Are you looking for a smoker controller box to help you master your barbecue skills? It’s not a bad idea—the best ones will give you great control over the cooking temperature.
We’re here to help you narrow down your options with this Flame Boss 400 vs 500 matchup.
Flame Boss 400 vs 500
The Flame Boss 400 is a portable and easy-to-use smoker controller device that’s set at an attractive price point. The 500, an upgraded version, features a user-friendly display and compatibility with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The 500 costs a bit more, but as a bonus, you don’t have to hook it up to your smartphone in order to use it.
What Is a Smoker Controller Box?
Before we get into the Flame Boss 400 vs 500 debate, let’s talk about what exactly these devices are and how they can benefit you.
A smoker controller box monitors the grill or smoker temperature so you can tell when you need to make adjustments. It’s equipped with a fan that connects to your unit’s intake vents, thereby controlling the oxygen levels—and the temperature.
Some of the more advanced devices can even give you feedback on the progress of the barbecue. You can check the meat’s internal temp as well as the temperature of the smoker itself. They might even be able to estimate how much longer the meat will take to cook.
When you’re smoking a cut of meat, your goal is to maintain a low yet steady smoker temp. Having a reliable smoker controller device can help you achieve this goal every time you fire up the unit.
Flame Boss 400 vs 500
In this section, we’ll break down the differences between these two Flame Boss models.
One of the first things you’ll notice when comparing the 400 and the 500 is the size discrepancy.
Measuring 6.5 by 4.75 by 2.5 inches, the 400 is compact and conveniently sized. By contrast, the 500 measures 7.9 x 4.7 x 114.2 inches. If portability is your main priority, then you’ll be happier with the Flame Boss 400.
Since the 400 is a bit smaller, it stands to reason that it also weighs less. It tips the scales at just over 1 pound, while the 500 weighs in at nearly 2-1/2 pounds.
The difference is slight, but again, there’s no denying that the 400 is lighter and easier to carry from place to place. If you need to use your smoker controller for more than one unit at a time, that’s something you’ll want to consider.
To be honest, I’ve never had more than one smoker going at once. It can be tricky enough to maintain the temperature of just one, let alone two or more. But if you regularly fire up two or more at the same time, the 400 is probably a better choice.
The 400 has a boxy yet eye-catching design. It’s not as high-tech as the 500, which includes an innovative interface that’s sure to appeal to tech-heads. Essentially, if you want something simple, the 400 is a good bet, while the 500 has more bells and whistles.
Ease of Use
Here’s where the 400 definitely comes up short. There’s no digital display, so you’ll need to connect it to a smartphone application in order to check your temps.
The Flame Boss 500, on the other hand, has an LCD panel with no fewer than 4 lines. You can still use the app when you’re at a distance, but it’s possible to check the temp of your meat or smoker environment just by glancing at the display.
What’s more, the 500 allows you to track the temperatures of up to three meat products at once. This gives it the edge over the 400 in terms of sheer user-friendliness.
The blower speed of the 400 is sufficient to control the smoker temperature as long as the smoker is fairly reliable to begin with. It might have a hard time keeping up with units that tend to fluctuate wildly.
The 500 has a more powerful blower that can handle oversized models with ease. When you hook this device up to your smoker, you should be able to keep the temperature within 10 degrees of your target.
For kamado-style smokers and grills, the 400 is a great option. It’s also compatible with a few gas-powered models, including some from Broil King.
You can use the Flame Boss 500 on offset-style charcoal grills, as well as cabinets, drums, and the Big Green Egg. It isn’t compatible with all kamado-style units, though. Make sure you have a model that works with the device you end up selecting.
You might have guessed this by now, but the 500 costs more than the 400.
Because the 500 model is more sophisticated and can function without the aid of a smartphone app, some might say that it’s worth the extra money. Those of you who are looking for a budget option, though, should consider sticking with the Flame Boss 400.
You can control the Flame Boss 400 using voice commands. Once you’ve downloaded the official app, use your smartphone microphone to give the commands that will adjust the smoker temperature.
The 500 model is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home. If you’ve connected your smoker controller to either of these, the voice command control will work through those devices.
The Bottom Line
So, is the Flame Boss 400 superior to the 500, or vice versa?
We don’t think there’s a definitive answer. If you want a smaller and simpler unit that works with kamado-style grills and smokers, the 400 is a better option. But for a more sophisticated device that doesn’t require a smartphone app, go for the 500.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!