors in your smoker? Well, you can.
In the 2000s, the first automatic temperature controllers (ATCs) for BBQs and smokers were created to manage the temperature of both pit and food throughout the cooking process.
In this article, we compare the line-ups from both manufacturers, discussing in detail the leading models on the market — The Flame Boss vs BBQ Guru.
We’ll cover the origin, workings, and benefits of an ATC. Then we’ll follow with a product review of these 4 top models from the top 2 manufacturers:
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 What is an Automatic Temperature Controller?
- 2 Things to Look for When Choosing Your ATC
- 3 How a Smoker Temperature Controller Works
- 4 What are the Benefits and Pros & Cons Of Using an ATC?
- 5 Where is an ATC Used?
- 6 BBQ Guru Vs Flame Boss
- 7 The Companies
- 8 Product Range
- 9 Comparing Their Offerings
- 10 Flame Boss vs BBQ Guru — What People Say About Them
- 11 Which Model is Best For You?
- 12 Common Concerns to All Temperature Controllers
- 13 Keeping Your Temp Controller in Top Performance / Overcoming issues
- 14 Product Roundup and Mini-Reviews
- 15 High-End Automatic BBQ Temperature Controllers
- 16 Mid-Range Automatic BBQ Temperature Controllers
- 17 Final Thoughts on Flame Boss Vs BBQ Guru
What is an Automatic Temperature Controller?
An ATC gives a smoker the consistent heat of an indoor oven. Set a temperature, and it stays there, thanks to adjustments to the flow of oxygen into the smoker.
The ATC frees you to go and do other things, monitoring and adjusting the cooking process as needed from wherever you are — in the house, at the store, or on the job — via Wi-Fi connection.
No more being tied to the smoker! This video by Grill Girl shows how it works.
Things to Look for When Choosing Your ATC
Features — There may be more than what you’re going to use and are reflected in the cost. Be sure you won’t be paying for something you’re not going to use (like cloud sharing your cooks — more on that later)
Accessories — Included would ideally be additional food probes since most ATCs can track more than one food per session.
Other nice-to-haves: heat-resistant gloves, manual, or a battery pack in case you want to use your smoker away from home where there are no electrical outlets.
Materials — An ATC would ideally be water and grease-proof. Most models are made from heavy, durable plastic. Probe tips should be sturdy enough for repeated use and easy to clean. You want the TAC to look and feel ‘industrial’ for want of a better description.
We have an article looking at the best BBQ temperature controllers that discusses more models and things to look for. We recommend checking it out.
How a Smoker Temperature Controller Works
Basically a small computer, the ATC runs one probe to the grill grate for monitoring the ambient temperature of the grill and another probe into the food to track cooking progression to perfect doneness.
It takes the information given it (food and pit temperatures) calculates time and optimal temperature for food to reach the proper doneness.
Besides being connected to the probes, the ATC is also connected to or has an inbuilt variable speed fan that is firmly fixed to a bottom vent, to control the amount of air that can flow into the BBQ or smoker.
Based on the readings from the probes, the device directs the speed of the fan to control the ambient temperature inside the cooker, by controlling the amount of oxygen given to the fire.
The fan speed will vary in response to the temperatures, fanning the flames higher or starving them lower, so the temperature remains consistent and food is not over— or undercooked.
So you set the desired temperature for the food(s), the temperature for the grill/smoker that the food should cook at, and the desired cook time.
Alarms sound and alert you to take action when:
- The temperature varies too far above or below your setting
- It’s time to turn/baste/otherwise manage the food
- There’s a problem like a power outage
- The food is done
Some ATCs are very basic, others are capable of being their own network. These super-tech ATCs enable really remote monitoring.
Not only are alarms sent by text or email, it’s possible to monitor everything from any web browser using any internet-capable device (smartphone, tablet, computer).
Networking ATCs also allow you to keep a history of your cooking sessions, share pictures and results with other grill-fans on recipe and cook sharing websites. And yes, there are apps for that.
Amazon Alexa users can connect their ATC and get updates on cooking progress or direct the ATC to change settings via ‘Alexa skills.’
What are the Benefits and Pros & Cons Of Using an ATC?
Help is needed for your smoker or grill to have the steady, consistent temperature required for consistent cooking, because temperatures can fluctuate by 10s or even hundreds of degrees, depending on the grill and the environment.
This translates into under-, uneven-, or over-cooked food and subsequent loss of bragging rights on cook sharing sites.
An ATC uses a variable speed fan — or simply switches one on and off — to control airflow, keeping an oxygen balance that allows steady cooking and moist, evenly done food. A consistent smoker temperature = more consistent results in your food.
- Even temperature throughout the cooking process
- Ability to monitor both the grill and the food being cooked
- Long-distance monitoring
- Removes guesswork of when food is finished
- Something else (expensive) to buy
- Something else which could glitch (but top manufacturers provide excellent customer service)
- Learning curve of setting up a network/Wi-Fi connection
Where is an ATC Used?
Pellet smokers, gas grills and electric smokers do not need a temperature controller as they either have them built-in (pellet and electric models) or are easy to set to a fixed temp (gas.)
So ATCs are almost exclusively for charcoal smokers — though there are some attempts at ATCs for wood burners.
So there are two ATC types which fit either one of:
- Ceramic, kamado smokers such as our favorite, the Big Joe Version 3!
- Water smokers or kettle grills, such as the Weber Smokey Mountain.
BBQ Guru Vs Flame Boss
These are the two most well-known, reliable products on the market.
Are there others? Sure, but they’re newcomers, and haven’t yet made much of a dent in the market compared to these forerunners. So we’ll limit our discussion and review to these leaders of the pack.
Although there are many, and more emerging companies that manufacture automatic temperature controllers, we will only focus on the 2 companies that are by far the most well established and successful, with universally agreed the best products.
Based in Warminster, PA, BBQ Guru was founded in 2003 by Shotgun Fred Pirkle, founder of ThermoOmegaTech®, a manufacturer of control valves, thermal actuators, safety showers, and rail freeze protection valves.
A thermodynamic engineer, Fred responded to a friend’s challenge of creating a control valve for grills by creating the first BBQ Guru.
His love of barbecue inspired him to help everyone to achieve excellent results from their grill or smoker.
Fred’s love of giving extended beyond barbecue; he started a scholarship program at his alma mater, Sam Houston State University. Every year since his death in 2012, friends host a KCBS BBQ Cook-Off to continue to raise funds for the scholarship.
Based in Apopka, FL, FlameBoss, was founded in 2013 by Roger Collins, a computer engineer and smoked barbecue fan.
Dissatisfied with multiple nightly forays to check the temperature of his smoker, Roger married his day job with his interest in electronic engineering to develop a smoker temperature controller which would eliminate the need for those late night trips to the smoker.
Naturally, his friends wanted one too, and their friends, and demand mushroomed from there. So, Roger partnered with his brother Michael for what would be their second successful business venture. [SOURCE: Flame Boss ‘about us’ page.]
A roundup of reviews searching for the best smoker thermometer
Both BBQ Guru and Flame Boss have a number of slightly different products in their ranges, with varying feature sets and of course at different price points.
Let’s take a look at the most popular models from each:
BBQ Guru Products
The top of the line BBQGuru UltraQ controls the temperature of your pit, as well as being able to measure the temperature of 3 further probes inserted into food.
It runs on mains power, with no option for battery operation.
It can be used ‘standalone’, where you can program the device, and monitor temps and your cook directly from the controller, with a large easy to read display, and a unique ‘Guru status ring light’ that changes color depending on the state of your smoker, and can be seen from quite a distance for an at-a-glance visual feedback of your cook.
It is also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, and can be monitored and controlled via a well designed and feature rich smartphone app, available for both Android and iOS.
The connectivity allows tracking, controlling, and recording of cooks. It also allows sharing cooks, including pictures, on social media platforms and communicating with other smokers. It’s networking ability also enables notifications and monitoring via text, email, the internet, and control Amazon Alexa
The BBQGuru DynaQ is a stripped down version of the UltraQ, and looks similar at first appearances.
However, it is one food probe only, has no LED display on the controller (so you MUST use a smartphone app!), no food done alarms or text or email notifications, no Wi-Fi and no voice control.
The BBQGuru DigiQ DX3 looks entirely different to the previously mentioned 2 models, it being from a previous generation of BBQGuru products.
It plugs into an outlet and monitors the pit temperature, as well as a single probe for monitoring meat temperature, too.
Available in green or black, the DigiQ has a ramp down setting and can support two fans to accommodate large smokers. An optional battery pack is available.
BBQ Guru the company also carries a line of smokers and grills with related accessories, BBQ sauce, rubs, and injections, and tools, knives, apparel, smoke wood, and thermometers. But specific to the automatic temperature controllers they can supply:
- Extension cords
- Power pack
- Vehicle adaptor
- Jumper cord
- Carrying case
- Magnet mount
- Fans, adaptors, splitters
- Mount brackets, kill plugs, eyelet kit, and alligator clips
Flame Boss 500
Flame Boss 400
FlameBoss only does temperature control, offering a few versions of kamado or universal smoker controllers:
The Flame Boss 500 is their flagship model. it is a Wi-Fi capable temperature controller, allowing management from a distance over any network.
The controller can be used standalone, with all settings able to be made on the unit, and info displayed on an LED display. It supports one pit probe, and up to 3 food probes natively though this can be expanded.
It has a fully featured Smartphone app that you can use to monitor and control your cooks, save historical data, and share cooks with other BBQ enthusiasts.
The Flame Boss 400 is their mid-range offering, consisting solely of a fan that you connect to your smoker, and ot which you MUST connect to over Wi-Fi. There is no controller for making setting changes or seeing data on your cook, you simply MUST use the smartphone app with the 400.
It supports one pit probe, and one food probe, has the same online dashboard for graphs and history of your cooks, and alarms and alerts like its larger cousin, the 500.
Flame Boss adaptors to suit different smokers are available for purchase separately, with further accessories including:
- Y-cable for additional meat probes
- 12-volt battery pack
- 6 ft. Platinum thermometer probes
Comparing Their Offerings
- Products designed by engineers
- Products developed by barbecue lovers
- High-quality products that focus on the task of regulating grill/smoker temperatures
- Efficient use of charcoal
- Can connect to Amazon Alexa, for monitoring cooks and changing settings via ‘Alexa skills.’
- BBQ Guru has many useful products which aren’t related to temperature management, FlameBoss’ tunnel vision is only on making superior ATCs
- You may find better deals and have a teeny bit more consistency in temperature holding with the Flame Boss.
- Setting up a FlameBoss product is fractionally simpler than a BBQ Guru
- Flame Boss leads are bent, BBQ Guru leads plug straight in, needing extra space below the ATC, so the leads don’t pull on the plug. Flame Boss leads tuck out of the way more easily, reducing the risk of damage.
Flame Boss vs BBQ Guru — What People Say About Them
General opinion for products of both companies is basically “I LOVE this product!!”
Other frequent comments include “works well,” “quick and accurate reading,” “simple to use,” and “easy to navigate.”
If you’re both an avid smoker/griller and social media user, both company’s products cloud-sharing technology should pique your interest. The ability to brag beyond your immediate circle of friends and nemeses is too good to pass up!
However, the BBQGuru integration into the established website ShareMyCook.com has a larger userbase and more cooks and recipes shared at the time of writing, which is something a handful BBQGuru product users rave about.
Flame Boss users loudly proclaim it as “the standard” for automatic thermostat controllers.
Which Model is Best For You?
For the most part, which model you decide is best for you comes down to your budget, how many food probes you wish your controller to support, and overall design aesthetics when comparing similar models head to head.
If you’re a tech fan and want to geek out with Amazon Alexa and the cloud, both the UltraQ and FlameBoss 500 are right for you.
If your interest is focused on a good cook, without too many bells and whistles, the basic models of both — the DynaQ and Flame Boss 400 — are sufficient.
Common Concerns to All Temperature Controllers
There’s always going to be a few people encounter problems with tech items.
The issues we could find though are few and far between, with most down to user error and not following recommended usage instructions, or not quite having learned the intricacies of device setup.
However, we’d be remiss not to mention some issues that customers have encountered.
The Temp Runs Away and Gets too Hot
Some users have complained that the temperature runs away and way over the setting, despite following instructions.
If your vents are all but closed, and the controller cannot control temp, it’s usually that your smoker isn’t sealed correctly though and is not a fault of the temperature controller.
Air is leaking in so the controller cannot do its job. This obviously needs to be fixed by checking seals, replacing them if necessary, double-checking vent positions, and using kill plugs if required.
Keeping Your Temp Controller in Top Performance / Overcoming issues
- Keep probes clean. Dirt can have an insulating effect and cause lower-than-true readings. This leads to the grill being too hot and your food is more likely to become overcooked.
- Never exceed thermometer’s maximum temperature rating. This is possibly the number one killer of a digital grill thermometer!
- Keep the fan inlet and outlet clear of dirt, ash, debris, etc.
- Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s advice about the positioning of your top vents.
Product Roundup and Mini-Reviews
When the word “engineered” is used, we automatically think of something made with strict guidelines, high-quality materials, and precision assembly.
Flame Boss and BBQ Guru were created by engineers, so right off the bat, there’s some assurance of products built to do what they do, incredibly well.
For this review, we’ll take a close look at four very well-made controllers from industry giants BBQ Guru and FlameBoss.
High-End Automatic BBQ Temperature Controllers
There’s nothing wrong with having champagne tastes when it comes to buying an ATC. These products are meant to last, and if you plan to use them frequently, you’ll find you’ve made a good investment.
High-end means both cost and features; here we’ll look at two high-end automatic temperature controllers and two as-good, just not so expensive ATCs from both companies.
Flame Boss 500 Wi-Fi Review
The flagship model from flame boss. You can see a summary below, but I also have a full on, in depth flame boss 500 review you can check out too.
First Impressions — Look And Design
‘About its business’ is our first impression of this controller, though it does sleeker and more ‘designed’ than its predecessor the flame boss 300.
Its black color, wide stand, and dark gray flame emblazoned across its front gives it a serious look. The wide stand also makes you feel that it’s not going anywhere. It will be there, doing its job while you’re elsewhere.
More on the solidly stable stand; it also allows it to be mounted by 4 screw holes, added for attaching it to a surface for permanency if desired.
The green LED screen is just the right size for displaying 4 lines of information, and limited to just the vital information you need to know. Push buttons are easy to move through the menu and adjust settings.
We really like how the plugs are designed to have some flexibility, minimizing risk of damage.
Overall, a solid, competent-looking device.
What’s In The Box, Plus Options
The 500 model comes with:
- Owner’s manual
- Wi-Fi controller
- Blower manifold and fasteners
- 1 high-temperature meat probe
- 1 high-temperature pit probe
- 2 probe cord organizers
- Mounting bracket/base
- 12V DC Power supply
- Additional meat probes
- Rechargeable battery pack for optional cord-free use
- Flexible mounting arm
Functionality and Features of Thermometer
The Flame Boss 500 fits a wide variety of drum, barrel, cabinet and offset style charcoal smokers and grills, and is ideal for low-and-slow cooking. Small variations of 2-3 degrees above or below the set temperature can be expected but are not a problem.
Each temperature probe is made of industrial-grade platinum and are rated to work in temperatures up to 475^F. Buying additional probes lets you cook up to three cuts of meat in one session.
The FB-500 is capable of learning. The more it’s used, the better it learns how your smoker works; this means you will have fewer tweaks to make in the future cooking sessions.
You won’t have to guess when to check on things; the Boss 500 will text you if the temperature drops or rises too far from the set temperature. But there are two features which help keep the temperature steady.
When the Flame Boss 500 Wi-Fi senses the grill lid open, it stops the fan, preventing a surge of air which would stoke the fire too high (Open Lid Detection feature). If the power is disrupted, the ‘Power Glitch Safe’ feature ensures the unit resumes at the set temperature.
Your smartphone can receive alarms, and there is an app which allows you to change the temperature, be alerted to problems, make cooking session notes, view current and saved cooks (including graphs), and brag on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.
Ease of Use
Out of the box
- Attach manifold over smoker’s air vent
- Attach the blower to manifold
- Plug blower into the 500
- Insert the temperature probe into the meat, plug into the 500
- Attach clip to grill grate, connect at the other end into the 500
- Set desired temperature and time
- Enjoy the time you’ll have for doing something other than trotting back and forth to check the temperature
Set up may be a little daunting for those who aren’t comfortable manipulating network settings. But five pages of the manual cover the process pretty thoroughly and with pictures. Basically, you
- Open the Wi-Fi menu on the 500 to be sure it’s set to ON
- From the Wi-Fi menu, select Access Point
- On your tablet or computer, open Wi-Fi settings
- Look for the Flame Boss ID, select it as your network
- Download the app to a tablet, PC, or smartphone and connect to a Wi-Fi service.
The ATC automatically connects. No need to download software, just open any web browser to a specified URL. There is also an option to connect to Amazon Alexa, have temperatures of your cook read out, and instruct Alexa to change temperature settings.
Who Is This Model Best Suited to?
This model is suited to those who like lots of frills and functionality and don’t mind paying for them.
Other brands or models might suit you better if you want more tech or no tech at all.
If you’re not willing to blow a small budget, you may prefer the Boss 100, which doesn’t have Wi-Fi capability but is a non-trivial amount cheaper, or the flame boss 400 which incorporates Wi-Fi technology directly into the blower unit, transmits and displays on your smartphone or laptop only, with no dedicated display included.
You can learn more about this product in our review of the Flame Boss 400.
What We Like
- Speedy set up
- Thorough product manual
- Keen temperature consistency
- Simple design
- Sensible stand and cord arrangement
- Easy to use and effective. It does what it’s supposed to do.
What Could be Improved
- The probes can be less than sturdy. But customer service responds quickly and well to any problem; replacements are easy to come by.
- Having to buy extra probes if you want to monitor multiple cuts of meat. (Though to be fair, it keeps costs down for people who do not want 3 meat probes!)
BBQGuru UltraQ Review
The UltraQ is the top model of ATC from the BBQ Guru stable.
First Impressions — Look and Design
Our first impressions are good. It’s well designed, feels good in the hand, looks modern while also looking professional.
The name and logo do not draw attention away from the bright, easy to read screen. And the first thought is that the size and colors make it easy to monitor important data quickly.
A closer look shows only one temperature is visible at a time; scrolling is required to see the pit temperature and three probe temps. one after the other. What’s also nice are the clearly labeled ports, so there’s no guessing which plug goes where.
The look seems to suggest it’s important to look at this ATC physically because it’s designed with a large light around the outside that signals different states. But seeing the controller isn’t necessary because the Wi-Fi capability allows remote monitoring by any internet capable device — phone, tablet, or computer.
What’s In The Box, Plus Options
That depends on which kit you order. But basically, you get:
- BBQ Guru UltraQ base unit
- 1 food probe
- 1 pit probe
- Magnetic mounting stand
- AC adaptor
- Blower fan
- Fan adaptor (for connecting to your grill)
- Safety warning sheet
- Quick start guide
Functionality and Features
The UltraQ manages temperatures from 32 °F to 475 °F, allowing for multiple cooking styles.
Stainless steel probes tipped with moisture- and smoke-resistant thermocouples which are safety rated for up to 500 °F, and have a 6-foot cable. And they are dishwasher safe! I’ve not seen this with any other probes!
Wi-Fi capable, the UltraQ can also be set up with an IP address, making possible monitoring away from home through any web-based device. It can also be set up to connect over Bluetooth for ‘local operation’, handy in the event you and your grill are away from home and need to set up in a Wi-Fi-free area.
This ATC was designed for use on the BBQGuru community website ShareMyCook.com. The site not only allows picture and cook sharing, but it also allows you to graph and monitor three foods in one cooking session, make notes and store cooking sessions.
It offers management through voice control when connected to Amazon Alexa.
When the lid is opened, the fan speed is reduced to prevent significant temperature swings and the resulting recovery time (Open Lid Detector feature). The Ramp Down feature prevents overcooking; as food temperature increases, the pit temperature decreases.
When temperature varies too much either way, the UltraQ sounds an alarm.
The UltraQ can also learn the smoker or grill it is connected to, increasing the stability and accuracy of its performance over time. This again leaves less tweaking for you to do in future cooks.
Ease of Use
Out of the box
Connecting the UltraQ is reasonably straightforward. Setting alarms and temps isn’t very complicated; The process is easier and more refined than in previous models. I found it easy, so you shouldn’t have any problem.
Who is This Model Best Suited to?
The UltraQ may best suit those comfortable configuring network settings, using a smartphone app, needing to monitor multiple foods at once, and those who wish to see graphical and historical data of their cooks. It’s a tech-lovers delight!
If you want simplicity for your small grilling needs, consider a junior member of the family, the DigiQ.
What We Like
- Hands-free, automatic temperature control that is accurate and can be relied upon.
- Good build quality, well-made and durable. I’ve owned it a while, and it’s withstood the rigors of working outdoors
- A large, bright, easy to read display in all lighting conditions.
- The smartphone app is recently updated, far less buggy and connectivity is good.
- The transmitter is fully functional, so you don’t necessarily have to use a smartphone
- The LED light ring is innovative, and it’s nice to see something unique in a product
- The stand allows multiple options for mounting, including magnetic, or screw-mounted
- Multiple available adapters mean it can be used with any BBQ or smoker
- Can support up to 4 probes (2 supplied.)
- Dishwasher safe probes are the first I’ve heard of!
- Water-resistant control unit
What Could be Improved
- It must always be plugged in as there is no battery option
- The display is easy to read, but you must cycle through temps, not see all at once
Mid-Range Automatic BBQ Temperature Controllers
If you’ve no desire for all the bells and whistles of the top models coming from Flame Boss or BBQGuru, they both have more economical, less feature-rich models in their range that are still excellent automatic temperature controllers that work well.
We’ll take a look at these now.
Flame Boss 400 Review
The 400 is the mid-range but still quality ATC from Flame Boss’s range.
First Impressions — Look and Design
The Flame Boss 400 is a standalone blower attachment, without any kind of controller.
It looks like the blower you find on any almost any other temperature controller that you would connect to a controller, but in this case the controller is strapped to the side. It is a fan only, and you MUST use your smartphone in order to see any data. There is no other kind of display.
This gadget is not designed to be a focal point. It’s a case of function over form. It’s nondescript to look at, neither flashy nor ugly, it’s simply a plug-in gadget that sticks out the side of your grill.
What’s in the Box, Plus Options
The 400 model comes with:
- 110-240 Volt AC Power Adaptor
- 2 temperature probes (1 pit, 1 meat probe)
- The main 400 blower unit
- Adapter kit to fit the 400 to your choice of BBQ
- Product manual
Fits many drum, barrel, cabinet and offset style charcoal grills and smokers
Functionality and Features of Thermometer
The 400 is designed to be used in drum, barrel, cabinet, and offset charcoal grills and smokers. It has most of the features and functions of the FB500. But there are a few differences.
This is a stripped down model for those who want a simpler device with slightly less tech. i.e no display without a smartphone, only one food probe, fewer parts overall.
But being Wi-Fi enabled, it does still have text alerts for important temperature related events. You’re still notified when food has finished cooking. Another alert tells you when your pit is too hot or cold. It gets the job done.
And it also has an online dashboard to view graphs of your cooks, and you can connect with any browser.
Ease of Use
Out of the box
Attach the blower to your smoker, attach the thermometer probes, turn on the power and connect via your phone and the Fame Boss app.
All settings are then made from your phone, and the user interface is intuitive and easy enough to use without having to go through a user guide, though there are some available on YouTube.
Who is this Model Best Suited to?
Someone who likes no-frills functionality, who only wants to monitor temperatures as accurately and uncomplicatedly as possible, while having their cooking temperature controlled accurately and hands-off.
It’s also good for the cost-conscious shopper who also wants high quality. The 400 is ideal for at-home cooks preparing a small meal, too.
If you want more bells and whistles, or to monitor more than one item of food, you’ll want the Flame Boss 500.
What We Like
- A compact controller — it’s almost literally just a fan!
- Easy set up via the smartphone app
- Full temperature control in app, remotely
- Cloud storage for your cook data, for later study and referall
- Customer support and website is developed and reassuring
- 1-Year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee
What Could be Improved
- No readout on the unit itself, you MUST use a smartphone.
- There is only 1 meat probe input
BBQ Guru DigiQ DX3 Review
Let’s take a look at the mid-range offering from BBQ guru, the DigiQ DX3.
First Impressions — Look and Design
There’s a lot of heavy marketing going on the front of the DX2, but not enough to distract the eye from the red-lettered viewing window.
Having labels for the plugs across the bottom of the unit announces how easy the DX3 can make things for you.
What’s in the box, plus options
The DX2 comes with:
- 120 V AC cord adaptable to 12V DC
- Two temperature probes (one pit, one food probe)
- Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker adaptor
- Pit Viper fan
- Vent plug
- Storage bag
Functionality and Features of Thermometer
Designed to fit a wide range of grills and smokers from water smokers to Kamados, and gravity fed smokers o offset smokers, the DX3 is part of the DigiQ series which stands out by its offering of 2-color choices, black or green.
The aluminum control box is designed to hang on the side table of your BBQ, but has an adapter plate to mount it other ways. It easily handles cooking temps from 32 °F to 475 °F, so you’re covered for high heat grilling and low-n-slow smoking.
The more it’s used, the better it learns and works with your pit, the less you have to worry about glitches.
Compatible with Pit Bull or Pit Viper fans, which some vendors may sell packaged with the DX3.
Who is this Model Best Suited to?
Someone who’s only interested in the technology needed to control temperature. Because it can power two fans for large offsets, the DX3 is also suited for someone who wants the flexibility of going from small family cooking to large tailgating or competition events.
The manufacturer offers other models besides the DX3. If you want to get the best of the best from BBQGuru, consider the UltraQ.
What We Like
- It’s clearly labeled; no guessing or turning the unit on end to see what gets plugged in where
- Can be used with a wide range of grills and smokers, of many types
- Can control two fans simultaneously for controlling huge smokers
- Sturdy aluminum body
- Choice of colors
What Could be Improved
- Looks a bit old school in design.
- When getting close to the set temperature, it starts rounding temperatures by 5 ˚F
Final Thoughts on Flame Boss Vs BBQ Guru
So in this article pitching the Flame Boss vs BBQ Guru range of products, which in our opinion is the winner? Comparing two excellent products against each other is a win-win situation. And tiring. There’s really little to push one ahead of the other.
Besides budget, personal preference may be the most important decision maker. Is a choice of colors appealing? A stand versus a hanger? LED display color? Those are the niceties which you can wrangle over because, between these products discussed, you’re going to walk away with a high-precision tool which ensures stable cooking temperatures for many hours or just a few.
However, if we had to pick a winner of the roundup and make a recommendation, our choice for the best automatic BBQ temperature controller for a charcoal smoker would be the Flame Boss 500.
Minimal variation from the set temperature, the simplicity of set-up, and Wi-Fi capability top the reasons for our choice.
However, it’s pretty close to a coin flip because the BBQ Guru UltraQ is a phenomenally capable controller and must also be recommended.
Automatic temperature controllers bring temperature stability to outdoor cooking. If you’re a fan of outdoor cooking, consider this a key part of your smoker’s toolbox for consistency and the ability to free your attention and hands for other work, entertaining guests, or feet up with a beer!
Does your product fit the Vision Ceramic Grills?
Both FlameBoss and BBQ Guru do adaptors to fit the Vision line of Kamados, yes.
Flame Boss also has an Alexa Skill that allows you to interact with the 300 unit. You write that a difference between the two is that only BBQ Guru has Alexa.
I didn’t know this, but just checked and you’re absolutely right! I own the Flame Boss 300 Wi-Fi with 3 probes, and never knew this. And when I did my research (back at about Easter 2017) it never showed up in my searches. Odd.
But yes, I stand corrected. I shall edit the article some time later this evening, or maybe tomorrow, so it’s correct.
Thank you very much for taking the time point this out. Feedback is much appreciated and helps to improve the info on the site 🙂
Really appreciate the write-up! I’m currently looking at getting one of these for my Weber Kettle. It’s been tough to find a side-by-side comparison of controllers, but this is article is thorough and well written. Thanks, for doing the work!
Have you reviewed new Flame Boss 500?
I haven’t yet I’m afraid. I’m still using the 300, but will be getting a 500 within a couple of weeks to play with, and will then update this article.
I mean, the 300 isn’t even available anymore, which makes the above comparison somewhat pointless now, sadly. Which probably prompted your question? I do hate content going out of date, can be a lot of work to keep it current across the whole site! 🙁
So yes, I should be able to update the above article in 3 weeks or so, enough time for me to get the new 500, play with it and form an opinion.
Coincidentally, I just set up the 300 for my current cook. We’re doing a lot of ‘moving’ today of heavy objects: pool table, fridges, freezers etc. Into the new garage. So I’m cooking beef ribs, pork ribs and lamb ribs for the people helping.
My Mrs is out shopping, I’m at home with my 3yo daughter, we were playing and I ignored the kamado. Went out to check on it and temp had creeped up to 270f, when I want to hold it at 225f.
So I just placed a pan full of ice on the grill expander to suck some heat out of it, to bring the temp down quickly, and put the flame boss 300 on to then keep it steady at 225…while I ignore the grill and go back to destroying my dining room table with poster paint, glue and glitter, lol.
I have read your excellent blog as I’m in the market for a temperature controller for my Kamado Big Joe 3. I had narrowed it down to either the Flame Boss 500, or the BBQ Guru CyberQ. So, my question is, if the Flame Boss 300 is equal to the BBQ Guru CyberQ, dose the new Flame Boss 500 surpass CyberQ or have you still not had a chance to review it yet.
I’ve had the flame boss 500 for many months now, and have written a review also but due to a VERY busy summer I’ve been unable to keep up with a lot of things and have not managed to post it yet (and update this article.)
I will have my flame boss 500 review posted before next Monday, I’ll drop a link to it here when I have (and also update this article at the same time.)
Personally, I love the 500 and would highly recommend it. I also have the Big Joe 3, and it’s in this set up that I use it mostly. It works perfectly for me, with the exception of one small thing — but that I found a workaround for:
If you use the flame boss with the Big Joe 3 right from the start, from the moment you light the coals and using the flame boss to bring it up to temp, it tends to overshoot the temp by a good 30 °F (plus or minus…and depending on target temp) and then takes a while to come back down, as is the case with ceramics. Workaround? Set the Flame Boss to a temp 25 °F lower than you wish to cook at, and then adjust it higher as it hits it. OR, do what I do, get it up to temp manually and then use the flame boss to keep it there unsupervised.
For the record, I am in a ton of BBQ Facebook groups, and I see the same complaint from the iKamand (from KJ), BBQ Gurus, with other controllers too, so it’s not necessarily a flame boss issue.
Also, many people say that with repeated use, it ‘learns the smoker’, it learns that it overshoots so with time and as it builds a history and memory, it then takes the temp up slower and the problem goes away. The unit is designed to work this way, to learn the smoker it’s used with. The issue I have is, I also use it with a KJ classic, and sometimes a WSM, so I’m responsible for messing up any learning it does by connecting it with different smokers. Therefore, I cannot complain about this really…but wanted to make you aware of my experience 🙂
Also, I would be remiss not to point out that some people do report the occasional problem with connectivity to Wi-Fi, and with updating the firmware of the unit. The Wi-Fi thing seems to be related to how the 2.4ghz and 5ghz wireless networks are set up on the router….but I’ve not seen a solid answer to what is happening here to be honest. And for the record, I’ve personally never had a problem with either of these issues, with the 300 or 500, but on the flame boss group a few people have.
However, what I always keep in mind is volume of sales compared to number of complaints. I cannot know how many they’ve sold, but the complaints aren’t many, and the flame boss support are VERY responsive and active in the group, jumping straight away onto any issues and working them out. And also, the other controller groups (and even the iKamand) seem to have the same issues. No one unit seems to have more or less issues than the others.
Anyway, I love my 500, I would recommend it (and will) and will post up my review of my unit before next Monday, I’ll link to it, so you can check it out.
Thanks for taking the time to reply and in such detail. If you are that happy with the Flame Boss 500 I think I will go the same way but still look forward to reading your review.
I finally got around to adding my flame boss 500 review. It’s been a busy summer so took a while, sorry.
I’ve just read both of your excellently well written and informative reviews and I’m about to order the Flame Boss 500 from Amazon as they are no other stockists UK.
Good stuff, Huw. I think you’ll love it, I certainly do. Let me know how you get on with it if you don’t mind?
Great review. I currently have the CyberQ for my BGE Lg, (upgrade from DigiQ) and wish I had read a comparison before the purchase. Have had constant issues with the pit sensor (on second) doing an extremely high reading during long cooks and have to reset, not fun at 2 AM. Am using Thermoworks pit monitor as the reliable sensor. Also, my smartphone kicked out the Share My Cook site for certificate issues. Still got the monitor messages but lost remote control capabilities.
What I don’t like about the ultra q BBQ guru is the Bluetooth/ wifi. If I have to run to the store I can’t monitor my food on my phone, it kicks me off. My Rectec pellet grill I use once in a while, I can turn it on and adjust my temps out on the lake using the app.