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Thermometers: Instant Read and/or Leave it in Multi-Probe (WiFi) types


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I'm interested in knowing what types of temperature reading devices are reasonable purchases for cooking on the Kamado.

 

Do those of you with both an Instant Read thermometer (Like a Thermapen) and a Multi-Probe "leave it in" thermometer with a wireless remote setup (Like a Smoke or Signals) use them both pretty regularly when cooking on your Kamados?

 

If one purchased a Signals unit, do you simply not need a Thermapen, or vice versa?  Are the two types mostly redundant, or are they each indispensable?

 

Does the "hassle" of using / cleaning a Multi-Probe "leave it in" thermometer make it not a good choice?

 

One of my perceptions about using an Instant Read device vs. a leave it in device, is that you'll open your Kamado and have a quick look occasionally?  Is that a good thing, or is it more important to keep the lid closed?

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Opening lid to check temperature if fine as long as you don’t keep it open for very long.    I use MK4 or ThermoPop  to take temperature of my meat or bread.   As soon as I have my reading I close lid and temperature stabilizes.   Based on temp readings I estimate when to take next reading,  

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I have gotten away from using leave-in meat probes.  

 

Leave-in meat probes are typically used for slow cooking meats.  They aren't particularly effective on fast cooking meats like steaks and chops.  They aren't designed to react quickly enough to be as effective in those roles.  I use my instant read thermometer for everything.  With some experience you will find that you know about when you need to start checking meat temps.  

 

I also have issues with how well leave-in thermometers work when you are cooking hot.  I like to cook chicken and turkey at 400°F and higher.  These leave-in probes are all ineffective when working at these temps.  They end up getting hot and radiating heat into the bird.  This causes the probe to read hotter than the meat actually is.  I have documented this problem with multiple leave-in probes so I know it's not the probe or system itself.  It's just the nature of how it is used.

 

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Thermoworks does offer several wide temperature range thermometer kits with fast and accurate type k thermocouples (as are in the Thermapen Mk4 - and not the Signals or Smoke, which use a thermistor).  A couple of them seem like reasonable choices for BBQ enthusiasts who want to measure a wider range of temps.

 

In particular the ThermaQ® WiFi High Temp Kit and and armored cable version of the same.

https://www.thermoworks.com/search?keywords=ThermaQ&comms_type=Wi~Fi&kits=BBQ-Kit

 

Yes, hard to know about the impact of the probe itself.  But at the point of meat entry, I'm sure the probe would have some impact if there is a temperature differential.

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If you're planning your budget, an instant read is the better first purchase. I use mine for nearly every cook and it gets as much use in the indoor kitchen as the outdoor. I have the Thermapen MK4 and it's built to last but pricey. You can sign up for their emails and jump on their occasional open box sale for the best price, or just wait on their more frequent 20 or 25% sales. If it were available when I was buying I might have looked into the IR model with infrared but I haven't read the reviews. 

 

My leave in probes are basically expensive alarms for slow and low unattended cooking and I still use my instant read there for monitoring the finishing temp as it's better than the leave in for probing several spots. I wouldn't do an overnight cook without one as it alerts me to any major temperature swings while I sleep, but that's maybe 3-4 uses per year. The big upgrade to that is a temp controller, which I've just purchased after 3 years of denying I wanted one. I'm glad I learned to control my grill before relying on a controller but I'm looking forward to more restful nights with it, and after doing a test run I might make more use of my leave in now that it controls the grill.

 

If you want to learn from my mistakes and don't want to spend all that money up front, get a leave in unit that can later be upgraded to a controller, like Signals where you can later add a fan. Or just wait on the purchase altogether and take time figuring out what will be the best investment. All of these controllers have popped up in just a few years with more and more features. $300-400 is a lot to spend on a quickly advancing technology and you might not know your needs yet. I bought my Signals and Billows used at half the price of new which makes me feel somewhat better about going through two other leave in devices before making that leap. Some people love the latest and greatest but I prefer to buy once.

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My question to Thermoworks this morning:

I’m sure I’m not the first to ask about a ThermaQ / Signals mashup.  Fast and accurate (Type K), higher temp readings, and more probes, all on one device.  Awesome.  Any ETA?

 

And the answer:

Unfortunately, I can't share future product details or timelines.  I can tell you, that you are not the first to ask for this specific request, and we are constantly working on improving our products.  The end goal is to have similar product offerings in both our thermistor and thermocouple lines.

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Thank you John and Seabrisket for your good advice and info.

 

A good discounted price on Thermapen Mk4, or one of it's peers, does seem to be an obvious well thought out choice.  Fast, simple, easy.

 

And maybe one day soon, a Thermoworks / Signals mashup, or similarly technologically capable device, as mentioned above, seems like a good option too.  I do like the idea that Thermoworks blower product works in concert with Signals.

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John has a good point. 

 

I was an early Kickstarter purchaser of the MEATER (one of the few real smart items I picked up off that site)

For roasting, or long low and slow, its great.  Especially because you can manage ambient heat and internal heat on one device, one app.

Ridiculous to use on a steak or grilled fish. And it doesn’t like flare ups. 

 

Use an instant read Thermo-pen.  I just changed out mine early this week after Johns video.  

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I have both some instant read thermometers (with the small tip) and some leave-in type probes.  I use the instant reads on quicker cooking type dishes.  When I do a long and slow cook, I use the leave in type.  I'm a bit of an outlier on my leave-ins, because I don't use a kitchen-type thermometer.  I use a more industrial setup, with Type K thermocouple probes, most often to a 2-probe industrial thermocouple reader box.  I used to use this sort of stuff industrially, and had most of what I needed down in my shop when I decided to try low and slow cooking.

 

I set up one probe on a small wire stand I formed up, holding it about an inch above the cooking surface, to monitor the cooking temperature, and the second probe goes in the meat.  I just run the probe wires wires out through the gasket, and connect them into my boxes.  I've even got the stuff to make up extension wires and other probes.  Buy small diameter stainless steel jacketed probes and they are easy to clean and reliable, and I'm not restricted to one manufacturer if something goes wrong.  Mini thermocouple connectors are universal in dimensions.  I generally get the type that have the connector remoted from the end of the probe, with a stainless steel or similar high-temp material used at the junction for best longevity, but they aren't expensive if you hunt around a bit.  I've used both an Omega 2-channel hand reader (used from Ebay), and a cheaper Chinese box ($20 new from Amazon), both of which work well.  I could probably get a basic 2-probe setup done for around $30, depending on the probes.  I don't have wireless capability, but could probably rig it up if I had the desire, as it's all standard thermocouples and process monitoring hardware.

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Hi Loremaster.  Great to have your input.  I'm not sure if these Q's are in your lane, but here goes:

 

Do you know if all thermocouples, within a type classification (such as K), are as good as each other, or are there notable swings in quality?  Meaning should all different BBQ thermometer companies Type K probes be more or less the same and interchangeable as far as readings (not withstanding that they may have different plug connections)?

 

Is there a configuration process one needs to go through when setting up a Type K thermocouple, like zeroing out a scale.  Or do they come ready to go, meeting some predefined parameters?

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