Spark Smart Charcoal Grill Review

Spark Smart Charcoal Grill

$800
8.8

Construction Quality

8.5/10

Temperature Control

9.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Versatility

9.0/10

Durability

9.0/10

Pros

  • Convenient to use
  • Wide temperature range
  • Computer temperature control

Cons

  • Proprietary fuel
  • Expensive fuel
  • Basic looking design
  • Bluetooth

Specifications

  • 368 square inches of total cooking space
  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Double walled steel construction with ceramic insulation
  • Temperature range between 200 and 900 degrees F
  • Bluetooth Enabled with proprietary app
  • Two temperature probes
  • Forced air flame acceleration and temperature control
  • Uses proprietary charcoal 'briq's
  • Removable ash catcher
  • One side table
  • Two wheel cart
  • Total weight (including cart) 105 pounds
  • Made in Thailand for Spark Grills

Full Review - Spark Smart Charcoal Grill

Ah, the improved charcoal grill! Many have tried, few have truly succeeded. But there is the dream. A charcoal grill that is as easy to use and as reliable as a gas grill. With modern technology, it seems that such a grill is possible. Last year we got the Masterbuilt Gravity Feed Grill. And now, for 2020, we get the Spark Smart Charcoal Grill. The real question is, does this give the convenience that people are looking for in a package that is both functional and economical. For the Spark, that is a big question.

When trying to make a better charcoal grill there are a number of strategies. You add ignition systems to light charcoal, ash cleanout bins, or easy temperature control. The Spark Smart Grill, like some other recent products, does it all and then some. There is an ignition system to get the charcoal lite, a computer-controlled fan system to control temperatures, and clean up features to make it easy to maintain. Of course, you pay for all this. The Spark grill costs nearly a thousand dollars (though it has an $800USD introduction price).

Charcoal grills are among the simplest devices ever created. You need a place for the fire, a place for the food, and maybe a lid. The Spark has a fan to stoke the fire, building up heat and a fan to cool the grill, holding down the heat. There are probes for monitoring temperature. It also connects to a smart device via Bluetooth so you can monitor and adjust the grill remotely. It all sounds very promising, even at this price (after all you can get a great kamado grill in this range).

It's really about the fuel

The real secret of this grill, and probably the big moneymaker, is the fuel. Spark requires a specialized brick (or briq) of charcoal made by the manufacturer in Boulder Colorado. There are actually several varieties of this brick depending on the flavor you want or the style of cooking you are doing. Yes, they offer a low and slow charcoal brick, a standard, and a quick burn brick. They cost between four and six dollars apiece. While this might not be the most expensive grill to operate, it isn't cheap either.

So? Do you have to use this charcoal? Well, no. You can pick up a bag of briquettes at your local grocery store and use that. The problem is that this grill is designed and calibrated to use the charcoal that the manufacturer makes and sells. Most all of the advantages of this grill are thrown out the window if you are not using the charcoal specifically designed for this grill. So, unless you plan on buying the charcoal to go with this grill, you would be much better off buying a less expensive charcoal grill.

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