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SmartFire Pro BBQ Controller Review

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SmartFire Pro BBQ Controller Review
The SmartFire Pro BBQ Controller is an integrated thermometer and thermostatically controlled fan that communicates with a smart phone via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, allowing the user to monitor and control a charcoal-fired cooker while monitoring up to three food temperatures. The controller can mate with a wide variety of cookers using custom mounting adapters and works with both Apple and Android devices.
 
This test was conducted using an 18.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. The factory recommended moving the charcoal ring to the opposite side of the cooker from the fan, and lighting the coals farthest from the fan. I followed those instructions, lighting about 6-8 coals with a propane torch.
 
The unit is powered by an included USB cable, but you must supply the charger itself, something that should not be a problem for most users. There is no internal battery, so you’ll need either AC or an external battery pack that supports USB voltages.
 
There is no display on the unit – all status info is provided via smart phone or web browser. The only indicator is a small multi-colored LED that shows connection status. Using the free app, a Bluetooth connection allows the user to configure the unit to communicate with your Wi-Fi router, which in turn connects it to a dedicated server in the cloud. The smart phone then communicates with the cloud server, permitting operation anywhere an internet connection exists. The app can control multiple cookers simultaneously. Each unit has four inputs: a probe that monitors the cooker temperature and three probes for food temps. 
 

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Four temperature probes come with the unit: one has a rounded tip and a grill clip, and the other three are pointed for insertion into food. The cables are stainless steel braids that are 60″ (1.52m) long, which is long enough for just about any cooker. Four reels are provided to store the probes when not in use, and the whole kit comes in an attractive zippered case.
 
The temperature of each probe is displayed separately with a plot of temperature vs. time conspicuously shown. You can set alarms for each probe individually. The cooker probe supports a lower and an upper alarm threshold to warn the user of fuel depletion or out of limits operation. The food probes can be set to trigger temperature alarms based on pre-programmed limits or custom values. When an alarm threshold is reached, a user-selectable audible alarm will sound.
 
The basic setup screen allows you to select the cooker type, name your device, select the alarm sound, and choose a screen background. There is an advanced settings screen that allows the user to make under-the-hood adjustments to the controller’s behavior, including the open-lid detection and the PID (proportion, integral, derivative) parameters. The average user probably won’t need or want to play with these settings.
 
Setting the cooker temperature is simple. You choose the temperature, upper and lower alarm thresholds, and set the fan to “on.” There is no programmable cooking profile feature that allows you to automatically change cooker temperature when certain temperature or time values are reached. The temperature vs. time graph below shows how well the SmartFire regulated the temperature over a four hour test. Click on the graph to see a larger version.
 
SmartFire Temperature vs. Time Graph
 
As you can see, temperature control is excellent. I didn’t actually cook anything for this test, preferring to focus on the temperature regulation.
 
All things considered, this unit performs well. Temperature accuracy is excellent, so is temperature control. Navigating through the app was a little confusing at first, but I got used to it. The housing for the fan and electronics is underwhelming, but it works well enough. The adapter for the Weber didn’t require any permanent modifications to the cooker, and it was easy to install and remove. (Tip: get the “cake tin” version of the adapter if you don’t want to remove the lower vent adjuster.) I’d like to see a bit more flexibility in programming temperature profiles; perhaps that will come with future firmware or app versions.
 
Customer support is lacking from many manufacturers these days, but the people at SmartFire are an exception. I initially had connectivity problems using my somewhat aged Galaxy S6 phone. (I’ve had similar comm problems with other thermometers as well.) After some e-mails and a Zoom meeting with the engineer in Australia, we decided my phone was probably the cause of the problem. So, I got on Amazon and ordered a Galaxy S9, not state-of-the-art, but three years newer. This upgrade solved the issue and I didn’t have significant comm problems again. Thanks for the support, guys.
 
Contact info for customer support is found in the instructions, on the website, and in the app. Warranty is one year for the electronics and three months for the probes. 
 
I would recommend this thermostatic controller. It’s competitively priced, it’s well made, and it performs well. What’s not to like?
  • Thermometer Function:
    Leave in Food, Leave in Cooker, Thermostats/Temperature Controllers
  • Item Price:
    $ 253.00
  • Where to buy (buying from this supplier supports this website):
  • Probe:
    Food (3): diameter: 0.159" (4mm), length: 4" (100mm), cable: 60" (1.52m); cooker: cable: 60" (1.52m)
  • Battery Type:
    None
  • Battery Life:
    n/a
  • Min & Max Temp:
    Not specified
  • Display Precision:
    0.1°
  • Actual Temp at 32 Degrees:
    37.1
  • Actual Temp at 130 Degrees:
    129.0
  • Actual Temp at 225 Degrees:
    223.9
  • Actual Temp at 325 Degrees:
    324.1
  • Speed from 32 to 212 Degrees:
    n/a
  • Speed from 32 to 212 Degrees:
    n/a
  • Numbers Display Size:
    None
  • Water Resistance Rating:
    Not specified
  • Weight:
    3.5 oz. (100g)
  • C/F Switch:
    Built in CF switch
  • Backlight:
    No Backlight
  • Color Options:
    Red
  • App:
    Apple and Android
  • Logging:
    In app/cloud
  • Included:
    Electronic & Fan enclosure, power cable (but no USB supply), four temperature probes, four cable storage spools, grill clip, instructions, carrying case, quick start guide
  • Available Accessories:
    Adapters for many cookers
  • Alarms:
    Audible

Published On: 7/23/2020 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.

 

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