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Considerations for A Controller Purchase

- The other day @caliking mentioned me in a post concerning PID controllers specifically a thread about an Egg Genius. He nicely said listen to me (6baluts).  Wow he took a leap of faith on that recommendation.  I did not know what post/thread he was talking about, so I sat around today and typed up this attached file in Word. 
- It is really long, and I am sorry. Pretty sure most will not want to read it.  If read I will most likely get drawn, quartered and shot by most of you on here.  However, that was not my intention. 
- I hope someone reads it before diving headfirst into the deep end and end up picking the wrong controller or one that just does not fit their style of cooking.
- I really hope @stlcharcoal would flush out the differences in the newer Flameboss models.  He has way more knowledge than I ever will.  My old 200 is still kicking and see no need to upgrade.
- Additionally, any Signals users feel free to add your input. Or for that matter any other brands you may be using.
- If I stepped on someone's toes or you disagree with my comments that is what is great about this country, we can all free think at no charge.
- Keep your fires lit out there.

V/R
6B
 

Comments

  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 4,607
    The 200 was a wifi version of the 100, both only had the capacity for one meat probe and one pit probe.  The 300 was the same 2 line display and you could have up to 3 meat probes, by using two splitters.  The 500 has a new head unit with a 4 line display that you could do up to 3 meat probes without splitters.....plus it has a new bracket and a little rain guard over the plug receptacles. 

    There have been a lot of changes along the way to the fans and Universal adapters.  
  • MolemanMoleman Posts: 351
    @stlcharcoal, how do I get ahold of you to purchase the 500? Thanks. 
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 17,732
    Wow, @6baluts! Talk about a public service. Bravo, sir. 

    I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to copy and paste the text of your dissertation, so it will show up in the body of the thread. I know its long, but those interested may appreciate it. Whoever wants to crib about it can su...

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 17,732
    "
    • Not by any stretch of the imagination is this anywhere near inclusive concerning controllers. All controller owners think the one(s) that they/we own are the best.  Those who dislike controllers I understand that thought process also, I have cooked on Kamado’s since 1977 (Kikuya Hibachi Pot) and got my first controller in I believe 2012.  Yes, I subscribe to the notion that it is best to understand the airflow and how to manage your fire manually before venturing into the PID world.
    • With the above in mind here are some of my thoughts or points to consider while evaluating which controller may be a good fit for you depending on your tech savviness, style of cooking, wants, needs and desires et al…
    • WIFI or Non-WIFI: My first controller was a Non-Wi-Fi unit (BBQ Guru DX2).  Upon receipt I was happier than a lark with it just monitoring two set points the grate/chamber and meat temperatures and keeping a handwritten log of my cooks.  Then my kids started buying me controllers and all of them were WIFI units. Holy smokes I did not realize what I was missing until one of those landed in my hands. As a checklist driven person and now given the ability to keep track of my cooks (cook notes, graphs and even pictures) I figured I had arrived.  With all the nice to haves with WIFI units I must admit the last controller I bought was a Non WIFI unit.  It is the Thermoworks Smoke X4 with Billows. Quick note concerning the BBQ Guru DX2 vs Smoke X4 with Billows.  Two things worth mentioning about the Smoke X4 it comes with a remote reader which is a nice, included option that the Guru DX2 does not have. You can walk around with the remote in your pocket or bring it inside and set it next to your recliner while watching the game. I will discuss the second point concerning the Billows in the fan size section below.  Lastly if any of you are owners of the original Thermoworks Smoke not the “X Series” and have bought the ‘Gateway Bridge” to make your Smoke internet capable unfortunately the Gateway is not compatible with the Smoke X Series.  That’s a bummer!!!
    • Fan or No Fan: I have the Smobot which does not utilize a fan.  I believe at present the Smobot is the only non-fan controller on the market.  Personally, I am a huge fan of this unit, really like no wire dangling in the front of the Kamado and it keeps the tightest temperature control on my ceramic grills of all the controllers that I own.  I have the following fan-based controllers: BBQ Guru DX2, Smoke X4 with Billows, Flameboss 200, Fireboard FBX11, Fireboard 2 Drive, Tappecue Touch (I did not buy the cruise control option to make this a full-blown controller but could add it for about $60).
    • Fan size: I personally feel a 6.5 cfm fan is of adequate size to run any of my Ceramic Grills the largest being a Primo XL.  I have multiple BGE’s none bigger than a Large.  None of the controllers I have come with the 6.5 cfm fan, but I bought one from Auber instruments and that story will make sense in a minute.  BBQ Guru DX2 utilizes the pit viper fan which is a 10cfm fan. It’s a great fan!  The Flameboss fan is a 12cfm fan and it’s a stellar performer also.  Concerning the Fireboards that I own.  The FBX11 came with a 20cfm fan made by Auber Instruments.  That fan is way too big for a kamado in my (operative words) opinion…BUT Fireboard offers you the opportunity in the software settings to throttle your fan output, by manually changing the fan output percentage to what you desire.  I chose to throttle the fan at between 20-30% and it works fine…BUT you/I must remember to set it each time you use the controller (mine defaults back to factory settings), or you overshoot like crazy on a Kamado (at least that has been my experience and yes, I have a medical condition that may contribute to this issue).  Not sure who makes the fan for the Fireboard 2 Drive (I opted not to purchase the fan) but again the same issue with fan size.  Just too big in my opinion (operative words) but you are allowed to throttle the fan just like the FBX11.  To mitigate this before I bought the Auber 6.5cfm fan I just used the BBQ Guru pit viper fan with great results on both of my Fire Boards. The Smoke X4 with the billows I feel has the same issue.  The fan is a 24cfm unit.  I only use this unit on a Weber Kettle and a Weber Performer and if I start a real small fire (read about 3 briquettes), I do not overshoot my set point.  I did spring for the Thermoworks yellow damper adapter (not the included fan plug), and it has helped but should have been included in the Billows package. That damper is more for preventing backflow air leaks when the fan is at idle/stopped than throttling down output of the fan. The best brisket I have ever cooked was utilizing this controller on my leaky, warped lid Weber Kettle this past summer (2022).  Concerning Tappecue Touch and Cruise Control once again the Tappecue fan (not sure who makes it) fan in my opinion (operative words and rich on my behalf seeing how I do not own the cruise control) is too large for a Kamado. However, you could get yourself a BBG Guru pit viper fan or get yourself and Auber instruments 6.5cfm or 10 cfm fan or any fan for that matter if it has a barrel jack connector and operate that with your Tappecue Touch system if you would choose to go in that direction.
    • Fan mounting adapters: Let’s just say not all fans are mounted to the bottom damper the same way.  In my opinion which means zilch in your purchase by far the BBQ Guru adapter leads the pack in design, quality, damper seal, and fitment in the lower sliding damper rails of both the BGE and Primo XL.  Closely followed by the Flameboss options.  I am not (operative words) keen on any of the fan mounting options that are spring loaded (Auber/Billows) … BUT if you opt for a controller and purchase a spring-loaded fan look at Auber Instruments website and pick up one of their mounting plates for your Kamado.  It sure makes mounting that fan a tad easier and more airtight.  Auber’s plates are very much like the Flameboss offerings but a bit stouter and with a slight bend/lip along the edge that helps sealing when placed in the damper rails.  I bought these to help in the installation of the Auber spring loaded fans I have.  BTW they also work with the Flameboss fan. There is another method/option of fan mounting it uses a rubber hose and cup arrangement that mounts to the lower damper (Pitmaster IQ series and others).  I do not have a controller like that so I can not speak for how it performs, seals or options it may have.
    • Number of Fans and number of Cookers:  I know of two controllers that can run multiple fans.  The BBQ Guru line can run 2 fans on one cooker (read large cooker) by utilizing a jumper.  The Tappecue Touch can control up to 4 smokers with different setpoints due to it being able to run up to 4 fans each utilizing an individual cruise control box.  BTW Tappecue does not require you to utilize their fan offering if your fan is equipped with a barrel jack, and you have a 12v power supply.  Tappecue is filling the void I guess that the Stoker used to fill before they closed shop.
    • Probes:  How many probes are enough for your style of cooking?  Three, Four Six or Eight probes?  Probes can and will factor in while shopping and could eventually drive your decision. 
    • Probes:  Are you looking for Controller that utilizes Thermocouples for probes? If so, you are set and can quit reading this balloon juice and get yourself a Fireboard 2 Pro which utilizes Type K thermocouples.  The Fireboard Pro 2 has 3 ports which maybe the long pole in the tent probe wise if you require more probes.  If not looking for a Thermocouple unit all the other controllers pretty much use standard wire probes but I will say some appear to be manufactured a bit better than others and their temp ratings of the probes are all over the place.  A note should be made here about the Smobot which utilizes a Thermocouple probe for the pit/chamber temperature and standard probes for the meats.  I have been lucky, I have yet to ruin a probe on any of my ceramics, PKO, Kettles/Performer or Hastybake Gourmet.  However, I never use a controller if cooking above 350° degrees.
    • Probes′′:  Are you wanting a unit with just standard probes that measures one (1) temperature either grate/chamber or meat temps?  Or are you interested in a unit that utilizes dual probes which is a single probe that measures both grate/chamber and meat temps? Even yet maybe, you are interested in a unit that can utilize a wireless probe or up to four (4) wireless probes or a combination of standard probes, dual probes, and wireless probes?  If so that unit exists. (Tappecue Touch with Cruise Control).  I specifically bring this unit up for anyone that may be on the fence on getting a PID Controller and/or say the Meater Block or even just a wireless thermometer like a Meater+, Meatstick, Yummly, et al.  The Tappecue Touch with Cruise Control combines/gives you everything a Meater Block does and for that matter any of the wireless thermometers I mentioned above, but it also is a PID controller that can operate wireless, standard wire, and dual probes.  Additionally, you can piece together your buy of the Tappecue products so as not to absorb the wrath of the wife all at once.  The boutique buy is how I pitched my better 95% low and outside and she to this day is none the wiser.
    • All in one unit vice a control box:  What I am getting at is something like the Egg Genius/Flameboss 400 where you get all your control options and cook info from your phone/iPad or computer.  I consider this an all-in-one unit.  Or would you prefer a control box within cable reach of your cooker where you can make temperature setting inputs to your cook and glean cook information at the box as well as your phone/iPad/computer.  I do not have what I call and “all-in-one” unit in my group of controllers.  However, I know without a shadow of a doubt in my case I would at some point pop outside sans phone to do something wander over to check the cook status and then the light would dawn over my marblehead. Thus, I would be making the “walk of shame” back into the house for a look-see.  Convenience wise I feel the control box variant wins the day.  However, the price will be steeper for the control box in most cases if the manufacturer offers both type devices.  There is absolutely nothing the matter/wrong with what I call “all-in-one” units that is a decision left up to you upon purchase.
    • If you do or do not have AC power near your cook area and running an extension cord is a PITA, is running on battery important to you?  If yes, all the controllers can do it, but not all the controllers use the same amount of juice.  In fact, many of the controller companies offer battery packs as an option at purchase.  Concerning the controllers, it’s been my (operative word) experience the Smobot is the most miserly concerning battery consumption and have to say pretty much laps the field in that department.  I purchased a RAV Power Battery Supply Model RPB19 16750mAh battery off Amazon that will NOT auto shut off due to the low draw required to operate the Smobot.  I know I have done multiple brisket and butt cooks without ever recharging the RAV.  Additionally, if a small battery pack is not your thing or something you feel is an added expense look at the Fireboard line of controllers.  They come with and onboard battery, so you do not have to futz around with and external battery pack which adds more cables to the equation.
    • Are you interested in Cook Programs?  I know of two controllers (Fireboard and Qmaster) that offer this option much like medium to high end pellet grills. On my Mak** I use this type of program often.  Concerning my Kamado’s, I have used it a couple of times.  What it does for you is that you develop and input/program a time or temp decision point. For this example, I will use temp only to increase/decrease at a certain set point.  Say you want to get a bunch of smoke absorption you can program a lower chamber set point than normal say 200° degrees and a meat set point of 135° degrees.  Once the meat reaches that 135° degrees the program you developed instructs the fan to ramp up and raise the temp say to 285° for the duration of the cook until the doneness temp of 203° degrees is achieved then your alarm will go off. It also has a keep warm option where it will lower the chamber temperature to keep the meat say at 160 degrees internal temp or whatever you choose.  I have never tried this on a Kamado not sure how the fire would react but have used it on the MAK** and it is awesome.
    • Ease of use:  All the controllers I have are pretty darn easy to use and I am by NO means a tech guy.  I personally feel the BBQ Guru DX2, Flameboss 200 and Smobot are the most intuitive controllers I have.  The Fireboard gives you so many options/parameters that you can play with you have a slight learning curve to appreciate all you get with the Fireboard experience, and it is a darn good experience once you can take advantage of all the offered features.  The Themoworks Smoke X4 to me (and those are the operative words) seems a bit clunky but once you get the hang of it, no issues whatsoever.  I will say this if I did not have a Thermoworks Timestack and understood how to navigate through it, I may have booted the X4 to the curb, but am glad I did not that darn brisket mentioned earlier was in my opinion something to behold.  The Tappecue Touch set up is different, easy to connect to internet, you bounce through multiple menus when setting your parameters for a cook and this can take some getting used to and I wish it was a bit more simplified.  Do be on the lookout for the obnoxious “Check Your Meat” when the guest of honor is complete. Other than that, it’s a breeze and I really like the clarity of the color screen and that is a noteworthy bonus.
    • Support:  This is important in my opinion and does have at least one hand on the wheel of my controller bus.  It sure is nice when you hear a great thing about company support and even nicer if you call the company with an issue and surprisingly you are speaking to the owner on a weekend.  Even better if the help desk is in CONUS.  Think that is impossible?  It has happened three times to me with different controller companies (Flamboss (Mr. Collins), Smobot (Curtis) and Tappecue (Gina and her Jacob).  I feel very comfortable in the controllers I have that if an issue arises, the issue will be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.  Once again this is my opinion, I have seen quite a bit of bad press concerning support from BBQ Guru.  I have dealt with them once (I did not understand their buttonology for open lid detect) and was pretty much hand walked through the procedure to adjust how I wanted it.  So, I give them a thumbs up. Fireboards support is what you expect from a reputable company, and we all know how Thermoworks operates.
    • Do You want to use the Meatrix App?  The Meatrix System and app does not get much press, but it works as evidenced by all the “walks” the cooks are getting that utilize that technology at the SCA events. It currently can only be used with two controllers (Fireboard and Tappecue). A couple years ago the Meatrix System was discussed on many of the Forums.  Most folks pretty much flame sprayed the owner and his idea.  Well, I had a $100 running north at the time, and I bit. I purchased the stand-alone unit, immediately had the Gomer Pyle gooooollllly moment.  It is a device that tells you when the meat is fit to eat and meets USDA pasteurization guidelines. Recently on the Thermoworks Blog they had an article “Chicken Internal Temps: Everything You Need to Know” which kind of explains what Meatrix does for beef/chicken/pork/fish etc.  When I am smoking a Prime Rib, I use the stand alone Meatrix System and get wall to wall perfect doneness, never fails.  I think the App is around $10.
    • If Your handy you can build a controller yourself:  I think "heater meter" is the only self-build units still available.  They are pretty darn reputable, so I have been told.  I have no soldering skills (plus I have Parkinson’s) so not an option for me. However, if interested may I suggest you drop in over at “The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board” where they have a whole subforum dedicated to all things Heater Meter.  Some interesting and informative reading and appears like help abounds for the folks that are up to it.
    • Cost:  Yes, certainly a concern.  This piece of gear if you take care of it will last you a long time.  My BBQ Guru DX2 is about 10 years old I believe so old it has been discontinued but still supported.  I am a subscriber in the “buy once cry once” philosophy on a large or a long-term purchase.  Take your time, do your research, and think your purchase through before taking the leap.  If you have your mind set on a controller buy the one that will check the most if not all your required boxes, answers the most bells and adds value and assistance in the way you cook. Last thing you want to do is plunk your money down and have buyer’s remorse.
    • Lastly:  Remember there is a bunch of controllers that I did not mention that have loyal followers that are certainly/surely worth consideration.  For example, Thermoworks Signals, BBQube (owner & developer “Daz” hangs out over in the “Red Room” and if I am not mistaken his company makes the Inkbird products as well) LavaLock is another just to name a few.
    • Musings on my controllers: These are in no particular order:
      • BBQ Guru DX 2. Non Wifi. Well built controller, as well built as say most Thermoworks items we have bought.  Keeps good temp control.  Have used it on a Kikuya Hibachi Pot, LBGE, MBGE, Primo XL with great success.  If looking for a non wifi controller, would I buy it’s newer comparable model yes but would give consideration to the Thermoworks Smoke X4 which has more probes.  Product support is good.
      • Thermoworks Smoke X4. Non Wifi. Well-built as all Thermoworks devices are. That remote that is included with the Smoke X series is gold in my opinion. Keeps decent temperature control and only use it on my Weber Kettle and Weber Performer.  Not a fan of the Billows but have gotten used to it. Product support is great.
      • Flameboss 200.  Wifi capable. Great controller. Flameboss pushes a lot of updates to you so be prepared for that if using it.  Updates harm nothing. Notes and graphs are the second best in comparison to my other controllers.  They are straight forward which is nice.  Product support is Top Shelf.  Mr. Collins and his support staff are incredible.
      • Fireboard FBx11.  Wifi capable, By far has the most user modifiable settings. Bit of a learning curve but nothing insurmountable.  Best graphing, note taking etc. to include pictures and cook programs.  I have used it on both a Primo XL, LBGE and MBGE.  I feel this company is one of the two top innovators in this industry.  Crawling in bed with Yoder I am sure has helped both Yoder and Fireboard. I prefer this controller over it’s updated brother the Fireboard 2 Drive. Product support is good.
      • Fireboard 2 Drive.  All the same notes as above but what you get is a larger display and a graph on the main unit.  Also, even though I did not buy the fan for this controller the fan that Fireboard sells is an updated on with a new style mounting bracket.  Will say if there are nay of you who have not invested in Thermoworks thermometers such as the Thermapen you might hold off and get the Fireboard Spark which you can sync with your Fireboard controller.  Product support is good.
      • Smobot.  This has become my go to controller.  Reason why it is that good.  Pretty much flat line cooks have been my experience.  Have used it on the Primo XL the most, then followed by each of my LBGE’s. Graphing and note taking are adequate but not on par with Fireboard or Flameboss.  If you are in the market for a controller and only require two meat probes, I would compare this rather rigorously with any other option you may be considering.  As a reminder the pit/chamber probe on Smobot is a thermocouple. If you are concerned about gunk/soot build up on the robotic damper don’t be. Every blue moon I take a couple of cotton balls dipped in alcohol and wipe it off.  If you are in the market for this and can swing it, I recommend going ahead and buying the Smobot Cap.  Makes life easier, well made, and easy to clean.  Product support is Top Shelf. (Curtis and Eric respond rapidly to any question or issue)
      • Tappecue Touch:  Like I have mentioned I did not purchase the cruise control option but is available if I desire to do so.  This is the other company who I feel is very innovative.  I think it will be either these folk or Fireboard that finally figure out a reliable wireless probe. So far, my Airprobe 2 has been more reliable than my Meater+.  The color screen on this unit is a bonus. So far I have not had issues seeing the screen but I have never used it in direct sunlight.  Can run up to 8 probes with jumpers on this device so if probes are your thing this should answer the bell. Remember it runs standard wire probes, dual probes (which is a single wire probe that measures both pit/chamber and meat temps) and wireless probes (Airprobe2 or Airprobe 3 which also measure pit/chamber and meat temps).  If you have multiple cookers and think you at some point would like to control a couple of them this is your choice.  Lots of confusion with this company and graphing.  You can store up to if I remember correctly 5 cooks a month on their cloud for free any more than that and you buy a subscription like their restaurant clients do.  Which to me sounds reasonable.  However, you can choose to store none and have the Tappecue send you a file that opens in Excel of your entire cook whether you use this a PID Temperature Controller or just as a Thermometer as I presently do. You can write your notes on that file etc. Product support is Top Shelf.  Gina and Jacob are on the ball.

    Congratulations if you read all this balloon juice.  For all the military retirees give yourself a yellow sticky note of appreciation and call it a day.  For all others not sure what the equivalent is but have at it.  I am sorry for the length but if it helps just one person in deciding on what controller to purchase it is a win.

    The folks that have other company controllers please add them in and hopefully folks will search before they buy and get firsthand knowledge on what they are thinking of purchasing.


    6B going back into “Time Out”!"


    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • danhoodanhoo Posts: 504

    current: | Large BGE |  Genesis 1000 | Genesis E330 | 22 inch Kettle | Weber Summit Kamado
    sold:| PitBoss pro 820  WSM 22 
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 4,607
    Moleman said:
    @stlcharcoal, how do I get ahold of you to purchase the 500? Thanks. 
    Just sent you a message with my contact info!
  • Bravo! Excellent post.
  • 6baluts6baluts Posts: 215
    - I am sorry I gave some wrong information concerning fan size for Billows.  It is actually a 46cfm fan even bigger than I thought. I spotted the error when looking at that Thermoworks mini catalog that is included in your orders. 
    - Regret passing that bum gouge.
    - Hope everyone had an exceptional Thanksgiving and even better upcoming Holiday Season.

    6B is in "Timeout" for sure now!
  • 6baluts6baluts Posts: 215
    - I received two PM's today asking two different questions:

    1.  What is the difference between the Billows Fan Plug and the Billows Damper?

    - In the picture, in the upper left corner is the Billows Fan Plug that comes standard in the Billows box with the fan and power adapter.  You REMOVE the fan plug during operation according to the instructions.  Supposedly it is for storage of the fan to keep dust out.

    - In the picture, lower left is the Billows Damper which is an option and I think it was $2.99.  My opinion worth it.  The damper is placed in position on the fan in lieu of the fan plug during operation.  If you operate the Billows without the 
    fan plug you have this big honking hole above the rotating fan, allowing air to backdraft in thru the fan when it is at idle or stopped. Resulting in air leakage and unwanted temperature swings. The Billows damper I feel is Thermoworks attempt to prevent/lessen backdraft and mitigate some of the temperature swings. In the picture you see the two tabs that allow the damper to spin either direction to close or open for air flow. Not sure why Thermoworks just does not include this at the sale.

    2.  What is the difference between the Flameboss fan mounting plates and the Auber Instrument plates?

    - The center row in the picture are the three mounting plates that were included with my Flameboss 200.  All three are lying flat.

    - The right row is the Auber Instrument fan mounting plates.  It does not show up well in the picture the lip on the plates that I mentioned in the write up.  The top plate on the right the lip is face down.  The bottom plate the lip is face up.

    --- Not asked but how do other fans mitigate air leakage/backdrafts?

    BBQ Guru Pit Viper: They have a damper built into their fans.  It is a sliding plate that has three positions.  I cannot remember what position Guru recommended for a LBGE or maybe it was a Kamado (I think it was the middle line) whatever the recommendation was I put it there and have never moved it.

    Auber Instrument Fans:  They have a flapper inside the housing that when the fan stops the flapper closes.  Flapper position is fan speed dependent.  Pretty smart.

    ---Additionally, I found out today when I ordered a new AirProbe3 that Tappecue now offers Two (2) fans.  A 20 cfm and a10 cfm fan.  To me they look like Auber Instrument Fans or a clone of them.

    V/R
    6B
     
  • danhoodanhoo Posts: 504
    edited November 2022
    6baluts said:
    - I received two PM's today asking two different questions:

    1.  What is the difference between the Billows Fan Plug and the Billows Damper?

    - In the picture, in the upper left corner is the Billows Fan Plug that comes standard in the Billows box with the fan and power adapter.  You REMOVE the fan plug during operation according to the instructions.  Supposedly it is for storage of the fan to keep dust out.

    - In the picture, lower left is the Billows Damper which is an option and I think it was $2.99.  My opinion worth it.  The damper is placed in position on the fan in lieu of the fan plug during operation.  If you operate the Billows without the 
    fan plug you have this big honking hole above the rotating fan, allowing air to backdraft in thru the fan when it is at idle or stopped. Resulting in air leakage and unwanted temperature swings. The Billows damper I feel is Thermoworks attempt to prevent/lessen backdraft and mitigate some of the temperature swings. In the picture you see the two tabs that allow the damper to spin either direction to close or open for air flow. Not sure why Thermoworks just does not include this at the sale.

    I have a billows and I've never used the plug. I remove the billows when I want to shut down air flow. Maybe it is needed for setups where the billows is harder to remove once mounted.

    The damper is ( in my opinion ) a must-have for a BGE. Without it the damper, the free flow inlet air is too much and you cannot keep temps down. IIRC, this pic was set for a 230F grate / 250F dome cook.





    I also have the kamado adapter plate, and in hindsight, I should have just made one.
    current: | Large BGE |  Genesis 1000 | Genesis E330 | 22 inch Kettle | Weber Summit Kamado
    sold:| PitBoss pro 820  WSM 22 
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 4,607
    One note, FlameBoss is a variable speed fan with a logic that learns what speed it needs to run at to maintain or recover the fire.  A lot of these other ones are two speeds--ON or OFF--which is why they need the damper.  You really don't need anything over 5-10 CFM in a BGE, so the Thermoworks is WAY overkill and absolutely needs the damper.....same goes for the BBQ Guru with a PitBull fan.

    FlameBoss had the little flapper early on in the first model (before the 100).  When running below 20-30, there wasn't enough airflow from the fan to lift it open, then it could gum up or freeze in a position.  Then they also messed around with a damper, but with the variable speed fan and algorithm, neither were necessary.  They just confused the computer since people messed around with something manual, that was designed to be automatic.
  • 6baluts6baluts Posts: 215
    @danhoo
    - Totally concur. I would not use the Billows without the damper. For $3 it is a bargain. That fan hole is so darn big once you remove the plug you have a massive air leak.
    - I never bought the Thermoworks adapter plate. Do not even believe I have seen one in the wild. I am happy with the Auber adapters. That angled lip really helps seal the damper due to it pressing on the damper rails.
    - I have heard of folks running the Billows with the Fan Plug partially in place vice buying the damper. Seems like a lot of work to me.
    - Are you running the Billows with the Signals or Smoke X? I know quite a few folks here locally that run the Signals just as a thermometer just like I run the Tappecue as a thermometer only. 
    - One thing most folks do not consider in controller shopping is that not all controllers are specifically designed for a Kamado with the possible exception of the Smobot. Hence the variations in fan sizes, mounting options and menu options like fireboard offers concerning a choice of algorithms you may choose from if inclined to do so.
    - I literally asked the Tappecue folks if cruise control could operate my smobot vice a fan. Of course the answer was no. If it would have been yes I would have unloaded all of my controllers except the robotic damper arm and the Tappecue. 
    - Enjoyed talking with you. Keep those fires lit.
  • danhoodanhoo Posts: 504
    edited November 2022
    The billows damper is needed to keep the temps low when the fan is not running. Without the damper, on my large the min temp with the billows connected but not running is over 300F at the grate.

    If I want a lower temp I have to use the damper even if the fan is unplugged.

    As far as it being single speed, yes it is, however the smoke X controller handles this by pulsing the fan once the ambient temp gets close to the target temp. I can't remember how close, but within 20F it starts pulsing? The pulsing is fan on for a second off for a couple of seconds.

    This isn't how I normally use the billows though. I normally connect the billows and get the temp stable, meat on and still stable before I even plug in the fan. By doing this I've got the damper adjusted to hold target temp and then the fan isn't controlling the temp, but instead it is a low temp insurance.  

    Anyway, it works for me. I don't use the billows very often, but I do hook it up for overnight cooks and it allows me to sleep and not worry if the temp is too low.
    current: | Large BGE |  Genesis 1000 | Genesis E330 | 22 inch Kettle | Weber Summit Kamado
    sold:| PitBoss pro 820  WSM 22 
  • 6baluts6baluts Posts: 215
    @stlcharcoal
    - You are spot on concerning the varable speed fan and flameboss. I have one of the old damper fans you mentioned. Then upgraded to the damperless fan. That is the fan that hates my Primo XL. Mr. Collins then well after warranty sent me one of the silver bodied fans to see if it woukd stop the runaway fires on the Primo. It didn't so I use the Flameboss exclusively on one of my LBGE and every now and then on the Kikuya Hibachi Pot..
    - I figured that damper in those fans may eventually become an issue so on that Auber fan with Fireboard I select "Small Fan" and regulate output between either 20 or 30% which pretty much emulates the pit viper.
  • danhoodanhoo Posts: 504
    @6baluts I was typing and didn't see your reply. I have the Smoke X4. I went back and forth deciding on smoke X4 or signals. In the end I wanted a dedicated remote more than another app on my phone and was willing to trade off the features of the signals. 

    I use the smoke X4 as just a thermometer fairly often, and only use the billows for longer low-temp cooks.  If I'm around and can walk out to attend to things I won't bother hooking it up, but if its an overnight cook or if I'm busy with meetings the billows lets me set-and-forget until the meat temp alarm tells me its time.

    @stlcharcoal I'm not really disagreeing with anything you've written as you are correct.  I mostly wanted to clarify the damper is needed even if the fan is not running.

    current: | Large BGE |  Genesis 1000 | Genesis E330 | 22 inch Kettle | Weber Summit Kamado
    sold:| PitBoss pro 820  WSM 22 
  • 6baluts6baluts Posts: 215
    @danhoo
    - I run my Smoke X4 like you. Start a small fire. Creep up on my set point about 60° below, slap the Billow in the Kettle/Performer.
    - Took 2 cooks to figure my go to procedure but it works.
    - Like you all my controllers are pretty much on auto pilot for overnighters. On occaision a daytime cook, never over 350°.
  • GroguGrogu Posts: 48
    FireBoard is also variable speed with a PID but also has a damper. It’s after rather than before the fan like the thermoworks, but like @danhoo stated for his billows, I use it to keep low temps low. You can even configure the FireBoard to limit the percentage of speed the variable will run, but you still need to choke down the damper if running low temps or it’s just like having the bottom vent open too much without a controller.
  • kl8tonkl8ton Posts: 4,665
    So many words. TLDR.

    I am all for simplicity. I've been eggin for 18 years. No controller. Many overnight cooks.
    I've debated about a controller for a long time. All of the controller fail posts have deterred me.
    Large, Medium, MiniMax, & 22, and 36" Blackstone
    Grand Rapids MI
  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 9,226
    You don't really need a damper on a kamado if you keep the top vent openings very small - barely open. Doing that you are naturally dampening the natural draft and rely on the fan to force more airflow as needed.
    While a variable speed fan is nice I don't think it is magically better - with a fan that is either on/off it just means that type of fan would cycle more often. The only downside to that is really just a chance of a shortened lifespan of the fan but even that is likely a small difference.
    I would agree tho that you don't really need a high-CFM fan for a kamado. However, a higher CFM fan is handy if you plan on sharing the controller for use on other grills in your stable.
    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” ― Philip K. Diçk

    Camped out in the (757/948/804)




  • kl8ton said:
    So many words. TLDR.

    I am all for simplicity. I've been eggin for 18 years. No controller. Many overnight cooks.
    I've debated about a controller for a long time. All of the controller fail posts have deterred me.
    I’m with you man.  After years of messing with controllers, sold them all and went back to manually regulating the temps. Sometimes simpler is better!
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