Hot and fast there is no better or easier way to cook than over a charcoal fire. Controlling that temperature for a lower and slower cook can be a challenge. The cooking temperature of a charcoal grill or smoker is maintained by adjusting the vents, limiting the airflow and therefore, the rate at which the fuel burns. The problem is that wind, rain, and most any other form of weather can make maintaining the ideal temperature a problem.
For those who want their charcoal grills to hold a low temperature for several hours, this can mean constant monitoring and adjusting of the vents.
The BBQ Guru PartyQ is the latest temperature control system. Fitted to the intake or bottom vent of a charcoal grill or smoker (special adapters are available for most cookers) the internal computer works to hold that idea temperature for many hours, even overnight. At the most basic level, this is a blower fan with a temperature probe that clips onto the cooking grates. When the fan is in the off position, the PartyQ blocks almost all airflow. This holds down the temperature of the cooker. When the cooking temperature drops below the selected temperature the fan turns on acting as a kind of bellows to stock up the fire.
There have been earlier versions of this temperature control system in the past that, well, looked like they were made in a garage electronics shop.
This improved version is water resistant (though not water proof), and has a bendable neck connecting the fan section from the control panel. This makes it adjustable to fit your cooker in an easier to read and operate fashion.
This is not the sort of thing needed for short cooking times. The PartyQ only operates at cooking temperatures below 450 degrees F.(230 degrees C.) at will be damaged at temperatures above 500 degrees F.
(260 degrees C.). The truth is, however, that this works best for cooking temperatures more in the low and slow barbecue range of 225-250 degrees F. (110-120 degrees C.). This is where those long cooks happen, the kind that are often too long to be sitting by the grill or smoker watching the cooking temperature.
The BBQ Guru PartyQ is battery powered and one of its drawbacks is that the batteries can fail during the night while you are asleep. Making sure you start any very long cook with a fresh set of batteries will help solve this. Like any device built for long cooking times, it is best that the user tries it out before depending on its operation.
For those that need to control their grill's temperature for a long time, this is a great device. Of course at a selling price around $150USD, it is something of an investment, but it is a great little helper for those who have caught the barbecue bug and still want to get a good nights sleep. Easy to use and reliable, this is a good product.