So, how does The NanoQ perform in operation? Well, that turned out to be a bit trickier than we had anticipated. With previous units, we could calibrate the unit to a known standard, and then use the temperature readout of the unit to measure performance of the controller. Well, if you have been listening, you know that the NanoQ can't be user-calibrated and has no readout to let you know what temperature it is sensing. What to do...
Well, we used a thermocouple thermometer to independantly measure the temperature by placing the thermocouple as close to the NanoQ temperature probe as possible without touching. We used a Thermoworks 113-177 Smokehouse penetration probe K-type thermocouple as it was the closest probe we had to the NanoQ temperature probe. (We were looking for similar probe mass in order to get similar response times. There's a reason why the Thermoworks Thermapen has a thin needle probe.) So, while this was a new wrinkle in our testing methodology of BBQ Guru controllers, we feel it came reasonably close to the results we have achieved on previous units.
The real test of any temperature controller is how it performs at low temperatures. The reason for this is that the device can only make the cooker hotter. The cooker has to cool off on its own, and a cooker is much more willing to cool off at 450 degrees than it is at 225 degrees. So, the controller has to be a little more subtle and clever to control the lower cooking temperatures so as not to get the fire so hot that the cooker can't cool off fast enough.
The NanoQ did a very good job of controlling temps at low, medium and high temperatures, hitting the targets within 1 degree or less and maintaining the targets within plus or minus 7 degrees or less:
Loyal readers will notice that the NanoQ's low-temperature performance was not as good as what we have recorded with the DigiQ II and CyberQ II. First, the 7 degree swing we measured was almost within the 5 degrees claimed by the BBQ Guru. But second, we must confess we used a cooker that leaks like a sieve for our test. Simply put, it needs a new gasket. "Nostra culpa." We have no doubt that with a new gasket the NanoQ would have achieved the claimed performance of 5 degrees. The NanoQ's ability to control your cooker this tightly depends on having an air-tight cooker and on setting the blower damper and upper vent appropriately for the temperature you seek. Also, the NanoQ will control things more closely after you cooker gets heat-soaked. Although this kind of control is really not needed to cook any food known on planet Earth, if you really want the tightest accuracy, we have found that you can let the NanoQ heat things up, say, 50 degrees hotter than you want. Then lower the pit temp on the NanoQ to your desired target and the temperature will settle in very close to your target when the cooker cools off.
But as you can also see, at medium and high temperatures, the NanoQ performed for us in a similar manner to the other BBQ Guru controllers that we have tested: insanely accurate.
But again, this kind of control isn't even necessary. Compare our results with the NanoQ to your average kitchen oven, which is doing good if it keeps your oven within plus or minus 25 degrees. Even an expensive oven won't come close. We've said this many times, so we'll say it again and show you again how our $2000+ JennAir Dual Fuel Cooker performs when set to 300 degrees. (We paid $2000+ for this cooker, so we're going to flog this chart for all it is worth.):
$2000 JennAir Temperature Control Results
A few things we'll point out about using The NanoQ:
The model closest to the NanoQ is the DigiQ II, so you might find yourself trying to decide between these two models. We suppose that there are two main considerations, price and function. Configured with a 4 CFM blower and an adapter for a large Big Green Egg, the NanoQ comes in at $184 while the DigiQ II will cost $248. So what do you have to give up to save that extra $64? Obviously, you give up the ability to monitor the food temperature and you give up Ramp Mode. You also give up a display that lets you see what features are enabled or disabled, a display that lets you see the food temperature and the cooker temperature, a display that lets you see the target temperatures for the food and cooker. If you are looking to minimize cost and just control your cooker's temperature, then the NanoQ will certainly fill the bill. If you want more, the DigiQ II is there to satisfy you also.
The entire BBQ Guru line has gone digital with the addition of the NanoQ Pitminder which replaces the older analog version of the Pitminder. We found it to accurately control the temperature of our cooker, allowing for worry-free cooking overnight, or just when you might to ensure your cooker stays on course while you are busy with other chores. Personally, we like the comfort of having a display to help with the tasks of setting options and taking readings, so we would probably opt for the DigiQ II. However, if you are looking for a simple, basic temperature controller at lower-cost than other models, you should definitely check out the NanoQ from The BBQ Guru.
The BBQ Guru