Earlier this year, Smokeware brought out their latest smoker thermometer for cookers such as the the Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe and other other ceramic smokers. Below we show the new model as well as its two predecessors.
The now infamous "BBO" model. (If you don't get the BBO, keep staring at the picture.)
Their next model with an easier to read face.
The new model with slightly larger angle of sweep and wider needle for better visibility.
Specifications and Features
Here are the interesting facts and figures about this new model of thermometer:
The first thing you notice about the Smokeware thermometer of course is the large dial face. It is indeed quite easy to read, even from some distance.
Although there is a nut on the stem on the back of the thermometer, don't try turning it as this thermometer cannot be calibrated. It is calibrated at the factory and the thermometer should keep its calibration as long as it is not subjected to any serious abuse. Smokeware says they have found that they see more troubles with the models that can be calibrated because the nut/dial accidentally gets turned, altering the calibration.
Of course the thermometer comes with the ubiquitous pan clip which accompanies most of these bi-metal dial thermometers. These clips are actually used for attaching a thermometer to the side of a cooking pan. We have to assume that the first person who ever thought to use one of these dial thermometers on a ceramic cooker also thought they would be a great way to keep the thermometer from falling out of the lid. We just add these clips to our collection in the garage as they are totally unnecessary for use in a ceramic cooker.
Eventually you will come to notice the small round silicone gasket on the stem. This is to prevent rain water from running down the stem into your cooker if your cooker is left uncovered. This is designed to reduce the growth of mold inside your cooker during periods of non-use. If you are concerned that this gasket might melt or stick to your cooker's outer surface, we held a large Big Green Egg cooker at 850°F for 25 minutes. The highest temperature recorded on the stem of the thermometer was 260°F. The highest temperature recorded on the ceramic around the stem was 447°F (as measured with an infrared thermometer). We used a tiny thermocouple between the gasket and the cooker surface to measure the temperature of the stem, but we also removed the thermocouple so the gasket was touching the hot ceramic and it did just fine. You don't need to worry about ruining the gasket with even extremely hot cooks.
Here are some photos of the thermometer we tested:
To get an idea of the accuracy of this thermometer, we let a large Big Green Egg cooker stabilize at a moderate temperature and then measured the temperature through the hole in the lid using both the Smokeware thermometer and a Type K thermocouple probe. The thermocouple registered 414°F while the Smokeware thermometer registered 419°F. (This was our best guess for the Smokeware thermometer as its needle is wide enough to obscure the temperature marks on the dial face.)
We then did the same using boiling water. The actual boiling point of water at the time we did this test was 211.4°F. The thermocouple registered 211.9°F while the Smokeware thermometer registered about 209°F. (Again, we estimated the reading on the Smokeware thermometer as the wide needle obscures the markings on the dial.)
The degree of accuracy shown using boiling water and a hot cooker is more than enough for outdoor cooking. Remember that most kitchen ovens are typically off by 25-50°F.
Compared to Tel-Tru
Finally, we thought we would do a simple comparison between the Smokeware thermometer and the ever popular Tel-Tru dial thermometers. (If you are interested in more information about the Tel-Tru thermometers, you can find it here: Which Tel-Tru Thermometer Should You Use?)
|Dial Size||3¼ inch||2 inch|
|Needle Sweep Angle||210°||310°|
|Temperature Range||100-700°F||150-750°F or 200-1000°F|
Probably other than the specifications above, the most noticeable difference is the size of the dial and numbers on each thermometer. Here is a photo of the two thermometers side by side:
This photo was taken at a distance of 11 feet 3 inches from the focal plane of the camera to the dials of the thermometers. This distance was about the limit with our eyesight for resolving the numbers on the Smokeware dial. We have sized the photo to recreate approximately what we see from this distance.
Another comparison we made between these two thermometers was speed. (Everyone knows that red Thermapens are the fastest, but we digress...) Basically, we had our cooker sitting there at a stable temperature and then we inserted the two thermometers to see how long it took them to go from the ambient air temperature of about 80°F to the cooker temperature of 420°F. The Tel-Tru thermometer won the race, but only by 6 seconds. The Tel-Tru did it in 3:43, while the Smokeware thermometer did it in 3:49.
Finally, if you look up close at the dials, you will see that the Tel-Tru has a very narrow needle which makes a precise reading possible. The Smokeware has a much wider needle that obscures the temperature marks forcing you to guess a bit at the exact reading.
The Smokeware thermometer is a great alternative to the thermometers that come with cookers if you are looking for a large and readable dial, good accuracy and the extra bonus of a rain drip gasket. As long as you realize you don't need to read the thermometer to the nearest degree for outdoor cooking, it's a great choice.
You can purchase this thermometer from Smokeware at their website (see below), or you can buy Smokeware products from Amazon by using the following links:
233 6th Ave N
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
Phone: (855) 344-9273
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