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Thermapen Issues

edited March 2012 in EggHead Forum
I'll be the first to admit that its probably the Indian and not the arrow, but I'm having a hell of a time with my Thermapen on high temp cooks. On my last several burger and steak cooks, the thermapen has registered low temperatures during the cook. Last night I pulled my burgers off at 120* and let them rest for 5 minutes before eating. They were very juicy, but medium well, not med rare. I'm aware the burger will continue to cook while it rests, but med rare to med well seems like a lot of increase. I've calibrated the thermapen with the boiling water test and it's dead on 212. I've seen the thermapen used on YouTube on hot cooks. It seems the common error would show a high temp because the user put it too far into the meat, but mine seems to be reading low. Surely I'm doing something wrong. I just need you fine folks to show me the error of my ways.

 "Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!"

Med & XL

Comments

  • travisstricktravisstrick Posts: 4,561
    I have the exact same problem. However, I left mine out in the rain and it got severely fogged up.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • edited March 2012
    I have the exact same problem. However, I left mine out in the rain and it got severely fogged up.


    Cover it in dry rice for a few days. That should pull the moisture out.

     "Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!"

    Med & XL

  • travisstricktravisstrick Posts: 4,561
    I got it out by opening the battery hole and putting it on top of the dryer for a few cycles. I think the sensor was damaged. It reads true on an ice water test but is pretty erratic on cooking dead animals. Note to self: don't buy open box pens, they don't have a warranty.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.

  • Good thought. That may be my problem. Interesting how everyone raves about the thermapen, but I'm not getting any answers to my problem.

     "Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!"

    Med & XL

  • EazyEEazyE Posts: 54
    I got it out by opening the battery hole and putting it on top of the dryer for a few cycles. I think the sensor was damaged. It reads true on an ice water test but is pretty erratic on cooking dead animals. Note to self: don't buy open box pens, they don't have a warranty.
    Travis, are you sure about that on the warranty,?? I'm pretty sure they said on the last open box / refurb sale that they still came with the full warranty. You just couldn't return for refund, but pretty sure it still had same warranty as new ones.
  • greennewbgreennewb Posts: 54
    Sometimes I have the same problem.  What I have concluded is that the thermopen is a great tool for checking the temperature of things like a boston butt, but with steaks or burgers or anything you cook fast and hot you will get varying results.  Just use it as a guide, but don't use it as a crutch.  Use your eyes also.
  • travisstricktravisstrick Posts: 4,561
    Eazy, you may be right. I'll check.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 6,493
    Sometimes I have the same problem.  What I have concluded is that the thermopen is a great tool for checking the temperature of things like a boston butt, but with steaks or burgers or anything you cook fast and hot you will get varying results.  Just use it as a guide, but don't use it as a crutch.  Use your eyes also.
    I hope you're wrong. I bought the thermapen because everything pointed it to being the best in both speed and accuracy. I didn't spend $96 for a guide, I spent it 100% for a crutch.
    Just a hack that makes some shitty BBQ...
  • Maybe I have a lemon. In addition to the inconsistencies in temperature readings on hot cooks, I don't think the Thermapan is as "instant" as it boasts. The paperwork says it will give a reading in 3 seconds. Mine is closer to 8 or 10 seconds. Just not all that impressed so far consideraing what in paid for it.

     "Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!"

    Med & XL

  • bumpyebumpye Posts: 15
    I too purchased my Thermapen based on reviews and the company website. When I purchased it my wife said "whats that". I said "something that I would never spend 100 bucks on!" In general I have been very pleased with it. I bought it because I felt the digital and dial "instant" thermometers were almost useless. Got about six in the drawer. I haven't used it on burgers yet but every time I have used it I felt it was spot on accurate. I agree with ONSBBQ Co. with the 3 second rule, except if there's a small temp differential between current reading and the food you're checking-larger temp differential does take longer. ONSBBQ Co.-have you contacted the company yet...might be worth a call.
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 1,324
    edited March 2012

    I have this Thermoworks handheld model (MTC): http://www.thermoworks.com/products/handheld/mtc.html  with a Miniature Needle probe model: 113-181/113-182/113-183/113-184 http://www.thermoworks.com/products/probe/tc_penetration.html Can't direct link it.
    Anyway, I noticed the probe determines the speed of the reading and for my probe model, it states 1 sec in liquid and 5 sec for full reading. Other probes are slower with some in the 10-15 sec range. Take a look at the Fast Response probes and you will see there are others that state a full reading in 5 secs or less. I'm not sure which probe comes on the Thermapen model but, in the specs it lists this for response time:


    From 75°F to 32°F: ≤ 3 seconds to within 1°F


     I do not think it is one of the Fast Response probes based on the specs.  So, to me, the 3 sec reading might be true within that range, but for our steaks, burgers, chicken, etc we will be at a higher temp range and therefore, you cannot expect a full reading in 3sec. A bit misleading I think but that is another story. Given that, I think the handheld MTC model is more flexible and faster (based on probe you match it with) and recommend that one to my friends over the Thermapen model.  Anyway, the 3 sec expectation on the Thermapen isn’t appropriate based on what I have read on the Thermoworks site.
    Now, for the temp accuracy or the OP’s 120 reading and ending up with med well.  2 things could be impacting you.  One, b/c you are led to believe the Thermapen is at full reading at 3 sec when it really is not, you are pulling it prior to reaching full reading and therefore the actual temp is higher when you are pulling.  Two, even if you are waiting the 6 – 10 sec and actually getting a full reading, I have found my temp carryover much higher than what I typically read.  I’m pulling my steaks at 115 – 120 for med rare. Is it a higher carryover or is my actual reading higher than what my probes registers?  I’m not sure but I think you are just going to have to experiment to determine when to pull stuff at the lower temp that yields the best results for you.  That is what I ended up doing.  So if that means probing a burger for 3 secs and pulling it at 110 to end up with a nice med slight pink center, than so be it.  I pull prime rib, whole tenderloins at 115 and end up med rare making my family happy, that is what I’m doing.  

    My thoughts anyway.   Good luck





     

      
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/
  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,457
    I also get very inconsistent readings with mine. The only way I have been able to get accurate readings on hot cooks it to take the meat off the grill, put it on a plate, and then use the thermapen. My problem is not due to inserting it too far or not far enough in the meat. I am not very impressed so far.  Mine was also a refurb. 
  • cigarnvcigarnv Posts: 10

    I have had the TP for years and have always had great results and the calibration has held steady. Using it for a pork butt is pretty easy... just sick it in. With meats like steaks I find that when I get bad readings it is operator error... like not hitting the steak dead center. When I test a steak I grab it with tongs and run the probe in dead center form the side. I do the same with thin brisket flats.

    If I could find a better device I would buy it...

    As for service... my 6 year old TP stopped reading and I called to order a new one. The person on the phone suggested I just send it in as it was probably just the switch and the repair would be about $10. Two years later I am still using the same TP.

    Got no gripes with these folks....

  • StoaterStoater Posts: 292
    Is there an alternative to the Thermapen that everyone is happy with, or am I just dreaming?
  • burr_baby33burr_baby33 Posts: 501
    I am a happy camper. Love my thermapen. No problems.
  • BuckeyeBobBuckeyeBob Posts: 636
    Love mine too. Registers right away and have never noticed an issue with accuracy.
    Clarendon Hills, IL
  • StoaterStoater Posts: 292
    That's it then, I'm getting one.
  • medic119medic119 Posts: 80
    I just bought 2 open box pens and I am sure they came with a warranty.I love it. 
    Thomas Bubba's BBQ and Harris Family Catering Pigs on the Run Competition BBQ Team Medic-Que BBQ Team, LBGE, Party Q
  • tmackietmackie Posts: 67
    Maybe I have a lemon. In addition to the inconsistencies in temperature readings on hot cooks, I don't think the Thermapan is as "instant" as it boasts. The paperwork says it will give a reading in 3 seconds. Mine is closer to 8 or 10 seconds. Just not all that impressed so far consideraing what in paid for it.
    I bought a new (full price) Thermapen 6 weeks ago. It is calibrated properly. (verified in ice bath and boiling water) and I have had a couple issues with ribeyes reading too hot. What I believe happened is that I hit a pocket of fat which as it cooks off is much hotter than the meat. I have never had any issues with filets, pork tenderloin, etc...

    Now when I cook steaks for the most part I just use the old reliable "touch" method. I've been checking steaks that way for so long, it's just as reliable as a Thermapen in my book 
    :D
  • EazyEEazyE Posts: 54
    Is there an alternative to the Thermapen that everyone is happy with, or am I just dreaming?
    Ya you might check out the Maverick PT-100 thermometer. It is a good alternative to the Thermapen, and it a good instant read thermometer as well!
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,267

    When I test a steak I grab it with tongs and run the probe in dead center form the side. I do the same with thin brisket flats.

    So far I have not been able to rely upon mine for steaks and came close to ruining them. Fortunately, experience told me to ignore the Pen readings and they came out OK.   Maybe I'm going in too far or not enough, or hitting fat, but I'll try this idea.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • CowdogsCowdogs Posts: 470
    edited March 2012

    Given that, I think the handheld MTC model is more flexible and faster (based on probe you match it with) and recommend that one to my friends over the Thermapen model.  Anyway, the 3 sec expectation on the Thermapen isn’t appropriate based on what I have read on the Thermoworks site.






     

    I was considering the MTC model, and I was wondering how its speed is compared to Thermapen.  I called Thermoworks and spoke with a tech who told me none of their interchangeable probe thermometers (like the MTC) are as fast as the Thermapen.  I can't remember if they said it was the probe or the hardware that made it faster, but it was the reason it cost more.  In other words, the Thermapen is the one you want if speed is your primary concern.
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 1,324

    This isn't the case in the real world.  Mine is 3sec tops.  Also, MTC is actually more expensive when you add the probe.  I think you received some misinformation.   Let me see what I can get out of them. 

    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/
  • DIXIEDOGDIXIEDOG Posts: 109
    I also get very inconsistent readings with mine. The only way I have been able to get accurate readings on hot cooks it to take the meat off the grill, put it on a plate, and then use the thermapen. My problem is not due to inserting it too far or not far enough in the meat. I am not very impressed so far.  Mine was also a refurb. 
    Same here, I bought one of their "open box" specials and so far it hasn't seemed to live up to what everyone else's results have been.  Checking steaks with it sucks right out loud, I've tried sticking from the top as well as the sides on the grill and off but it doesn't give good readings....a steak that reads 140 is still cool in the center and the meat looks raw.  


    Kinda sucks because I didn't buy this for low and slow pork butt or brisket cooks I have a remote Maverick 732 that can't be beat for that, I wanted the Thermapen for checks on higher heat cooks.   I've only been trying it with Delmonico steaks, I'll have to try it in a leaner cut and see if it might be fat or air pockets causing me the problems.
  • CowdogsCowdogs Posts: 470
    edited March 2012

    This isn't the case in the real world.  Mine is 3sec tops.  Also, MTC is actually more expensive when you add the probe.  I think you received some misinformation.   Let me see what I can get out of them. 



    Maybe I got bad info. Maybe they have a faster probe now that they did not have at the time I spoke to them. But I did copy this from their web page on the Thermapen.

    Made by Hand in England, the Thermapen™ is faster and more accurate than any other cooking thermometer on the market
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 1,324
    edited March 2012
    I emailed their tech support. If you look at the various probes, the reading speeds vary so I think the probe is the key. I would think if the Thermapen uses the fastest probe and you use the same probe on the MTC, then the reading speeds would be about about the same. Makes sense to me anyway.
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/
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