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FiAir Review

Posted by Brandon On September - 29 - 2013

When it comes to tailgate grilling most of us fall into 2 camps: Charcoal or Gas.  If you’re in the “Gas” group you probably appreciate the convenience and speed that you gain from that fuel source.  Our friends in the “Charcoal” group are prepared to forgo the ease of use you might get from gas, if it means that they’re able to get the smoky goodness that only burning wood products can produce.   Whichever side you find yourself on, you probably wouldn’t mind a little help with making things go more smoothly.  Unfortunately the bulk of the new grilling products seem to be aimed at gas-grillers, but every once in a while we’ll see a new product for the charcoal crowd.  The FiAir is one of those products.fiair-logo

(Disclaimer: We did receive a sample of the FiAir for free. The fact this sample was provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)

Quite possibly the biggest hurdle to using a charcoal grill is getting the stuff lit.  There are several options, but I would imagine that the two most widely used options in the tailgating world are going to be lighter fluid or a chimney.  Lighter fluid or those match light briquettes are probably the simplest option, but the smell of the lighter fluid can impact the quality of your food if used improperly, and using too much can cause a very large flame that burns quite large.  Chimney starters are great options in that they can light a large amount of coals without the need for accelerants.  Furthermore the coals are all contained and any flames outside of the chimney are going to be more contained.  But chimneys can take a good while to get going, especially if you pack them full.  That’s where the FiAir comes into play.

We all remember that the 3 ingredients for fire are Fuel, Oxygen (Air), and Ignition.  Just like a clean air filter in your car, the introduction of more air and thus more oxygen will lead to a hotter more intense fire.  The concept of adding more air to a fire is not new.  The earliest examples of this can be found way back in the ancient world, when ancient blacksmiths would stoke their fire with bellows made of leather to allow them to forge their ancient tongs and spatulas. All kidding aside, the FiAir works in much the same way, it uses a battery powered fan to direct a stream of air into a fire.  The claim is a hotter burning, and thus quicker lighting fire.  How quick? They say you can get your coals lit in half the time, which is what we’re going to test.fiair battery door open (480x343)

The FiAir is incredibly simple to operate.  Load 3 AAA batteries into the end, lock on the cap, and press the button.  What you get is a nice steady stream of air.  Not to mention that the nozzle is designed to direct the air where you want it.  From there you aim it at the fire and you should get a hotter burn.  Sounds easy enough, but how does it work?

To test the efficacy of this product it seemed quite prudent to light a chimney using just ambient air, and then to do the same test but adding air to the mix with the FiAir.  The chimney I’m using for this test is the Weber RapidFire Compact Chimney which is roughly half the size of their full size model.  This was done to save on fuel and test time.  Each run of the test consisted of 40 Kingsford “Blue Bag” Charcoal Briquettes, and a wad of paper crumpled under the chimney.  The chimney that will be stoked with the FiAir will be given roughly 3 minutes of burn time before the FiAir will be used to make sure that the lowest coals are sufficiently lit and that the paper has had a chance to burn off a little.  Each test will be conducted in the Weber Smokey Joe Gold model.

fiair-right-shadowThe control run produced white ash on the top most briquettes in roughly 22 minutes.  This may seem fast, but remember we are using a smaller chimney for this test so it’ll naturally be quicker than the standard chimney.  I should mention that the top most briquettes were not completely covered in white ash, but they had some which led me to know they were burning.

The FiAir stoked chimney produced white ash on the top most briquettes in about 17.5 minutes.  Remember that we gave this chimney 3 minutes of initial burn time so the final times could be viewed as (Time – 3 minutes).  It was difficult to measure how “lit” the coals were scientifically, so I based it on appearance.   I did take some pictures just before dumping the coals to show that the 2 test chimneys looked similar.  If anything the FiAir stoked coals were slightly farther along, so you might be able to assume that the coals were ready closer to 17 minutes, so roughly a savings of 5 minutes.  Those 5 minutes translated into pre-heating time mean you are cooking when the next guy is just dumping his coals.  Furthermore if you have a very large grill, looking at you with the 55 gallon drum made into a grill, and you need to light a lot of coals it would undoubtedly aid in accomplishing that faster.

For what it’s worth I decided to try the FiAir on another chimney, and using the product more aggressively I was able to get what I consider a lit chimney at 15.5 minutes.  I was unable to cut my light time in half, but I was able to get them lit in roughly 32% of the time it took without the FiAir.  Photos of all my test runs are below:

How else might the FiAir benefit your grilling?  Well for starters you can raise the heat of your grill pretty easily, and quite quickly. But it’s more than that.  Using the product on lit coals I dumped into the grill, I was able to achieve what I felt to be a very complete combustion of the charcoal, even getting some bluish flame from it. Complete combustion is a crucial element when talking about charcoal grilled foods.  Off flavors can be associated with coals that are not burning well.  And while it is possible that the observed flame may have been a result of binders in the coal burning off, I do believe that the fire was far and away hotter than it would be without the introduction of additional air.  This increase in heat would be perfect for searing applications when you neat a raging hot fire to get a nice brown crust, such as steaks or burgers.  On that 2nd test of FiAir I used the product, quite successfully, to raise the temp of the coals in the grill for searing steaks.

While the obvious time and temperature gains make this product seem like a no-brainer there are several other considerations that need to be made.  Firstly the hotter the fire burns, the more fuel that will be consumed and additional coals may be needed for longer cooks. Secondly the extreme temperatures may necessitate the use of heavy grill gloves, or at least very long tools, to prevent any burns to the hands and wrists.  It is important to remember the FiAir is not a toy, it is a tool.  I do not want to hear about someone getting seriously burned and rushed to the ER because they got carried away with a fire.  I don’t want you to read that as this product is dangerous, it just needs to be used responsibly to be used safely.  Blowing air can cause a fire to act somewhat unpredictably so do not overuse this product or use it in confined spaces. The other aspect of the FiAir that may turn some tailgaters off is that you actually have to be around the fire to use it.  I mentioned above how you could save time, but if you used that chimney time to set up your tailgate site or to prep food, you may find that you aren’t coming out much better.

When used properly I would definitely recommend the FiAir to tailgaters and grillers who use or want to use charcoal, or in other words, it is “Tailgate Approved.”  Despite not reproducing the results they claimed, the time savings make it a more practical option for those who don’t have a lot of extra time to wait for the coals to be ready.  The ability to boost the heat of your fire is also desirable for some direct grill applications, and the price point is seems more than fair at $29.99.  To find out more or to order the FiAir you can visit www.FiAir.net.

Kingsford “Tailgater of the Year” Contest

Posted by Brandon On September - 11 - 2013

A little late reporting this, but there is a fun contest being held by the people over at Kingsford Charcoal.  Basically they’re asking for your photos so they can determine the “Tailgater of the Year.”  You can read the entire set of rules here, but basically you have until the end of the day on September 15th to enter one photo, and you can enter another photo next week.

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Other rules include:

•The Submission must be in .jpg or .gif format and must not exceed 8 MB in size;
•The Submission must include a charcoal grill or charcoal; and
•The Submission cannot have been submitted previously in a promotion of any kind.

Grand prize is a custom 8 foot carved statue of the winner, and 4 tickets to a College Football
Game during Championship Week. Not a bad deal. There will also be an instant win contest for some cool prizes that will run with the voting process.

You can see the main site for this promotion at http://www.grilling.com/tailgate/

Obviously we’d love for one of our readers to win this thing.  So good luck and good tailgating.

We’ll leave you with this video from “Coach Carl” who shares his tailgating tips.

Instagram Tailgating Round-up #1

Posted by Dave On September - 6 - 2013

Ever since joining Instagram last month, it never ceases to amaze us how many users post up and share their tailgating photos via social media. From time to time we will browse all the photos that Instagram has to offer and aggregate the photos we think are the best of the best and share them here in a photo gallery. So here’s to our inaugural Instagram tailgating Round-up for this week.

Shameless self-promotion: Follow @TailgatingIdeas on Instagram.

Mid-Week Eye Candy Wrapper #122: Kate Upton Car Wash Edition

Posted by Dave On January - 23 - 2013

Featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton is nothing new for us. When it comes to gaining page views, the mere mention of Kate Upton is the equivalent of mentioning Erin Andrews back in 2009. We here at Tailgating Ideas are not above any shameless attempts to gain more page views and new visitors.

After all, how else do you expect us to help spread the word about tailgating and promoting the tailgate party lifestyle? This week it had been rumored that Kate Upton would be starring in a Mercedes Super Bowl commercial. Whether that is true or not, this video was “leaked” on the internet that teases the idea of a possible more detailed commercial coming on Super Bowl Sunday. Well played Mercedes Benz, well played. Links following the eye candy.

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Burger Pocket Press

MVP Portable Wireless Speaker Review

Posted by Peter On December - 2 - 2012

I was more excited to review the MVP Portable Wireless Speaker from Acoustic Research than any other product I’ve reviewed for this site. Just a quick background on myself – I have a ridiculous amount of tailgate gear and have come across hundreds of products, so when I see something that is good – it’s good! There was very little I could find wrong with this portable speaker!

At first glance the speaker almost looks like a jumbo thermos or a portable heater. It is so light that you can even strap it onto your belt and walk around with it playing your music. It looks like a well built product and the sound is outstanding considering the size of it. This speaker was even tested against a similar product that was twice the price and size and there was very little difference in sound clarity and quality. The one thing this speaker might be lacking in is bass, but it isn’t something to be too concerned with (unless you are trying to blast music for 50-100 people)

There are a lot of great features about this product. For starters, the customized skinit’s that you can get allow you to show your team/school spirit and they seem to have almost every team available. There are no D batteries needed that suck money out of your wallet and seem to drain almost instantly (it takes six AA batteries). One nice thing about the battery option is the convenience. It will allow one to bring the system to a tailgate or to the beach, lake, etc. There is a compartment on the back of it that allows you to put your MP3 player in it – eliminating the hassle and worry of something happening to your MP3 while it is connected. The bluetooth feature is quite simple to setup and very convenient as well.

The way it is designed and the features it has makes this the most ideal portable sound system I can think of. This product was definitely very well thought out and it has an emphasis on convenience, sound clarity and a fair price. I think it would make the perfect holiday gift for anyone who enjoys listening to music on the go!

For more information and to see the SkinIt wrap options available for the MVP Portable Wireless Speaker from Acoustic Research, visit: MVPspeaker.com

 

 

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About Me

TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.