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Issues with the BBQ Guru Party Q in cold weather?

mat5182

Newbie
15
11
Joined May 26, 2015
Hello,

For Christmas i received a BBQ Guru Party Q temperature controller that i could use with my WSM. I was all excited and attempted to test it out this past weekend with a pork shoulder. I live in the New England area so the temps were pretty cold this time of year. This past weekend we were in the single digits with a wind chill probably far below that. The problems i ran into was with a battery drain.

I got the unit installed fine, and it performed well while it was working. It kept my pit temp within plus or minus 10 degrees. But the batteries it came with died out after only two hours of use. So i thought, well maybe these are old batteries, and i put in a new set of 4 so that i could let it run over night. Overnight cooks are the main reason we purchased this. I woke up in the morning to find the controller stopped working after 2 more hours of use (it died around 2:30am), the fire went out, and the meat temp dropped down to 50 degrees. I ended up letting the shoulder finish in the oven. I brought the controller back inside, after a while of letting it come to room temp, i fired it up again to see what would happen. It fired right up and started blowing air... no battery light warnings.

My question is, is this expected behavior? Does the cold weather have a significant impact on AA batteries? Is there another product that might perform better for me in the cold weather? Have been looking at some of the competitors, but the thing i liked about the Party Q was its simplistic design. You plug it in, set your temp, and forget it. I have a call open with support but so far they haven't been very helpful. There isn't anything in the documentation on what temperature this product is rated to run in... If it had said anything about performance problems in cold weather i would have likely looked at something else. Something i should probably also add is the fan wasn't constantly running as the support person was thinking. It was only on when keeping the pit within temp.
 

tropics

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You could probably put the control into a glove,with a hand warmer JMHO
Richie
 

browneyesvictim

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My question is, is this expected behavior? Does the cold weather have a significant impact on AA batteries? Is there another product that might perform better for me in the cold weather?
No. I have used mine in very cold (minus) temperatures and it performed no different for me than in warmer weather. I get multiple cooks out of a set of batteries with mine. I would suspect bad/weak batteries in BOTH cases or you have a defective unit. Possibly the performance may have something more to do with the TYPE of battery you used than the electronics themselves. I go for alkalines with the bunny on them. Also look on the package your batteries came in- There will be a shelf life date on them. Buy your batteries from a place that turns them over a lot- not at a place like a gas station. Don't give up on it yet! Lets hear what their support has to say.
 

mat5182

Newbie
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11
Joined May 26, 2015
So it should have worked fine then... now you have me curious now though, i'll have to check the batteries when i get home to see what kind. I know when we looked, the dates were fairly current. Both sets were energizer but i don't recall which variation they were. Wondering if maybe i received a bad egg with the unit itself.
 

mat5182

Newbie
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11
Joined May 26, 2015
Heres what i received from support:

Our controls are specified to operate at 41F to 104F (with 80% relative humidity) at an altitude up to 1.25 miles. All of the components of the controls themselves are rated from -4F to 176F. Now this doesn’t mean that they won’t operate under different conditions, but the performance can be effected.

Our DigiQ and CyberQ Cloud controls can operate at more extreme temperatures with less effect on performance because they don’t run on batteries.

When it comes to batteries, specifically alkaline batteries, they are most definitely effected by cold temperatures. Most have recommended operating temperatures of about 0F to 131F but the colder it gets, the more that the diffusion of the power decreases in the batteries which will result in poor performance. Once the temperature is increased, batteries will more easily diffuse the power and performance will increase as well, which is why you saw the PartyQ perform as expected once you brought it in your house.

If you plan on cooking on very cold days, I would suggest that you use lithium batteries. Not only will you get a longer life out of them anyway, but most of them are specified to operate from -40F to 140F.

Please note that when you are not using the PartyQ, you should remove the batteries from the unit and store them separately.
 

mat5182

Newbie
15
11
Joined May 26, 2015
I'll have to give it another try with different batteries i think... Thing is, i like the convenience of the product. Its mobile and straightforward. When it works anyway lol. I mean when it was working it did perform as i would have expected, it kept my temp relatively within 10 degrees. Which, for a backyard enthusiast as myself, is just fine.
 

yankee2bbq

Master of the Pit
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Joined May 7, 2017
I have the same guru as you, the party q, and I e-mailed the company because Duracell batteries would not work in the party q. They said some batteries will not work and they recommend energizer industrial.

Also, I do not run my guru in cold weather due to battery drainage.
 

mat5182

Newbie
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Joined May 26, 2015
I discovered that both sets of batteries we used were in fact alkaline. Both were energizer, one was the industrial variation that came with the kit. But according to the information provided by support and browneyes it looks like alkaline will suffer performance problems in extreme cold. As they're only rated from 0 degrees to 131 degrees. Definitely going to give it another try, maybe this weekend, with lithium batteries. Maybe i'll do a chuck roast, need something low and slow, for a good overnight test. Will let you know how i make out once i can test though... although, this weekend i don't think is going to be very cold, so i'm not sure if thats as good a test. But its an excuse to run the smoker so maybe i'll have to run two tests, hehe.
 

yankee2bbq

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I was thinking about lithium batteries. I’ll be watching this post.
 

tropics

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I would do a cook during the day so I could monitor it.
Richie
 

browneyesvictim

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I think you have a light at the end of the tunnel! It will be interesting to see what kind of life you get out of the lithium's with the Guru. I run those Energizer lithium's in my game cameras (in the cold!) and I rarely ever have to change batteries.
 

mat5182

Newbie
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Joined May 26, 2015
I could but where i run into trouble is when we want to run a long cook like for a brisket, where its almost best to start the night before. Or really early in the morning. But i also want to be able to sleep instead of monitoring for drops and spikes all night. So that was the hope with the Guru, was that it would help keep things more consistent so we wouldn't have to worry as much. Make life a little easier. We don't often do it but once in a while. In the past its been hit or miss with the temp fluctuations depending on the air flow and weather. Sometimes when i dial the vents in, it will run just fine, all through the night. Other times, and probably more often, it will start off fine, but looking back at the monitor i can see the temp had significant drops or spikes. I usually monitor the ambient temp with my iGrill so that i can see when to adjust vents etc. And also to monitor when the meat's ready.
 

mat5182

Newbie
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Joined May 26, 2015
Yeah i definitely have some renewed excitement to try again. Those lithiums are supposed to run at -40 so if the cold was my issue before, that should fix it. Now if the same or similar thing happens again, i'm going to have a big WTF moment thinking maybe i have a problematic model or something. But we'll see, i'm hopeful.
 

mat5182

Newbie
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11
Joined May 26, 2015
For the folks that also have Party Q's, whats your process for adding meat to the smoker? or checking on meat? Do you turn the unit off? or let it continue to run?

With ours, on our first cook i had left it running, pulled the lid to add our meat, and later noticed the temp had skyrocketed. At first i was like what the heck, but then i realized its probably because the controller detected a dip in temperature, and slammed the fan on to bring the heat back up.

Thinking next time i might rather turn it off, let the temperature drop a few degrees, and then turn it back on to let the controller bring it back up.
 

noboundaries

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Cold temperature inhibits the chemical reaction in batteries that produces electricity. The PartyQ isn't the problem. The outside temperature was the problem. With the single digit temps stated above, the alkaline batteries probably lost 50% or more of their ability to produce electricity. Once the output drops below a certain level, the unit will shut down. If you were to bring those batteries in a warm house, let them warm to room temp over several hours, you'd get power again.

I don't believe the Party Q has an AC adapter available, but it might be worth a check.
 

yankee2bbq

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Joined May 7, 2017
I’ve checked. No AC adaptor for the party q. Now, there is a video on YouTube that has a guy making a DIY plug in for converting battery to AC powered.

I turn off my party q before I lift my lid off the smoker.
 

dward51

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We have those "industrial" alkaline batteries at work. They are all crap. Both the Duracel and Energizer industrial DO NOT last nearly as long as the retail versions of what appears to be the same battery (appearances are deceptive). It got so bad that our group special ordered retail batteries instead of the junk industrial. I suspect that may be part of the problem.

Also as others noted, alkaline batteries performance drops off as temp decreases. Just a fact in the chemistry involved in how they work.

As a side note, I've been using a BBQ Guru Digi-Q II for over 10 years and never had a issue. I've smoked in single digits, but that unit comes with a plug in 120v to 12v converter so I'm not on batteries either.
 

mat5182

Newbie
15
11
Joined May 26, 2015
Hey all,

I wanted to follow up now that I was finally able to re-test with lithium batteries. I ran it overnight last night - brisket flat, brisket point, and a picnic shoulder on my WSM. The weather wasn't as cold as I would have liked for a true test but still overall the unit ran fine. Temps were around 20 degrees i believe. 14 hours later though and the guru was still running like a champ.

Only issues I ran into were with my fuel source. Was getting a little over 5 hours with a full load of lump. So I was woken up around 3:30am to my pit probe alerting me that temps were falling below my target range. So i had to refill a few times. But the guru ran the whole time... no issues. I think next time I'll go for brickets for a slower more consistent overnight cook.

Thanks for all the help and recommendations.
 

Gwanger

Smoking Fanatic
417
62
Joined Mar 5, 2018
Hello,

For Christmas i received a BBQ Guru Party Q temperature controller that i could use with my WSM. I was all excited and attempted to test it out this past weekend with a pork shoulder. I live in the New England area so the temps were pretty cold this time of year. This past weekend we were in the single digits with a wind chill probably far below that. The problems i ran into was with a battery drain.

I got the unit installed fine, and it performed well while it was working. It kept my pit temp within plus or minus 10 degrees. But the batteries it came with died out after only two hours of use. So i thought, well maybe these are old batteries, and i put in a new set of 4 so that i could let it run over night. Overnight cooks are the main reason we purchased this. I woke up in the morning to find the controller stopped working after 2 more hours of use (it died around 2:30am), the fire went out, and the meat temp dropped down to 50 degrees. I ended up letting the shoulder finish in the oven. I brought the controller back inside, after a while of letting it come to room temp, i fired it up again to see what would happen. It fired right up and started blowing air... no battery light warnings.

My question is, is this expected behavior? Does the cold weather have a significant impact on AA batteries? Is there another product that might perform better for me in the cold weather? Have been looking at some of the competitors, but the thing i liked about the Party Q was its simplistic design. You plug it in, set your temp, and forget it. I have a call open with support but so far they haven't been very helpful. There isn't anything in the documentation on what temperature this product is rated to run in... If it had said anything about performance problems in cold weather i would have likely looked at something else. Something i should probably also add is the fan wasn't constantly running as the support person was thinking. It was only on when keeping the pit within temp.
mat- I have the large dyna-glo smoker and have been looking at different automatic temperature controllers for the charcoal smokers. So far best ones are the bbq guru and the flame boss. the gurus fan runs while it is trying to come up to your set temp. the fan on the flame boss runs the fan to come up to temp but then runs intermittantly not constantly like the guru. also batteries are temp sensitive. I have 12 batteries for my solar system and their run time is much less in cold weather
 

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