Ever since I got my Humphrey's Pint I have been researching controller options. I kept putting it off because my Humphrey's had such consistent temps just by properly adjusting the air-intake. After months of research I decided to reach out to FlameBoss with some questions. The customer service was amazing, and I am know a proud owner of the FlameBoss 300.
What is it?
The FlameBoss 300 is a temperature controller for a grill or smoker. They make adapters for most any kind of grill or smoker. Thus far, I have only tested it on my Humphrey's but will be updating this review as soon as I try it out on my Pit Barrel Cooker.
Basically the FlameBoss computer tells the attached fan how much air to put out in order to maintain the set temp of your smoker. In addition to monitoring/maintaining the smoker temperature it also allows you to connect meat probes (base model comes with one pit probe and one meat probe, but more meat probes can be added) to monitor your meat temps.
The unit plugs in but you can also get a battery pack. This can be used as a standalone power source (for up to 12-15 hours) or you can set it up so that the batter pack kicks on if the power goes out (which usually happens at least once or twice during a competition).
If you start looking at FlameBoss you will also see a 100 and 200 model. I have not tried those (but have heard they work great).
Perhaps the best thing about the FlameBoss 300 is it connects to WiFi. You can literally change your smoker temperature from anywhere using a web browser or app (the iphone app works great but that is the only phone I have tried it with). You will also have access to historical cook data including a great chart for each cook. There is also a feature that will automatically send your smoker to "keep warm" mode once your meat reaches the "done" temperature that you set. The peace of mind of being able to go anywhere during a 8 hour brisket cook is really invaluable.
The Test....well tests.
For the FlameBoss to be a good fit for me it needed to work well at highter temps (300F) and also handle lots of opening/closing of the smoker. To make sure it would meet my needs I tested it three different ways.
The "Normal" Cook-
I wanted to see how the FlameBoss would perform under what I consider to be the average BBQ cook. I cooked two full pork loins at a set temperature of 225F. The smoker overshot slightly (15 degrees) but I actually attribute that to the efficiency of the smoker I am using it on. I tested the FlameBoss again at these temps, but I set the temp at 210F. It overshot to 220F and I then bumped the set temperature to 225F. You will need to do a few practice cooks if the small overshoot is a problem for you. I got over 30 hours of burn time and finally shut it down because I knew would never be cooking for longer than that. For the normal application I would say the FlameBoss is perfect.
The "Hot and Fast" Cook-
I primarily cook at 300F. For this test I did two 8 pound pork butts. I did not have the overshoot issue ( I think because the smoker temperature rose slower between 275 to 300 than it did between 200 and 225). Also to keep the test honest I opened the door every hour or so. The temp held within +/- of 300 for the duration of the cook. I got 22.5 hours at 300 before the temp started dropping. Again the FlameBoss worked perfectly.
The Competition Cook-
The last, and probably most important for me, test of the FlameBoss was a full KCBS competition practice cook. This test had a mostly full cook chamber and the set temp was 300F. The overshoot was again not a problem at the higher temp. For two full hours I opened the cooker every 15-20 minutes to replicate "crunch time" at a competition. The FlameBoss has a feature that shuts off the fan when the door is opened to prevent overshoots. This feature worked very well during this part of the test. This thing is AWESOME!! I shut the FlameBoss down immediately after the cook so I didn't max out the cook time.
As I finish typing this I have the FlameBoss dialed in at 300 with 6 pork butts in my Humphrey's. It is working great and am very excited that I can sleep through the night without worrying about any temperature fluctuations. I really love this product.
As always my score (modeled after KCBS scoring were 9 is the highest score) is below! Value-8, Usefulness-9, Performance compared to competition-9