As car people out there know, drive by wire was a technology that was invented to remove the mechanical linkage of the gas pedal to the throttle body (also seen in steering systems). Instead, the technology opts for an electronic controller to actuate the throttle.
According to a series of patents released today, Weber is working on a similar technology that they refer to as “control by wire”. This eliminates the mechanical linkage of the knob on a gas grill to the burner valve. The idea behind the technology is to reduce the number of steps it takes to start and shutdown a gas grill.
Current Gas Grill Operation
As Weber describes in their patents, the current process to start a 2-burner gas grill is as follows.
- Rotate the knob or lever on the valve of the fuel source
- Push in and rotate the knob on the first burner
- Press and hold the ignition button
- Push in and rotate the knob for the second burner
The shutdown is basically the same process, in reverse and without pressing the ignition.
While it’s not a particularly cumbersome process, it could be made easier and less manual. That’s what Weber’s patents are centered around.
The way that burner valves work today is there is a manifold that connects the gas flow from the source to burner valves. The valves are all mechanical, so as you turn them, they physically open and close the opening between the manifold and the burners.
Control By Wire Valves
Much like in the car example, when a valve is electronically controlled, the knob isn’t physically opening and closing anything. An electronic controller is used to translate the position of the knob to a position the corresponding valve should be.
Benefits of Control By Wire
The main benefit of a gas grill going to a control by wire system is the start-up, shutdown, and temperature changing process can be controlled with the push of a button. A user could press one or two buttons or a menu prompt and the grill will do the rest.
It also allows for temperature control by a controller during cooks. Much like a pellet grill, Weber could make it so the burners on the grill follow a preset recipe.
Gas Valve Control
Weber’s patents describe multiple configurations for automating start-up and shutdown of a grill. One includes electronic control of a motor or a solenoid valve for the gas source.
This would take place of turning the valve on the tank or natural gas line. The controller on the grill would take care of that step too.
Using an electronic control system like this could even be used remotely by a phone, for example. If Weber does bring this technology to market, they may leave off gas control in a phone interface. Much like pellet grills that don’t have remote starting, there is potential for a fire hazard.
Will We See This?
While we see patents all the time for products that probably will never see the market, this technology seems very likely. It’s where the market is going and is a logical next step for gas grills. Weber is planning on some big product launches in 2024, maybe they will even include control by wire.