The FireBoard 2 is an improved and updated version of the popular cloud-connected thermometer that was launched on Kickstarter back in 2016.
This thermometer has some seriously smart features for pitmasters, cooks and tech enthusiasts.
I’ll run through the main differences between each model, with a focus on the Drive which is the model I’ve been testing. Let’s dive into everything from build quality to the latest in smart thermometer additions.
Fireboard sent me a free Fireboard 2 Drive and blower attachment in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Fireboard overview and first impressions
We tested out the original FireBoard back in 2019 and were impressed enough to name it our favorite automatic temperature controller. So I was excited to get my hands on the Fireboard 2 and see if any of the issues we had were addressed.
In this review, I will be covering both the main thermometer unit and the blower, as I believe most people who are considering the FireBoard 2 will also want to know how well it performs as a temperature controller for their charcoal smoker.
You can also check out a video review I’ve done which includes tips for the best way to install the fan.
Like I mentioned at the top, Fireboard offer three different options. The basic FireBoard 2, the Drive and the Pro. If you want to run the fan you’ll want the Drive, which integrates the blower control cable which was sold as a seperate accessory with the original unit.
If you buy the FireBoard 2 you can still use the blower with the drive fan cable if you change your mind laer, but at $79.00 you might as well just get the drive and avoid the hassle.
The Pro offers all the same features as the Drive, with the added benefit of Type K Thermocouples for faster and more accurate temperature measurement. In my opinion, the probes you get with the Drive are plenty capable for most uses.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into my initial impression of the Fireboard 2 Drive.
From the second I held the boxes the unit came in I knew I was about to see some quality. Unless they had packaged lead into these boxes, the weight alone was a good sign of the quality that was inside. While no guarantee, you usually do not get a weighted feel from cheaper versions of thermometers in my experience.
The large LCD screen is easy to read and can be customized based on what kind of information you like to see. Some of the configurations include showing pit temp and probe temp, a cook graph with pit temp, and a graph with the internal temp of your meat.
The menu system is very easy to navigate via the buttons on the side of the unit.
It seems a lot of thought has gone into how to keep this unit as weather resistant as possible. While not technically waterproof, the unit should be able to resist water in most typical scenarios.
The Fireboard 2 comes with 6 thermometer probe sockets. For someone who regularly cooks on multiple grills and smokers at a time, this is a super handy option to have. Let alone just for keeping track of multiple cuts of meat.
The unit come with 3 probes to get you started, 2 meat probes, and an ambient temp probe and grill clip. You can buy additional probes from the Fireboard website.
Included with the blower are a few different sizes of adapter plate that with most grills, although some types of grll will require purchasing either the nozzle or ball valve adapter. Check out this compatibility chart on the website to check your cooker type.
What I like:
- Rugged design – Everything feels sturdy and should hold up to a bit of abuse.
- Support for six probes – You can never have enough ports to monitor food or multiple grills
- WiFi & App Capability – While the thermometer connects over Bluetooth for its initial setup, you can then connect to your WiFi network to provide a much better range. All data is saved to your account and you can view it via your phone or the website. The app is class leading.
- Blower support and power fan off the battery – Integrated blower fan removes unnesssery cable, and ability to power without plugging in is fantastic
What I don’t like:
- Blower setup instructions lacking – I would have liked to see more support from the manufacturer for installing the blower on different types of cooker.
- No magnet – Can be purchased for an additional $25 but having this integrated would have been nice
With the cloud connectivity and voice recognition abilities in these new Fireboard units, I think most tech savvy barbecuers will be drooling over these updated features.
I do feel though to get the most out of the Fireboard 2 thermometers, you really do need to pair them up with a blower fan, otherwise, it is in fact just an expensive thermometer.
What’s in the box & manufacturer specifications
The box looks great but I tend not to read a book by its covers these days. Fancy packaging has caught me out more times than I care to list.
The Fireboard 2 Drive and the Driver Blower 20 CFM fan unit both have specific technical data on the outside of the cartons, which includes key functions of the units and their ratings.
Inside the Fireboard 2 Drive box, you’ll find:
- Fireboard FBX2D
- USB-C Power Cord & Charger
- Ambient Temp Probe x 1
- Food Probes x 2
- Grill Clip
- Instruction Booklet
Inside the Drive Blower 20 CFM box (sold separately), you’ll find:
- Fireboard Drive Blower 20 CFM
- Adapter Plates / 2 sizes (small / medium & Large / XL)
|Power Input||5VDC-12VDC, USB-C PD (Power Delivery)|
|Probe Range||0 to 572°F (-18 to 300°C)|
|Cable Max Temp||716°F (380*C)|
|Cable Length||6 Feet (1.8m)|
|Wireless||WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n & Bluetooth 4.0|
|Encryption Protocols||WEP, WPA, WPA2|
|Battery Type / Runtime||Li-Ion 4000mAh / Approx 30 hrs runtime|
|LCD Display||256 x 128 black and white, backlit|
|Operating Temperature||-13 to 140°F|
Installing the Drive Blower
Installing the drive blower will vary based on your type of grill or smoker. I’ll run through my experience connecting to my Weber Smokey Mountain. Remember to check the Fireboard website for your smoker type, as you may have to purchase a specific adapter.
I found installation was pretty easy, I only required a Phillips head screwdriver.
As I mentioned before, the standard Fireboard 2 unit doesn’t come with the drive control system, so if you feel you may want to use a fan down the track, you will need to purchase a drive fan cable to use a fan. I strongly suggest grabbing the Fireboard 2 Drive unit if you feel down the line you may want to add a fan.
My main issue with connecting to my Smokey Moutain was that once the fan was attached to one of the vents, it still leaves vent holes open. Other brands I’ve tested include some type of metallic tape to seal up these holes while the fan is in use.
Luckily I had purchased some nickel plated ¾” plugs a while ago as I had been testing a lot of fan units.
There are no actual instructions for installation included in the box which wasn’t a problem for me after testing out so many different units, but I still feel this would have been a nice addition. Check out my video review for some tips on how to correctly install your blower fan.
I assume because there are so many different types of grill they decided to keep all the instructions on the website where they are easy to update.
My experience using the FireBoard 2 Drive
After running the Fireboard 2 Drive and the Drive Blower 20 CFM Fan through their paces, here a few things that stood out for me.
- It was so easy to set up and get going. It literally took a minute and the unit was connected to the app on my phone.
- The large LCD screen is very nice for us vision impaired, be it by eyesight or too many drinks near the BBQ.
- The backlight screen for when you are up early or staying up late
- How the units display would position itself automatically whenever I turned it on an angle.
- Being able to graph a cook, so you actually can see if there has been any spikes or low points in the cook.
- The fact I didn’t have to touch either unit for the entire cook. I set a temp and it stayed on it all the way through.
It was great to have peace of mind during a marathon brisket cook that my smoker temperature would hold nice and steady.
One thing I found annoying was that I had to lay the unit on the ground or a table. Unless you buy the optional magnetic case there is no easy way to mount it next to your grill.
Connectivity and App performance
Fireboard Labs have moved to Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE), this does away with traditional Bluetooth pairing every time you want to use the unit.
The BLE connection is used to initially discover the Fireboard unit and to setup the WiFi Connection.
If there comes a time that the Fireboard unit cannot connect to a WiFi connection, it will revert back to utilizing the BLE connection to transmit temperature data to your mobile device.
I’m so glad to see companies included WiFi as Bluetooth always seems to have problems with connection dropping at the worst moment.
The actual FireBoard 2 app is super simple to install and use. The app has a rating of 4.1/5 on the Google Play Store and 4.5/5 on the Apple App Store which puts it amongst the best-rated thermometer apps.
Once installed, you should be able to find your device when turned on and then you can proceed to configure your wireless network. Then connect your probes and you are set. All in all, this will take around a minute.
Alternative thermometers to consider
At this price point you have some really strong competition from the likes of ThermoWorks, Flame Boss and BBQ Guru.
Fireboard 2 Drive VS ThermoWorks Signals
You really can’t go wrong with either option. We have a detailed Signals review you can check out but we’ll try and sum up the main differences.
- Price – The Signals is $10.00 cheaper than the Fireboard 2 Drive but the ThermoWorks billows is $10 more expensive, so this one is a wash
- Probes – The signals supports four channels, two less than the FireBoard 2
- Battery life – Signals promises 16 hours of use compared to 30 on the FireBoard 2 although both units allow you to plug and play
In most other areas the two units are equal. If you know and love ThermoWorks products you can’t go wrong with the Signals + Billows.
FireBoard 2 vs Flame Boss 500
These two options are fairly even so it will come down to a few factors:
- The Flame Boss supports 4 probes vs 6 on the FireBoard.
- At current pricing, the FireBoard + cable + blower is a slightly better deal.
- Both are cloud-connected and provide online dashboards as well as the app.
- Both devices support Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
- FireBoard seems to have the better performing app
Should you buy the Fireboard 2 thermometer?
Priced ever so slightly higher than the ThermoWorks Signals, the Fireboard 2 Drive is a lot of money to spend on a thermometer. Especially if you are not going to also utilize the fan connection.
If you do plan to use the whole package to control the temperature in a charcoal smoker then I think it’s excellent value, with enough technical features like voice recognition and cloud connectivity to please the biggest of geeks.
The unit is sturdy and I feel it would hold up to the extra smash and crash that comes with competition BBQ. That alone tells me in your backyard, it would quite easily handle anything you could throw at it.
The lack of metallic tape to seal up other vent holes, no installation instructions with the fan and no way of clipping or hanging the unit without purchasing something extra are all fairly minor nitpicks.
The good far outweighs the bad in this case.
Last update on 2021-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API