While it did a lot of things right, it was plagued with serious issues including pellet bridging that would stop pellets from falling into the auger.
Plus there was the occasional grease fire to deal with.
I ordered a brand new SmokeFire Gen 2 to see if
After smoking and grilling on the larger EX6 for a few months I’ll be sharing what it’s like to own, what’s new and improved, and what still needs work.
Let’s get into the review.
Weber SmokeFire EX6 overview & first impressions
At first glance, the 2nd Gen
The design, footprint, and specifications are all exactly the same.
I’ll run through the basic specs and features, get into what I liked and what I didn’t like, and then go into detail on what it’s like to cook with SmokeFire.
SmokeFire EX6 Manufacturer specifications
|Total grilling space||1008 sq in|
|Bottom grate||648 sq in|
|Top grate||360 sq in|
|Fuel type||Wood fired pellet|
|Probes||One meat probe with capacity for four|
|Pellet hopper||22 lbs capacity|
|Materials||Porcelain-enameled lid, cook box, and heat distribution plate. Stainless steel cart frame, side table and flavorizer bars.|
|Price||Check latest price at BBQGuys.com|
After getting the grill assembled my first impression was how good it looked. The paint job is slick and it definitely looks like a
I consider the front shelf an almost essential add-on, while the extra side shelf is nice to have but not necessary. It definitely bumps up the price of the grill through.
Size of cooking area: The EX6 that I tested is spacious on the inside. You can cook or smoke a lot of food at one time. To me, this is one of its shining features.
Temperature range: The grill is capable of 200-600°F. I was able to confirm the grill can hit these ranges.
Searing Capability: Yes, it will sear! The SmokeFire uses a unique open concept where the cooking area isn’t sealed off from the flame. This does lead to an issue that we’ll get into later, but it’s hard to argue with the result. Rich grill marks on a pellet grill are a beautiful thing.
Technology: The Smokefire comes with WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities and communicates with an app on your smartphone.
The Smokefire EX6 comes with four temp probe ports and one complimentary meat probe. When tested, the meat probe is actually quite accurate. The probe works with the
What I like:
- Most original issues fixed – No more issues with pellets not feeding, unreliable temperatures or unability to hit those high searing temps.
- Size: EX6 is great for smoking or grilling lots of food at one time! I believe you could easily cook 30 or more burgers at a time. And it has a 2nd tier rack which really adds to its cooking capabilities.
- Smoking ability: Puts out a continuous amount of light smoke that gives food a beautiful taste
- Grill grates: While there is nothing amazing about these grates, they do tend to be holding up well. Better than some other grills that I have tested.
- Pellet hopper sensor: This feature triggers an alarm if the pellets in the hopper get too low. This is a really nice feature. I think every pellet grill should have one.
- Pellet Drop Chute: It’s nice when a grill/smoker has a chute to make changing flavor pellets easier.
What I don’t like:
- Grease and dust trap system: It is disappointing (and dangerous) that this design doesn’t work as described. Luckily you can easily fix the issue by placing aluminum catch pans underneath the grates as
- Poor startup mode / no shutdown mode bypass: I wish there was a way to bypass these modes in case the firepot never got going on startup.
- Shelf/Food Prep Area: Unless you buy the pricey front shelf you’ll be limited for prep areas
The SmokeFire Gen 2 is not a major redesign. It’s the grill
If you’re looking for a ‘do it all’ grill and smoker combo that can handle everything you throw at it from steaks to low and slow ribs and brisket, the SmokeFire is now an excellent choice.
Packaging and assembly
The grill was packaged very well with lots of cardboard, foam, and clear plastic wrapping inside.
Putting this grill together was straightforward. I didn’t run into any surprises or difficulty with the assembly.
It took about 30 minutes to assemble the Smokefire by myself using basic hand tools and a cordless drill. I also found the instructions to be helpful and simple.
I didn’t find anything in the assembly or shipping to be any different from my 1st gen Smokefire.
I couldn’t pick up on any changes in the build quality with the Gen 2.
The grill has a high standard of quality. The fit and finish look well considered and the parts that need to be strong appear to be.
The paint finish is shiny, and unlike my Gen 1, scratch-free.
The castor wheels are heavy-duty and make it easy to move the grill around.
I really like the looks of the Smokefire. The main grill body and firebox appear to be well designed and built, as does the auger system.
I can understand some people might find the design a little “boring” especially compared to something like the REC TEC RT-700.
The stainless steel grates are nothing to write home about but seem to be holding up well.
Cooking on the
In this section, I’ll cover all of my experience cooking on the
Using as a Smoker
This is the easiest and most consistent way to use the Smokefire.
It puts out a thin amount of constant smoke and produces fantastic results.
On the Gen 1, I found that making small adjustments in temperature during a cook would result in large temperature swings.
Even bumping the temp up by 5° could actually change the temp by another 20-30°, and I don’t mean just temporarily.
I was pleased to see this wasn’t the case with the Gen 2.
There were very few temp swings or drops which is exactly what you need for great low and slow cooking.
Using the SmokeFire as a Grill
One of the big drawcard of the SmokeFire is its ability to grill. Something most pellet grills struggle with.
While companies like Camp Chef offer solutions like a Sear Box add-on or the “slide and sear” approach,
The Gen 2 was easily able to hit 600°F in about 15-20 minutes. My original gen 1 SmokeFire struggled to ever reach 600°F, often maxing out around 560°F
I did eventually get this resolved after
Actually using the grill is super easy.
Temperature control and accuracy:
One of the best things about cooking on a pellet grill is being able to set the exact temperature. There’s often a big difference between what the controller says, and what the actual temperature is across the grill.
I tested the grill internal temps using the highly reliable Thermoworks Signals with 3 ambient temp probes.
I’m pleased to report that the difference between the set temp and the temps I recorded were vastly improved from the gen 1.
When I set the grill at 225°F the average deviation was only 8 degrees.
The difference increased when I bumped the temperature up to 450°F, but was still reasonable.
Zone temperature variance test
The temperature from minute to minute on the grill is actually very good. There are very few temperature swings or drops.
The consistency is conditional though. I noticed very quickly when grilling at higher temps, you have to open up the lid, get in, and get out as quickly as possible.
The grill loses a ton of heat very quickly and cools down fast. It also takes several minutes to get the heat building back up again. I believe some of this is due to the large size of the grill and the fact that all of the heat is coming from 1 single source, unlike a gas grill that would have multiple burners.
Hot and cold zones
I monitored the left, middle, and right sides of the grill during testing.
As you can imagine, the zones recorded different temps with the left and right zones being 15-30° off the middle.
Although the temp varied from side to side, I didn’t find this to really be a problem. The temps only varied at higher cooking. At smoking temps, like say 225°, there were very little to no temp differences.
The impact of these temperature issues will vary based on how you are using the grill:
Shelf/Prep area and storage features
The shelf area that comes with the Gen 2 is still small. It’s really only enough to hold a small plate and a beer, with two knobs for hanging tools.
I have tested both add ons. The front shelves are a huge plus and worth the money. The side shelf is still good if you want to go all out and get all the space that you can, but otherwise, I would get the front shelves over the side shelf.
As far as grill storage goes, the open car design means you don’t have anywhere to leave bags of pellets or your extension cord.
It’s also worth noting that the custom cover available for the Smokefire is well worth the money. I have had the cover on my 1st gen grill, and it has held up fantastic.
Pellet loading and consumption
Due to the narrow profile of the grill hopper, pellets often fall in front of the hopper, when filling, and get trapped between the hopper and the grill in “no man’s land”.
This area can’t be reached with a brush or any normal tool to remove the fallen pellets. This issue revealed itself over time of using the grill. The only good way I have found so far to get the pellets removed is with compressed air.
The good news is: I have never had them catch on fire.
Even when I am careful, there are always a few pellets that fall into that area. This doesn’t really happen on other pellet grills due to most of them having hoppers on the end of the grill versus running along the back.
I have tested other pellet grills and not had the same hassles loading pellets and losing so many.
Removing pellets is easy if you want to change them out (or store them in a dry place between cooks).
The pellet consumption while smoking is very reasonable and efficient. The consumption while cooking with high heat is pretty significant though.
When trying to sear food at 600°F, it is a bit of a pellet hog and you will tear through some pellets.
- Average consumption rate @ 250°F: ~1.25-1.5 lb per hour
- Average consumption rate @ 600°F: ~4-4.5 lb per hour
While I’m not thrilled with how many pellets the EX6 uses, I also understand that this is a big grill. A big grill trying to reach high temps for cooking is going to take a lot of pellets. So I put that into perspective as well.
You should get slightly better results on the EX4 model.
Pellet feed problem (pellet bridging)
With my original Gen 1 I experienced two common problems with pellet feeding: pellets not sliding down the ramp and pellet bridging.
- The ramp in the hopper was not steep enough; so pellets wouldn’t gravity feed into the auger system.
- Pellet bridging is where the pellets bunch together and form a void where they normally enter into the auger shoot. This occurred multiple times, especially when grilling at higher temps.
As I write this, I just finished up a 14 hour smoke on some Boston Butts, and the pellets fed with no issue for 9 straight hours. After that, I leveled them back out as a general practice.
It’s actually not too bad to clean up, but it’s not as easy as
Any grease from food ends up in the bottom of the grill barrel.
Very little, if any, actually makes its way into the grease tray. And I would say at least 50% or more of the pellet dust does not end up in the dust tray below the firepot.
It ends up in the bottom of the grill, typically all around the holes where the grease is supposed to drain.
So the grease and the dust mix and that is where it remains until you clean it out.
With that said, unless you have cooked or smoked something super fatty, It’s actually pretty easy to clean out the grill with a metal scraper and a cheap paintbrush.
You can brush all the dust and debris down into the grease tray and then empty it out.
Some other reviews have mentioned issues with grease fires.
I smoked a Boston Butt for 18 hours with the meat sitting directly over the middle grate, and a grease fire never occurred.
I’m not saying it is impossible, but I’m not super concerned about it while smoking at lower temperatures. If something fatty was cooked at a high temp, yes, I believe it is possible.
But I could see that happening on any grill at that point.
Controling SmokeFire with the
Weber Connect App
At launch the app was extremely basic and lacked many of the promised features. While this doesn’t specifically apply to the 1st gen or 2nd gen,
- More In-app recipes,
- SmokeBoost feature
- Additional phone alert capabilities while cooking
Many of these features were promised by
During a cook, the main screen shows your grill temperature, plus any alarms and timers you’ve set.
It will also send alerts if something occurs with the grill such as:
- Low pellets warning
- Cooking temp complete
- Grill reaches a set temperature.
The app is still missing some features I would like to see, such as temperature graphing and the ability to program temperature changes, or set SmokeBoost for a set number of hours.
Start up / shutdown mode
The start-up mode has been much improved. This time I have had no issues with the pellets not catching fire as I did with my Gen 1.
The grill not starting was a major issue for me originally until a new auger assembly and new firmware were installed. So this is a plus for the Gen 2.
However, there are two fundamental issues that
- There is STILL no “PRIME” button. It would be nice to be able to have a prime button on the grill so pellets can be primed through the auger system faster when changing pellets or just running low in the auger.
- There is STILL no way to BYPASS the shutdown mode. The shutdown mode will run for 15-20 minutes when turning off the grill no matter what.
It can’t be bypassed, even if you just unplug the grill, it will just give you an error when you plug it back in and make you run shutdown anyway.
This is especially frustrating if you happen to run out of pellets because there is ALSO no prime button to get pellets pushed through the auger.
So your fire will go out before you get more pellets feeding. THEN, you will have to spend 15-20 minutes shutting down the grill, just so you can restart the grill and get the fire started again.
Also, if the grill happens to get unplugged or your electricity goes off at your house, even for a few seconds, the grill will recognize the error and make you run shutdown mode.
This actually happened to me when smoking meats the other night. My power went off for about 5 seconds and then came back on.
The grill went into shutdown mode. And with no way to bypass it, I just had to wait for it to finish, turn it off, then restart the fire all over again.
It is claimed to be a safety feature, but I disagree. My Camp Chef Woodwind and
Weber fix the grease drain?
One of the most dramatic issues with the original SmokeFire was its inclination to catch fire during a long cook.
This issue seemed to be caused by a design decision
Essentially, pellet dust blows into the barrel of the grill and settles right in front of the grease drain holes. The grease from cooking meats mix with the pellet dust and forms a paste.
Because of that, the grease never makes it into the grease drain and can build up over time until it eventually catches fire.
I was curious to see if
I’m afraid not.
I have just accepted this fact and put aluminum catch pans underneath the grates as
I think even they know that it doesn’t work and don’t know what to do about it.
Alternative grills to consider
At this price point, you start to be spoiled for choice so there are a lot of different grills you could consider, depending on what is important to you.
For my money, I would seriously consider the Camp Chef Woodwind. It has better adjustability, is easier to clean up, offers more shelf space, more versatility, and a better app
I love being able to add different accessories with the SideKick like the Sear Box.
Who should buy this grill?
So, is the 2nd generation Smokefire better than the 1st generation?
Yes and no.
It IS better than the 1st gen, but only because many of the issues were worked out through the 1st gen and incorporated into the 2nd gen grills.
If you have a 1st gen already, it’s not worth your time to get a 2nd gen. You basically already have it if you have performed all the fixes that
If you don’t have one but are buying one, make sure it is listed as a 2nd gen model.
All in all, I believe the
It does have its compromises though, just like any grill this large. It consumes quite a bit more pellets than a small grill would.
It requires a great deal more pellets to sear than other models that use a direct flame mode tip searing method. The grease drain is a little frustrating. The “no bypass” shutdown mode is A LOT frustrating if you ever happen to run out of pellets, the fire goes out, or the electricity ever shuts off or you happen to pop a fuse.
But being brutally honest, I think there are better grills out there. While the grill performs well, it still has several quirks/issues that make it less than rock-solid dependable, especially for the price tag that comes with it.
That brings an end to our review of the Gen 2
After several years covering the barbecue industry, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a product launch with more controversy.
High level summary:
- Before launch, the SmokeFire was hyped up to insane levels
- Straight after launch, there was a rush of people uploading videos and bad reviews saying the product had serious design flaws and issues
- Not all of the complaints were valid, but this is definitely a flawed product.
- As of writing the EX6 has a 3.1/5 rating on the
While this isn’t strictly part of our review, I wanted to include a section that covered some of the details behind the product launch to help you understand why you get such strong emotions on both sides when it comes to this grill.
Before it went on sale, everyone was hyping the
It didn’t help that
Videos like the one below only stoked the excitement levels. I should point out that I don’t have anything against Baby Back Maniac, which is a fantastic YouTube channel which you should definitely check out.
When the grill finally started shipping in February 2020, excitement turned to confusion and disappointment as initial reviews started to come in.
The same person who made the video above posted an overnight cook video which ended in a grease fire.
Lots of people were also complaining about the design of the pellet hopper not being steep enough, resulting in pellets not dropping down into the auger.
People also questioned
To make matters worse, the companion app was clearly rushed and didn’t function correctly when the grill first shipped. A firmware update was also required, and if you didn’t do that you were hit with even more problems.
These initial negative reviews resulted in a rush of canceled orders
Things were looking bleak for
Some other barbecue “influencers” like Harry So from SlapYoDaddyBBQ also posted more positive videos that didn’t run into any dangerous grease fires.
Now that it’s been out for a few months and the dust has started to settle the conclusion seems to be that the SmokeFire is a promising product, with some serious flaws.
It’s disappointing that
It really comes down to your personal preferences. If you’re happy to be an early adopter and don’t mind having to follow a few workarounds, the SmokeFire could be perfect for you.
NOTE: The below section is our initial write-up when we heard about the SmokeFire.
The first wood pellet smoker from
Rumors have been floating around about this new grill for a while now so we were excited to finally get some details from
SmokeFire Specs & Features
- 22lb Pellet hopper
- Plated steel cooking grates
- Stainless steel flavorizer bars
- Easy-clean ash & grease drawer
- 200-600°F temperature range
- Includes one meat probe with capacity for up to four
- Porcelain-enamel heat distribution plate
Weberconnect smart grilling technology
We’re happy to say that the only difference between the two grills is the size of the grill grates so you don’t get punished for buying the cheaper option.
It always annoyed us that Traeger reserve some features for their more expensive models.
At first glance, the design of this grill looks similar to the Traeger Ironwood series. It’s clear that
- Traeger Ironwood 650 – $1,199.99
WeberSmokeFire EX6 1008 – $1,199
- Traeger Pro 780 – $999.00
WeberSmokeFire EX4 672 – $999.00
The SmokeFire offers a few features that look to set it apart from the rest of the competition.
You can see an overview in this marketing video from
Finally a pellet grill with built-in searing capability
We’ve always objected to the name “pellet grill” as these cookers make far better smokers / outdoor ovens.
Simply put, most pellet grills we’ve looked at struggle to properly sear a steak.
Manufacturers have tried to get around this limitation. Camp Chef is known for its searing station attachment, although you have to purchase that separately.
The Smoke Fire gets around this design flaw in two ways.
First off you have the higher max temperature of 600°F (most pellet grills top out at 450-500°F).
If they can pull this trick off, the SmokeFire will quickly become one of the best grill smoker combos available.
Improved grease and ash management
Cleaning up grease and ash has always been a major problem for pellet smoker owners. The SmokeFire has a few nifty looking innovations that look to help solve these problems
- The angled flavorizer bars and heat deflector channel ash and grease separately through the center of the grill, before it is divereted into a removable pan that slides out from the front.
- The deflector over the firepot helps ash from getting in the cooking chamber
- The bottom of the firepot has perforations to allow ash to drop down into the pan
We’ll have to wait and see how well this system works in the real world. In the photo above it looks like the ash and grease are separate, but it will be interesting to see if this is actually the case or if it ends up making more mess.
Pellet hopper and auger design reduces jams
If you were wondering why the box on the side was so small, it’s because
This allows them to use a shorter, inclined auger which is aimed at reducing pellet jams.
We’re happy to see you can open the hopper at the bottom to remove unused pellets or if you want to swap to a different type. This is a great feature as many pellet grills require a shop vac to clean out old pellets.
The auger includes a sensor to let the companion app know when pellets drop below a certain level.
WiFi connected smart grill
The grill will connect to your WiFi and then you’ll be able to control it through the
None of this sounds revolutionary, with all current-generation Traeger grills offering similar capabilities.
One feature that caught our eye was “flip notifications”. That could definitely come in handy.
We’ll have to wait until the release of the SmartFire on February 10, 2020 before we can reach a final verdict, but from what we’ve seen it looks promising.
The searing capability looks like the killer feature that will make this grill stand out from the competition.
The price makes this grill competitive with Traeger, although starting at $999.00 this definitely isn’t a budget option.