Camp Chef launched a new pellet grill/smoker this year and they were showing it off with wild game demonstrations at the range during SHOT Show 2020. Their Woodwind WiFi grills come in 20″, 24″ and 36″ barrel lengths and they are all outfitted for WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. I own the 24″ model, and I’ve been impressed with how well it cooks and how useful the WiFi is. Here are my thoughts on how useful this grill is.
You may be wondering, “Why does my grill need WiFi? Am I supposed to surf the interwebs on it…?” That’s kinda what I was thinking when I first got the new Woodwind pellet grill from Camp Chef. My mind changed as soon as I turned it on for the first time, though, and now I can’t imagine cooking without using the associated app.
All you do is download the Camp Chef app to your phone and then turn on the grill. It’ll guide you to either connect over WiFi or use Bluetooth. Using Bluetooth is the fastest setup, and you can use it anywhere you set up your grill, but you’re limited in how far you be away from the grill. The WiFi option uses the signal in your home to connect to your phone and remains connected anywhere you are connected to the WiFi network.
So, using the Bluetooth option I can work in the backyard while the meat is cooking, but I lose connection if I go to the garage. On WiFi, I can wander all around the house and still communicate with the grill through my local network.
Why Do I Need To Communicate With My Grill?
The grill has options for what temperature you set it to, how smokey you want it to be, and it has temperature probes for the food. All of those values are sent to your phone continuously. You can change the temperature or the amount of smoke from the app, and it’ll notify you when it’s pre-heated to the temp you set.
A valuable feature of the app is that it notifies you when the temperature is decreasing for some reason. It may be that your kid opened it and it’s cooling off, or it may be that you’re out of fuel pellets. It’s common for pellets in grill hoppers to get hung up and not feed down into the auger properly and the grill quits burning. If this happens, you could come out to check on your meat after two hours of cooking and realize that it’s cold. That low-temperature alert could really save your bacon.
My favorite thing is that the app alerts you when your food has reached the goal temperature. You tell it what temperature you want it to be, stick the probe into the meat, and wait for the alert. But you don’t have to keep checking it and losing heat every time you open the lid to look. You don’t have to hover by the grill at all and can go do other stuff or prepare other parts of your meal.
The WiFi is a cool feature and definitely worth having. I wouldn’t buy a pellet grill/smoker without it now, even if I had to save up longer to get it.
It Cooks Nicely, Too
The important thing is that the grill cooks well, and it does. I’ve used it to smoke roasts for several hours, to grill steaks on direct heat for a few minutes, and to bake skillets full of cornbread and brownies and even a birthday cake.
All grills have areas that are hotter and colder, but I find that the center all the way around is pretty consistent. It has a second shelf that is hot enough to cook and bake on, too. Air circulates around in the barrel and it works a lot like a convection oven.
It comes with four temperature probes and the app relays their temps to you individually. You can set goal temperatures for each probe and get individual alerts. I like that I can use two probes in one roast for the thick and the thin end.
The Woodwind can take attachments on the right side. You can add Camp Chef’s outdoor oven, a sear box, or a SideKick propane burner with a griddle. I have the burner, and I highly recommend it. The griddle is thick and cooks very evenly and when you remove the griddle it’s just a gas burner. I use it to cook with a skillet just as I would in the kitchen, but the odors of burning oil and game meat don’t fill the house. I expect I’ll use it all summer to cool everything without heating up the kitchen on hot days.
Bags of pellets are typically 20 pounds, and, unlike many other brands of smokers, the Woodwind’s pellet hopper is more than large enough to hold an entire 20-lb bag. You can drain the pellets out the back when you want to switch pellet flavors. The top of the hopper is a generous-sized table.
A front shelf is an additional accessory that mounts in front of the lid. It’s handy for staging plates and utensils. I like it, and you can always add it later — save your money for the WiFi model.
It’s got a drip pan to catch the mess from greasy cooks, and an ash cup to keep the auger track clean. There’s also a hook on the back to hang a propane tank for the SideKick. A bottle opener is thoughtfully mounted on the hopper. It’s got wheels to reposition it on the patio.
I’d recommend buying the cover. It fits well and adjusts its size for a side accessory. Or get a generic one from Walmart. It’s amazing how dusty it gets outside without a cover.
Putting this thing together wasn’t bad at all. It took me less than an hour. My neighbor bought a new smoker the same week as I did, but it took him several hours to assemble — like more than four hours.
The instructions are not great and are printed kind of small — Camp Chef could take a lesson from Ikea and LEGO in this area. But, they are adequate.
I have two notes to help you assemble. When you put on the legs, don’t tighten the bolts all the way (even though it says to) until you get the shelf on. They need a little play to get the shelf in there and lined up with the bolt holes.
Second, you have to assemble the hopper lid and the safety grate over the hopper and they use the same screws. The grate sits snuggly in place and you don’t have to hold it, but working the screws in is a little tricky. Save yourself the pain of dropping the screws down into the hopper by placing a piece of typing paper or the instructions sheet on top of the grate to catch a screw you drop.
Otherwise, I had no issues assembling the grill.
Besides those two little things during assembly, I’m having a hard time thinking of things I don’t like or would change about the Woodwind.
One time when I turned it on it didn’t connect immediately to the WiFi in my house, but I just used the Bluetooth connection and it was fine. I think it was because I didn’t give it enough time to connect before I started telling it what to do. I’m using the iPhone version of the app, so I can’t speak to the stability of the Android version.
I don’t have other gripes at this point, but I’ll update this post when I do.
The Woodwind WiFi comes in 20″, 24″ and 36″ and refers to the width of the barrel. I have the 24″ and I like that size. I’ve baked in with eight cast iron skillets at once. I could probably get by with the 20″, but I’d miss the SideKick burner. Maybe I’ll save up and get the 20″ to take on the road camping.
The 24″ comes it at $800, which is only $30 more than the version without WiFi. It’s comparably priced with other similar grills with similar features. The Woodwind WiFi series is available now and you can order directly from Camp Chef or find them at your favorite camping/grilling retailer.
MSRP for the 20″ is $600, the 24″ is $800, and the 36″ is $1,000. SideKicks and accessories are extra.
Specs Woodwind WiFi 24″
- Lower Rack Area: 19.5 in. x 22 in.
- Upper Rack Area: 382 sq. in.
- Total Rack Surface Area: 800 sq. in.
- Side Shelf Dimensions: 16 in. x 12 in.
- Chamber Capacity: 4850 cu. in.
- Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs. of pellets
- Overall Height: 42 in.
- Overall Weight: 150 lbs.
- Warranty: 3 years
- MSRP $800