Billows or SMOBOT for WSM 18”?


Edward Lee

New member
Wondering if anyone has experience or thoughts on which is a better option to use with my Weber Smokey Mountain 18”… the ThermoWorks Billows or the SMOBOT?

That SMOBOT looks interesting. Unfortunately I dont have one so I can offer any experience.
I like the concept of controlling the draft rather than forcing air via a fan.
I don't have a WSM any longer and didn't use a temp controller on it so take that as one caveat.

I have a thermoworks Smoke X4 with a Billows. I bought the billows for the BGE, before I had the E6 and it works great on both.

I researched the TW smoke X2/X4, TW Signals, Fireboard (several models), DigiQ, the Egg Genius and the Smobot.

All had pros and cons. In the end I went with the smoke X4 because I wanted a dedicated remote vs another app on my phone and I liked the flexibility to use it on different grills. Even without the billows I've used the Smoke X4 on my pellet ( when I had it ) my gas grill, and on my E6.

My last comment is I don't' use the billows very often, and lately have only used it for overnight cooks so I can sleep and not wonder if the temp is on target, and used it once on the E6 during the day to see how it works. When I had the WSM 22 ( which was only for a few months) I never thought of adapting it because the temp on the WSM was pretty stable.

So, my .02 is decide what is important to you. Do you want charts and graphs of temps and time for the meat and the pit temp? That takes the Smoke X4 out of the running. Do you want a dedicated remote? Do you have AC power to drive the fan? or a battery / inverter option?

Then read direct comparisons of one vs the other and you'll pickup on things others have noticed.

All that said, I can't give a fair opinion on something I've never used so the only first hand feedback I have is the TW X4 + Billows on a large BGE and the E6 is fantastic, yet I wish there was an add-on option to track the temps over time, however I would not trade the dedicated remote for an app on my phone.
Before you get one, I suggest you get used to the 18” WSM. I was sure that I really needed an ATC but, a friend that had used them for some times decided that he wasn’t as impressed with them as he had hoped. He offered it to me and I just didn’t take it in favor of learning the real capabilities of the WSM. I’m happy that I didn’t bother with adding more stuff and have learned what these things can do.
I suppose I’m going the “long way around” to try to encourage you to get a few cooks under your belt before you add expenses on accessories. Cook a few pork butts, some ribs, maybe a brisket before you invest in an ATC, the bullet is a great design which is easily learned. Cook more! I’m glad I learned how the thing works. The important piece in the accessory pool, for me, is the dual probe thermometer! One for “pit temp” one for food. I’m still using the first one I bought five+ years ago. Yes, replaced the probes a couple of times but, have a back up and you will sleep just fine while a big piece of barbecue goodness prepares for your enjoyment the next day!
But, that’s, just one man’s opinion.
Welcome to the forum Ed, glad you joined us.
I totally agree with Timothy and Dan. I wanted to try an ATC and bought the ThermoWorks Smoke X2 with Billows. It worked very well on the WSM 18 that I had and works just as well on the Kamado Joe. But, I rarely/never use it. I preferred using the WSM as designed and the KJ really doesn't need a temp controller either. That WSM 18 is a wonderful smoker on its own.
I'm going to agree with the above and disagree with it at the same time.
Yeah you probably should learn about running your WSM the regular way.
But then after that what the ATC does is make it simple to do long cooks . If it works well.

But an ATC that's improperly used or doesn't work well can actually do a lot of bad things
It can fluctuate from high output to low output. Putting white smoke and ash on your food every time it goes to high output. And then the fire going out when it cycles off. To get the most out of an ATC you really need to understand your smoker and what you want out of it.

Properly used on a tight smoker it will run very very marginally most of the time.
To expound a bit more, I always use my controller it makes my WSM as easy as an oven. It's more or less set it and forget it. But...

I use an expanded coal ring.... I can burn for about 30 hours if I filled it up all the way. Do I need to burn that long, no. But it holds enough charcoal that the charcoal getting covered with ash is less of a problem than when you have a lesser amount of charcoal that gets covered with ash and impacts the burn. I never have to knock down ash which you may have to do after about six or seven hours with the stock WSM... Your temp control will start getting some real squirrely until you do that. If you try and sleep all night you may wake up and your smoker is 130° because all the coals got covered with ash. To the first step to set it in forget it for me is more charcoal. Extend the coal ring. That was the first modification I made to my WSM so I could sleep all night and not have the temperature crater.

The best thing about a temperature controller, is you don't have to use a "method". At least I don't but my blower also has a damper which shuts off to prevent natural convection airflow as well. If you don't have a damper you're going to have a more difficult time bringing temperature down when it overshoots. But regardless all you got to do is spread your lip coals out evenly on top of your bed of coals there's no minion method there's no snake etc, and the temperature that you get doesn't depend on how many coals you lit... Within reason... You're not counting out 23 lit charcoals...
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I stumbled on the existence of these temperature control devices after having yet another long cook go awry. Latest… woke up to my overnight pork butt smoke with the grill temp at 170. I’m sure more practice will help. But i’m also open to the shortcut method. 😁
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I stumbled on the existence of these temperature control devices after having yet another long cook go awry. Latest… woke up to my overnight pork butt smoke with the grill temp at 170. I’m sure more practice will help. But i’m also open to the shortcut method. 😁
If you haven't already you can check out the heater meter forum. You can learn a lot about ATC there. My first guess would be Ash buildup began affecting your cooker after a few hours. And your temperature fell off. A controller will help with that because it can boost the air flow to keep powering through that.... The temperature does get a little squirrely when it gets to a certain point. Helps to have more coals available.

Here was a 8 lb pork butt cook that I let the cooker keep running on out to 25 hours afterwards recently. Set it and forget it


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