The ECPin Range Repeater


The products featured in this review were provided to The Naked Whiz Publishing Empire by ECTherm at no charge for the purpose of doing this review. No other considerations, financial or otherwise, were given by ECTherm.


Introduction
Last year, we reviewed the ECPin truly wireless meat thermometer from ECTherm, along with the rebranded version, the Stake from Maverick. Well late last year, ECTherm came out with a welcome addition to their product line, the ECPin Range Repeater. This is essentially a Bluetooth repeater that extends the range of your ECPin probes to up to 165 feet. In addition to the Repeater, ECTherm has made a few important improvements to their ECPin Pro App:

So we'll be taking a look at the new Repeater as well as these new App functions.

If you are scratching your head wondering what a "truly wireless meat thermometer" is, think MEATER. Think MeatStick. Think a probe that you stick in your meat and leave in your meat for the duration of the cook which has no wire attached and is monitored on your smart device. This can be useful especially for rotisserie's and eliminates one wire having to enter your cooker. What is unique about the ECPin probe is that it is powered by a supercapacitor (also known as ultracapacitor or double-layer capacitor) instead of a lithium battery. Supercapacitors are devices which can be charged to hold and release energy like a battery, but doing it via static charge rather than an electrochemical reaction. What this means is insanely fast charging, but less energy capacity than a lithium battery.

Before proceeding any further, you may wish to read our original review of the ECPin in order to learn a bit more about the basic ECPin system. We'll be focusing on the Range Repeater and the improvements to the App in this review.

One final word before we proceed. You can purchase the ECPin probes, chargers, and repeater in various combinations. What we will be using is the "ECPin (Dual) B&W with ECPin Range Repeater" which consists of the ECPin Range Repeater/Charger, a black ECPin probe and a white ECPin probe.


Specifications and Features
Here are the features and specifications for the ECPin Range Repeater:


Photo Tour Of The ECPin Range Repeater and Probes
So let's take a look at the ECPin dual pack with Range Repeater:


Here's a look at an ECPin repeater/charger out of the box:


Next some closeups of some details of the ECPin Range Repeater.


Here you can see the charger with its lid open.


And finally, the probes themselves. You can order the Range Repeater by itself, with a single black probe, or a dual pack with either two black probes or one black and one white probe. The stainless steel portion of the probe is inserted into the meat up to the ceramic handle. As a result, there is no "minimum insertion line" etched onto the probe, as there is on other brands. The small round metal contact that is embedded in the ceramic handle is for charging the probe.


Usage Rules and Warnings
He are some notes and warnings regargding the usage of the Range Repeater:


Range Repeater LED Behavior
As we showed earlier, there is an LED in the body of the Range Repeater. Here is what it looks like when illuminated:


This LED is used for several things. The following table shows how the LED behaves and what it means:

Slow FlashingRange Repeater is repeating Bluetooth signal
Rapid FlashingRange Repeater is charging ECPin probe, will
revert to slow flashing once the probe is charged.
AmberAAA battery is low and should be replaced

ECPin Range Repeater Behavior


Charging Times
One major difference between the original ECPin charger and the new Range Repeater charger is the inclusion of the option to use a AAA battery for power. Now, at the flick of a switch, you can decide to charge the probes (and power the repeater, of course) with either a AAA battery or through a micro-USB port.

So does charging with the battery take more or less time than charging through the USB port? Well, it really doesn't matter much since the probes charge in less than a minute, but we have four probes and timed the charging cycle from zero charge to full charge on each probe with both the battery and the micro-USB port:

ProbeBattery Charge TimeMicro-USB Charge Time
10:571:02
20:500:52
30:550:51
40:460:48


As you can see, three of the four probes charged faster off the battery, but only by a few seconds. The beauty of the ultra-capacitor technology is that charging is so fast, a few seconds doesn't matter.


Bluetooth Range
We covered the subject of the Bluetooth range of the probes in our original review of the ECPin, but we'll repeat the following table for your convenience.

The best case is just a straight line of sight between the probe in the vertical position and a smart device. 133 to 140 feet
Next, we placed the probe inside a ceramic cooker, a large Big Green Egg. Due to the placement of our cooker and the geography of our deck, we could only get 39 feet away from the probe. 39+ feet
What about a metal cooker? This, of course, depends on the construction of your metal cooker. We used a Weber Smokey joe with both vents closed. 39+ feet
Inside a large Big Green Egg cooker, measured from inside the house through a sliding glass door. 30 feet
Inside a Bosch electric oven with the door closed. 23 feet
Inside a Panasonic microwave oven with the door closed. 13 feet
Inside a Bosch Speed Oven (combination microwave and convection oven) with the door shut. 18 inches


However, what we are really interested in when it comes to the ECPin Range Repeater is the Bluetooth range from the repeater to our smart device. You won't be placing the repeater inside of cookers or ovens. You'll be placing it outside and next to the cooker. Here's how the Range Repeater performed:

Probe Only Probe and Range Repeater % Range Increase
Line of sight 111 feet 159 feet 43%
Probe inside large Big Green Egg cooker, phone inside house through wall of glass 54 feet 72 feet 33%


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