The 11 Best Barbecue Automatic Temperature Controllers

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    Last Updated on November 27, 2020

    Our Top Choice...

    Key Features

    • Easy to use
    • Perfect tool for overnighters
    • Fits many drum, barrel, cabinet and offset style charcoal grills and smokers
    • The device is accessible from a Flame Boss phone app
    • Great value for your money

    bbq temp controller

    Smoking meat can be a tedious and thankless chore sometimes. The results are amazing, it can’t be denied. There is nothing like biting into that first juicy, smoky, delicious bite of brisket or ribs after cooking it for hours. The anticipation has built for so long the payoff is well worth it.

    But it’s time consuming and stressful in some ways, especially when you need to make the choice between sleeping soundly or not ruining your meat.

    That’s where temperature controllers come in, automatically regulating the heat of your grill so everything comes out perfect every time. Let’s take a quick look at what we’re looking for in a barbeque temperature controller, and then apply that to some reviews!

    We also reviewed the top smoker thermometer for your convenience.

    Here are the best BBQ temperature controllers you can buy:

    For the complete product list, please continue reading...


      Top 11 Best BBQ Temperature Controllers Reviewed

    Flame Boss 500

    This is the best barbeque smoke controller on the market right now. It combines everything I look for in something like this, for a fairly reasonable price for such a high end temperature controller.

    The performance is top notch, with an excellent precise temperature control function that will handle everything for you once you get it set up. It will raise and lower the temperature as needed, ramping up at the start of cooking and cooling down close to the end for even handed cooking. The component parts are all well constructed, with the blower and controller body working perfectly in sync with each other.

    While not certified water proof or resistant, the model is sturdy enough, and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it getting damp (just be sure it’s covered when outside for a long time; you don’t want to test it in a thunderstorm).

    The bets part about this controller is how easy it is to install and use. It’s a one person job and pretty fast to boot, slotting in with a minimum hassle and presenting a slim profile once you’re done, with all the wires well organized and streamlined.

    The device itself is easily controlled by a variety of methods. You can set it or adjust it on the face of the device itself, though the small buttons are admittedly a bit difficult to use compared to the other options. It can also be wi-fi controlled from your phone or computer, or even voice activated; it has compatibility with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home for seamless voice control.

    The only real drawback to this temperature controller is it only works with more standard grills (though any type of them); it doesn’t work with ceramic or Kamado style grills and is also incompatible with gas grills and electric grills. But if you are looking for Flame Boss that fits the Kamado-style charcoal grills and smokers, we got it here.

    Pros

    Excellent performance.
    Sturdy construction can survive most standard weather.
    Easy to install.
    Easy to use.
    Versatile control options with support for manual, wi-fi controls, and voice controls with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

    Cons

    Incompatible with Kamado or other ceramic grills, propane or natural gas grills, and electric grills.

    DigiQ Control

    This does what the Flame Boss 500 doesn’t, though to be fair that’s really all it does. In terms of pure performance this barbeque temperature controller is not bad, but nowhere near as good or as versatile as the Flame Boss 500.

    However, what it does do better is pretty great. This temperature controller works on all ceramic and Kamado style grills for all major brands in that grilling niche.

    The versatility is what takes the biggest hit. This temperature controller is only controllable from the device itself, similar to controlling your oven. The buttons on this one are much better than on the Flame Boss 500, being a bit stiff but very sturdy and comfortably pressable.

    It allows for very precise temperature controlling and will automatically regulate the temperature just as well as you’d expect from any other temperature controller.

    Overall this is quite a good temperature controller in terms of overall performance but is poor value in a lot of ways, unfortunately. The price is high (about 25% more than our winner, a difference of over $100 in price) and what you get for that price seems pretty sparse. It is not nearly as versatile, only being usable with a small, niche set of grills and has far fewer options for control.

    While if you own a Kamado style grill this is worth it, for the average customer it is not, and even for those who own ceramic grills may be a hard price to swallow, especially if they ever end up having to buy a new grill and want to buy a different type the next time.

    Pros

    Compatible with all major ceramic and Kamado style grill brands.
    Easy to press buttons and controls.
    Sturdy plastic construction.

    Cons

    High price for what it offers.
    Only works on niche grill types.

    3. Best For Kamado Grills - IQ110 BBQ Temperature Regulator Kit

    IQ110 Regulator Kit

    Much like the IQ 120 above, this fills the niche of a cheap “low tech” temperature controller. Unlike that model though, there is far more to recommend this temperature controller over that other one.

    For starters, it’s specialized in Kamado style grills rather than standard kettle grills (which most other temperature controllers are compatible with as a matter of course). This gives it much more of a reason to exist than the other model in this line.

    The presentation is still utterly bare bones. The temperature is controlled by a single knob (though this one has no LED display, opting for printed numbers), and you just hang it wherever is convenient. The meat probe is of much lower quality, and you’re probably going to want to replace it as soon as possible.

    The hose is compatible with pretty much any Kamado grill, which tends ot have bottom mounted venting, unlike a kettle grill which is vented from the top.

    To round things out the price is way lower than the IQ 120, taking the sting out of buying it as compared to similarly priced but more effective models. All around a solid choice for Kamado style grills.

    Pros

    Easy to set up and get started within minutes.
    Compatible with almost all Kamado style grills.
    Very low price.

    Cons

    Extremely minimalistic interface.

    CyberQ Digital

    Another BBQ Guru model, this time with a much more palatable price. Clocking in at about half the price of the DigiQ Dx2, this model has great performance for the price and a lot more versatility in how to control it (as well as slightly more in what it’s compatible with).

    This temperature controller is especially designed for smoking in the upper end of the cold smoking temperature ranges; between 180 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be controlled via the console with very nice arrow shaped buttons that are easy to press and make its LED display easier to navigate than a lot of other similar options might be.

    It installs easily, using a number of kits available from the manufacturer. You select your grill type and brand and, if your grill is compatible, they can send you a kit to use it. This works with a fairly small selection of grills: Weber, Big Green Egg, Cypress Grills, Kamado Joe, DragonFire Grill, Primo Grills, Ceramic Grills, and Vision Classic, but it’s nice to have a model that works both on all the major ceramic brands and some of the more common traditional charcoal and wood grills and smokers as well (Weber and Primo).

    This temperature controller is perfect for someone who wants great performance without having to pay for the top end of the pricing scale. It has a sampling of the upper end features (including voice control, though only compatible with Amazon Alexa for this model at this time) without going overboard and driving the price up, and works with enough of the more common grill brands that you have a solid chance of getting something that works with your grill without, again, paying a higher price for a universal model (like our winner, the Flame Boss 500).

    Pros

    Versatile in both controls and use, with voice and manual control and a wide variety of grills it’s compatible with.
    Sturdy construction.
    Easy to press buttons.
    Easy to use and install.
    Great price.

    Cons

    Incompatible with a lot of higher end grill brands (Traeger, Rec Tec, etc.).

    DigiQ DX3

    This is an incredible value for the cost. It’s one of the cheaper high performance digital barbeque temperature controllers on the market, but it functions perfectly.

    It’s not fancy, by any means, with a barebones control scheme. It has no wi-fi or voice control options, but the buttons are easy to press. The options are fairly low, with a difficult to navigate menu which is annoying to use if you want to fiddle with preset options. The box itself is durable, as are all other component parts, and it works fairly well for what it does.

    My favorite feature is probably the “ramp mode”. When the meat probes (which are themselves quite high quality) detect that the meat is within 30 degrees of the set done temperature, it automatically starts ramping down the heat. This means that there’s no real rush once the indicator starts beeping that the meat is done; the temperature has already been slowly ramping down, and shouldn’t overcook with just a few more minutes of cooking while you finish up whatever you’re currently in the middle of.
    It works with a wide variety of grills as well, far more than the older Dx2.

    Much like the BBQ Guru CyberQ Cloud model above, it works with the following: Weber, Primo Grills, Cypress Grills,  Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, DragonFire Grill, Ceramic Grills, and Vision Classic.

    So all of the major ceramic or Kamado style grill brands, plus Weber and Primo for your more traditional grills that use charcoal or wood to make their fire and smoke.

    Especially taking into account the price (roughly a third of the price of the Dx2) this is a far better purchase than that model under almost any circumstance; the same value for a far, far lower price.

    Pros

    Works with a wider variety of grills than other BBQ Guru barbeque temperature controllers.
    Very low price.
    Easy to install and use.

    Cons

    Control scheme is a bit obnoxious to use, especially when navigating the options menu.

    6. Best Big Green Egg Temperature Controller - PartyQ BBQ Temperature Controller

    PartyQ

    This model is super interesting compared to the majority of barbeque temperature controllers around. It’s designed to be portable, and very versatile.

    Unlike most temperature controllers, this unit is battery powered, making it the perfect model for travel. Whether you’re taking it on a camping trip (or extended cabin stay) with your grill or smoker, or playing amateur grill master at your friend’s house, this lightweight and portable temperature controller can go with you anywhere, and is compatible with a huge number of grills, similar to many of the better BBQ Guru models.

    The main downfall of this model is the interface. In exchange for the portability and compatibility with a wide variety of grills, its has an extremely simplistic interface with only options for setting temperature for the grill.

    There are no presets, no separate control options (like the wi-fi controls or voice control options), and all around nothing special to recommend it in terms of performance.

    The price, though, can’t be denied to be an excellent value, and the portability is really interesting. I’d never recommend buying it as your primary barbeque temperature controller, but as a backup model to keep in your car or truck and then use while traveling or camping it serves beautifully.

    Pros

    Very portable battery powered model.
    Highly versatile in how many grills it can be used with.
    Very low price.

    Cons

    Very minimalistic design with control scheme.

    7. Best Temperature Controller for Smoker - LavaLockⓇ 4-Probe Automatic BBQ Controller

    LavaLockⓇ 4-Probe

    This is an interesting one. It is entirely specialized into being used for smokers, rather than grills and smokers.

    This makes it a bit less versatile in type of cooker it can be used on, but allows it to be used on a larger variety of smoker brands than most of the units we’ve looked at today, and devote some fo that research and development time into adding more to it.

    The control scheme is nice, using a knob to change the temperature rather than buttons (always more comfortable to me than mashing tiny buttons). It has no wi-fi or voice control options, sadly, but the manual option is high enough quality to make that less of a burden than some of the other temperature controllers we’ve looked at today.

    The unit supports readouts for up to 4 meat probes simultaneously, which is absolutely amazing. You can cook up to 4 entirely different kinds of meals at the same time and this unit will keep perfect track of all of them, allowing you to sit back and relax instead of needing to shuffle between manually checking all of them at once.

    The readout has large print and clear, easy to read numbers which is a nice addition and lets you see the readout from a good distance away; check on it from the comfort of your easy chair or patio seat. The unit itself is very sturdy stainless steel, and if well maintained could last you decades or more.

    While in some ways it lacks the features of the more expensive models, for the price it provides more than enough quality for me to give this a strong recommendation, especially as it works with such a wide variety of brands.

    Pros

    Incredible support for 4 simultaneous meat probes.
    Sturdy stainless steel construction.
    Great knob for temperature control; easier than pressing tiny buttons dozens of times.
    Easy to set up and use.
    Compatible with a huge variety of smoker brands and variants, including the Big Green Egg and other Kamado style grills.

    Cons

    Not compatible with a lot of smoker and grill combo units, which are a lot more common than standalone smokers.

    8. The Best Low Tech Option - IQ120 BBQ Temperature Regulator Kit

    IQ120

    This model is a very trimmed down unit. This gives it a few interesting positives over many other barbeque temperature controllers, but also some stark downsides you’ll want to consider.

    The compatibility with grills and smokers is excellent; it works with just about everything, and excels with kettle grills of any brand you’d care to name (especially Weber grills).

    The interface is as simplistic as it gets. You have a single stiff, small knob that controls the temperature, and that’s it. The cup and hose goes over your smoke stack, the unit hangs on whatever is convenient nearby, and the meat probes (fairly basic, but serviceable single thickness meat probes) go in the meat, you plug it in, and it’s ready to get to smoking.

    There’s not a whole ton else to say about this model’s features. It’s as basic as it gets.

    That in itself is fine…but what isn’t is the price. For the same price as a better model (like the excellent Lava Lock above) you get far less performance. The only good tradeoff here is the versatility; it works with just about anything, but given there are several more specialized models like the Lava Lock, CyberQ, and DigiQ Dx3 around for the same price, you could just have your pick of them for whatever type of grill you’re using and enjoy far greater performance.

    As it is, it’s very difficult to recommend this model for anybody.

    Pros

    Extremely easy to install and use.
    Works with pretty much any grill.

    Cons

    As barebones as it gets.
    Very poor value for the price.

    BBQube TempMaster

    This little brick of a machine packs far more than you might expect.

    The control scheme is nice. The knob is nice and grippy, with a very easy to turn but not overly twisty knob. I couldn’t turn it to flick it up to 400 degrees in one shot, but nor do I need to strain to get it to click from place to place; it’s just right.

    It comes with compatibility for 4 simultaneous meat probes, which the manufacturer touts as being 5 times faster than their competitor’s meat probes. They’re certainly very good; though my praise for the knob does not extend to the tiny, frustratingly hard to press buttons that control the power and lower LED display.

    The interface is also extremely dated for the LEDs; they’re the kind of lights I’d expect to fade and grow fuzzy after a few years, which isn’t what you want to see.

    Still the versatility is interesting. It can be used just as a meat probe, or as a barbeque temperature controller. It is also apparently perfect for cooking food sous vide (boiling it in a vacuum sealed package and then slowly bringing the temperature down until it’s cooked), which is a really interesting niche to fill.

    For the price (which is on the lower end) it’s a great machine from BBQube. If you find yourself cooking food sous vide very often (great for pork, for the most part, or tempering chocolate) it might be worth picking up.

    Pros

    Great versatile machine with a unique sous vide function.
    Easy to turn knob.
    Easy to install.
    Very sturdy.
    Great price.

    Cons

    Outdated LEDs.
    Annoying buttons for lower LED display controls.

    DigiQ DX2

    This is a slightly different version of the DigiQ Dx2 model above. Much of what I said about that model applies here.

    The buttons are serviceable, and relatively easy to press, though kind of small and fiddly. The interface is minimalist and the menu fairly annoying to navigate with just the buttons presented. It has no extra support for wi-fi or voice control schemes.

    It has a sturdy body, at least, which means it will survive use for a good amount of time.

    The main issues with this one lie in its limited use and its price. The performance is fine, but the use is niche and the price is ridiculous for what it offers.

    This is used for a Weber grill, and not even all of them; specifically the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.  While the fan that comes with it is very good (the Pit Viper fan is a bit bulky, but well worth it), being compatible with only one line of grills from one brand is very limiting.

    Even if you do have that grill, the performance doesn’t justify the massive price tag placed on this model. It is very difficult to see a scenario where this outperforms another temperature controller to a large enough extent to justify this massive price.

    Pros

    Solid performance.
    Good construction.
    Excellent “Pit Viper” fan.

    Cons

    Extremely limited usage in terms of brands and models it’s compatible with.
    Exorbitant price for what it offers.

    Auber Instruments

    This is a top notch model marred by an incredibly narrow band of supported products.

    If you own a Big Green Egg (medium or large only), a Primo Oval XL, an older model Akorn Kamado, or a Kamado Joe grill: congratulations, this is pretty much the best possible temperature controller on the market for you.

    If not though, you’re out of luck.

    The price on this is excellent, being smack dab in the middle of the price range. It has 2 great meat probes which accurately read temperatures. The temperature control is out of this world, and app controlled PID model with very tight reins on temperature control over long cooking times.

    Setting the temperatures is easy, with a ton of presets and manual options (though the buttons are obnoxious and small). Sidestepping that minor downside I mentioned, it can be controlled via wi-fi from an app on your phone, tablet, or computer.

    It has open lid detection feature that help prevent grill fire accidents from happening, and also a ton of other great quality of life features you look for in these temperature controllers.

    I cannot recommend this one enough. It’s a great unit at a great price…if you happen to own one of the 5 grills it works with.

    Pros

    Top notch performance.
    Great meat probes.
    Excellent quality of life features.
    Versatile control methods.
    Easy to install and use.
    Excellent pricing.

    Cons

    Works with an absurdly small number of grills.

    Final Verdict

    Flame Boss 500

    All of these, save for the IQ 120, are great models in their own way. My personal favorites are the Flame Boss 500, the CyberQ Cloud, and the Lava Lock temperature controllers.

    All three models provide great performance with an easy to use interface, at reasonable prices for what they offer. The rest on this list are flawed in some major way; either they have some performance deficit, or they’re cumbersome to control or install, or they work with a narrow band of products (the only thing leaving that excellent Auber Instruments model off of this final recommendation), etc. that makes it difficult to recommend them, largely because they are outperformed by other temperature controllers in their similar price range.


    How Do I Choose The Best BBQ Temperature Controller?

    Shopping for a temperature controller is fairly simple, though very specific.

    The basics are all the same.

    You want model with solid construction as a surprisingly minor factor. It just needs a minimum level of sturdiness; it’s not going to be taking a whole lot of damage over time.

    Ensure that the price is within what you’re willing to pay for; some of these can get quite expensive.

    Look for a model with good performance. This is broken into a pair of factors: accuracy and ease of use.

    A temperature controller should restrict temperature fluctuations to a narrow band; the narrower the better. The best one shave “ramp modes” which will automatically cool the grill’s interior over time as the meat gets close to being cooked.

    Ease of use refers to how easy it is to set and monitor the unit. Higher tech digital versions are better at this.

    Finally, make sure the temperature controller you buy is compatible with the grill or smoker you own. They are typically restricted in what grills or charcoal smokers you can install them into.

    How Do I Install and Use a Barbeque Temperature Controller?

    It can vary a bit from model to model, but generally the process is simple, and looks something like this:

    Install the fan wherever your air vent is. For most grills this will be top mounted, and for Kamado style grills it will be near the bottom. Typically this is as simple as setting it in place (or putting a hose over the smoke port) and clamping or otherwise securing it into place.

    Plug in the unit, set the temperature to the correct temperature for what you’re cooking, and you’re good to go!

    Some models may have extra steps. Be sure to pay very close attention to what the user manual says when installing your temperature controller, as missing vital steps could impede the performance of not just the controller, but your entire grill.

    How Does It Work?

    Temperature controllers are fairly simple. When smoking or grilling, a lot of your control over temperature and smoke content comes from your control of the air vents in every grill. Opening or closing these vents to certain degrees will either let more oxygen into the grill (stoking and feeding the fire) or less (cooling the fire and letting the smoke linger for longer.

    Barbeque temperature controllers automate this process with a fan while reading the interior temperature of the grill via their internal digital thermometer. When the grill’s temperature begins to stray from that’s et temperature, it either adds more oxygen (if it’s too cold) or shuts the fan off and lets more air escape (if it’s too hot.

    More advanced models read the temperature of the meat as well, and adjust the temperature based on how done the meat is, either ramping the temperature up or (usually) down as it cooks to make sure it cooks properly and evenly.

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