If you love a charcoal-cooked meal and you want versatility, the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 might be a good choice for you. It’s a grill with lots of cooking space and that’s worth knowing.
But this grill has hidden talents. It easily adjusts to being a smoker by flipping the reversible grates. And for its next trick! It converts into a griddle, ready for leisurely breakfasts in the fresh air.
Meet the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 model number MB20040221 is a gravity-fed charcoal grill, smoker, and griddle. It is designed to be easy to use, keep a steady temperature, and keep you safe, with lots of features for your safety and comfort.
The large 800 square inches of cooking area means you can produce great meals for your family and lots of friends in one session.
With a large hopper that holds 16 pounds of briquettes and a controller that is enabled for WiFi and Bluetooth, you’ll be able to create your masterpieces with that smoke flavor without babysitting.
The build quality is very carefully thought out both in design and costing and then is perfectly formed.
This unit is constructed of a thinner metal of aluminized steel, like most mid-priced grills. If the metal were fit for a tank, the price would be much higher. The reversible grates are constructed of porcelain-coated cast iron for durability and easy cleaning. If you look after this grill, I think it would last 5 years or more.
The charcoal is fed by gravity. The coals burn from the bottom only and as the lower coals turn to ash, gravity will allow more coals into the fire. The hopper is sealed so no new oxygen can enter and the only place for the heat and smoke to go is into the cooking chamber.
Please note that wood pellets are not suitable for the Gravity Series because they will fall through the charcoal grate. The grill is designed to use charcoal and wood chunks about the size of a fist.
This video shows what is going on inside the hopper.
The heat is moved to the manifold by a digital fan. The manifold ensures that the heat is evenly distributed.
That thing that looks like an extension of the lower shelf is a manifold. There is a manifold for the griddle and one for the smoke and sear grates. The manifold that looks like a little house is for the smoker and sear grates and the open-topped manifold is for the griddle. You can store the one that isn’t being used on the lower shelf.
The Gravity Series 800 has some thoughtful safety elements to give you some protection around this very hot beast.
The main lid switch confines the temperature to a maximum of 500F when it is open whether you’re grilling or griddling. If the temperature set is less than 500F, it will hold that heat level. Since you would probably have the lid open most of the time if you’re using the griddle, this is a handy feature.
The hopper lid switch and the ash door switch work together to prevent the stack of charcoal in the hopper from burning up. The fan blows air into the hopper to keep the charcoal burning, and if extra oxygen is pushed into it when you open the door this could create a chimney effect. For this reason, whenever you open either the hopper or the ash doors, the internal fan pauses.
Other Comfort Features
- A timer that can count down or count up, depending on what you prefer
- A folding stainless-steel front shelf
- A lower shelf for holding whichever manifold is not in use
- Hooks under the controller shelf for hanging the griddle or grates when not in use
- Hooks and knobs (3 each) for hanging your tongs and tools at the side
- A handle for easily lifting the griddle out of the grill and finger holes for lifting the grates
- A cable wrap at the rear of the unit
Charcoal smokers are notorious for requiring a lot of adjusting and fussing. Lots of playing with dampers and vents and testing the temperature.
There are no dampers in this unit. There is no need because it is designed to look after itself once you’ve got it going.
There is an intelligent internal fan that is dedicated to maintaining the temperature that you’ve selected. It controls the airflow between the hopper and the cooking area, meaning no vent adjustment is required by you.
A big advantage is that the digital fan will respond quickly to any adjustments you make to the temperature, either up or down. It’ll get to 225F in about 8 minutes, 450F in about 10 minutes, and up to the maximum of 700 in about 14 minutes. Once it’s in operation, it’ll take about 10 minutes to reset the heat level, so you’re in charge of whether it’s set at cooking level or the intensity of a sear!
The temperature is selected with the controller unit along with cooking time, meat probe data, and countdown or count-up timer. In the image below you can also see the probe ports on the left and the on/off button in the middle.
The supplied internal meat probe will ensure that the food is cooked to the correct temperature and ready to be served.
The smoke is supplied via the charcoal hopper. You can add a wood chunk every 2 inches or so as you’re adding the briquettes.
If you’d like even more smoke, you could put a couple of wood chunks in the ash pan under the hopper. These will flame up and provide more smoke.
There is an inbuilt lid thermometer for an estimated temperature check. There are no numbers on the dial, but you can see the exact temperature by looking at the controller box. If you’d really like to see the exact temperature in the lid, there is an upgraded lid thermometer available.
There is no water pan included in the design of this unit, but that won’t stop you from placing a flameproof container of liquid with your meat.
Seasoning The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800
Being a dual-cooking surface unit, there are 2 burn-ins required. There is the general seasoning of the smoker, but you also need to season the griddle separately.
Don’t plan on using the grill immediately because this will take a few hours.
1. Seasoning The Grill
- Fill the hopper with charcoal to between 25% to 50% full
- Start the grill and set the temperature to 250F for 60 minutes
- Increase the temperature to 400F for 30 minutes
- Shut down the grill
- Allow the unit to cool down completely
- Using a clean cloth, rub a light coat of cooking oil on both grates, both racks, the charcoal grate, and the inside of the lid and body
- Start the grill again at 350F, leave for 30 minutes
- Once again, shut the grill down and allow it to cool completely
- Ready to grill!
2. Seasoning The Griddle
- Get some cooking oil, paper towel your BBQ gloves
- Convert your grill to the griddle
- Wipe the griddle down
- Set the temperature to 250F
- Let it heat up for about 15 minutes
- Pour cooking oil over the griddle top
- Put your BBQ gloves on and wipe the oil to cover the whole griddle surface with the paper towel
- Heat the griddle to 400F
- The oil will smoke as it settles on the griddle
- After the smoke disperses, adjust the temperature to 350F
- Pour more oil on the griddle surface
- Again wipe the oil over the whole surface with your BBQ gloves on
- The griddle will smoke again
- Allow the griddle to cool down after the smoke disperses
- Ready for griddling!
Ease Of Use
For a charcoal smoker, this thing is really easy to use; it practically looks after itself. And it’s happy to tell you all about it via the app.
How To Use The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800
- Open the door under the hopper and shake give the charcoal grate a shake to make sure that the ash from the last cook is passed down to the bucket.
- Remove the shutdown slides from between the hopper and the cooking chamber. One is the “heat intake” slide and one is the “air intake” slide; they are known collectively as the shutdown slides. These slides regulate airflow. When they’re in place, no air is getting to the fire, so guess what, it won’t light if you forget to take them out!
- Spray the grates with cooking spray or olive oil spray.
- Add charcoal to the hopper. If you’re adding wood chunks add a chunk every 2 inches or so.
- Add a couple of wood chunks to the ash bucket.
- Decide which grates you need and adjust as required.
- When the fire is lit and you can see smoke, close the lids and door.
- Using the controller, set the temperature and time.
- While you allow the grill to heat up you can get your food ready.
- If you’re using the app, you can monitor the cook from your mobile phone.
- If you’d prefer to keep an eye on the smoker’s progress yourself, you can completely ignore the Bluetooth and Wifi features.
- When the cook is finished, turn off the controller and ensure the lids and the door are closed.
- Make sure to replace the shutdown slides, otherwise, you’ll waste the charcoal that was left over.
In this video, Daniel will tell you all about how the hopper works:
Flexibility Of The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Griddle + Grill + Smoker
The Gravity Series 800 has got you covered! It is a grill that becomes a smoker by switching the reversible grates. It’s a griddle by switching out the manifold and replacing the grates with the flat-top surface. You can do so much with this unit!
Size Of The GS 800
The cooking area is 800 square inches in total and is made up of the two smoke/sear grates and two warming racks. You can comfortably fit 12 chickens or 6 racks of ribs or 57 sausages or 36 burgers. Enough for a party!
The dimensions of this grill are 55.1 wide and 30.5 inches deep, and it stands 50.9 inches high.
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 weight is 204.15 pounds, so portability is not a feature. However, it has two 8-inch wheels on the right-hand side and two 3-inch casters on the other side.
Assembly of The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800
Assembling the unit is pretty straightforward according to customer experience, but leave a couple of hours because there are a lot of parts. It’s a good idea to have someone available to help you with the unboxing and assembly.
Very helpfully, the hopper arrives already attached to the main body of the grill.
The main assembly required is for the accessories, such as the cart and the shelves. The diagrams in the instruction manual of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 are better than average, although I think it could do with a table of contents.
The tools needed for the assembly are:
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- 19mm socket wrench
A lot of the parts destined for the inside of the grill are coated in oil to protect them from rust. Maybe consider setting down a tarpaulin or paint sheet when unboxing. Plus, this oil needs to be burned off before using the grill for food, so make sure you do your seasoning!
Cleaning The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800
- Turn the power off at the controller.
- Re-insert the shutdown slides.
- Wait until the grill is completely cooled down.
- The sear and smoke grates in the main cooking area are cast iron and can be scraped like any other grill grates. Scrape both sides of the sear and smoke grates.
- The warming racks above the cooking area are porcelain-coated, so they can be cleaned with warm water and mild dish detergent.
- Remove the grill grates to reveal the heat manifold.
Scrape the manifold.
- Remove the grease tray, empty it, and clean it with warm water and mild dish detergent. The grease tray is at the lower front.
- Slide out the bottom tray from the rear of the unit and scrape it off.
- Spray the grill grates and manifold with cooking oil to act as a re-seasoning.
- The ash bucket is accessed by the door under the hopper and makes emptying the ash very easy. Tap or shake the charcoal grate to knock all remaining ash into the bucket.
- Remove the ash bucket, empty it.
- Before replacing the ash bucket, wipe out any residue in the bucket compartment.
- The hopper doesn’t require emptying because any remaining charcoal will be saved for the next cook. No wastage!
- The exterior of the grill can be wiped with a damp cloth.
- Replace the cover, store the grill in a sheltered dry place.
Storing The Gravity Series 800
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 is an outside grill but appreciates a cover because it does not take kindly to being in the weather. An enclosed or sheltered dry spot would suit it best to keep the charcoal from getting damp and of course, the electrical control panel doesn’t do well if it’s wet.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series Troubleshooting
Temporary Lining In The Firebox
Your Masterbuilt GS 800 will arrive with a stainless-steel liner in the lower section of the hopper. Its only purpose is to hold the firebrick in place during shipping. It is designed to disintegrate gradually after the first burn. The residue will fall into the ash bucket.
The food-grade ceramic firebrick will then be exposed and will harden with use.
The Display Says That The Grill Is Open But It’s Not
Even though it looks like all the doors are closed, they might not be quite closed. Open and reclose the main lid. You can also try pressing the lid safety switch a few times; it may be stuck. It’s at the front on the right-hand side.
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Fan Is Not Working
The fan won’t work if the grill thinks that the hopper lid or door is open. This is for your safety.
If the fan won’t come on:
- Open the hopper lid and press the safety switch a few times and then latch it firmly. If the fan doesn’t come on, do the same with the hopper door.
- Ensure that you’ve set the temperature, otherwise, the fan will not come on.
During the cook, the fan will turn off and on depending on what the cooking chamber needs to keep a steady temperature.
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 App
Masterbuilt has an optional free app available that will allow you to control and monitor the temperature of the cook. It will also communicate various areas if it determines that certain conditions exist.
There are very mixed customer reviews concerning the apps. Some say it works as it should, some say that opening the lid of the grill causes the app to disconnect.
In short, the app is not yet perfect and it’s a good idea to still physically check your grill from time to time.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Error Codes
If you’re using the app, it may communicate certain situations with error codes. These errors are Err 1, Err 2 and Err 5 relate to the meat probe and its temperature, Err 3 warns about the grill overheating, and Err 4 warns that ignition didn’t work. Here is a summary of the codes, what they mean and what to do.
The warranty is for 1 year, which is less than other units.
Does The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Provide Value For Money?
For less than $1,000 with the versatility to be a grill, smoker, or griddle plus being so easy to use, we think this is value for money.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Summary
What’s Nifty About The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800?
- Easily converts to a griddle – unique design to allow grilling, smoking and griddling
- Holds steady temperature – the intelligent internal fan monitors and maintains the cooking temperature
- Wide temperature range – this unit can go as low as 100F for smoking and up to 700F for searing and pizza plus temperatures in between for grilling and griddling
- Fast heating up (and down) – there is no hanging around waiting for the temperature to update; the time it takes to heat up provides just the right time to prepare your food
- Charcoal can be added without letting heat out of the cooking area – no heat or smoke will escape if you need to add more charcoal; keep in mind you need to reload when the temperature is less than 250F.
- Controller enabled for Bluetooth and WiFi – thanks to the app, the controller can speak to your phone and keep you up to date with the progress of the cook
- 4 Temperature probe ports – no more squashing the probe wires under the lid and there are 4 of them! Love it. One probe is included with the grill. The size of the meat probe plug is 3.5mm. It is a standard aux (auxiliary) style connection.
- Easy to light – this unit is lit using a fire starter and the charcoal is fed by gravity
- Easy cleanup – there is an ash bucket and a grease tray, both easily removed, no need to empty the hopper because the charcoal is saved for the next cook
- Safety features – when the hopper lid or door are opened, there are switches that turn the fan off to avoid a sudden rush of oxygen and subsequent flare-up plus, when the main lid is open, the temperature is adjusted to 500F for your safety, and then it returns to your set temperature when the lid is closed
What’s Not So Nifty About The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800?
- Needs to be situated near an electrical outlet – yes, this is a charcoal grill, but the controller and the internal fan require electricity so this is not a blackout grill
- Power cord connection is fragile – the connection to the controller is a soldered join and it needs to have the tension relieved to stay attached. When you’re packing up the unit, disconnect the power cord before wrapping it around the cord hanger to protect the join. Consider using zip-ties to hang the power cord under the unit to take the strain off the cord.
- Not suitable for small spaces – this unit is 55.1 inches x 30.5 inches and although it has wheels, it’s not what I would call portable
- Short warranty – this length of warranty is not unusual among the other grills on the market, but it is quite short
How Could The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Be Improved?
Any improvements would increase the cost, of course. Having said that, a more robust power connection would be appreciated.
The performance of the app has mixed reviews, but, as with all apps, this is an ongoing project.
Who Is The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 For?
The Masterbuilt GS 800 is for someone who has room for it to sit proudly in a large backyard or on a roomy patio; under cover is better. These new owners love the taste of charcoal-cooked meat but don’t appreciate the constant monitoring required for the perfect smoky taste. They value the thoughtful safety features and the easy cleanup, which is unusual for a charcoal unit.
+ 2 Warming Racks
or 10 Pounds Lump Charcoal
- Easily converts to a griddle
- Holds steady temperature
- Wide temperature range
- Fast heating up (and down)
- Charcoal can be added without letting heat out of cooking area
- Controller enabled for Bluetooth and WiFi
- 4 Temperature probe ports
- Easy to light
- Easy cleanup
- Safety features
- Needs to be situated near an electrical outlet
- Power cord connection is fragile
- Not suitable for small spaces
- Short warranty
Optional Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Accessories
Tips For Best Performance Of Your Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800
- When you’re setting up for each cook, remember to remove the two shutdown slides to allow airflow.
- The grates that are not in use can be hung on the hooks under the side shelf.
- Tap or shake the charcoal grate to release the ash from the last cook into the bucket. As you add the charcoal, add a wood chunk for every couple of inches for your favorite smoky taste.
For even more smoke, add a couple of wood chunks to the ash bucket.
- If you like to add a water pan, a flameproof container such as a foil tray can be placed on the grate with the food; there is no designated water pan.
- Wear your BBQ gloves to reload charcoal during the cook; the hopper will be hot!
- Be gentle with the power cord, try to give it some slack, and always disconnect it before winding it around the cord wrap.
Contacting The Manufacturer
Submit a form on the Masterbuilt “Contact Us” page. You can include images of your smoker to show your problem. Please note that your unit needs to be registered before sending your query.
Alternatively, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (706) 256-3943.
We like this grill a lot. In return for gentle treatment and care, it will give you hassle-free charcoal-cooked meals. We love the choice of an easily switched griddle on a Sunday morning and a smoking session afterwards for a delicious Sunday supper.
Should You Buy The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800?
This easy-to-use unit would not suit someone who likes to continually check vents, charcoal and temperature. It would not suit someone who doesn’t have the room for it and if you’re not going to use the griddle, it’s probably not worth it.
Would One Of The Other Models Of The Masterbuilt Gravity Series Be A Better Choice For You?
If the Masterbuilt GS 800 is too big or needs to be bigger, or if you don’t want a griddle, maybe one of the other Gravity Series grills would suit you.
If you’d like to see more about how they all compare, you can have a look at our detailed Gravity Series comparison article. Meanwhile, here are the basic differences among the Gravity Series models.
|Feature||Gravity Series 560||Gravity Series 800||Gravity Series 1050|
|Grill, Smoker||Grill, Smoker, Griddle||Grill, Smoker|
|What It Looks Like|
Temperature Range (F)
|Cooking Capacity||8 chickens or|
4 racks of ribs or
37 sausages or
|12 chickens or |
6 racks of ribs or
57 sausages or
|17 chickens or |
7 racks of ribs or
67 sausages or
|Cooking Surface |
(W x D x H Inches)
|54.13 x 24.65 x 51.97||30.5 x 55.1 x 50.9||61.02 x 33.07 x 52.17|
|Lower Shelf||Expanded Metal||Solid|
With Imprint For
Manifold Not In Use
|Warming Racks||2 Removable Half Racks |
With Extra Racks Available
|2 Foldaway Racks|
No Need To Remove
|2 Foldaway Racks|
No Need To Remove
|Inner Walls||Aluminized Steel|
Some Sections Double
|Lower Front||Lower Front||Left-Hand Side|
|Tool Rack Style||3 Knobs||3 Knobs Plus|
|3 Knobs Plus|
How Does The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Stack Up Against Similarly Priced Smokers?
If you miss having a pellet grill and using wood pellets, and you don’t need a griddle, maybe one of these would suit you.
|Smoker Name||Smoker||Hopper Capacity (Pounds)||Cooking Surface (Square Inches)||Weight (Pounds)||Footprint |
(W x D x H Inches)
|18||575||124||41 x 27 x 53|
|22||811||132||42 x 30 x 49|
Wishing you sunny smoking days!
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