Many people today seem almost addicted to their phones and being able to monitor their home appliances via an App appears essential to some. Pellet grills/smokers are no exception, and in recent years we have seen more and more manufacturers include WiFi/App functionality. However, some have questioned is WiFi/App support really a useful feature or just a marketing gimmick? In other words, is WiFi worth it as you will generally have to spend more on a pellet grill/smoker to get it. So let’s discuss this…
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Introduction To Is WiFi/App Support Worth It?
First off, let me state that I don’t think that WiFi/App support for pellet grills/smokers is a gimmick, I do believe it can provide useful functionality. However, at the same time, I don’t believe its an essential feature to have.
Furthermore, as I’ll discuss below, for some pellet grill owners I believe the feature will be very rarely used. Hence, I don’t think WiFi/App support should be prioritised over other features which we’ll talk about.
As all pellet grills/smokers are electric devices, in the future, I can see the cost to manufacturers adding WiFi/App support being so insignificant it will just become universal. However, that’s currently not the case, and you will generally pay a premium for WiFi/App support.
So first let’s discuss which pellet grill/smoker owners I think will benefit from WiFi/App support and then we’ll discuss under which scenarios the feature could be barely used.
Focus On ‘Low & Slow’/Smoking? – Consider WiFi/App Support
Due to how pellet smokers work, the fire is being managed by the pellet auger/combustion fan via the computer in the control panel. Hence, unlike a kamado or stick burner, you are not manually managing the fire.
Going ‘low & slow’ means cooking/smoking over a prolonged period of time. In some cases for a few hours, in some cases much longer say ten to twelve hours, maybe more.
Hence, its this type of low and slow cooking where the additional benefits of WiFi/App support can come into play. Instead of frequently checking on the meat in the pellet smoker you could be off doing other things, making better use of your time.
On a pellet smoker that offers WiFi/App support, you can not only be remotely monitoring the heat inside the pellet smoker against the set temperature, you can be adjusting the temperature. With a meat probe inserted you can remotely tell when the meat has achieved the required internal temperature to finish the cook.
However, some pellet smoker apps can do much more. Through the Traeger WiFire app, for instance, owners can watch and download a wide range of recipes as well as checking the level of pellets in the hopper so the pellet grill doesn’t run out of pellets mid-cook.
Focus On Grilling/Searing? – Maybe Skip WiFi/App Support
If you’re intending to purchase a pellet grill primarily for grilling/searing, well in that scenario WiFi/App support will be of little use. After all, when grilling/searing you’re frequently stud next to the grill.
Hence, the main use of WiFi/App support to monitor and adjust the pellet grill remotely is just not needed when grilling/searing. There is another feature I would focus on.
If you mainly want to focus on grilling/searing of steaks/burgers etc then you should seriously consider direct-flame access. Pellet grills with this feature will achieve higher grate surface temperatures around the 650-degree range.
Furthermore, its now possible to use charcoal on a pellet grill via charcoal pellets. Again, when it comes to grilling/searing performance any pellet grill will achieve higher grate surface temperatures using charcoal pellets as opposed to hardwood pellets.
Finally, porcelain-coated cast-iron grill grates will hold onto the heat much better than thin wire racks. But if your chosen pellet grill doesn’t have cast-iron grates just slap on a set of GrillGrates instead.
Granted, many pellets grills such as the Camp Chef Woodwind as shown in the image above provide direct-flame access along with WiFi support. My point is though, if grilling/searing is mainly your thing, focus on direct-flame access over WiFi support when looking for a pellet grill.
Which Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands Offer WiFi/App Functionality?
I have a dedicated article discussing the best WiFi pellet grills/smokers for various budgets, so check that out for a detailed discussion on the topic. However, I’ll provide a quick run-through here of brands which offer WiFi/App support.
Its likely you’re aware that any Traeger with WiFire offers the feature, however, Traeger is by no means the only brand. Pit Boss another well know brand offer WiFi on both their Pro and Platinum Series grills. Furthermore, certain Pit Boss grills can be upgraded with WiFi with a SmokeIT control panel upgrade.
One of the first brands to offer WiFi/App support was actually REC TEQ, and you also have other less well-known brands such as Grilla Grills offering WiFi with their excellent Alpha Connect control panel. The budget focused brand Z Grills has also jumped on the WiFi bandwagon with their latest grill the Multitasker 11002B.
Different brands have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to their WiFi/App game as I discuss for instance in my Traeger WiFire vs Camp Chef Connect article. With software/firmware updates brands are able to add and improve their WiFi/App features over time.
My Final Thoughts On Is WiFi Worth It…
So to quickly summarise my thoughts above on whether WiFi is really worth it, it comes down to separating the functions of a pellet cook as a smoker and as a grill.
If you are looking to purchase a pellet cooker primarily as a smoker, then yes I seriously think you should consider WiFi/App support. As the cooks can go on for many hours, maybe even overnight, being able to remotely monitor the cook has obvious benefits.
For instance, if you’re looking at getting a vertical pellet smoker as opposed to a horizontal pellet smoker/grill, 100% with a vertical pellet smoker go for WiFi/App support if you can afford it. However, if you’re mainly into grilling…
Well, then its a different situation, for grilling/searing and you’re on a tight budget focus on direct-flame access and maybe spend some of the savings not going for WiFi on higher-priced charcoal pellets that will give you better searing/grilling performance.
That’s it! I hope you found my ramblings above useful to help you to decide if you should look for WiFi on your next pellet grill/smoker. If you want to do a deeper dive into the world of pellet grills and look at pretty much all your options, check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.