The BBQ Guru DigiQ DX3 is a basic thermostatic controller for charcoal and wood fired cookers. It features an easy to use menu, clear display, separate fan with an internal damper, cooker temperature probe, and a single food temperature probe. It does not interface with the internet or smart devices.
Like all thermostatic controllers, the DX3 employs a temperature probe that attaches to the cooking surface. This sensor measures the temperature inside the smoker or oven and relays that information to the control computer. This internal temperature is compared to a temperature setting made by the user, and adjusts the airflow through the cooker to control the temperature. By increasing the fan speed, more air is forced through the cooker, resulting in higher temperatures. This achieves the same result as manually adjusting the vents, but without constant fiddling, so the internal temperature is held closely to the desired cooking temperature.
The DX3 has three control profiles that adjust the response parameters to the type of cooker being used. The manual, which must be downloaded from the company website, lists the proper setting for various popular cookers. Once set, the setting is retained in memory. The desired cooker temperature is set by the user, and the user can set a temperature tolerance range. If the internal temp exceeds the set tolerance, too high or too low, the display will flash and an audible alarm will sound. The food temperature is monitored by a second probe. When the food temperature reaches the food temperature setting input by the user, the display will flash and an audible alarm will sound. The audible alarms can be adjusted for volume or turned off completely. The user can also enable or disable a ramp function that will lower the cooker temperature when the food temperature approaches the user setting, thereby preventing the overcooking of food. There is also a selectable open-lid detection feature that will prevent temperature overshoot after a sudden temperature drop caused by opening the lid of the cooker.
Both probes have 6′ (1.8m) braided stainless steel cables that appear to be quite rugged. The manufacturer rates them to 500°F and advises the user to keep the cables away from open flames. The food probe is L-shaped, allowing the probe point to be inserted about 4″ (10cm) into the food. The cooker probe has an alligator clip at its end.
The computer is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It can be powered by the supplied AC adapter (110-220VAC) or by 12VDC. The temperature scale can be set to Fahrenheit or Celsius in the setup menu. The fan attaches to the cooker using a collar that fits over the lower vents. It has a damper control to help fine tune the airflow. If power to the computer is interrupted, it will continue where it left off when power is restored without any input from the user.
My tests were conducted on an 18.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain. Ambient temperatures were approximately 55°F (13°C) and there was a slight breeze. I filled the fuel tray about three-quarters full of unlit coals, and I lit about one-third of a chimney of Kingsford briquets. When the lit coals were showing ash, I poured them on top of the unlit coals, added some hickory, and assembled the smoker with the food (St. Louis-style pork ribs). I set the cooker profile to #3, closed the fan damper to about one-half, and set the top vents to about one-fourth open, as directed in the instructions. I cooked the ribs for about 5.5 hours. As you can see from the graph below, the DX3 did an excellent job of temperature control. (Click on the graph to view an enlarged version.)
All the components of this product appear to be well made. The warranty on the fan and computer is two years, and the probes are warrantied for 90 days. The documentation that comes with the product is lacking, but a quick trip to the company’s website will allow you to download a well-written user’s manual. Contact info for the company can be found in the manual, including physical address, telephone number, e-mail address and website.
If you are content to set it and forget it, the DX3 is an excellent choice. It comes in several kit configurations that mate the fan unit to your style of cooker. The company’s website has a kit selection tool that allows you to order the correct hardware, so obtaining the right setup is easy. The unit doesn’t require an internet connection, and it won’t talk to your smart phone, tablet or computer, but it does control the temperature of your cooker very well at a modest price. I’m giving it a Gold Medal for its quality construction, performance, and ease of use.
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BBQ Guru is the inventor of ground breaking temperature controllers for charcoal and wood-burning cookers. They even make one for regulating electric smokers, but so far none for gas burning devices. Temperature controllers allow you to set and hold an exact cooking temp just like with an indoor kitchen oven. BBQ Guru makes a variety of controllers for use with most manufacturer’s products. Their expanded catalog now includes smokers and various accessories. In 2017 they entered into a relationship with German kamado manufacturer, Monolith. BBQ Guru integrated their temperature controllers into two Monolith Kamados and is selling them in the USA as Monolith BBQ Guru Editions.
Published On: 11/26/2018
Last Modified: 2/9/2022
Bill McGrath - Bill McGrath is AmazingRibs.com's Thermometer Maven. He has sophisticated equipment, an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, and an MBA (almost) from UC Berkeley. Despite being mostly retired, he is still the person responsible for developing and updating all of ExxonMobil's training modules.