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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 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 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 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 August 15, 2018
Quick and dirty...

First of all, I can see why there is some negative reviews about this product. It has a plastic fan, it's not built super well, and the battery life is annoying.

What is good about the fan? Here is why it's good to me...

It works well to get your coals up and going in no time... No, you don't need to buy the BBQ Dragon chimney for it to work to your advantage (see picture). If you don't have a WSM to do the same thing, get creative.

It's portable to get your coals piping hot for a sear (see my picture).

The Suck.

Battery life with conventional Double A batteries - the rechargeable battery unit might be worth looking into? No idea...

Heat resistance - Anything closer then ~10 inches might be asking for issues but honestly, I am not sure. I've never used this unit right on top of my fire.

Yeah, it's lacking in these areas but you know what? I don't plan to use it to an extreme level or place it right next to 500+ degree charcoal . Can you accomplish everything as mentioned above with with a blow dryer? You bet. However, a blow dryer is quite as portable as this unit is and your partner isn't going to yell at you when you leave the blow dryer outside.

I can say that it'll get some use at the campsite, in my backyard, at the park and at the stadium. Just think about what you're getting the unit for and how you're going to use it.

For me it's a decent buy, folks. My expectations were met, and the price wasn't awful. Four stars.

Hope this helps!
review imagereview image
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on July 21, 2017
I love it BUT. This is ny second one. The first ones power dial shorted out. So I order the replacement and it arrives on time. So far, so good. But this time there are no batteries and no USB cord. I was able to transfer the batteries from the old one. The old cord is frayed and I will now have to buy a new cord. I would have given this 5 starts except I am very disappointed that they are now shorting the customer and do not tell you on the front end. I also have endorsed this to many friends who bought these for themselves and as gifts. The seller should step up and include all the items you need. Adjust the price if you must but don't send out a half complete tool. Bad show.

Bumped it down to a one after hearing NOTHING back from the seller despite multiple inquiries.
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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 July 4, 2018
This thing is amazing. I just ordered it because I had to get up early to cook two pork shoulders for 4th of July and I figured if it works as well as it does in the YouTube videos it would let me sleep about a half hour later. It worked. The first time I tried I put the fan in too early and it blew the Weber cube out. I think I also didn’t push the cube far enough into the tube. The second time I waited until I saw a little bit of smoke and I turned the fan in to the lowest setting. After about 30 seconds I could see flames when I looked down into the chimney so I turned the fan full blast. The entire thing was lit and ready for the smoker about 3 minutes later. It’s really incredible. I can’t reccomend it enough if you are already using a chimney. It’s a good amount of cash between the fan and chimney but it’s worth it for the time you save. Especially if you are using a big smoker which take a while to heat up. I went from about an hour to a half hour to get my smoker preheated.
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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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