The BBQ Guru PartyQ
Temperature Controller


The barbecue temperature controller market was pioneered and has long been dominated by The BBQ Guru's line of controllers. They have been selling controllers since early 2004. Over the years, they have brought out new models and now it's time to upgrade the PartyQ, the battery powered all-in-one temperature controller, with a new version.

When the original PartyQ came out, we were given the opportunity to try a beta version. We had our hands on it for a limited time and were able to do several cooks at different temperatures and lengths of time. Our initial reaction was to clap our hands with joy. Seriously. A battery-powered all-in-one unit sounded absolutely great. Everything you need to control your cooker in a single unit that requires no power cord, separate blower or blower cord.

But now we have the updated PartyQ to test. It comes in a slicker package than the original PartyQ. How will it perform compared to the original PartyQ?


Features

Here are the specifications listed by The BBQ Guru:

  • Large 3 digit LCD display
  • Bicolor LED indicator for at-a-glance pit status
  • Rugged, armored high-temperature pit probe
  • Full-time adaptive control algorithm learns the pit to control better
  • Display in degrees F or C
  • 32 to 475 degree F range
  • Runs on 4 AA batteries
  • Self contained control and 6.5 cfm fan system
Here are some more features/specifications that we'll add:
  • Temperature probe plugs into the unit and is therefore user-replaceable
  • Pit probe is a precision thermocouple
  • Controller dimensions (approximate): 3½" x 12" x 3½"
  • Controller weight with 4 AA batteries installed 15½ ounces
  • Power loss (dead battery) memory.

Plus we'll add a few notes of our own:

  • The control unit and battery pack are plastic and are not waterproof.
  • You need an adapter to fit the unit to cookers like the Big Green Egg, sold by The BBQ Guru.
  • The temperature probe cable should be able to withstand temperatures up to 500°F


Compared To Other BBQ Temperature Controllers

The PartyQ clearly falls into the same category as the Pitmaster IQ110, and the Auber Instruments controller. All three units are intended to be simple, low-cost temperature controllers. None has a food probe or food temperature monitoring as in other more expensive and fuller-featured controllers. No food temperature monitoring means no Ramp Mode or equivalent feature. No wireless, no dual-cooker control, no USB connection. These simpler units control the temperature of your cooker and that's it. Of course, what distinguishes the PartyQ from the others is the fact that is is battery powered.


The Basic System

Here's what comes with a basic system:

  • The PartyQ integrated controller/blower unit
  • Pit temperature sensor
  • Pit adapter for your cooker
  • Silicone "kill" plug for use with adapters
  • Package of 4 AA batteries
  • Printed User Guide
When you order your system, you specify the type of door adapter you need. The door adapter price depends on the model cooker that you select.


A Few Observations About The Components

The control unit and the batteries are located in a plastic case at one end of the gooseneck. The blower is in a second plastic case on the other end of the gooseneck. The temperature probe cable is steel braid. Overall, it appears that the unit is quite well built and a bit more stylish than the original PartyQ.


The System Unit

The system unit is a small plastic box about 3½" x 3½" x 1½" in size which attaches to a flexible gooseneck that connects it to the blower unit. The case houses the electronics and has the display, control buttons and the color LED on the front. The housing is not water proof, so precautions should be taken when using it under the threat of rain, such as using a plastic bag to protect it. All controls are on the front panel except for the power switch which is on the back of the system unit.


The 6.5 CFM blower is housed in another plastic case at the other end of the gooseneck. We'll show you that a bit later.

The flexible gooseneck connection between the system unit and the blower unit is a nice improvement over the original PartyQ. The original PartyQ had these two components mounted to a bent metal plate which made it difficult to mount in some cooker setups. The gooseneck allows you to adjust the position of the system unit to suit your needs.


Controls and Display

Let's look at the front panel details. In the photo below, you can see the display, LED and control buttons:


First, the LED. It can display green or red, and flash or stay on depending on the status of the cooker's temperature:

Flashing green. The cooker temperature is more than 30°F below your desired target temperature, and the blower is operating.
Solid green. The cooker temperature is within ±30°F of your desired target temperature, and the blower is operating.
Solid red. The cooker is within ±30°F of your desired target temperature and the blower is off.
Flashing red. The cooker temperature is more than 30°F above your desired target temperature and the blower is off.

When you cooker is at a stable temperature, the led will show a solid red color, only occasionally turning briefly to green and back to red as the blower cycles on and off.

Next, the LCD display. It is used to display the current pit temperature as well as various settings.

Finally, the control buttons. Curiously, the two buttons are not marked in any way. However, the left button is UP, and the right button is DOWN. If you press the UP or DOWN button, the currently displayed value will be modified accordingly. If you press them together, you will move through the system menu. (The system menu contains 3 items: 1) Display the battery level, 2) Set degrees to F or C, and 3) adjust the display temperature.) Personally, we find the buttons rather difficult to push. Pushing hard enough to make them register a push often results in the displayed value changing by multiple increments. Also, there is no positive feedback letting you know that a push has been registered.

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