ThermoWorks Signals and Billows not for My Kamado Joe Classic III

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SUPPORT THE FORUM-- Go Ad-FREE!

GHammer

Newbie
Original poster
Oct 29, 2022
5
1
Western Mass
I got a Kamado Joe Classic III back in April. Read lots, watched lots of (sometimes useful) YouTube videos.
I figured baby backs would be a good first use, and with some tweaking of the vents, they were, great. Chicken, Boston butt all great.
Temp control though. No way will this allow me to go away for any length of time. The basic tweak was fine but after 3 or so hours, tweak again, then more tweaks along the way until finished.

So, I bought the ThermoWorks Signals and Billows. I had used other items from them, they had good reviews so why not?
The package arrived and I put it to use with another Boston butt. I had the vents dialed in to 250 then added the Billows.
It was fine, for awhile. Then I noticed it was 280, I shut the top vent down and waited a LONG time for the temp to drop. Cracked the top vent open just a hair and it was ok on temp again. A friend dropped by and he admired the new stuff then we went inside. I checked the app every once in awhile, all was good. After a few hours, it dawned on me. The temp was not changing. At all. Now, it may be good at temp control, but to hold to 0.1 degree, nope. Go outside and the dome temp was down to around 170-180. The Signals unit had locked up. They did ship me a new unit, and while it never locked up, it was never able to hold a temp. It mainly overshot then would undershoot.
Why? Well, finally I checked some other TC units information. The Billows has a 46 CFM blower. It is not adjustable, like it can't run at 35%, only on or off. Other TC units for the Kamados seem to be 5-9 CFM. I did have the damper on the Billows and used it without much success.
It seems to be that much air isn't going to produce good results in a Kamado.
I'll be putting it up for sale soon as I have zero faith in its ability to hold a temp in a reasonable (25 either way) range.
 
Last edited:

JeffShoaf

Fire Starter
Nov 4, 2021
55
45
As you note, the billows is a very high volume fan. Thermoworks has a damper that mounts on the air intake and allows you to choke down the airflow to a more reasonable volume for smaller smokers. I have the damper and the signals/billows does a great job on both my Kamado and gravity feed smoker. The damper is inexpensive ($3), but worth combining with our stuff when ordering to help with the shipping cost.
Here's the link:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Marknmd

GHammer

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Oct 29, 2022
5
1
Western Mass
As you note, the billows is a very high volume fan. Thermoworks has a damper that mounts on the air intake and allows you to choke down the airflow to a more reasonable volume for smaller smokers. I have the damper and the signals/billows does a great job on both my Kamado and gravity feed smoker. The damper is inexpensive ($3), but worth combining with our stuff when ordering to help with the shipping cost.
Here's the link:
Thanks, but as I mentioned I have the damper.
For me, it was a dismal experience.
Controlling manually, while I need to stay home to tweak it from time to time, works ok.
Adding the Signals/Billows ruined more than one meal. For me.
I'll still contend Billows was never meant for Kamados.
 

Marknmd

Meat Mopper
Jun 22, 2022
268
225
I've got a Smoke X4 and a billows. I have a drum smoker. I also have the damper as mentioned by Jeff above. You install the billows before you turn it on. Then adjust the Thermoworks billows damper to stabilize the temp. When temp is where you want it, then turn on the billows system. Works great for me. You do have to stabilize the temp to just below where you want it before starting up the billows system. The fan will kick on for a few secs, bring it to temp, then turn off. On off. On off. My system is very stable to within a few degrees literally.

The trick is to deliberately stabilize your smoker temp a bit too low. Then let billows bring it up to where it should be.

If yours is jumping up to 30 F above where you set it, you have to determine if the fan is kicking it up that high, or if your vents are too wide open.

My Smoke X4 did crash once so that it locked up, but not while I was using it with the billows. I just reset it. Worked fine after the reboot.

I also have an original Smoke which has crashed a couple times as well.

I bbq a lot. :-)

Good luck.
 
Last edited:

GHammer

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Oct 29, 2022
5
1
Western Mass
I've got a Smoke X4 and a billows. I have a drum smoker. Works great for me. You do have to stabilize the temp to just below where you want it before starting up the billows system

As I mentioned, I had the KJ stable. Plus, during a 10 hour cook, temps are everywhere.

I'm not looking to make it work, gave up on that.
ThermoWorks tried their best, no problem with their support. For me, it plain does not do the job.

My new TC does work, and does a fabulous job.
It was designed for Kamados though. Opens and closes a damper on top. The same as I'd do over a session, but never gets distracted by people dropping by.

In fact, it pulled a 9 hour shift today and the temp was rock solid.

I'd find it hard to believe any blower would do better than my new smobot.
 

JCAP

Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
Jun 12, 2019
937
1,241
Allentown, PA
Hopefully you found Smokin Dad BBQ on YouTube- it's kamado city there. To be honest, with my KJ Jr and another ceramic kamado I don't find myself having to do too much fiddling to stay near temperature without a fan. Bring the cooker up to temp slowly, let the ceramic get heat soaked, then put the food on.

You shouldn't have to fiddle that much with these kinds of cookers. If you find yourself chasing temps often, it's more than likely you are too "hands on" with the vents and are chasing your tail.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GHammer

Latest posts

Hot Threads