TESTING & REVIEWING THE FLAME BOSS 500
Maintaining stable grill and smoker temperatures can be a struggle, even in the best of conditions, and any pit-master worth his secret dry-rub recipe will tell you that the control and consistency of cooking temperatures are two of the most critical elements in cooking perfect melt-in-your-mouth BBQ every time.
See our complete video review of the Flame Boss 500 & 400
In the past, award-winning BBQ results were only accomplished through the tedious and time-consuming process of constant monitoring and adjusting of air-vents and coal temperatures, virtually chaining the cook to the smoker for up to 12 hours at a time.
Lucky for us, advances in cooking technology have created any number of innovations to make the “real bbq” process less labor-intensive, by monitoring cooking and meat temperature while, at the same time, adjusting internal chamber temperature through precisely controlled air-flow, a process referred to as thermostatic control.
Basics of Pit Temperature
The fire in your smoker (or any fire for that matter) requires three ingredients to burn: heat, fuel, and oxygen.
Heat – A requirement to provide the energy to light the fuel in the first place. Friction, whether in the form of a lighter’s wheel, a match head drawn across a rough surface, or a “stick and string” fire bow, produces the heat that causes the in initial combustion.
Fuel – Of course, you have to have something to burn. Hardwoods or charcoal typically provide the fuel for our BBQs or smokers.
Oxygen – The element is an essential part of the fire process; the more oxygen-rich the environment, the cleaner and hotter the fire burns. This is where the Flame Boss comes in. Like an old-fashioned bellow for a blacksmith’s fire, the Flame Boss’s fan concentrates oxygen onto the fuel, allowing it to burn hotter to increase the overall temperature, or reducing the flow of oxygen to bring the heat back down.
While that may sound a little scientific, just think of these “thermostatic temperature controllers,” like the Flame Boss 500, as a “cruise control” for your smoker, keeping her at a steady pace with constantly tapping the pedals. These controllers allow you to monitor (through a number of probes) and control cooking temperature right from your your couch via your mobile device.
The Flame Boss 500 Controller
The control box, or “controller”, allows the cook to constantly monitor both the smoker’s and their food’s temperature, manually adjusting the heat of the pit to optimize cooking, and even view real-time graphs of cook jobs from a smart-phone, tablet, or computer.
Note: One key to truly great bbq is the ability to monitor both the temperature around the meat and well as inside. Excessive external temperature will produce a dry, tough product long before the internal meat temp reaches it’s cooking target.
You can also set the internal meat probes to monitor and adjust pit temperature automatically, and even to send a text notification to your phone when that brisket hits the perfect temp.
The controller is truly plug-and-play, with no software to install.
The Flame Boss 500 uses patented software technology coupled with state-of-the-art air-control hardware to create a simple, unparalleled control unit at the tip of your finger, or even the sound of your voice (…so now we even have an excuse for talking to our smokers!)
Other features include:
- Large 1” x 2.5” LCD screen with large font read-outs for increased legibility.
- A variable-speed blower for precision temperature control.
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice command control.
- 0 to 24-hour countdown timer, adjustable in 15-second increments.
- Smart lid detection understands when you remove the lid so abstains from kicking on the fan, causing coals to become overly ignited.
- Extra-long 6ft probe cables, with cord organizer.
- 4 individually programmable alarms, one for each of the 3 meat probes, as well as the pit monitor, to ensure that your BBQ reaches the perfect internal temperature.
- A Keep Warm’ Mode which, once your food reached finished temperature, automatically adjusts the heat inside the pit to keep food warm, without overcooking (how cool is that?)
The controller can be used as a table/counter-top unit or can be mounted on a vertical surface (a wall, cupboard, etc.,), with a magnetic base for fastener-free mounting (perfect when cooking in someone else’s kitchen!) There are also mounting holes in the bracket if you prefer a more permanent installation.
The monitor can be detached from the base as needed.
The controller has six ports:
- Three for the meat probes (one each)
- One for the pit probe
- One control port for the blower
- One power cord port
Wi-Fi enabled, the Flame Boss 500 Controller actually has three connectivity options for maximum versatility.
- Cloud: Connect to the Flame Boss’s servers, using your smartphone’s WiFi connection and control your device over the internet. Through a cloud connection, you can monitor and adjust the temperature of your pit from anywhere that you can access the internet.
- Local: Use your home router to access your controller via your phone (no internet access required).
- Direct: Connect your phone directly to the Flame Boss 500 via a wireless Bluetooth connection (built into the controller). No internet access required.
The controller features simple structure and sturdy design, so even first-timers can use it with confidence, right out of the box. Additionally, the unit includes a detailed user manual explaining everything from the WiFi set up, to the adapter installation, to usage.
The Mobile Application
You can use the Flame Boss mobile app (available for both iOS & Android) to access, monitor, and control all device configurations, from WiFi setup to meat/pit probe settings on your phone, tablet, or other mobile devices. The mobile app also allows for alarm & timer settings, preset notifications, graph monitoring, and more.
Like the controller unit, the mobile app allows for control of your smoker from anywhere you have internet access.
U.B.A. (Blower Fan)
(Universal Blower Assembly – with Manifold and Mounting Adapter)
The Flame Boss 500 incorporates a multi-speed blower that optimizes air-flow to reach and maintain the ideal temperature for cooking your chosen meat.
Receiving its instructions automatically or manually via the Controller Unit or the mobile app, the U.B.A. physically speeds up or slows down its internal fan, fanning the coals or starving them of oxygen, resulting in increased or decreased pit temps.
This 21 CFM variable speed blower mounts either over your smoker’s existing lower vent, or by using the mounting adapter, and fits most popular styles of charcoal grills & smokers, including:
- Drum Smokers
- Vertical Barrel Smokers
- Horizontal Offset Smokers
- Weber Smokey Mountain
- Weber Kettle Grills
- Char-Griller (both offset & barrel)
- Most styles of drum smokers including UDS (Ugly Drum Smokers)
Note: The Flame Boss 500 Smoker Controller Universal does not fit Big Green Egg or Kamado style smokers. For Kamado or egg style smokers you can purchase the Flame Boss 500 Kamado.
Assembly of the blower fan, using the included mounting adapter is quick and easy, with a limited number of parts, and clear instructions. The actual assembly of the included hardware doesn’t even require hand tools to complete.
Simply insert the threaded pipe end of the assembly through a pre-drilled hole (from the outside) near the base of your grill or smoker, then thread the nut onto the pipe from the inside, and finger-tighten until firmly in place.
The blower assembly slips into the face of the mounting assembly and is held in place by a small metal lip. No tools are required to add or remove the blower from the mount.
Once assembled and plugged into a power source, the fan is ready to use!
FLAME BOSS 500 VS 400
Both models feature variable speed motors.
What Customers Are Saying
“The Flame Boss is so convenient and makes it so easy to maintain the temperature in my BGE. I used to have to stay around the house all day while smoking since it always seemed to be getting too hot or too cold, and when it did, it was always such as pain to make such tiny adjustments in the vents to get it to maintain temperature. The Flame Boss is amazing in that it regulates the temperature so closely, usually within a couple of degrees. I can live a normal life on the days that I am smoking meats. My only regret is that I did not buy this years ago when I first got a BGE.”
“Works to keep my Kamado grill within 2 degrees of the set point. Amazing technology that even impresses this 60-year-old engineer. The system updates nearly every time it is plugged in which shows the company is constantly supporting the product with improvements!
“Very pleased with this Flame Boss 500! It revolutionizes smoking on my BGE. A couple of weekends back, I actually changed my temp setting, and resulting fan output, while at church. It brings total convenience to smoking now, the ability to monitor and make necessary changes, and not being tied down to the house. A great product!”
“I have been using my 500 for about 6 months now on my BGE and it has been outstanding!! Easy to set up and easy to use. I had 1 small problem, call the company and they helped me fix it in less then a minute. Picked up my call on the 1st ring with a live person!!!”
“The accurate temperature control and the very convenient WiFi interface makes grilling and smoking a breeze. The controller is simple and easy enough to be used by anyone. All in all, it is a must-have for any BBQ enthusiast.” ~ Judith Fertig, BBQ Queens
“The Flame Boss 500 goes beyond telling you what the temperature is inside your smoker – it actually keeps it there! It is “set-it-and-forget-it” tech for a smoker that takes a lot of the effort out of smoking!” ~ Mark Jenner, FoodFireFriends.com
Founded in 2013, Flame Boss prides itself on providing its customers with high quality and easy to use products that make sure your meat comes out perfect every time. Their small yet dedicated customer service team is happy to respond to any customer queries and commonly receives praise in customer reviews.
Since the introduction of the Flame Boss 100, the entire of the Flame Boss series of products has been a hit with BBQ fans of all backgrounds and skill levels. From Flame Boss 100 to the Flame Boss 300, to Flame Boss 400, the brand has built a reputation in the BBQ world for dependability and performance.
Flame Boss has proven themselves once again with their latest and most advanced temperature controller: The Flame Boss 500.
Flame Boss® temperature controllers for charcoal grills and smokers are one of those rare products that really can make you a better pitmaster, by focusing, and improving upon the aspects of the cooking process that actually affect the outcome.
You can smoke tender and melt in your mouth BBQ with precision and consistent temperature control in your smoker the way BBQ was meant to be cooked – low and slow.
When it comes to BBQ temperature controllers, Flame Boss is definitely at the top of the game. From the pro-bbq competition circuit to the weekend backyard pitmaster, outdoors cooks from all walks of life have come to trust Flame Boss to help them do what they do and do it better!
To read more on our various thermometer reviews, click here.