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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: benamcg on October 22, 2013, 03:35:58 PM

Title: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: benamcg on October 22, 2013, 03:35:58 PM
Anybody have a good recommendation on a thermometer?

I have had issues with the longevity of 2 digital ones, and have gone back to my glass floating thermometer (similar to: http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/floating-thermometer.html).   In calculating grain temperature to estimate strike water my digital was reading 85 degrees and the floating 65 degrees (which was closer to the room temperature of the basement.  Using the floater I seem to be able to hit all my target temps, hit my estimated gravities based on a good extract efficiency.  Based solely on this, I am assuming that it is working.

I got away from this exact floating glass one when I had different readings between it and 2 laboratory glass thermometer (similar to http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/lab-thermometer.html).  I probably am leaning in the route of another glass one in case this one breaks or to estimate whether it has become somewhat compromised. I would like to be able to check its accuracy with another thermometer or a method around the critical temperatures (50 to 195 degrees).  It seems that the thermometers I have used are either accurate at the lower end or the higher end.

Even though I have had rotten luck with digitals, I love the ability to probe and get a reading.  So, if you think that you have a great digital, please let me know. 

Thanks
Ben
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: a10t2 on October 22, 2013, 03:45:48 PM
What's your budget?
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: benamcg on October 22, 2013, 03:46:35 PM
Since the longevity of my thermometers seem to be less than 1 year.....maybe less than $75?
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: factory on October 22, 2013, 03:47:14 PM
I have a Thermopen.  They're pricey, but you can find them on sale sometimes.  Using the Thermopen, I discovered that every thermometer I have is off by at least 5 degrees.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: james on October 22, 2013, 03:50:14 PM
I'm a huge fan of the RT600c from Thermoworks http://amzn.to/17pggdS

Cheap, fast, and reliable.  I would love a thermopen but really can't see myself spending that much for a thermometer.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: AmandaK on October 22, 2013, 03:52:21 PM
I'm a huge fan of the RT600c from Thermoworks http://amzn.to/17pggdS

Cheap, fast, and reliable.  I would love a thermopen but really can't see myself spending that much for a thermometer.

Same here. Many Thermapen owners regret their purchase when they see mine works just as well for 20% of the cost.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: factory on October 22, 2013, 03:57:08 PM
I'm a huge fan of the RT600c from Thermoworks http://amzn.to/17pggdS

Cheap, fast, and reliable.  I would love a thermopen but really can't see myself spending that much for a thermometer.

Same here. Many Thermapen owners regret their purchase when they see mine works just as well for 20% of the cost.

You're correct.  I wish I would have found this one sooner.  Oh well, I know now, so when my Thermopen dies....
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: kramerog on October 22, 2013, 04:01:18 PM
I'm a huge fan of the RT600c from Thermoworks http://amzn.to/17pggdS

Cheap, fast, and reliable.  I would love a thermopen but really can't see myself spending that much for a thermometer.

Same here. Many Thermapen owners regret their purchase when they see mine works just as well for 20% of the cost.

I don't regret buying a thermapen but I probably would buy the RT600c from the same maker as the thermapen next time.  The thermapen is a lot of money for something that is not water tight.  The RT600c appears to have better water resistance (vs. splash proof).
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: james on October 22, 2013, 04:03:58 PM

I don't regret buying a thermapen but I probably would buy the RT600c from the same maker as the thermapen next time.  The thermapen is a lot of money for something that is not water tight.  The RT600c appears to have better water resistance (vs. splash proof).

They even say the RT600c can go through the dishwasher. I've never run mine through, just doesn't seem necessary
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: mabrungard on October 22, 2013, 04:27:09 PM
Those RT600 units sure look good.  Their water resistance is really nice too.  Do be cautious with any electronic or physical thermometer though.  They could lose their accuracy and you wouldn't know it.  Having a certified reference standard is still a good idea for checking that your 'working' thermometers are reporting accurately. 

I have used inexpensive dial thermometers for over a decade and they are quite repeatable.  However, they can easily be damaged or knocked out of calibration.  That is where a reference standard is an important tool to have.  Calibrating thermometers in the mashing temperature range is highly recommended since some instruments can have non-linear response.  That means that checking them with ice-water and boiling-water baths might not be a good enough calibration check.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: svejk on October 22, 2013, 04:37:37 PM
I picked up an Atkins 330 thermocouple on ebay many years ago, and it has been absolutely reliable the entire time. A new one would have been prohibitively expensive, but I paid less than $75 for mine.  There's one currently listed:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ATKINS-SERIES-330-THERMOCOUPLE-THERMOMETER-/111195985196
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: joe_feist on October 22, 2013, 04:49:35 PM
I've used the digital and dial thermometers both. The dial are more robust IMO. Just tossed another digital when it read 140* in my fridge.

Martin, what do use for a reference for a mash temp without relying on another thermometer? I understand your point about using ice - boiling water, but I'm racking my brain trying to think of what else to reference.

Thanks,
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: mabrungard on October 22, 2013, 05:01:07 PM
Martin, what do use for a reference for a mash temp without relying on another thermometer? I understand your point about using ice - boiling water, but I'm racking my brain trying to think of what else to reference.

I have a NIST-certified mercury thermometer that serves as my reference.  Clearly, you wouldn't want to use one of those anywhere in the brewery due to its fragility and hazard.  I suggest that homebrew clubs may want to invest in something like that and they can have calibration events at their meetings a few times a year so that members can check their thermometers.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: a10t2 on October 22, 2013, 06:32:51 PM
They even say the RT600c can go through the dishwasher. I've never run mine through, just doesn't seem necessary

I wouldn't do it. They're definitely water-resistant, but nowhere near water-PROOF. My roommate just fried mine by leaving it in the sink for a while.

That said, I'm buying another one because it fits my budget. For what a Thermapen costs, you can get a really nice handheld unit with a probe.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: swampale on October 22, 2013, 09:59:02 PM
I bought a Thermapen 2 months ago and don't regret the high price. I also use it to BBQ meat to get a quick check on temps. I expect this to last for years.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 22, 2013, 11:43:31 PM
I've been pretty thrilled with my NIST traceable lollipop thermometer.  I've had it 2 years and have checked it against a friend's glass reference lab thermometer 3 or 4 times and it stays reliably within ~ 1/2 a degree F, at mash temps. It's also far less than a thermopen  :

http://www.thomassci.com/Instruments/Digital-Thermometers/_/Thomas-Traceable-Lollipop-ShockWaterproof-Thermometer/?s=MzoxNjowOjo6Ojo6MDo%3d

Amazon sometimes sells it for even less. It's a good one.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: a10t2 on October 23, 2013, 05:00:36 AM
I have one of those; it's my reference thermometer. FWIW, Arbor has them for $26. http://www.arborsci.com/lab-supplies/measurement/digital-thermometer
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: Mark G on October 23, 2013, 01:14:09 PM
I have one of those; it's my reference thermometer. FWIW, Arbor has them for $26. http://www.arborsci.com/lab-supplies/measurement/digital-thermometer
Same one I have. And it's definitely waterproof. It sat at the bottom of my HLT for about an hour last brew day and still works flawlessly.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: kramerog on October 23, 2013, 01:59:58 PM
I use a brewmometer (http://www.blichmannengineering.com/products/brewmometer%E2%84%A2 (http://www.blichmannengineering.com/products/brewmometer%E2%84%A2)) on my HLT that  has matched up pretty well to my thermapen.  Probably not what the OP was thinking of but technically it's a thermometer.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: mihalybaci on October 23, 2013, 02:20:29 PM
I've been using an IR thermometer for a while and really like it. It reads temp quickly and accurately, and because it doesn't contact the beer I don't have to worry about sanitization when using post-boil. The drawback though is that it only reads surface temps so everything has to be well-mixed to give good temperatures.

Plus I can use it on my cast iron pan to see when it's hot enough to put my steaks on to cook.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: joe_feist on October 23, 2013, 04:19:06 PM
Martin, what do use for a reference for a mash temp without relying on another thermometer? I understand your point about using ice - boiling water, but I'm racking my brain trying to think of what else to reference.

I have a NIST-certified mercury thermometer that serves as my reference.  Clearly, you wouldn't want to use one of those anywhere in the brewery due to its fragility and hazard.  I suggest that homebrew clubs may want to invest in something like that and they can have calibration events at their meetings a few times a year so that members can check their thermometers.

Thanks. That's a good idea. I recently joined a club and maybe some one already has a reference.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: bluesman on October 23, 2013, 04:40:19 PM
I bought a Thermapen 2 months ago and don't regret the high price. I also use it to BBQ meat to get a quick check on temps. I expect this to last for years.

+1

I also have a Thermapen that I've been using for two years and about 50 batches now. Works like a charm. No regrets whatsoever.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: hubie on October 23, 2013, 06:30:53 PM
Using the Thermopen, I discovered that every thermometer I have is off by at least 5 degrees.

Are you sure your Thermopen is not the one that is off by five degrees?
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: Stevie on October 23, 2013, 06:38:39 PM
Using the Thermopen, I discovered that every thermometer I have is off by at least 5 degrees.

Are you sure your Thermopen is not the one that is off by five degrees?

(http://davidlasnier.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tumblr_lj7485dxte1qfdqlf.gif)
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: hoodie on October 23, 2013, 08:23:12 PM
I have one of thermoworks mini-thermocouplers. They have tons of attachments. I have one of their long stemmed candy rods for mashing and a wire probe I can stick down a thermowell. Plus you can buy separate attachments for bbq'ing. It can get a little pricey however
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: mklaney on March 07, 2014, 03:28:15 PM
I got tired of thermometers that all have different readings and finding out that digital probe thermometers aren't usually waterproof.  After reading this thread and looking around online, I just ordered the ThermWorks Therma Waterproof with probe and rubber boot.  $170.  I hope this puts an end to my search for dependability.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: Pinski on March 07, 2014, 03:47:06 PM
I bought a Thermapen 2 months ago and don't regret the high price. I also use it to BBQ meat to get a quick check on temps. I expect this to last for years.

+1

I also have a Thermapen that I've been using for two years and about 50 batches now. Works like a charm. No regrets whatsoever.

Third.
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: narcout on March 07, 2014, 08:12:55 PM
I have one of those; it's my reference thermometer. FWIW, Arbor has them for $26. http://www.arborsci.com/lab-supplies/measurement/digital-thermometer

I have the same one and have been pretty happy with it.  I do wish it would read a little more quickly, but it does work well. 
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: BrewArk on March 07, 2014, 08:50:48 PM
I've been using an IR thermometer for a while and really like it. It reads temp quickly and accurately, and because it doesn't contact the beer I don't have to worry about sanitization when using post-boil. The drawback though is that it only reads surface temps so everything has to be well-mixed to give good temperatures.

Plus I can use it on my cast iron pan to see when it's hot enough to put my steaks on to cook.
+1
Title: Re: Thermometer Recommendation
Post by: flbrewer on March 07, 2014, 11:54:08 PM
Thermapen...that is all.