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Old 01-04-2013, 05:49 AM   #1
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Default Decent corded thermometer??? (and a rant to start)

Is there a decent corded thermometer made?

I bought an Acu-rite thermometer from Walmart about three years ago. I didn't brew much in those three years and only used it probably a half dozen times. When I got back into brewing a few weeks ago, I used it a couple of times and it started giving me bizarre readings. I figured that it was three years old, so I didn't have too much to complain about. I bought another Acu-rite corded thermometer from Walmart. It was basically the same model, except it had a braided metal cord instead of a rubber/plastic one. This one made it through two brew days before it started with bizarre readings (180ish degrees in room temperature water). I had already thrown out the packaging, so I decided to buy another one at Walmart and keep it, then return the old one (well only a couple of weeks old) with the new packaging.

When I went to Walmart they didn't have the Acu-rite model any longer. They did, however, have a Taylor corded thermometer with cordless remote. This was about twice the price of the other one I had. I can be quite impatient at times and wanted to brew tonight so I just bought this more expensive one.

Well, low and behold, after I was halfway through the mash, this one did the SAME FERKING SHIITE! It started with bizarre readings! It would read everything as 170ish degrees F. I was already in the middle of the mash, so I couldn't run out and get another one, so I got my old broken one (the two week old one) and turned it on. It was reading correct (well, what I subjectively thought was correct anyhow), so I continued with this one.

Fast forward to cooling my wort and it seemed like it was taking forever to cool down. I noticed that it stayed at about 100F for quite a long time. I pulled the thermometer out and placed it in a bucket of cold water and it read 120F. Ferking great! I dipped my hand in sanitizer and check my wort temperature with my finger and it felt WAY cold. Now I have a wort that is at probably at about 50F (the temp of the water I was running my immersion cooler with) and yeast that should be pitched at a minimum of 60F.

Am I doing something wrong with these thermometers or am I just really, really ferking unlucky? I am pretty damn pissed right now with three thermometers having the exact same problem. The one constant in all of this (besides me, of course) is Walmart. At this point, I'm assuming it's cheap Chinese-made crap to blame...


Sooooo... anyone have any suggestions for good corded thermometers?



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Old 01-04-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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Depending on what you want to spend, try Nova Restaurant Supply at East End. He has a few digitals at a decent price.



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Old 01-04-2013, 12:24 PM   #3
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Sooooo... anyone have any suggestions for good corded thermometers?
My guess is that you are using the probe in a way that allows liquid to get into the junction of the cord and the metal probe; this will cause the probe to throw some weird readings, like what you are seeing.

They aren't constructed to allow the probe to be submerged into liquids; they are designed to be stuck into a roast and that junction being out in the open.

You can dry the probe by putting it into an oven for awhile; people have had luck doing this.

The other option is to waterproof the junction with some silicone tubing and zip ties. If you have the braided cord version is suspect that liquid may still be able to work its way through the braid and down into the junction.

Overall, I consider this type of thermometer not ideal for brewing. I find a simple probe thermometers to work much better for brewing.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:26 PM   #4
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I've burned out so many of those it's not even funny. I've bought them from Big Box stores, I've bought them from Restaurant supply stores, they pretty much are all not meant to be used how we use them...Someone even bought me a fancy wireless one for grilling, and that crapped out pretty fast or just wasn't all that accurate.

Though Bobby_m has a great thread from '07 that shows how you can at least slow down or maybe prevent the inevitable.



I've found though that even if you waterproof the probe, the steam will eventually affect the digital display if you happen to have your receiver over anywhere where it might come in contact, like above a kettle if you are brewing in the kitchen and have it on your range hood.

I actually keep a old school couple lab glass ones always handy just in case they crapped out.

I think inevitably any brewer is going to need to pluck down big bucks for either a thermapen (but they don't iirc make a corded one) or a thermo-coupler with a remote probe.

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Old 01-04-2013, 02:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by VladOfTrub View Post
Depending on what you want to spend, try Nova Restaurant Supply at East End. He has a few digitals at a decent price.
Cool. I'll check them out. Are you from the W-B area?

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Originally Posted by broadbill View Post
My guess is that you are using the probe in a way that allows liquid to get into the junction of the cord and the metal probe; this will cause the probe to throw some weird readings, like what you are seeing.

They aren't constructed to allow the probe to be submerged into liquids; they are designed to be stuck into a roast and that junction being out in the open.

You can dry the probe by putting it into an oven for awhile; people have had luck doing this.

The other option is to waterproof the junction with some silicone tubing and zip ties. If you have the braided cord version is suspect that liquid may still be able to work its way through the braid and down into the junction.

Overall, I consider this type of thermometer not ideal for brewing. I find a simple probe thermometers to work much better for brewing.
I hadn't even considered this a possibility. I just ASSumed they were made for this type of use. Well, I guess I now know why I had all the problems. I actually bought this type of thermometer on recommendation from this forum... Though that could have just been one member's thoughts, not necessarily the group consensus here!

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Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
I've burned out so many of those it's not even funny. I've bought them from Big Box stores, I've bought them from Restaurant supply stores, they pretty much are all not meant to be used how we use them...Someone even bought me a fancy wireless one for grilling, and that crapped out pretty fast or just wasn't all that accurate.

Though Bobby_m has a great thread from '07 that shows how you can at least slow down or maybe prevent the inevitable.



I've found though that even if you waterproof the probe, the steam will eventually affect the digital display if you happen to have your receiver over anywhere where it might come in contact, like above a kettle if you are brewing in the kitchen and have it on your range hood.

I actually keep a old school couple lab glass ones always handy just in case they crapped out.

I think inevitably any brewer is going to need to pluck down big bucks for either a thermapen (but they don't iirc make a corded one) or a thermo-coupler with a remote probe.
It appears that what I want in a thermometer isn't available. Basically, I want a corded thermometer that I can submerge without breaking. Sigh. Maybe I'll just spring for a thermapen, so I don't end up continually buying new cheaper thermometers.
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:50 PM   #6
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+1 on the Thermapen. I had a wireless BBQ one like Revvy mentioned that crapped out. Decided that if two degrees during a mash can make a difference in my beer I might as well spring for the Thermapen and take any worries out of the equation. I have a friend who is a competition level BBQ pitmaster who has used his thermapen for 5 years in some of the worst conditions you can imagine and it has held up very well. Good luck!

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Old 01-04-2013, 03:06 PM   #7
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It appears that what I want in a thermometer isn't available. Basically, I want a corded thermometer that I can submerge without breaking. Sigh. Maybe I'll just spring for a thermapen, so I don't end up continually buying new cheaper thermometers.
You can certainly waterproof them as Revvy and other have done and greater prolong their life, so that is one option.

Are you using this to monitor mash temp? This is how I was using mine, until I realized that you are only monitoring the part of the mash that the probe located in at that moment. If you move that probe around then you will find that hot/cold spot usually exist. You can drive yourself crazy chasing temperatures with this method. Once I realized this I altogether gave up the idea constantly monitoring the mash temp, as it wasn't indicative of the whole mash anyway.

My process now is to monitor and adjust after mash in after grain/water equilibration using a $12 Taylor probe thermo, shut it up and don't touch again for 45 min-1 hour.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:07 PM   #8
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max384, you can get what you want, but it really depends on your budget. I've been using a Fluke main unit and sensors that CAN be submerged without issue (able to handle more than boiling temps). Biggest expense is the main unit. You could go with one of the single sensor connection Fluke units if you want, for a bit less. I see this as a one time purchase. I picked up about 4-5 sensors when I got the main unit, so I can use them wherever I want and even leave them installed if I wish. I use one (or two) in the mash tun (can get readings from two different spots in the mash, and at different depths), in the boil keggle and in the fitting after the plate chiller. With the dual sensor connections on mine, I can even have the one in the BK and after the plate chiller connected at the same time. It helps during the recirculation chilling process.

I'm sure plenty will consider this route overkill. But with this method, you don't need to worry about the sensors getting moisture inside them, or opening up the mash tun in order to get readings. Fluke main units also come with a 3 year warranty on them. Mine even shipped with the batteries installed already.

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Old 01-04-2013, 03:22 PM   #9
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+1 on the Thermapen. I had a wireless BBQ one like Revvy mentioned that crapped out. Decided that if two degrees during a mash can make a difference in my beer I might as well spring for the Thermapen and take any worries out of the equation. I have a friend who is a competition level BBQ pitmaster who has used his thermapen for 5 years in some of the worst conditions you can imagine and it has held up very well. Good luck!
The thermometer can certainly allow us to detect a 2 degree difference, the question then becomes does our system allow us to adjust up/down that 2 degrees accurately?

My system certainly doesn't...heck, I typically find 2 degree differences throughout my mash bed at any given temperature.

If I'm within 2 degrees of my target mash temp, I don't bother trying to adjust, as chances are I'd over- or under-shoot it anyway.

I have not been able to tell the difference in how my beer ferments or tastes, either.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:45 PM   #10
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+1 on the Thermapen. I had a wireless BBQ one like Revvy mentioned that crapped out. Decided that if two degrees during a mash can make a difference in my beer I might as well spring for the Thermapen and take any worries out of the equation. I have a friend who is a competition level BBQ pitmaster who has used his thermapen for 5 years in some of the worst conditions you can imagine and it has held up very well. Good luck!
I'll likely end up going this route. Though, for now I think I will just waterproof the one I have and see how that goes... and buy a backup dial-type thermometer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbill View Post
You can certainly waterproof them as Revvy and other have done and greater prolong their life, so that is one option.

Are you using this to monitor mash temp? This is how I was using mine, until I realized that you are only monitoring the part of the mash that the probe located in at that moment. If you move that probe around then you will find that hot/cold spot usually exist. You can drive yourself crazy chasing temperatures with this method. Once I realized this I altogether gave up the idea constantly monitoring the mash temp, as it wasn't indicative of the whole mash anyway.

My process now is to monitor and adjust after mash in after grain/water equilibration using a $12 Taylor probe thermo, shut it up and don't touch again for 45 min-1 hour.
I've been using it to monitor my mash temp, my sparge water, my progress on getting to boiling, and my wort cooling temps... Basically, I've been using it for every step of the process.

When I mash, I open it up and give it a stir every 10 minutes or so. I find that after stirring, the temp will vary a bit, maybe a degree or two, but nothing that ever got me worried. I'm still a total noob at brewing, particularly AG, so should I be stirring the mash, or should I just leave it alone during the mash? The two times I've done AG thus far I've been right on the target mash temp throughout, even with opening the lid and stirring (though this last time was suspect, as I don't know when the thermometer crapped out and my OG was way off). This being said, the way in which I do it now, a pen style thermometer shouldn't be a big deal since I'm opening the mash tun lid every few minutes anyhow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
max384, you can get what you want, but it really depends on your budget. I've been using a Fluke main unit and sensors that CAN be submerged without issue (able to handle more than boiling temps). Biggest expense is the main unit. You could go with one of the single sensor connection Fluke units if you want, for a bit less. I see this as a one time purchase. I picked up about 4-5 sensors when I got the main unit, so I can use them wherever I want and even leave them installed if I wish. I use one (or two) in the mash tun (can get readings from two different spots in the mash, and at different depths), in the boil keggle and in the fitting after the plate chiller. With the dual sensor connections on mine, I can even have the one in the BK and after the plate chiller connected at the same time. It helps during the recirculation chilling process.

I'm sure plenty will consider this route overkill. But with this method, you don't need to worry about the sensors getting moisture inside them, or opening up the mash tun in order to get readings. Fluke main units also come with a 3 year warranty on them. Mine even shipped with the batteries installed already.
Wow, that thermometer looks really nice... Definitely over my quite modest student budget right now though. The thermapen is more than I really want to spend right now in fact.


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