The BBQ Guru PartyQ
Temperature Controller


Operating The PartyQ Controller

So, how does the PartyQ controller perform in operation?

Very well, it turns out. Of course, the real test of any temperature controller is how it performs at low temperatures. 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.

That said, the PartyQ controller did a great job of controlling a large Big Green Egg at all temperatures, low, medium and high, hitting the targets within less than 2°F and maintaining the targets within less than 1°F:

Target  Accuracy   Swing 
Low +1.5° F ±0.5° F
Medium -1.5° F ±0.5° F
High -1.5° F ±0.5° F
PartyQ Temperature Control Results


As you can see, the PartyQ controller did a great job of controlling the cooker at low, medium and high temperatures. When initially taking the cooker to the each temperature, there was a varying amount of initial overshoot, from 0 to 15 degrees, but the unit quickly settled into a cycle that was close to the target and gradually got closer as time went on. (We feel overshoot gets way too much attention, but readers want to know so we measure it. The cooker isn't over the target temperature long enough to really heat up the cooker itself, the temperature drops back down, so what's to worry about?)

The PartyQ did such a great job of controlling temperatures that we won't trot our graph of how well an expensive electric oven does controlling the oven's temperature. Suffice it to say that most electric ovens are doing good if it keeps your oven within plus or minus 25 degrees.

A few things we'll point out about using the PartyQ controller:

  • A frequently asked question about temperature controllers is whether or not you should leave the adapter installed all the time and if so, how do you control air flow when you aren't using the unit. The door adapter pops in and out and there is really no reason to leave the adapter installed. Just insert the adapter when you want to use the controller and then remove it when you are done.

  • Placement of the pit probe can be important. You want it located near the meat so that the controller is controlling the temperature at the location of the meat, not somewhere else. However, the probe must not touch the meat and should be at least an inch or two from the meat. If the meat influences the temperature of the probe (especially when the meat is first placed in the cooker and is cold), obviously the controller will be sensing a false pit temperature and will therefore compensate to the detriment of the desired results.

  • We have seen comments that the 5 CFM blower isn't strong enough to initially bring the temperature of the cooker up to your target. First of all, PartyQ's now ship with a 6.5 CFM blower. We tested with a 5 CFM blower and found it adequate to the job of the initial startup. You may wish to save battery power by bringing the cooker up to temperature first and then installing the PartyQ, but it isn't necessary.

  • Again, we tested the PartyQ on a large Big Green Egg cooker. You may be able to translate the following into advice for other cookers. We found we needed different vent settings on the Dual Function Metal Top, a.k.a. the daisy Wheel. For low temperatures, we had the slider shut and the daisy wheel vents barely cracked open. For medium temperatures, the slider was shut and the daisy wheel was about 1/2 open. And for high temperatures, the slider was shut and the daisy wheel was completely open. (When we attempted a high temperature setting with the daisy wheel barely cracked, the PartyQ could only get the cooker up to about 10°F below the target.)

  • The displayed temperature has a 5°F snap to target. What this means is that when the temperature of the cooker is within 5°F of the target, the display will show the target temperature. This prevents worries about small fluctuations. However, if you really need to see the actual temperature, you can display the ADJ menu item and the display will alternate between "ADJ" and the actual temperature of the cooker.

  • One thing to consider when buying a PartyQ is whether or not your cooker is in a table and the resulting geometry. Take a look at the following picture:

    Notice how the front of the slate is 1" set back from the front of the shelf. There used to be a strip of wood across the front of the slate and when there was, the PartyQ's downward angle hit the wood and prevented installation. If you have doubts about your installation, it would be best to contact the BBQ Guru folks and check with them first.


Compared To The iQue 110, BBQ Guru NanoQ and Auber

The following table shows you a comparison of the specifications and performance for the Auber Instruments controller versus the BBQ Guru NanoQ.

PartyQ iQue 110 Auber Instruments BBQ Guru NanoQ
Pit Temperature Range 32° - 475° F 175° - 375° F -328° - 2372° F 50° - 475° F
Claimed Control Accuracy Less than ±10°F ±5° F None ±5° F
Measured Control Accuracy Low:  +1.5° ± 0.5°
Med:  -1.5° ± 0.5°
High: -1.5° ± 0.5°
Low:  -10° ± 11.5°
Med:   -1° ± 8°
High: +0° ± 9°
Low:   -0.5° ± 1.5°
Med:   0.0° ± 2.0°
High: -1.0° ± 1.0°
Low:   +1.0° ± 7.0°
Med:  +0.75° ± 1.5°
High: +1.0° ± 1.0°
Display 3-position LCD w/battery indicator None 4-position 7-segment red LED None
Pit Temperature Adjustment Up and down push buttons Rotary knob with 25° markings Numeric input with 1 degree increments Button with 5 degree increments
Power Loss Recovery Yes Yes Yes Yes
Probe Type Thermocouple Platinum RTD Thermocouple Thermocouple
Probe Cable Armor braid Armor braid Armor braid Armor braid w/ fiberglass insulation
Probe Maximum Temperature 500°F 500°F 550°F 1000°F
Open Lid Detect No Yes No Yes
Adaptive Control Algorithm Yes, settings lost Yes, automatic, settings lost Yes, manual, settings retained Yes, automatic, settings lost
Pit Temperature Capture No No No Yes
Blower Running Indicator Yes, green LED No Yes, red LED Yes, red LED
Audible Alarms None None 2 None
Integrated Flashlight No No No Yes
Temperature Probe Options Only supplied probe Only supplied probe Any thermocouple with mini SMP connector Only supplied probe
Blower Options 6.5 CFM blower 5-15 CFM variable output blower 6.5 CFM blower 4, 10 or 25 CFM blower
Blower Damper None Washer can be inserted into blower hose Automatic, open or shut Manual, variable setting
Power Options 4-AA batteries 120 VAC or 12 VDC (Note 2) 120-240 VAC or 12 VDC 120-240 VAC or 12 VDC
Price (Note 1) $139.00 $139.95 $144.50 $197.00
  1. Pricing for the PartyQ is for the system unit and an adapter for a large Big Green Egg. Pricing of the NanoQ assumes the purchase of a system unit, a Pit Runner 4 CFM blower and an adapter for a large Big Green Egg. Pricing of the Auber Instruments controllers is for a package for a large Big Green Egg. Pricing for iQue 110 is for basic package.

  2. 120-240 VAC operation is possible with an optional international power supply.


PartyQ, iQue 110, Auber Instruments or NanoQ?

The obvious competitors to the PartyQ are the iQue 110 controller, the BBQ Guru NanoQ and the Auber Instruments controller. All four models are low cost, and only control the temperature of your cooker. So which one should you choose?

As usual, it all depends on what you want. With the NanoQ, you get rugged build, quality temperature probe cable, more blower choices, Open Lid Detect and automatic Adaptive Control. Of course, you pay more for all that.

On the other hand with the Auber Insturments controller you get the ability to set a target temperature within 1 degree, a bright and VERY usable display, 2 audible alarms, and the ability to use about any thermocouple probe you wish.

With the iQue 110, you get low price, all-in-one unit, simple operation, Platinum RTD probe, and the quick and easy-to-use dial method of selecting your target temperature.

And of course, with the PartyQ you get a truly all-in-one unit that will almost fit in your pocket and that runs off of AA batteries. No power cord and no blower cord. Just a temperature probe and that's it.

All four units are more than accurate enough to give you the kind of control you want for your cooker, so the choice really comes down the price and features of the units.


Summary

The PartyQ is a simple, easy-to-use, all-in-one temperature controller that comes at a very modest price. It is quite accurate and does the job very well. Like we said at the beginning, when we first beta-tested a PartyQ, we clapped our hands like a little child and said "Oh, goodie!" Well, we are still clapping our hands and we will probably use this controller a lot for our personal use simply because it works so well and is so simple to hook up and use.


Contact Information

The BBQ Guru
353 Ivyland Road
Warminster, PA 18974

215-674-9992
800-288-GURU (4878)

www.thebbqguru.com

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