The Stoker has always distinguished itself from the rest of the BBQ temperature controller field by supporting many cookers and easy internet connectivity via a cat 5 connector on the back. Now they have come out with a wireless model that eliminates the need for a cable. There have been other impovements since our original review, so we'll cover both the Wifi enhancement and the other improvements in this new review of the Stoker Wifi. We hope by now that everyone knows what these temperature controllers do, but if you don't, they control airflow through the pit so as to keep the pit temperature where you want it. They do this through the use of a blower which attaches to the pit. By turning the blower on and off as required, The Stoker and other controllers can keep your pit within a few degrees of a set temperature as long as there is fuel to keep the fire going.
The Stoker system includes the following basic features:
- A 2x12 LCD display with backlight for display of data, settings, information.
- A five-key keypad for entry of data and settings.
- A 5 CFM blower that controls airflow.
- Stainless food and pit temperature sensors
- Temperature control from 100 F to 450 F. (Higher with optional thermocouple adapter and a high temperature probe, available from many online sources.)
- Temperature displays in degrees F or C.
- Audible alarm to signal pit over and under temperature conditions, as well as to signal when the food reaches the target temperature.
- Optional power adapter for powering The Stoker from a 12V portable battery.
- Adapter plates to allow you to attach The Stoker to different brands and models of cookers.
- Optional mounting brackets
- Optional high capacity blowers
In addition, The Stoker system includes the following more advanced features:
Here is a list of new features that were either introduced after our original review or introduced in the Stoker Wifi:
- The unit is easily expanded by simply plugging in more temperature sensors and blowers to allow it to control multiple cookers at the same time and monitor several pieces of food at the same time.
- Optional expansion devices to allow you to plug in additional temperature probes and blowers.
- Built-in ethernet connection and web server that lets you upgrade the software from your PC as well as set up and control the Stoker anywhere you have Internet access.
- Automatic scrolling display of all the temperature probes for easy monitoring.
- Built-in clock with the ability to set the time zone and set the time from a network time server if you are connected to the Internet. Time and date can also be set manually.
- Settings can be stored in NVRAM allowing you restore all settings by powering unit off and on.
- Blowers have built-in dampers to control the natural flow of air through the cooker.
- Temperature sensors are calibrated at the factory and should not need calibration by the user as the calibration data is stored permanently in each sensor.
- The system unit now has room to plug in 6 devices rather than 5.
- The system unit now contains Wifi capability.
- The plugs on the blowers and temperature probes have lights which illuminate. For temperature sensors, the light illuminates if the sensor is alarming. For blowers, the light illuminates when the blower is operating.
- A new optional adapter is available that allows you to use a K-type thermocouple instead of normal temperature sensors.
- The ability to send updates to your Twitter account.
The Basic System
Here's what comes in the basic system:
The only other thing you need to order with your unit is a blower adapter for your particular cooker. If you are going to want to monitor the temperature of a food item in the cooker, you can also order a food temperature probe. And of course, you can order additional temperature probes and blowers in order to simultaneously control multiple cookers.
- The Stoker system unit
- 5 CFM blower
- Pit temperature sensor
- Power supply
- Operator's manual
The System Unit
The system unit is a small box about 2 x 5-1/2 x 6-1/8 inches in size, and weighs about 1 pound 12 ounces. Here are some photos of it:
First, let's look at the front panel details:
The system display is a 2 by 12 backlit LCD display. The display is now white characters on a blue background and is very easy to read.
This button turns the display backlight on and off.
This button is used when navigating the system menus to return to the previous menu.
These two buttons are used to scroll up and down through menus and to select values for things like names and temperatures.
This button is the "Select" button which is sort of like the "Enter" key.
There are three of these sockets on the front panel (there are three more on the back). You plug blowers and temperature probes into these sockets. Note that you can plug any probe and any blower into any socket. The sockets are essentially connected in parallel (actually they are on a bus, but you knew that....) so that each socket is the same as the others. This also means, as we shall see later, that you can increase the number of devices plugged into the system simply by plugging the equivalent of Y-cables into a socket.
Now, let's look at the back panel details:
There are sockets for three more devices on the rear panel.
There is a RJ45 jack for connecting the unit directly to a network.
This is the power jack. Note that the input power to the unit is 5 volts. Do not try attaching this unit directly to a 12 volt battery! A 5 to 12 volt converter is available if you wish to run your Stoker off a 12 volt portable battery.
There is a power switch for turning the unit on and off.
And of course, there is the antenna for wireless communications.