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After using the BBQ Guru UltraQ WiFi Temperature Controller over the last month I can tell you that it does a phenomenal job at regulating the temperature of your smoker.
The UltraQ’s temperature control and its attached Pit Viper Fan’s ability to attach to many types of smokers through its massive selection of adapters makes it one of the best plug-and-play temperature controllers on the market.
At first glance, the UltraQ appears very complicated with the different colored lights and the things they are associated with, but after a few cooks, these things become second nature.
The same thing goes for the UltraQ’s mobile app as well, there will be a definite learning period before you’re comfortable.
The UltraQ can’t run on its own power and needs to be plugged into a wall outlet or other power sources such as a car battery or a 12-volt power source if you purchase additional power adapter cords.
It also has no waterproofing which makes it difficult to use in the rain.
However, if you’re willing to live with those tradeoffs you will be rewarded with amazing temperature control of your smoker for very long periods of time.
In this BBQ Guru UltraQ review, I’ll discuss all of its features, how easy the blower fan is to set up, its mobile app, and how it compares to its competitors.
The BBQ Guru UltraQ WiFi Temperature Controller
BBQ Guru is a company that knows a little something about barbecue with many competition teams using their products.
The UltraQ is the latest addition to their lineup of bbq temperature controllers that help maintain the smoker temperature of your charcoal grill.
They are building on the BBQ Guru’s previous release, the CyberQ Cloud thermometer, which is discontinued.
The UltraQ gives you the same ability to control the pit temp of your charcoal smoker as you would with a pellet smoker.
It also features their patent-pending Guru Status Light Ring which can alert you visually by changing colors to let you know the current bbq temperature.
You can use the UltraQ with a variety of grill setups such as ceramic grills like the Big Green Egg, bullet smokers such as the Weber Smokey Mountain, and many more grill types.
If you do a lot of outdoor cooking and grilling on your charcoal smoker and want the temperature control of a wood pellet grill or pellet smoker, then the BBQ Guru UltraQ is a good choice.
Ultra Q Kit With Pit Viper Fan Components
Here is everything you get in the Ultra Q Kit with the Pit Viper Fan:
- UltraQ® Bluetooth/Wi-Fi BBQ Temperature Control
The controller has four probe ports, one for the pit probe and three food probes. There is a plug port for power and one for the Pit Viper Fan.
- Pit Viper 10 CFM Fan
The fan that you attach to your smoker features a 10 cubic feet per minute blower. A customized fan adaptor is included to fit your specific smoker. The universal adaptor will fit most types of smokers.
- One Pit Probe and One Food Probe
The UltraQ comes with a pit temperature probe and a meat probe. The probes are the thermocouple type. The pit probe monitors the pit temp at the grill surface by clipping it to the grill grate. The meat probe monitors the internal temperature of your meat.
Both are dishwasher safe and have nice 6 foot long cords.
- Magnetic Control Mount
The versatile mount has anti-skid rubber feet and an adjustable bracket head to face any direction as well as a high-temperature magnet to stick it to hot surfaces.
- 12V-3.5 AMP Power Pack Supply
You can also purchase power adaptors that hook up to your car or 12-volt battery terminals separately from BBQ Guru’s website. There is no USB charging option.
Using the BBQ Guru UltraQ
The UltraQ can be a little daunting at first due to terms such as “Guru Status Light Ring” and “Smart Cook Adaptive Control Strategy.”
Once you get past the fancy terminology and the lights and their meanings, the UltraQ’s goal is to maintain your desired cooking temperature for your food.
Pile some charcoal in your smoker, top it with a chimney full of lit charcoal, set your UltraQ’s pit temperature target to whatever you want, and it does all the rest.
Pretty easy. The lights are there to let you know when your smoker is out of the temperature range.
This introductory period will probably take two to three cooks as you become familiar with the device, the fan, and the control of both with the mobile application.
Figuring out the light ring and the accompanying specific colors that are designated for each probe takes some time.
You can also opt to do away with the light ring altogether as there is an option to turn it off.
Let’s take a closer look at the UltraQ’s Guru Status Light Ring.
Understanding the UltraQ Guru Status Light Ring
The UltraQ’s Guru Status Light Ring can be crudely summarized as blue is bad, red is good.
The light ring is a visual indicator that lets you know when your cooking chamber is at your optimum set temperature.
The light ring will turn blue below the Smart Cook Strategy range (see section below) when you’re first bringing your pit up to temperature or if it falls 30°F below your set temperature while cooking.
If you’re within your desired pit temperature range the Guru Light Ring is red. If your pit temperature is within its desired range and the sides pulse red it means the fan is blowing.
If the sides continue to pulse for a while you will need to add more charcoal as the fan is working hard but nothing is happening due to the lack of a fuel source.
There are also dedicated lights for each probe port and will light up the tail of the UltraQ with their color when their temperature is displayed on the screen.
The UltraQ has a display scanning feature that you can set so that it scans through each probe port every few seconds.
The pit probe is associated with a red light, food probe 1 is yellow, food probe 2 is green, food probe 3 is blue.
The BBQ Guru mobile app (pictured above) has a controller setting area that lets you customize your cook settings.
You’ll also notice the open lid detection feature which you can toggle on or off. The open lid detection feature will minimize the fan’s operation when it senses a sudden drop in temperature associated with an open lid.
And you can also turn off LED display lights by toggling off the Controller LEDS button in the mobile app.
Smart Cook Adaptive Control Strategy
The Smart Cook Adaptive Control Strategy is designed to operate in a variety of smokers. There are four settings, one of which you can customize.
I’ve used setting 3 for my Weber Smokey Mountain with really good results.
Here are the settings and the smokers they are meant for.
- Setting 1: This is the default setting. It is ideal for small to medium size ceramic cookers, Weber kettles, and other small smokers. The fan will operate at 100% until the pit is 30°F away from the target temperature. It will then slowly cycle through until the target is reached.
- Setting 2: This is for insulated pits and the fan will operate at 100% until it’s 40°F away from the target temperature and then slowly cycle up to it.
- Setting 3: This is for uninsulated or inefficient (their term) offset pits and less efficient than average pits like the Weber Smokey Mountain (again, not me saying this.) The fan will work at 100% until it’s 20 degrees away.
- Setting 4: Is complicated with talk of algorithm tuning and cycle times and proportional bands. I will not be using this feature.
Attaching the BBQ Guru UltraQ Pit Viper Fan to a Weber Smokey Mountain
The UltraQ’s Pit Viper Fan is an easy pit fan to install among the temperature control fans on the market, fitting most smokers with their massive selection of adaptors and no additional drilling of holes is necessary.
Whether you have a ceramic grill like the Big Green Egg or a basic charcoal grill, there is an adapter for it.
It’s nice that you don’t need to drill an additional hole if you’re using a Weber Smokey Mountain, the fan adapter will attach through one of the daisy wheel fan vents.
The first thing you’ll do is take the included foil tape and cover all but one of the vent holes.
Next, you will attach the adapter through the open vent hole with the cylinder on the outside and the metal airflow bracket on the inside.
The Pit Viper Fan attaches easily to the adapter and you’re ready to go. This fan assembly is one of the easiest and least intrusive you’ll find with no extra drilling needed.
Connectivity of Bluetooth and WiFi
The Bluetooth range between your phone and the controller isn’t great as you will lose your signal around 30 feet or less depending on obstacles such as walls etc.
The WiFi connectivity between the controller and your WiFi is also just average. The furthest I was able to get from my WiFi extender was about 30 feet.
You will need a WiFi extender if your smoker is some distance from your router.
The best strategy is to set up your smoker close to a stable WiFi connection and connect to the UltraQ via its app as well as the ShareMyCook.com website as a kind of backup.
I’ve found that the ShareMyCook.com dashboard is more stable when you are a good distance from your smoker.
Note that you can still control all of the UltraQ’s functions via the ShareMyCook.com dashboard.
The BBQ Guru Mobile App
Update, May 1, 2021: The latest firmware update has improved the WiFi and Bluetooth connection stability. They’ve also updated the screen but there’s still no probe name customization (yet).
The dedicated BBQ Guru app is pretty straightforward. You can do all of the basic functions such as setting your desired temperature and a timer, as well as turning on the Smart Cook settings.
To see the temperature graph you need to press the area that’s precariously close to the “Stop Recording Cook” button to view it.
The graph is then part of a pop-up window that you will need to scroll to get the times on the bottom axis.
I actually prefer using the ShareMyCook.com dashboard interface when I use the UltraQ. For me, it’s a little more user-friendly and the graph isn’t in a pop-up window.
The ShareMyCook.com dashboard is also more responsive in cellular mode than the BBQ Guru mobile app. It’s nice to have it as another option.
What I Like and Don’t Like About the UltraQ
Here are all of the things that make the BBQ Guru UltraQ great and not so great.
You’ll notice there are a few features that are on both lists. These features are subjective and where one person might like it, another person might not.
Things I Like:
- The temperature control of your smoking chamber is top-notch and the standout feature of the UltraQ.
- The fan speed is automatically controlled and you don’t need to worry about it.
- The Guru Light Ring is helpful when you’re some distance from your smoker. The red digits on the display are also easy to read from some distance, even at night.
- Attaching the Pit Viper fan is made easy by the massive library of smoker adaptations that you can customize to fit your setup. It is also doesn’t require you to drill a hole in your smoker.
- The Smart Cook settings in the app adjust to the size and shape of your smoking chamber.
- The magnetic mounting bracket is very versatile, allowing you to place it in multiple positions.
Things I Don’t Like:
- There is only a pit probe and one food probe included with the kit.
- The fan speed is automatically controlled. If you have control issues then it might not be for you.
- It can’t run on its own power. A rechargeable lithium battery via USB would be nice.
- It has no waterproof rating, making a pop-up tent a necessity in winter.
- There is no way to customize the probe names in the app. It will just say Food 1, Food 2, etc.
- You will either love or loathe the Guru Light Ring. It’s grown on me.
- The Q tail Light (the squiggly part of the Light Ring) isn’t really helpful in that it presupposes you remember which light and its probe are inserted into what piece of meat. Both the mobile app and the sharemycook.com website do not reflect the different colors either.
Competitors and Price
The BBQ Guru UltraQ’s primary function is to maintain your smoker’s temperature over long periods of time.
It does this expertly. I would place its temperature controlling ability near the top when comparing it to other WiFi thermometers.
It does not have the same amount of information on its display screen or usability experience as other WiFi thermometers on the market.
Then again, it is billing itself as a WiFi bbq temperature control device so it might not be a fair comparison.
Here are my reviews of WiFi thermometers and their blower fan attachments:
- FireBoard 2 Drive WiFi Meat Thermometer
- Thermoworks Signals WiFi Thermometer
- Tappecue Touch with Cruise Control System
I’m also in the process of reviewing the Flameboss 500 and hope to have a full review of that soon.
How much should you expect to pay for a WiFi bbq temperature controller?
A full assembly with a WiFi device, probes, and blower fan will set you back between $300 and $400.
The BBQ Guru UltraQ is on the high end closer to $400. These aren’t cheap.
The UltraQ stacks up very favorably against the other WiFi thermometers in this space.
Where would I rate it the UltraQ with the competition? It’s near the top in terms of temperature control and has the most visible display from a long distance away, even at night.
It does lack a lot of functionality on the WiFi device itself in terms of using the buttons to control the device.
I will be doing a full roundup of WiFi thermometers soon.
The UltraQ will control your smoker’s temperature as well as, if not better, than any other thermometer in the list above.
Once you strip away the flashy (literally) features of the BBQ Guru UltraQ and examine what it was built to do, maintain your smoker’s temperature, you really begin to appreciate it.
Any device that will let you walk away from your smoker for 10 hours and more (granted you put enough charcoal or wood in) is a truly great piece of technology.
There are some caveats that come with this temperature control and can either be an issue or not depending on where you are doing the majority of your smoking.
The fact that the UltraQ needs to be plugged into an outside power source, mainly a standard wall outlet, can be an issue for some people.
A lack of waterproofing is another issue.
This brings me back around to what the UltraQ allows you to do, walk away from your smoker for a long, long time.
This freedom from your smoker is worth accommodating for some of the concerns raised in this review.
If you do a lot of smoking under cover from the elements and within access to a power outlet, the BBQ Guru UltraQ could be a wise investment.