review

ThermaQ BBQ Kit 2-Channel K Type Thermocouple Thermometer

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The simple concept of wanting to measure temperature accurately gave birth to the first modern thermometer in the early 1700s - the mercury thermometer. Fast forward to 2019, nifty temperature reading instruments have come along, including remote-sensing infrared thermometers like the Thermapen IR, and thermocouple thermometers like the ThermaQ BBQ kit.
Unlike mercury-based and infrared-based thermometers, ThermaQ uses voltage to measure temperature via long metal probes, called thermocouples, which contain two wires of different metals that produce a specific voltage when the probe is exposed to temperature.
ThermaQ has been designed as a 2-channel thermocouple thermometer that lets you measure two separate temperature readings at the same time via two type K thermocouple wire probes.
The ThermaQ thermometer uses type K thermocouples, which come in different types, including type J, type T, type N, type E, type B, type R and type S.
The main differences between of these different temperature sensor types are their temperature range, accuracy, applications and the material used to construct them.
The type T thermocouple, which is made of copper/constantan, has probably one of the most interesting uses of all thermocouple type sensors, being used in the field of cryogenic body preservation with liquid nitrogen at extremely low temperatures (–200 °C/–380 °F).
Type K temperature sensors like the ones included with ThermaQ are made of nichrome alumen and support temperature readings as low as -99.9 °C and as high as 1372 °C.
The ThermaQ thermometer is quick to respond to temperature changes, just as fast as the Thermapen 4, and with a 0.1 °C thermometer resolution between -99.9 °C and 299.9 °C temperature range; hence the ThermaQ thermometer can read to the nearest 0.1°C (i.e. 36.6 °C).
At higher temperatures though, between 300 °C and 1372 °C, the ThermaQ can only read to the nearest 1°C (i.e. 37 °C) resolution and, with a reading accuracy of  ±0.4 °C ±0.1%, which means that the accuracy of the ThermaQ decreases with the increase of temperature. For instance, at 50°C, the accuracy will be ±0.4 °C but at 100 °C the accuracy will be ±0.8 °C.
The ThermaQ thermometer comes with useful built-in functions such as an audible alarm with four variable sound settings that let you set the sounding alarm as low as 85dB (fairly loud) and as high as 105dB (very loud). Another built-in feature you get is a back-lit LCD display, which stays illuminated for 10 seconds.
The ThermaQ monochrome LCD display is 9.6mm thick and measures 4cm long and 3cm tall, which provides just about enough area to display the 2-channel thermometer readings in split view. The information is clearly displayed, albeit a tad crowded. The top half of the screen is for the first channel (T1) and the bottom half of the screen is for the second channel (T2).
You can disable one screen if you are only using one channel and the user guide indicates a procedure to disable half the screen, which involves setting the low alarm of the channel to -100 °C. If this is not done before removing the probe from the channel, it will set off the alarm and display an error message. The alarm can be turned off by pressing once the on/off button and, while the error message will not disappear, you can continue using the other channel thermometer as normal.
Both channel screens display the current reading temperature in large fonts, as well as display other useful information at the same time such as minimum / maximum temperature, unit of temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit), alarm volume and battery level, all of which are displayed in smaller font.
The ThermaQ thermometer is set to Celsius (C) by default, but this can be changed to Fahrenheit (F) by holding down the on/off multifunctional button for 5 seconds.
buttons produce a sound tone when pressed and require a subtle hard press
The on/off button also controls the backlighting of the LCD, which will not come on by default, when battery is low. The volume level of the alarm is adjusted via the up and down arrow buttons. You can turn off the audible alarm if you don't want it on.
When battery is low, you can only set the volume to level 2 (90dB - 101dB). The other volume settings are as follows: Volume 1 (85 - 98 dB), Volume 3 (94dB - 103dB) and Volume 4 (96dB - 105 dB).
Setting the alarm is done via the Set button, which lets you program your preferred high and low alarm volume independently for each channel. To differentiate from each other, each channel alarm produces a different beep pattern. Channel 1 produces single beeps, while channel 2 produces double beeps.
Reminiscent of a barcode inventory scanner, the construction of the ThermaQ thermometer is ergonomic with a hard plastic enclosure coated with Biomaster antimicrobial protection. The thermocouple channel ports are naturally exposed but the ThermaQ housing has an IP65 waterproof protection that is aided by a protective silicone case, which is also included and integrates a nifty kickstand.
The negative and plus markings on top of the probe terminals are designed to help you insert the thermocouple probes the right way.
The thermocouple probes included in the ThermaQ kit are a type K right angled (90 degrees) penetration probe with a braided, teflon-coated stainless steel 2-meter long lead. The probe measures 22.5cm, 4mm in diameter and can handle a temperature range from -50 to 250°C.
The second type K probe included is a grill/oven probe with crocodile clip designed for monitoring ambient air temperature. It has a 2 meter-long stainless braided lead and can handle a temperature range from -50 to 350 °C.
ThermaQ is, essentially, an electronic sensing thermometer and as such, it uses battery power in the form of three AAA batteries, which can only be accessed by removing the six Phillips screws on the back of the unit. A internal battery rechargeable via USB would have certainly been more convenient to have.
That said, it is probably not going to be a deal breaker for the average home user who will probably, only use the ThermaQ thermometer a few times a year for occasional gatherings like a Sunday roasts, summer barbecues and Christmas dinners.
ThermaQ is designed for BBQ but, being a thermometer you can also use it as a very powerful tool around the house and, of course, as a food thermometer, which is a very underestimated kitchen tool that greatly helps you to prevent undercooking foods, which you can easily do with raw meat under a barbecue.
Eating undercooked meat itself isn't dangerous since restaurants wouldn't serve raw steaks otherwise. The danger with raw meat comes from it containing harmful bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli; hence the importance of cooking at safety temperatures.
Preventing the overcooking of food is something else you can accomplish with the ThermaQ since excessive high heat burns the food, hardening the exterior, which prevents food from being properly cooked internally.
The ThermaQ kit comes with a 2 year guarantee, as well as a certificate of calibration and safety standard declaration, which confirms ThermaQ has been tested and calibrated by ETI (Electronics Temperature Instruments Ltd), which is the manufacturer of the ThermaQ thermometer. Included with the ThermaQ kit is also a long PU-leather zip wallet for storing the probes and thermometer.

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