The old BBQ saying of ‘If you are looking, you ain’t cooking’ has been around for many years, and all those lid lifters out there have been cautious ever since. But imagine knowing exactly what was going on inside your BBQ and not having to be a lid lifter? Knowing your exact grill temperature and how close to being done that prized steak is all at the same time in the palm of your hand?
Welcome to the world of the Weber Connect.
Weber have had a few digital temperature monitors in the last few years with their previous versions of the iGrill devices, but 2020 saw the launch of their ‘Connect’ hardware fitted into grills such as their Smokefire pellet grill. And now that same technology is available as a standalone unit called the Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub. Is this the one to now get really excited about? Read on to learn more.
What actually is the Weber Connect? Most grills you will see will usually have an old dial style temperature gauge on the lid, think of the Connect as the ultra-modern tech filled version of that dial, one that comes with it’s own app for your mobile device crammed full of info and recipes. All of which will help you to cook better food, more safely as you nail those temperatures and keep the dishes as tender, juicy and tasty as possible. Sounds good right?
Out of the box the unit is simple, you get the Weber Connect hub itself, which is a sleek looking black unit not much bigger than a large box of matches. The unit has 4 holes along the top into which you plug in the digital probes, which brings us onto the 2 probes included in the box. The first of the probe is for ambient temperatures inside your BBQ and comes with a grill clip included to help you attach it at grate level in your BBQ. This is easy to identify as the ambient probe is much shorter and a little thicker with no sharp end. This is handy as it takes up less room when placing it on the grill. And the second probe is a food probe which is longer with a narrower and sharp tip to help with insertion into your chosen food and speed of temperature measurement. There is also a leaflet to help with pairing the unit to you phone or tablet etc, then a USB charging cable and a small instruction booklet. That’s all you need to get started.
Should you need them further down the line you can buy additional probes so that you can have 4 reading all at the same time. The cables on the probes are covered in a wire mesh to give them some additional durability and protect them from the high heats in the BBQ. The cable length is around 1 metre so long enough to keep the Weber Connect hub safe and away from the grill. The Weber Connect hub does have a handy magnetic base but you clearly have to be careful not to stick it to a surface that will get hot.
Pairing the device was actually way easier than expected and following the leaflet I had the Weber Connect app downloaded onto my mobile phone in just a few minutes, and shortly after the device was connected, paired and set up too. I have to say I get extremely frustrated when technology just doesn’t work as easily as you expect it to in 2021, so I was happy that Weber had made this process so straightforward. Please note this was paired to an Android device so I cannot comment on connecting to iOS. Weber state that the unit will work with any device running iOS 12.1 or Android 7.0 or later. There are 2 ways to pair your Weber Connect hub to your mobile device, the first being Bluetooth and the second being Wi-Fi assuming your router signal will reach to where your BBQ is located. Bluetooth obviously only has a limited range but I did find this to be stronger that on some other devices I have used, staying connected through my garden, into my house and running fine when sat in my lounge.
The device did arrive with a little charge in the unit but the advice is to fully charge the unit before it’s first use. This took a couple of hours using the supplied USB cable plugged into one of my phone chargers, and there is a led charge indicator light letting you know at what stage in the charge you are, push down on the Weber Connect unit and it will display the charge percentage on the screen. We haven’t fully tested the battery life as of yet but we would expect it to run for even the longer cooks for bigger cuts of meat.
Once charged, clipping in your first probe fires up the device and the screen will start to read the temperature of the inserted probe on the screen. If you insert more than one probe for your cook then a simple press down on the unit will move the screen to showing the next probes temp. As mentioned this unit can monitor up to 4 temperature simultaneously. So if you have that big cook up planned, you can monitor your BBQ temperature plus the temps of 3 other foods, such as a brisket, a chicken and some salmon all at the same time. Not only will the unit itself show you the temps but, turn on the Weber Connect app and once the unit is paired you’ll see those temps displayed in an easy layout on your phone screen too.
And here is where Weber Connect really steps up a level and if you are new to BBQ or just need a helping hand to nail a few recipes, the app comes pre-loaded with an ever growing list of recipes and handy tutorials. Once you have scanned the 5 categories of red meat, pork, poultry, lamb or fish, under each tab there will be a number of new recipes for you to try out. It will give you a picture of the finished dish, rough prep and cooking time, a list of ingredients you’ll need, then run you through all of the prep and cook complete with videos and tips too. This really can help even the most novice of cooks step up their game and try something new or that you perhaps hadn’t felt confident to do before. And it gets a little more clever too, say you had your BBQ running a little hotter than the recipe says and your meat is cooking a little sooner than expected. In this instance the probe in the meat will read that the temperature is climbing a little faster and adjust the cooking time down so you don’t overcook your food.
It fully adapts to the cooking situation to make sure you can nail your chosen dish. During the cooks you can allow the app to send alerts to your mobile device to let you know when the next step of the cook is needed, or when a target temperature has been met, making sure you stay fully in control all the time without having to always lift the lid, or always be sat right next to your BBQ. It gives you more time to prep other dishes or spend time with family and friends whilst you know your food is cooking away safely.
If you are cooking something you know how to cook or something a little more basic, you can simply use the app to set a timer or a temperature alarm. Again, giving you a little peace of mind away from the BBQ whilst the cook ticks along.
I have used much more basic versions of units like the Weber Connect hub for many years now, just to give me a level of confidence that the BBQ is staying at the right temperature for longer cooks, and with a probe in big meats to tell me when they may need to be wrapped or taken off. The Weber Connect hub is the new era of these units and takes all the best functions and then some to help you stay ‘connected’ and with that extra helping hand you may need. You know that Weber will continue to develop the app and add more and more content and recipes to help you keep cooking on the BBQ and trying new things.
Some things to note, the probes have to be looked after and that means carefully cleaning regularly to keep them both safe and hygienic but also functioning correctly. The probes are not fully waterproof so have to be cleaned with a little TLC so as not to get water into the cables. You also need to be careful not to pinch the cables in the lid of your grill when closing it, so use a light hand and don’t slam it shut on the cables. If, down the line you do develop a fault with a cable then they are easily replaced at a relatively low cost. The probes have a wide temperature range but they can be maxed out on very high heat searing cooks so be mindful of this and damaging them.
The Weber Connect unit itself is described by Weber as being ‘Weather resistant’ but my advice would always be to store it away from the rain, as lets face it we do get a lot of rain in the UK. In the past I have just covered my units with a ziplock bag next to the BBQ.
During my test cooks I ran the Weber Connect for a lovely Tomahawk steak, a rack of lamb and a picanha amongst others. All of these were cooked on the Weber Mastertouch charcoal kettle grill, but you can obviously run this device on any grill you wish. Two things stood out that impressed me most and they were the connectivity, with the device staying connected through all of the cooks where some devices on the market may struggle. And then also the way the device adapts to the cook and changes the times accordingly, it really is very clever. Look forward to running this for many more cooks and seeing how it would handle a long overnight cook for example. My guess based on the results so far is just fine.
Available across many retailers and online now with an RRP of £155.39, go out and look up those deals.
Twitter : @ArtustBBQ
For clarity this review is paid promotion and the unit was gifted for the review. I am still entitled to review the product with an unbiased view and voice my own truthful opinions.