Kamado x FireBoard Drive
Upgrading the Ancient
Kamado style grills are everywhere, hardware stores, sporting goods stores, anywhere that sells bags of lump charcoal will most likely have a Kamado to sell you. And so many to choose from! Companies like The Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe and Primo bring to market dozens of options for every patio size and budget.
Why so ubiquitous? Their unique design gives you the versatility to smoke, roast, or grille all in one attractive piece of patio equipment. Further, the ceramic construction provides excellent heat retention which yields a steady heat curve. Not to mention the vast amount of accessories available. These grills have a clever ancient aesthetic, but pairing that stable heat curve with a smart temperature management system is the makings for 21st Century backyard cooking experience.
Enter The 20 CFM Drive Blower from FireBoard Labs. This clever fan, plugs into your compatible FireBoard and stokes your pit’s firebox as needed to maintain your desired temperature as measured by an ambient grill probe–real life PID algorithm at work here! The Drive Blower installs directly to the grill’s lower air vent, with no permanent modifications needed. The FireBoard Drive system runs off battery power also!
Starting the Charcoal
Building a fire in a Kamado is accomplished as you would any kettle grill. Many people might use a chimney type charcoal starter. However, it can be even easier (and possibly more entertaining?) by using a paper towel and the Drive Blower to get your lump charcoal going. Simply add your charcoal, and if you are smoking your choice of wood with the charcoal as well. Next, tuck a paper towel under about ⅓ of the pile. Then on the FireBoard head unit manually set the Drive’s fan to 50% by selecting “Drive” then “Manual”. This setting controls the fan speed, regardless of temperature.
Next, light the paper towel “fuse” and set the Drive Blower in the firebox, near the burning towel.
After some of the lumps are glowing orange, you can close the grill’s lid and set the top vent to a fairly small opening. Then fit the fan in the grill’s lower vent door, the Drive Blower comes with two adapter plates and more intricate adapters are also available.
Setting the Temperature
To set a desired cooking temp, attach an ambient temperature probe to your grill and set your desired temperature, via “Settings” and then “Set Point”.
The fan receives power directly from the FireBoard’s battery, and is good for about 10 to 12 hours of cooking. For longer cook times you can plug your FireBoard into its USB-C charger or use the optional battery pack which will buy you and additional 10-12 hours of cooking time.
From there the FireBoard takes over and commands the Drive Blower to add extra air as needed to keep cooking temperature stable.
With the sample fire we built, the results were impressive showing a solid ambient temperature for almost 12 hours with occasional input from the Drive until about halfway through the session. At that point when you would normally have to adjust your stack vent, the fan picks up speed as needed to maintain the set temperature.
Here is a real world look at Kamado x Drive Blower combo at work, Ted’s Brisket session. Note again that steady Kamado heat curve, and modest input from the Drive’s fan.