When they launched, smart speakers made sense: the ability to speak to your speaker from across the room to request mundane tasks like volume adjustment is a good idea. Then everything started to get smart, but some smart products seemed like a dumb idea: smart toilets, smart water bottles, smart hairbrushes. Now there is smart grills. But do we really need to add technology to the most basic of human acts: cooking over a fire?
Let’s start this by setting the parameters: A smart grill is a dedicated grill or barbecue (or barbecue, for acronym advocates) that also has technology built in. The technology typically includes remote monitoring of the ambient grill temperature (under the lid), the use of a temperature probe to check the internal temperature of food, and a companion app that allows you to monitor your cook from the other side. in the yard or inside the house.
It is true that there are remote devices (Weber iGrill 3), probes (Maverick iChef) and wireless thermometers (Meater) that can provide this kind of intelligence to any grill on earth, the question we’re looking at is, is it worth having this technology built into the grill itself?
This season, barbecue giant Weber launched its Genesis series of smart grills.
The Weber Genesis EX 325s is, at its core, a regular (albeit very, very nice and high-end) barbecue. Its intelligence comes in the form of a special built-in module that is embedded in the front of the grille. The module has inputs for two wired probes that will keep a constant eye on the internal temperature of your food, and the module connects wirelessly to the Weber Connect app. The app is your hub for all kinds of information, and not just about your food; It’s also full of grilling recipes and tips.
Using the Weber Connect app you can choose a recipe to follow, insert the probe into your food, and then connect the other end to the module. The display panel will show you some information, but the app is where you get the fun: you can see both the internal temperature of your food (or two different meats, if you’re using two probes) and the room temperature under the lid, so that you’ll know if things are getting too hot or too cold. The app will send push notifications to let you know when it’s time to flip your food, and another notification when it’s ready to go. A countdown timer within the app is constantly making adjustments based on real-time temperatures and will give you an accurate estimate of when your food is ready.
What is the benefit of having intelligence built in?
Having this technology integrated into the barbecue creates a perfect and elegant look for the grill. Built-in temperature sensing means you get that ambient reading inside the cap, too, which you won’t with an aftermarket probe.
But aside from that, there really aren’t too many other advantages to this technology that’s being incorporated.
Still, these higher-end Weber models are expensive; the Genesis EX 325s model I tested sounds like around $1,479 (with smart module, extra storage, and a special adaptive grill for the Weber Crafted line of barbecue cookware), and given that you can spend as little as a couple hundred dollars on a perfectly fine barbecue, there are definitely a lot of factors to weigh. The Genesis without the smart module and extras is closer to $999, by comparison.
Long story short: It’s probably not worth it to go out and buy a smart grill, as essentially the same technology exists elsewhere in third-party devices as well, and avoiding the smart model will net you a few hundred dollars less. But if you have the money to spend and you’re in the market for a new barbecue, it might be worth the upgrade.