- 1. How hot does the oven get?
- Both ovens achieve different temperature ranges. The pizza oven and more importantly the stone base and pizza stone are directly above the firebox. You can crank the temperature up in both ovens well over 500°F. However, it's not necessary for many types of cooking to go as high as the temperatures usually achieved with other pizza ovens where the fire is built inside of the oven. We also don't recommend ever taking the pizza oven up over 700° F.
- Pizza Oven Temperatures
- I've baked bread in the 350° to 450°F degree range and find that pizzas cook well in the 500° to 650°F range, but thinner crust pizzas are great at about 550°F. We've also had a blast using the stone surface for Wood Plank Roasting. It does an amazing job planking when the stone is in the 450°F to 550°F range. This oven does not need to get as hot as a masonry "beehive" style oven because you don't have to store away heat in all that masonry. With our oven, you are heating up the thermal mass on the bottom of the oven and then the stainless steel liner reflects heat back towards that surface-making it an ideal baking chamber at somewhat lower temperatures than a masonry oven. This also means you use a fraction of the wood that you need in a masonry oven to achieve very similar results.
- Smoker Oven
- This oven will always run cooler than the oven below. One thing to keep in mind is if you're cranking the lower oven over 500°F, you're not going to be able to keep the upper oven down in that 225°F to 250°F range at the same time. However, if the focus is on "low and slow" in the upper smoker oven, it's very easy to maintain 200° to 225°F up there and still have a great chamber (down below) for baking- in the pizza oven on the stone- in the 350° to 375°F range. I regularly bake beans, side dishes, cornbread etc. when using the smoker – it's like using the fire twice.
- 2. Will this unit achieve temperatures similar to my Big Green Egg?
- The temps in the Big Green Egg are very achievable with our unit. The nice thing about it is you have more capacity in our unit and unlike the Big Green Egg, you can mange adding more fuel quite easily after the unit is going.
- 3. What makes the EcoQue® Pizza Oven & Smoker so efficient?
The thing I like about the unit the most is the firebox efficiency. The firebox has a door with an airtight seal and 3 adjustable vent knobs. So, you have good control of the airflow and burn rate. The fire spreads across the entire top of the firebox, then up around the sides of the pizza oven chamber, before entering the Smoker Oven, and out the Chimney on top. The chimney on top also has a damper flap in it that provides even more control and lets the smoke linger around the food more when the damper is adjusted near closed.
We purposely made it so you can't add too much chunk wood at once because it doesn't need it. To load the firebox and to add fuel, you open the door and pull the firebox out (with an Insulated glove on). To give you an idea of how efficient it is, it generally takes me 6-hours to do my rib recipe (Smoker capacity is 3 full racks of Babyback Ribs) and about 6-9 hours to do a couple of Pork Butts. I can generally cook for that entire time and only use 1/3 to 1/2 of a large bag of chunkwood (approx. 1 lb. to 2 lb. of wood per hour). If you're cranking the Pizza Oven at 500 plus degrees for 3-4 hours, the wood use would be about the same. Compared to other pizza ovens, that's a lot less. The Oven can get up to temperature for pizzas in about an hour to 90 minutes if you build a big hot fire with a high heat fuel.
- 4. Where can I buy one at a Great Price?
- We have several retailers who sell the product online. Currently, the product can be purchased online at: Amazon.com, ATG Stores.com, Cabela's, Frontgate, Green Cupboards, Hayneedle, Lowes.com, Lucky Vitamins/GNC, Overstock.com, Wayfair, and The Outdoor Chef Store and we're adding more retailers every month. The product is also available in the following Retail Stores: Friedman's Home Centers, and Parkrose Ace Hardware.
- 5. How do you ship the units for Home Delivery?
- For home delivery, we ship the unit using Threshold Liftgate delivery by truck, through a network of carriers who specialize in home delivery. The unit is packaged in 2 cartons, which are stacked on a custom skid, shrink-wrapped together-then strapped/overboxed with a double wall carton much like a refrigerator. Once the unit arrives, you can remove the overbox and move the 2 cartons around separately. The Base Cart is in a 60 lb. carton and the heavier carton weighs 297 lb. It can be moved on it's skid on a 2 wheel dolly. When you go to assemble the heavier, upper section on top of the cart, removing all the contents inside the ovens makes it very easy to lift and assemble.
- 6. How hard is it to assemble?
- Assembly is quite easy. The base cart is in one carton and it's fully assembled. You simply remove the 4 assembly screws from the cart and you're ready to lift the top part onto the base cart. The Oven section has lifting/moving rods on the front and the back of the base. After you pop the box off, empty all the contents out of the oven chambers, you pull out the rods (front and back) and have one person lift from the back and one person lift from the front-and set the upper section on the storage cart. The 4 screws anchor it in place. Then 4 more bolts attach the chimney after the flue rod/damper is assembled in the chimney (with 2 screws). So, it takes a total of 10 screws/bolts to assemble the unit. After one "break in burn" you're ready to cook. We estimate assembly will take 30 minutes.
- 7. What can I use the two ovens for?
- The bottom oven where the stone base and pizza stone is located will get hotter than the top oven. The top oven is meant for smoking and smoke roasting and is built to operate at lower temperatures than the Pizza Oven. Any time you want to add smoke flavor, you can do that in the top oven and anything you want to bake, braise, plank or roast in a smokeless oven, you can do in the lower stone oven.
- 8. What are the Dimensions of the Smoker Oven and the Pizza Oven?
- Smoker Oven
The Bottom rack holds the Roasting/Water pan. Height clearance from this rack is 9" to the top of the smoking chamber. The food rack directly above the water pan holds 3 racks of Babyback Ribs (Racks cut in half and placed widthwise), or 2 Pork Butts or a Whole Brisket. Rack size is 16" wide and 22" deep, height clearance from the base of this rack to the top of the Smoking Oven is: 6.25". Its fine for the items mentioned above, but you're not going to get a Turkey in there unless you remove the Backbone and roast it flat (Spatchcock) style which has actually become very popular and yields very good results.
If you're smoke/roasting something in the Roaster/Water Pan, from the base of the pan to the top of the Smoker Box, the height is 9" when the pan is sitting on the lower rack. If you place the pan on the bottom of the oven, there is a 10" vertical distance from the base of the pan to the top of the oven.
- Pizza/Baking Oven-Pizza Cooking Stone
(This sits on top of 3-1.5" Thick stone slabs which store the heat from the firebox below) The cooking stone sits on top of them and can be removed for cleaning. It is 5/8" Thick. It's 15 3/4" Wide and 23" Deep. It will hold 4 full size loaf pans. We generally cook 2-3 pizzas at a time depending on the size. Height Clearance-From the top of the Pizza Stone to the top of the Stainless Steel lined oven it's 10". There is a second baking shelf (16" Wide by 22" Deep) positioned 5" above the stone that you can bake on using the included nonstick baking pan or another stone.
We've also provided a Commercial Grade Surface Thermometer to monitor the temperature of the stone while you're baking bread or cooking pizzas. The reason we do this is the pizza stone, temperature wise, is always going to have a "life of its own". It heats up slower than the oven chamber and it cools down much slower. That's why you always want to know what the stone is doing temperature wise in the baking oven-especially when you have food on it.
- 9. I've seen another Pizza Oven that looks very similar to this one from Sole. How is yours different?
Well, there is an old saying - "Don't judge a book by it's cover". At first glance you might think it's the same product, but we took the original frame and made several upgrades and significant changes to it on the inside. On the outside, it looks similar to the Sole except for our airtight firebox door with 3 vent knobs. Inside, it is significantly different from theirs. We took the original frame and made changes, to the smoker oven and the firebox that in our opinion make it safer, easier to use, and more efficient. Yes, we have added some significant cost inside the firebox and oven, but the results and performance, in our opinion are night and day over the original design.
The big difference is that the original firebox just had a fuel grate for small logs that, in our opinion, was not efficient, difficult to load, not vented well, hard to manage/clean, and not as safe. Every time you opened the door and tried to insert more wood it was difficult and burning embers dropped out on the ground. We found it was impossible to safely run it on an outdoor deck. We fixed all that by building an airtight, contained pull out firebox inside the chamber that spreads the fire across the base of the entire pizza oven. You control the airflow through 3 knobs on the front. It is set up to only burn chunkwood (which is available everywhere in the appropriate cooking wood types) and it burns significantly less wood. We estimate with the airtight chamber, we burn about half of what similar sized units on the market use. We run our model (per cooking session) on about $5.00 to $6.00 worth of readily available chunkwood instead of logs. The firebox fuel grate also controls the amount of wood you can load because it's very easy to put too much wood in the original version, which can really mess up a good smoking session up top if you overheat the oven.
Yes, our version may cost a little more money, but with the changes we made and the additional pans and thermometers we include, it's worth every penny that we've put into it. The firebox alone weighs almost 25 lbs. more in 12 ga. fabricated/steel parts.
- 10. Do you sell fuel for your oven?
- We are working on sourcing some fantastic fuels designed to burn in this unit-made from organic Sugar Maple waste wood from Maine and Orchard woods from here in Washington State.
- 11. How does your firebox work?
- The firebox is essentially a larger pull out version of our portable grill firebox in a rectangular pyramidic shape. It's safely mounted on a wire rack with stops so it can only be pulled out just so far while burning. You pull it out, and load it with wood and a couple of firestarters-then push it back in. Once it's going, you simply pull it out and add wood a few chunks at a time as needed. You have significantly more control of your fire and you're able to manage your fuel easily. The base of the firebox has a fully enclosed ashtray that safely keeps your fire contained during use and makes clean up a snap. It's also made out of 12-gauge plate steel and will never warp or burn out.
- 12. How can you tell what the temperature is?
In the ovens themselves, we used better quality, Luminous Dial thermometers and calibrated them to read what the approximate temperatures are in the center of the ovens. The smoking chamber has also been redesigned. I'm a judge in the Kansas City BBQ Society. I've judged the World Championships twice and have graduated from Competition BBQ School. I wanted to make sure a customer who bought this unit could duplicate good "low and slow" competition quality BBQ.
However, the temperature readings will never be as accurate on a door thermometer as you can get using a dual probe digital style thermometer-where you can place the probe deep inside the oven or smoker box. We always recommend investing in one of these and we like the Maverick ET-732 Dual Probe wireless model at about $59.00.
- 13. How much food can I fit into the oven?
In the smoker, we adjusted the food rack elevation to properly accommodate more items for smoking and it includes a separate shelf with a nonstick water pan, which is essential for the smoker to work well. The unit will hold 3 full racks of baby backs, or 2 pork butts, or a whole brisket, and significantly more chicken. So, it's not the biggest smoker chamber, but it's perfect for home use and runs on 50% to 75% less fuel than log burning smokers that could produce similar quantities of food.
In the pizza oven, we added another baking pan/rack and an NSF certified surface thermometer so you can monitor the temperature of the stone. The stone, temperature-wise, has a life of it's own. If you're going to cook pizzas or bake bread, it's more important to know what the stone temperature is than the oven chamber. Knowing that stone temperature allows you to precisely control the fire below for excellent results.
For more info about our unit, here's the link to our video that will show you how our unit works. youtube.com/watch?v=ppVOf9pSlJ8
Please Note: One thing that's a little inaccurate in the video we have online is the time we said it will take to bake a pizza. The day we shot that, we were also doing other items in the smoker and on the stone at a much lower temperature (425 to 450), so it took longer to bake the pizza. It's considerably faster than the time mentioned in the video, but the time will vary according to how hot the stone is and how thick your crust is. Using the Surface Thermometer is the key to knowing what's going on in the pizza oven. Also remember-The stone has a "life" of it's own and will heat up slower and cool down slower than the box itself. So, follow the stone thermometer for best results.
- 14. Any tips on wood/fire management?
- Fuel Management
Our patent pending firebox has some unique Fuel Management features that will help you build just the right size fire, without using more fuel than you need, for the type of cooking that you're doing. Here are some tips:
You can use the pizza oven very similar to the way you'd regularly make pizza on a stone in a conventional oven, but the unit will achieve higher temperatures than an indoor oven and cook pizzas faster. However, if you want to add smoke flavor to the pizza, you can accomplish this by using one of our Chip Strips on the stone or finish the pizza off in the smoker oven, for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time once the crust has baked up enough to place on the smoker rack in the smoker. That way you have total control of how much smoke flavor you add to your pizza.
There are some very good books out on Amazon on Wood fired ovens and pizza making that can also offer some good tips for making pizzas for our oven even though the fire is below the stone rather than on it. One Key Point here- You do not have to run the oven as hot as some wood ovens run when they build the fire right on the stone. Those masonry ovens take a lot of wood (and time to heat up) because you have to heat up all that masonry and thermal mass- so that the heat is stored in the stone and reflects back off the walls of the oven. Many of the masonry ovens run in the 700 to 900 degree range. Our oven cooks bread well at about 400 to 450 degrees and pizzas in the 550 to 600 degree range. You use cornmeal on both the stone and the peels to prevent the dough from sticking. Any good pizza dough recipe will work.
- Any good hardwoods will work, but some burn hotter than others. You can also use good quality lump (NOT BRIQUETTES) charcoal and achieve good results. If you are only focused on a cooking session to heat up the stones, I'd pull out the fuel grate and build double the fire right on the firestarter grate. Think of the fuel grate as a good fuel governor when you are cooking low and slow up above in the Smoker, or when it's hotter outside and you don't need as big a fire to reach the temperatures you want. But, if you're focused on building a bigger, hotter fire to get the pizza oven up to 550 or 600 degrees fast, then I'd pull the fuel grate and build your fire right on the firestarter grate.
- Readily available at any good grill store or Home Depot or Lowe's just to name a few. Also, you may find oak readily available. If you're baking on the stones, you want to build a fire using the higher heat woods like Hickory, Oak, Apple, Maple or Cherry. I'm told Almond works well and any fruitwoods or nut tree woods will burn hot. We've found that the big bags of Hickory at Home Depot will usually do 2 long cooking sessions per bag. A good quality of Lump charcoal can be used to start the fire and then add the wood chunks to that, but I also use a wood firestarter like Lightning Nuggets (which we sell) and then go all wood, which will burn hotter than the charcoal. NEVER, EVER use a liquid firestarter fuel to start your fires because it will leave a bad smell and taste in foods cooked in the smoker.
- 16. What support will I receive after the sale?
- We're here to answer any questions you might have once you start using our EcoQue® Wood-Fired Pizza Oven & Smoker. We have over 500 hours of cooking time on these units so we've learned a lot and continue to receive tips each week from satisfied customers. Think of the stone in the lower oven as a multipurpose thermal mass cooking surface that's not just for baking bread or making pizzas. It's also wonderful for wood planking many different foods along with roasting, baking, and braising in cast or ceramic dishes right on the stone. That stone does an amazing job of spreading the heat evenly no matter what type of cooking you're doing. We've also had people use the stone for the "Wrapped Cooking" phase for their Brisket and Pork Butts. By slowly letting the heat in the stone "finish off" these bigger cuts of smoked meat, you save even more fuel and you let the residual heat in the stone do the work for you-by finishing them overnight or after you let the fire go out.