Recently I purchased the Rock’s Bar-B-Que Stoker for the Big Green Eggs. This new blower system will be used as a replacement for my existing devices. The reason for my decision to purchase this product over others on the market boils down to being a geek. Today, there are several brands out there, including the BBQ Guru and Flame Boss, to name a couple. I decided to go with Rock’s based on features and expandability, which I explain in detail below.
While the other brands offer similar features, I was looking for a device that would allow me to control multiple smokers from a single controller (6 ports built-in and you can buy port expanders to add more), and support different styles of smokers. If you check out Rock’s site, you’ll first notice a long list of offset, vertical, and ceramic smokers.
Besides the multi-smoker option, I also wanted something that could use wifi, has iOS/Android apps available, and can also email or update Twitter status along the way. In addition, having a flap built into the blower to shutoff all airflow was a nice addition to ensure an improved temperature consistency.
After placing a quick order on Rock’s website, I waited patiently for the new toys to show up. The photo below shows the basic kit for a single Big Green Egg (BGE). The blower on the lower left of the photo is a 10cfm blower system, which is used for the XL. A smaller 5cfm is available for the Large and Medium sized eggs.
Also notice the plugs. The quality on those guys are amazing. I don’t have the fear of them tearing apart because they are nothing more than a twisted steel cable with small probe. Instead, these guys are shielded, plus they light up on the white ends when the probe is in use for an alarm, or the blower activating (each cable purpose having a different color).
Here’s the extra pit probe, blower and food probe for a Medium/Large BGE. The egg mounting bracket is designed so that the bent lip of the bracket locks into the clip on the bottom vent of the egg. When you mount the bracket to the blower, make sure that the wire is on the right side, facing up, so that when the blower sits up-right where the flap is closed downward over the blower’s exit hole.
Initial WiFi Setup for Client Mode
- Before powering on the unit, attach a CAT5 cable from the stoker unit directly into a switch on your local wifi network. This will enable the stoker to pull an IP from the DHCP pool of the wifi network upon boot.
- Power on the unit and wait until the device is fully initialized and at the main screen (The word STOKER will be spelled out slowly on the LCD as the device boots).
- On the stoker, use the down arrow and go to Network. Press Sel.
- Press the down arrow and go to Wifi IP (RO). Press Sel.
- Record the IP and then open a web browser to http://IPAdddress/wifi.html.
- Configure the SSID, IP parameters and wifi security (WEP or WPA). Select Client as the access mode and then click Save Changes.
- Power off the device and then attach all the cables. Never attach or remove cables from the stoker while it’s running or the configuration gets screwed up. You can simply turn off the unit and power it back on without losing your configuration settings.
- After the stoker is powered on with all the cables attached, return to the webpage IP at http://IPAddress.
- Here you will see a list of sensors available to choose from. Upon first configuration, you’ll need to identify which sensors are for the fire and which are for food. Just select the appropriate alarm and then attach the correct blower to the correct fire sensor, as shown in the image below.
- You will also want to set a target temperature, along with a low and high setting on the temperatures in order to have alarms going off anytime the temperature hits one of those targets.
- Lastly, you can rename the sensors so they make more sense beyond the serial numbers. Notice the Control and Alarm sensor names in the image above.
- Click Save Changes.
- Alarms are a little tricky with the unit. If you have a low temp set and the grill is still warming up, the alarm can be triggered once it hits that low setting.
- If you have an alarm go off, it sometimes doesn’t auto reset. I’m not willing to listen to that loud beep for more than a couple minutes, so simply adjusting the temp of the triggered alarm will reset it as well. Just change it and click Save Changes.
- The metal flap inside the blower does a great job at keep them temperature within just a couple degrees of the target temp. Personally, I think this works better than other units I’ve attempted in the past. Especially with a fluctuation in outdoor temperatures. One of my recent cooks lasted from a 64ºF morning in heavy thunderstorms to a hot 83°F sunny afternoon in the same day. The Stoker maintained the temps spot on the entire time.
- The sturdy cables. Design is always key, especially when being subjected to heat inside a smoker. The insulation does wonders and the clip for the fire probe keeps the probe off the grate so you don’t have an incorrect reading.
- The blower system does a wonderful job at not overcompensating when you open the lid. On a device I previously used, the blower would kick on within 30 seconds of opening the lid. On this device, I can open the smoker for a couple minutes to mop the meat before closing it, and the stoker won’t kick on and raise the temp too high.
- The only downside is needing power. Most backyard cooks have a power outlet near their grill, so that isn’t an issue, but when competing in a BBQ competition, that might not always be the case. Personally, I think I’d pull my generator out of the garage and take this guy with me, as opposed to doing things manually again.
- Rock’s website lists several apps available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. I’ve tested several, but I prefer using the built-in interface and the StokerX app for Mac. The StokerX app adds the capability of email notifications, push notifications to iOS with Prowl, and Twitter notifications.