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UPDATE: After two grilling seasons, I have to admit I'm not using this to light charcoal anymore. If you're lighting charcoal in a chimney, this will get you cooking faster, but I think it adds a new problem: by the time the top coals are lit, the lower ones have burned through quite a bit. So overall it feels like I'm getting a faster light at the expense of wasted fuel. Considering the short lifespan of a briquette, that can mess with the cook. It's not really worth it to save 10 minutes, but I guess it's nice to have the option if I'm in a hurry.

What I am using it for is as a supplement to the Slow-N-Sear, and for that it's AWESOME. I've been relying on the reverse sear lately for just about everything but for steaks especially, I've never grilled such good food before. The concept is that you bank all or most of your coals on one side of the grill, and cook your food with indirect heat until you're about 10 or 15 degrees shy of your target temp. Then you put the food over your coal pile, which is way hotter than you'd normally cook with. That's where you get dark, flavorful crust (no grill marks; the whole surface is a giant grill mark) with total control over temperature.

The problem with this setup is that even with a big pile of charcoal, it's not going to be that hot after 10 minutes of covered indirect cooking because it's been oxygen-starved. Enter the (BBQ) Dragon ... you can turn the coal pile into a glowing red inferno in a minute or two. The BBQ Dragon isn't so much a time-saver anymore; it's saving moisture in your meat while you quickly get your sear zone hotter than would otherwise be possible.

I don't feel any differently about the quality or features of the BBQ Dragon, but its role in reverse-searing has turned it into a must-have for me.

ORIGINAL REVIEW

This product sat in my cart for a long time before I decided to pull the trigger. I knew what it does, and knew that I really wanted my charcoal lit as fast as possible ... I just couldn't get past that price. I felt like I was going to get ripped off buying what is nothing more than a common fan, probably only priced as high as it is because it's marketed to grill enthusiasts (and we love to spend money on this stuff).

Well, I can't say that I think it's worth, for example, half the cost of an entry-level Weber charcoal grill. I'd feel pretty good paying about $30 for this. But I was wrong to think that this is not a unique product. You're paying for a good idea. Nowhere else will you find a small fan that a) is built to be heatproof, b) has a long, flexible neck, c) is cordless, and d) can be recharged.

Those features are why you can't "just use a hair dryer." Well, you can, but you'll have to stand there holding it, and you'll need to be near an outlet, and you will only have one free hand to get your charcoal lit. There's no possible way to position anything else correctly without holding it. I tried a regular fan once and after seeing the difference some moving air makes, I knew I had to buy the real thing.

Let me mention some common beefs in other reviews:

That Battery Latch: Yes, it's weird. Basically the entire end of one part of the handle comes off, and that's where the batteries go in. This end cap is your battery latch, and it's held in place by two flexible plastic clips that mate with holes on the handle. It's a design that I don't remember seeing before, and probably with good reason. My problem isn't that anything feels cheap or flimsy, it's that it's hard to get it back on once it's off, to the point where you feel like you're forcing it and may break it. Maybe some earlier reviewers had a different product run with thinner clips that are easier to insert but also easier to break? With mine, I would not enjoy taking it off and putting it on a lot, but with rechargables I don't have to think about it.

USB port: I think it's great that you can bring your own batteries and charger to this system. The USB port is probably the worst part of this product, though. I have a really hard time getting the cable in there correctly. BBQ Dragon needs to tighten this up a bit.

The handle: I haven't seen much mention of the fact that the handle can serve as a really sturdy base for the fan, making it free-standing. This would make it great for a campfire or fireplace. The flipside of that is that the handle is enormous - so big that it's difficult to squeeze with one hand.

Documentation: No complaints here. There are diagrams for placement of the fan for different situations (for example, if you're lighting a chimney you should point the fan downward on the other side of the grill so that air loops around and travels up the chimney. This seems to work pretty well). If they didn't explain the USB charging before, that's been fixed now.

Build quality: It's built like a tank, especially the handle, the neck, and the case of the fan (which is stainless and not plastic like you might suspect). Two exceptions are the terrible USB port, and the wiring inside the fan tube. I was a little surprised to see fairly bare soldered wire connections inside the fan. I'd think you'd want that stuff sheltered from the filth that's being constantly sent through the fan body. We'll see if that becomes a problem when this unit has been out there a few more years.

I love this fan, and as long as it lasts more than a few years I'll be happy with my purchase. The build quality is great, it works well, and I love the recharging function. With some tweaks to the USB port and battery cover, and a $10 price reduction, I'd have zero complaints. 4 stars.
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on April 11, 2017
Finally a blower that works how you hope it would. Great materials--very strong, it feels substantial, runs great, and I think it will last me a long time. I've used this for my fireplace, it works like a charm. I recently paired it up with the Chimney of Insanity charcoal starter--wow! Talk about a dynamic duo. Then I tried it solo (after the coals were distributed) to see how quick I could light some hickory blocks. Mere seconds... I had to wet down the whole area in anticipation of the blast furnace aspect of kicking the power up to high. I wasn't wrong, it is kind of amazingly hot.
If this holds up like I hope it will, I can say it was money well spent. I'm not kidding, I'm going to show this off to some friends, and I'll bet they are all going to buy one after they see it in action. Compared to even those other electric blower bellows out there (for fireplaces) this one is way more powerful, and has so much high quality construction.
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on May 17, 2018
I've used this product for just about 10 time for 1 month. First off, this device is not amazing. It is not awesome nor superlative. It's just a fan attached to a flexible neck anchored to a clamp. But what it does is amazing and any superlative you can imagine. It so very drastically accelerates the burning of partially lit coals until they are raging hot. Additionally, the blowing air off the hot coals rapidly cause other coals to ignite and burn. This is such a HUGE time saver and, as childish as it may seem, its entertaining to watch the fire just glow and spread incredibly fast. Like watching a forest fire.

Now the con: This is important in reviewing any product. It uses batteries. That's fine as I have rechargeables in mine. But the designers thought it would be clever to include a charging port on the device. Sounds great at first but It uses a USB port. Really? I'm gonna hook this up to my laptop to charge? Or my PC to charge it? No wait, I have to buy an adaptor to plug in the USB cord so I can then plug it into a wall. (no USB cord included) so I can then charge it. STUPID! I just charge the rechargeable batteries in their own charger as I am sure ALL users would do.

Would I recommend this? Oh heck yes. I absolutely love this device. Very easy to use, the clamp is very powerful and holds the device secure and the flexible neck is rigid to stay where you aim the fan. This device is a must for any person who needs to accelerate partially lit coals in a big big hurry. Swell product and a big hats off to the developers. I'm impressed.
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on January 29, 2018
Today Philthy reViews....the best BBQ blowdryer ever....

Click to Buy? Yes. When you have little time because you were distracted watching ..uh movies...educational movies...online and need those charcoals white hot for that 6 hour babyback rib cook...

So as you may or may not know, when cooking with charcoal, it needs to white in color usually when you start grilling or cooking. If you start on schedule, then you can relax but if you're like me then you'll be starting late...real late...Use a Chimney Starter and a charcoal starter wand...Once those are all white then put it in with the rest. You can use to speed that up too. Once the white hot charcoals are ready place them with the rest and let loose the Dragon. Within a few minutes most of your charcoal will be lit white too. There's a YouTube vid that demonstrates this if you need social proof. The flexible neck and clip allow it a great degree of various positions. The only downside is it uses batteries. So depending how much you bbq, you may need to invest in some good rechargeables.
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on February 1, 2018
I like the product, but customer service is non-existent. Bought it a year ago. Used it about a half dozen times, then had some rechargeable batteries inside of it short out after I sat for a couple weeks. I replaced them with normal alkaline batteries, it worked for one night, and those shorted out as well. I cleaned out the inside of the battery case, and had another set of alkaline batteries short out.

I tried to contact the company through their website, and it has a “captcha” that doesn’t work and won’t allow you to send them a message (no email or number anywhere).
Tried to post to their Facebook page, no response.
Again, good product, as long as you don’t ever have a problem and need customer support or warranty.
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on September 1, 2015
I love this blower, it's not as powerful as some hair dryers but then if it were, embers would be blown all over the place!
just install the AA batteries and twist the button, your good to go!
Caution to the tale!! Don't get this too close to the coals. the rubber inserts in the grip are heat proof but the twist knob is not. after the first use this started to soften so when twisted to turn off it became misshapen!
Battery life is not so great but you will get at least 5-6 BBQ's with maybe 20 mins of use. use better quality batteries or buy rechargeable ones. there is a charging port on the side for a Samsung charger or Kindle
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on October 23, 2014
Early on after I purchased this in late 2014 I had two early failures. One the battery latch broke, the 2nd the fan quit. The manufacturer was good about sending replacements right away, and in fact between the two bad ones I was able to build a spare good one, which I have not needed as the third has performed great for over 2 years. I use it with a Big Green Egg and point it into the lower damper opening after getting the fire started using a MAPP torch. Fire is ready to go in just a few minutes. During the summer we use it several days a week. Even over the winter it sees pretty regular use. I installed a set of NiMh batteries and charge overnight whenever I notice the fan speed slowing--maybe every 3rd or 4th use, depending on how long I let it run.
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on June 6, 2016
Has a lot of promise, but it burns through 4 battery's for every cook, you can hear it winding down, and my unit is only 9 days old. They have a lot of work to do on this, your better of buying a small fan with a plug -

Avoid this item until this is resolved
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on April 10, 2018
Prior to purchasing BBQ Dragon i was using an inflatable bed electric blower. I hate to wait for the charcoals to fully light. I would run an extension and had it tied to a 20" flower pot stand on which i would place my barely started lit chimney and i would turn the blower on to get them nice and lit. The only problem with that was that i couldn't control the speed. With the BBQ Dragon i don't need an extension (cause it's battery operated and i can adjust the speed) or zip ties (cause it has a flexible neck i can properly adjust). I love the fact that now i can take this to my tail gates.
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on July 26, 2017
Love this fan for our Big Green Egg! It can really get the grill going significantly faster than using anything else, and makes it so much easier that my wife doesn't even mind grilling from time to time! The batteries tend to last me at least one to two dozen grillings, and since I use rechargeable batteries it doesn't seem like a big deal when I have to replace them. I actually thought that I'd end up having to replace them much more than I actually have had to. I highly recommend keeping one of these fans on hand for anyone that has a charcoal grill!
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