The Flame Boss units have a chirping beeper to let you know when things are happening. The unit has separate alarms for each of the food probes. Also new to the Flame Boss 300 is the Pit Temperature Alarm. If you turn on the Meat Alarm, it will chirp to let you know that the meat has reached the target temperature. With the new Pit Temperature Alarm, you can set an alarm value between 15° and 46°F. If you cooker temperature drops below or rises above the set temperature by this value or more, an alarm is sounded.
You may remember that the original BBQ Guru Competitor had a "Good Neighbor Feature" which allowed you to disable the alarm so as not to disturb your neighbors. The Flame Boss alarms can be disabled if you so desire.
There is an indication on the main screen of the percentage of time the blower is running, but you will have to listen for the sound of the blower itself if you want to know when the blower is actually turning and moving air into the cooker.
The Flame Boss units will remember your target cooker temperature and other settings when power is lost by virtue of its internal non-volatile memory.
What Flame Boss calls its Keep Warm feature you may also recognize as Ramp Mode. Ramp mode is a clever mode in which the controller will lower the cooker temperature once the meat gets close to being done. As the meat temperature rises closer and closer to the target meat temperature, the controller continues to lower the cooker temperature. Ultimately, when the meat temperature reaches the target temperature, the cooker will also be at the meat target temperature. As a result, you can hold your meat at your target temperature as long as the cooker has fuel left to burn. This is the version invented and patented by BBQ Guru.
However, Flame Boss uses a variation that they call Keep Warm mode in which the controller senses the meat has reached its target temperature, and drops the pit target temp all at once to the Keep Warm temperature that you set. This lets the cooker cool down as fast as it can until the cooker temperature is about equal to the meat temperature. No matter how it is implemented, the goal is to allow you to hold your meat at its final temperature should you not be available to immediately see to it.
You will find the Keep Warm settings in the Meat Alarm section of the menu. When the meat reaches its target temperature, you have the option of having the unit sound the alarm, drop the pit temperature to a specified Keep Warm temperature, or both. Note that you can set a different Keep Warm setting for each of the three food probes. If you do so, the unit will switch to the Keep Warm mode if ANY of the three probes reach their meat alarm target. This could be confusing if you have three different foods going with separate target temperatures, so make sure that you consider this if using the Keep Warm feature on more than one food probe.
The Flame Boss can control your cooker down to 160°F. This is a bit high for truly cold smoking, but certainly is low enough for many low temperature smoking tasks.
The Flame Boss units use a PID control mode as the default. What's PID? Here's what is in Wikipedia:
"The PID controller calculation (algorithm) involves three separate parameters, and is accordingly sometimes called three-term control: the proportional, the integral and derivative values, denoted P, I, and D. [...]these values can be interpreted in terms of time: P depends on the present error, I on the accumulation of past errors, and D is a prediction of future errors, based on current rate of change. The weighted sum of these three actions is used to adjust the process via a control element such as the position of a control valve or the power supply of a heating element."A little more reading reveals that it is used in feedback loop method which turns out to be a pretty good method of controlling a process when you don't have good knowledge about the process itself.
We obtained a little more information about the learning process from the makers of the Flame Boss. The learning feature requires at least one oscillation above and below the Set temperature to learn a cooker. The time that it takes varies, but is not less than 10 minutes. Opening the lid will interrupt an oscillation and a new one will start the next time the cooker reaches the set point. Adjusting the Set temperature will also interrupt the learning. Therefore, you should avoid opening the lid and changing the pit set temperature as much as possible to achieve the best temperature control.
The Flame Boss controllers have open lid detect. Essentially, it works by taking note of the large and fast temperature swing that occurs when you open the lid. Once it has determined the lid is open, it stops using the blower and doesn't try to raise the temperature of the cooker for a period of time that you can set in the menus. Once the timer expires, it returns to its normal blower operation. The default setting for the Open Lid timer is one minute. If you wish to disable this feature, you can configure the Open Lid Delay time to 0.
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