Why you need at least 3 calibrated thermometers and should check them on Brew Day.

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Bad Bubba

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I have several Thermoworks thermometers and a couple of Inkbirds. I have a Thermoworks Smoke with an extra-long probe that I use on brew day in the kettle. I brewed the other day and I was waiting for my kettle to come up to temperature for the mash. The Smoke was reading 144 degrees F and all of a sudden I noticed the water in the kettle starting to boil. I quickly grabbed another thermometer and found the water was 200 degrees (boiling at my altitude). I was able to salvage the day by cooling the water to mash temps using my immersion chiller but I realized I narrowly adverted disaster. If the probe had been only 20 degrees off, I would of ruined the mash. Now I have added the step to my brew day to check my thermometers for accuracy...and I need 3 because is one is off you can identify it by comparing with the other 2.
 

MaxStout

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Just curious: did you purchase the Thermoworks Smoke from the company, or on Amazon? I have read that counterfeits sometimes show up on Amazon. If it's a genuine Thermoworks thermo, maybe they will replace it.

Glad you saved your brew day.
 
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There's an blog post (2016) at the Thermoworks site that may be of interest. It's 2021, maybe things have changed, but ...

... a quick search of amazon.com suggests caution and careful reading when using Thermoworks as part of the search criteria.
 
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Bad Bubba

Bad Bubba

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Just curious: did you purchase the Thermoworks Smoke from the company, or on Amazon? I have read that counterfeits sometimes show up on Amazon. If it's a genuine Thermoworks thermo, maybe they will replace it.

Glad you saved your brew day.

I have purchased all of my Thermoworks stuff off of their website. I like their stuff because it is certified calibrated. I have had the smoke unit for several years and the long probe for about 4 years - it is all out of warranty. It is the probe itself that has gone bad, I put a different probe into the smoke and it read fine. It is not the first probe I have had go bad.

I have been using Inkbirds quick reads more lately. They appear to be as accurate at a fraction of the cost. But Inkbird does not appear to offer a long probe with a kettle clip on their units that are similar to the Smoke.
 
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For my all-grain brew days, I use a Thermapen and a Chef Alarm.

I hadn't thought too deeply about how I use them until early last night. It ends up that I "cross check" them while I'm heating the strike water.

I'll add the water, take a quick measurement with the Thermapen, then program the Chef Alarm. When I get close to the strike water temp, I stop using the Chef Alarm & use the Thermapen to "dial in" the strike water temp. So it "feels like" I would be able to detect a failure in one of them.
 

Deadalus

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I have been working with this issue myself on my 3 vessel EHerms. I have temperature probes on the outlets of the HLT and MT connected to Inkbird Pids, all vessels have side mounted Blichmann thermometers, and then a little pocket dial thermometer (a couple actually). What I have found is that my PIDs and Blichmanns drift off. One of the little dial thermometers was off so I threw it out and what I want to do is get a well calibrated handheld of some sort to better adjust the PIDs and Blichmanns as needed. To correct recently, I boiled water in the HLT and set the HLT PID and Blichmann correctly. I also checked the pocket dial thermometer with the boiling water. I then adjusted the MT PID and Blichmann to coincide with the pocket thermometer using recirculating water. With no heating element on the MT I can't boil water in it and just throwing in boiling water will not work as the MT will absorb some heat.

There's no guarantee any one thermometer is working correctly though, so checking the calibrated thermometer against boiling water is helpful IMO. Also, be aware of how readings may be affected by how the temperature reading is being taken such as top and bottom of the vessel, comparisons between vessels, recirculation areas, etc.

My last two brews I was able to keep MT temps within 1 degree F without needing to fuss with changing the HLT PID and I was happy with that. I recently added a recirculation manifold to the MT that I think is very helpful.
 

Jim R

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Those Thermapens have a very tiny and fragile wire that goes through the folding seam. Eventually it will break with repeated opening and closing of the pen. I have gone through 2 of them so far and don’t really trust long term. I now buy the Inkbird ones instead.
 
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Those Thermapens have a very tiny and fragile wire that goes through the folding seam. Eventually it will break with repeated opening and closing of the pen. I have gone through 2 of them so far and don’t really trust long term. I now buy the Inkbird ones instead.

Yet another reason for discussing ideas on how to quickly calibrate equipment before brew day or cross check equipment during the brew session.
 

day_trippr

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I still have an original Splashproof in Screamin' Yellow that gets used a ton - in the kitchen and with the grill and the smoker. Still works great, and if it ever fails they'll fix it for $35 including return shipping, nbd.

But it's too short for brewing - the only thing I use it for brewing-wise is to check my starter wort to see if it's cooled enough to pitch. On actual brew days I use a Thermoworks 24" RT610B. I can get the grain temperature from the middle of the buckets for strike temperature calculations and later poke all around my 20g kettles top to bottom to compare against the Brewmometer readings...

1623446912727.png


Cheers!
 

CascadesBrewer

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I need 3 because is one is off you can identify it by comparing with the other 2

I have an inexpensive lab thermometer that I use for calibration on brew day. The thermometer is slow to read and a bit fragile for brew day use, but I am fairly confident it will be accurate from day to day.

My long stem dial thermometer would sometimes drift a few degrees and I would notice when I got up to boiling. No big deal as I could just tweak it then. One day I must have knocked it and I mashed 10F too high. That is when I added a calibration step BEFORE the mash to my regular cycle.
 

day_trippr

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Thermoworks is playing coy about the next gen Thermapen.
Great deals on the Mk4 right now, but maaaybe you wanna wait for the Mk5 :)


1623875251339.png



Months ago we closed out a few colors of Thermapen Mk4 and continued building a shorter list of colors. Now we’re closing out the remaining colors. We know that there are many questions and rumors. Here are a few with some answers:
FAQ:

Q: Why are you closing out the Mk4? Isn’t it the world’s best?

A: The Mk4 is in fact widely rated #1 and is the world’s best and fastest cooking thermometer. But something big is coming!
—————
Q: Are there any problems in the Mk4?
A: No. The Mk4 is the world’s best.
—————
Q: Why would I pay for the Mk4 if it is going to be replaced?
A: Because $69 is an amazing price that won’t be repeated. It really is a great, great deal on a thermometer that is the very best value even at full price.
—————
Q: Saving money is great but why would I want the Mk4 if it is going to be obsolete?
A: The Mk4 will NOT be “obsolete”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Mk4. If you buy one on closeout, you’ll get an excellent tool that will last for many years. On January 1 it will not go dead. Its internal software will not expire. It’s AAA battery will be available for decades to come. If you get one, you will be happy with it!
—————
Q: Will there be a Mk5 Thermapen?
A: There will be something new and amazing.
—————
Q: When will you say what is coming?
A: We promise that the announcement is coming soon — before the end of June!
—————
Q: What could you possibly do to improve on the Mk4?
A: The full story is coming very soon. It will be worth it!
—————
Q: Should I take advantage of this price before they’re gone or wait to know what the new product is like?
A: That’s always the dilemma when a new product is approaching. If you want to wait for the announcement before taking advantage of the Mk4 closeout pricing, we believe we will still have stock of the Mk4 when the new product begins shipping. However, we can’t guarantee the availability of any specific closeout colors. The $69 price is anticipated to continue until they are gone. Don’t expect further decreases.
—————
Q: Will the Classic Thermapen continue?
A: It will.
—————
Q: If I want the new product, shouldn’t I wait until it’s been on the market for awhile so all the bugs are worked out?
A: What’s coming is indeed a big advance but we’ve been working on it for nearly six years. The production line is running. Everything has been tested like crazy. This will be our most solid product launch ever. We’ve been making Thermapens for decades. We know a lot about this. I wouldn’t wait.
—————
Q: Can’t you tell me anything about the new product?
A: Yes we absolutely can on the day the announcement is made. It is coming fast.

hahaha!

Cheers!
 

day_trippr

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Lol! Well, ok, I'm definitely not waking up early to check this out (I'm retired ffs - I don't wake up early for pretty much anything anymore :D) but it will be interesting to see if the marketing art lives up to the hype...


Cheers!
 

CascadesBrewer

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Lol! Well, ok, I'm definitely not waking up early to check this out (I'm retired ffs - I don't wake up early for pretty much anything anymore :D) but it will be interesting to see if the marketing art lives up to the hype...

Seems like a minor upgrade (1 second readings vs 2-3 seconds, 0.5F accuracy vs 0.7F). That $69 mk4 is tempting. I am not sure I really "need" one and digital displays can give a false sense of accuracy...but faster readout and a more readable display than my analog thermometer might be nice.
 

Golddiggie

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I'll probably check the temperature of my MT (maybe the HLT too) during my coming test run (for continuous recirculation mash valve settings). I have a calibrated (certified) thermometer I use when I want to check things. IIRC, it's a Fisher Scientific I bought years back and make sure it's stored well. I also have a Fluke 52II unit with sensors I can also use. That's not getting much use these days due to my switch over to electric brewing. I'll, basically, confirm that the PID on the MT is reading correctly (I did the calibration steps as instructed) and then maybe check it periodically (every X brews) after this. With quality PIDs and sensors I see it as a greatly reduced concern. All of mine are from Electric Brewing Supply, which I have confidence in (bought the completed panel from them, great unit).

IMO, you don't NEED "at least three..." quality thermometers. You need to have at least ONE confirmed accurate thermometer. How you go about that is up to you. If you have dial thermometers in your kettle(s), then you need to confirm they're set correctly or adjust them to be correct. Depending on the quality of that thermometer is how often you'll need to perform that. You do need moderate accuracy for the mash temperature range in that thermometer/sensor. Sparge temperature is a range, so being a degree off isn't the end of the world. Boil temperature reading is also not critical.

If you want to buy 4+ "calibrated thermometers" go right ahead. I'll spend that money on hops, malt and other things. :p
 

sgreene820

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I generally depend on my Thermapen. I calibrate my Tilt2 hygrometer in cold tap water and add a calibration point to match my Thermapen's read out. Better to calibrate at a temperature close to what you want to measure. Freezing and boiling are both pretty far removed from fermentation temperature. I periodically check my Grainfather's internal thermometer at mash temperatures, but it has so far never strayed much more than a degree from the Thermapen.
 
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