Remote Thermometers

Published May 1, 2015. From Cook's Illustrated.

Overview:

Remote thermometers allow you to monitor, from a distance, the temperature of food cooking on the grill, the stovetop, or in the oven. One or more temperature probes inserted into the food connect to a battery-powered base that communicates wirelessly with a receiver: either a pager or (via Bluetooth) your smartphone or tablet. Our former favorites, a pager-style receiver by Taylor and a Bluetooth product by iDevices, have both been redesigned, so we used six new models (priced from $28.91 to $78) on the grill, on the stovetop, and in the oven to take the temperature of pulled pork, steak, and salmon fillets. Four were pager-style models and two were Bluetooth, one of which was the updated model from iDevices. (At press time, the updated Taylor had not yet been released; we will test it when it becomes available.) We recorded the longest distance from which each model reported temperatures, and we also tested each for accuracy by putting it into a sous vide machine and comparing its temperature against readouts from the sous… read more

Remote thermometers allow you to monitor, from a distance, the temperature of food cooking on the grill, the stovetop, or in the oven. One or more temperature probes inserted into the food connect to a battery-powered base that communicates wirelessly with a receiver: either a pager or (via Bluetooth) your smartphone or tablet. Our former favorites, a pager-style receiver by Taylor and a Bluetooth product by iDevices, have both been redesigned, so we used six new models (priced from $28.91 to $78) on the grill, on the stovetop, and in the oven to take the temperature of pulled pork, steak, and salmon fillets. Four were pager-style models and two were Bluetooth, one of which was the updated model from iDevices. (At press time, the updated Taylor had not yet been released; we will test it when it becomes available.) We recorded the longest distance from which each model reported temperatures, and we also tested each for accuracy by putting it into a sous vide machine and comparing its temperature against readouts from the sous vide machine, as well as from our laboratory-quality calibrated thermometer.

Most models were accurate to within 1 degree of the lab thermometer (the lone outlier reported temperatures that were consistently 3 degrees off), and all had probes long enough to reach into thick cuts of meat and thin connector cables that didn’t obstruct grill lids or oven doors.

Distance and functionality were more problematic. No model met its advertised distance range, though each company noted that ranges will vary depending on building materials and interference. A few receivers stayed in touch with their bases through thick walls and up to 250 feet away, while others lost connection as little as 30 feet from the grill with no obstructions.

When it came to user-friendliness, pager models were categorically fussier to use. They were harder to set up, and we often had to consult the manuals to make adjustments to temperature presets or to reestablish a connection. Some would beep continuously for no apparent reason, and the base of one frequently shut off during cooking.

We preferred the Bluetooth devices, which paired effortlessly with our smartphones and were far easier to operate. Each came with a caveat: Only the base of one model displays whether or not the device is connected, meaning that we could wander off without realizing that the phone had lost communication with the base, and the distance range of another model was a modest 100 feet. But if the shorter distance isn’t a problem, our winner connects quickly and delivers accurate, clear temperature readouts.

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