The Lava Lock
BBQ Temperature Controller


The item(s) contained in this review were purchased by The Naked Whiz Publishing Empire on the open market. No considerationss, financial or otherwise, were solicited or received from Island Outdoor LLC.


Introduction

Whenever we go onto eBay and search on things like BBQ Guru, low-cost controllers inevitably show up in the results. We have reviewed most of the big name controllers like BBQ Guru, Flame Boss and SMOBOT, but we thought it was time to review one of these low-cost controllers. We settled on the LavaLock Automatic BBQ Smoker Pit Temperature Controller for this next review. While it features four temperature probes and a powerful blower, the unit has no connectivity. No Bluetooth or Wifi connections, so no App, no cloud, no remote control or monitoring. Just the basic essentials for controlling a BBQ cooker. Let's see how it does!


Features

Here is a list of features and specifications:

  • Temperature probes with 6' cables (4 included), good to 450°F
  • Power Glitch Safe - Continues running at the saved set temperature when power returns
  • Variable Speed 35 CFM Blower with automatic and manual dampers
  • 32° to 356°F control range
  • 32° to 356°F meat temperature range
  • Audible alarm with mute function
  • Pit Temperature Alarm - Audible alarm, flashing red LED and flashing icon on display
  • Food Temperature Alarm - Audible alarm, flashing green LED and flashing icon on display
  • Display in degrees F or C
  • Blue LED indicates blower is operating
  • Controller dimensions (approximate): 4⅝" x 3½" x 1⅜"
  • Controller weight: 6¾ ounces
  • 1⅞" x 1⅝" LED display shows all four set and actual temperatures
  • Rotary button for altering and setting values
  • Meat alarm, pit alarm, and blower LEDs
  • The control unit is metal, not waterproof, and should be protected from rain
  • 3 adapter plates included for mounting blower


Compared To Other BBQ Temperature Controllers

Like most other temperature control systems, the LavaLock system is blower-based, controlling airflow through the cooker by blowing air when needed. Where the LavaLock controller makes its niche is between the no-connectivity/no food probe controllers like the PartyQ from BBQ Guru, and the high end connectivity-rich/multiple food probe controllers like the Flame Boss 500. Although the LavaLock controller has no connectivity whatsoever, it DOES support four temperature probes and at a fairly reasonable price.


The Basic System

The LavaLock package comes with the following items:

  • The control unit
  • 12 volt power supply
  • 3 food probes
  • 1 pit probe with grid clip
  • 35 CFM variable speed blower
  • Blower manifold with gravity damper and manual damper
  • 3 assorted adapter plates for mounting the manifold on your cooker
  • Printed materials


A Few Observations About The Components

All the components appear to be well built. The controller feels solid and the probes feel as if they could stand up to a little abuse. The blower is quite a monster. So all in all, everything feels like it should stand up to the rigors of outdoor cooking.


The System Unit

The system unit consists of a metal case that houses the electronics, the LED indicators, the display, connections for power, blower and temperature probes, and a rotary knob. The case feels very sturdy. The unit itself is approximately 4⅝" x 3½" x 1⅜" and weighs 6¾ ounces. There is a dedicated power switch on the right end of the unit as well as a small group of holes for the alarm. The unit has connections for power, a blower, a pit temperature probe and three food temperature probes.


Controls

There is only one control on the Lava Lock controller, the rotary knob. The rotary knob is the round silver knob in the following photo, just below the Lava Lock logo:

This is a simple controller so the functions that you can control are also simple. Once the unit is turned on, you can toggle the alarm off or on by giving the knob a quick press. If you press the knob and hold it for 3 seconds, you can then adjust all the values on the display. First, the temperature units on the right side of the screen will flash. Rotating the knob clockwise sets the units to °F, rotating it counter clockwise sets the units to °C. Pressing the knob saves your choice and moves on to the first digit of the Meat 1 temperature setting. Rotating the knob back and forth will lower and raise the value of the first digit. Pressing the knob saves the value and moves to the second digit. You can continue on like this, moving from digit to digit until you have set your desired value for each probe.


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