×

Our Pitmaster Club can up your game!
Benefits include:

• No more ads, faster page loads!
• "The Pit" forum with tons of info & scores of recipes
• Monthly newsletter
• Video seminars with top pitmasters
• Weekly podcast with news and interviews
• Comprehensive Temperature Magnet ($10 retail)
• Monthly giveaways of Gold Medal grills and smokers
• Discounts on products we love
• Educational and social Meat-Ups
• Support for Operation BBQ Relief
• Support for Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
• Support for AmazingRibs.com!

AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

Search Our Ratings and Reviews

Click Search to see all our Reviews and Ratings. Use the filters below to refine your search.

About the features, specs, and technical terms

Adjustable. Some thermometers' accuracy can drift and they can then be adjusted to bring them back to the correct reading.

Alarms. Some devices can be set to alert the cook when a high or low temp is reached either with an audible alarm, such as a beep, or a visible alarm, such as a flashing display.

App. BlueTooth and wifi enabled devices have a smartphone or tablet app that talk to the device.

Auto shutoff. If you don't use the device for a set period of time, it will shut itself off to save batteries

Backlight. Digital thermometers are hard to read at night unless they have a backlight.

Bi-metal dial thermometers. Most bi-metal coil dial thermometers mounted in grill hoods should be called heat indicators, not thermometers. We do not recommend them. They have round clock-like readouts and the sensor uses two strips of metal bonded together and rolled into a coil. Each metal expands at a different rate, turns a shaft, and this provides the reading on a dial. Bi-metal meat thermometers can take up to 30 seconds to give an final reading and because the sensor can be 1/2" long or more they c annot read a specific location in meat. Most thermometers built into grills and smokers are bi-metal, but they are often low quality in order to keep the grill price down. They can easily become unreadable if they fill with smoke and or water. Also, these grill thermometers are mounted in the dome where the temp can be very different from the temp at the cooking surface making them both unreliable and misleading.

C/F Switch. Most thermometers have a switch to change the display from Centigrade to Fahrenheit.

K-Probes. Some thermocouple thermometers have a standardized spade-like connector for scores of interchangeable probes.

Liquid filled thermometers. Old-fashioned liquid filled thermometers are very small glass tubes filled with a liquid that sit in a bulb at the bottom. As the liquid warms it expands. They are slow but they can be very accurate. Because they do not need batteries, they make good refrigerator and freezer thermometers, but they cannot read a small area such as the center of a hunk of meat well.

Logging. Some thermometers can remember the readings taken over time and create a log that can either be printed or exported to a spreadsheet.

Margin of Error. Most thermometers are considered to be accurate if the are within plus or minus 3°F of the target tempderature. High end thermometers are more precise than this.

Min / Max. The minimum and maximum temperatures it is capable of reading. On some devices, especially those which use differnt probes, the Min / Max can vary with the probe.

Oven. We often refer to an oven to cover a range of cooking devices including grills and smokers, which are, essentially, outdoor ovens.

Popup thermometers. Popups have a compound in the tip that melts at a determined temp and releases a spring that pops the stem up. Although they can be accurate, they can also stick, they read only one part of the turkey, and they are usually set too high to prevent litigation. Pop-ups are why your turkey tastes like cardboard. Throw them out.

Price. Usually the manufacturer's suggested retail price. When that is not available we use the approximate street price.

Sensor. Thermocouple, thermistor, liquid, bi-metal. They are described in detail below.

Speed. We measure how long it takes the thermometer to go from 32°F to 212°F or from 212°F to 32°F. But you have to be careful about the time manufacturers quote. Often they use an industry standard called "time constant". That is the time it takes to get to 63% of a full reading, and a full reading is be five times that. So if they say the time constant is 0.6 seconds, as is the Thermapen, it will be precise in about 3 seconds. Another factor is how fast the display refreshes itself. The Thermapen refreshes every 0.5 seconds. This means you can slowly insert it and remove it and it will give you a new reading every 0.5 seconds. The Thermoworks K-type Fast Response Meat Probe #113-151 which can be plugged into different meters, is slightly faster with a time constant of 0.5 seconds, precise read in 2.5 seconds, slightly faster than the Thermapen. But if you plug it into the MTC meter, which refreshes every 1 second, the probe is actually faster than the meter, and combined they are slower than the Thermapen. Another factor is the conductivity of the medium you are measuring, food, which is mostly water, reads faster than bread, which is mostly air, a poor conductor.

Thermistors. Thermistors are usually not as quick as thermocouples, they tend to be thicker, and they can be slightly less accurate, usually with a margin of error of 5°F. They are best for leaving in large roasts and oven for continuous readings. Thermistor units send a current through a wire in the probe with a resistor in the tip. Its resistance to the electrical flow changes with temperature and the meter measures the voltage across the resistor.

Thermocouples. Thermocouples are the best food thermometers because they're fast and precise, with a small sensor, ideal for rapid read thermometers. Their margin of error can be less than 1°F. Thermocouple probes have two tiny wires of different metals welded at the tip, most often nickel and chromium (called Type K). The heat causes a tiny voltage to appear across the dissimilar metals which are connected to a meter that measures the voltage and calculates the temperature.

Water resistance rating. Some manufacturers simply specify that a thermometer is "water resistant" but this is not a regulated description and should be taken with a grain of salt. Some manufacturers use a third party service, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It rates devices using an International Protection rating code (an IP code). An IP code might look like this IP65. The first digit is protection against solids like dust, and the second digit is protection against liquids. They range from IP00 to IP68. If a thermometer was IP65, it was tested and found completely protected against dust as well as protected against low pressure jets of liquid from all sides, so it is OK in the rain, but NOT protected against a swim in the BBQ sauce.

Where to buy. We provide links to some suppliers, especially to those who pay us a finder's fee if you buy from them. In some cases, our links provide a Compact AmazingRibs.com Meat Temperature Guide with the product. You will only get the guide by following the link provided.


Best Value Awards

Gold Medal. Among the best of its type in its price category. A strong buy recommendation if this is your budget.

Silver Medal. A fine product among the best in its price category with only minor shortcomings. Recommended for purchase if a Gold Medal is not available.

Bronze Medal. A good product, better than average, but may be making in features or quality compared to higher rated products. Worth considering for purchase if you cannot find or afford a Gold or Silver Medal.

Not Recommended. These are products that we think are poor choices compared to competitors based on price, features, and construction quality.

Not Judged Yet. These are products that may be award caliber, perhaps even Gold Medal caliber, but we do not know enough about them yet to give them an award.


How We Test, Review, And Rate Thermometers

We purchase almost all of the thermometers we review. These are truly unbiased reviews. We do not make or sell anything, and our advertising is sold by third party ad networks. We are not involved in the process. Rest assured that when we recommend a product, it is really because we like it, not because someone has paid us to say so or because the company is an advertiser or sponsor. Manufacturers are never charged to have products reviewed or be included in the listings.

Bill McGrath, an electrical engineer, does all out thermometer testing, ratings, and reviews. He uses special National Institute of Standards & Technology rated and calibrated equipment to check the accuracy and speed of thermometers. He uses an ice and water bath and a boiling water bath to measure the time it takes each thermometer to go from 32° to 211°F and to go from 212° to 33°F. After we take objective measurements, we evaluate based on subjective criteria such as ergonomics, ease of use, flexibility, warranty, access to support, and build quality. Finally, we consider value when making our awards.

nist calibration machine


"The instant-read thermometer, used frequently, solves most issues." Mark Bittman, New York Times food columnist and cookbook author

Auber SYL-1615SYS-W

By Bill McGrath

The Auber SYL-1615 is a highly-configurable thermostatic controller for charcoal cookers. It can be operated by merely setting the target temperature, mounting the blower (no tools required), inserting the temperature probe, and standing back while it does all the work. It does an excellent job regulating the temperature using the default configuration, but it can be tweaked to an extent that an electrical control engineer would love. (I'm that kind of guy!) The test results presented here use the default settings.

The idea behind a controller like this is to regulate the temperature inside the cooker by adjusting the airflow. The more air, the hotter it gets. A temperature probe clipped to the grill grate and routed out of the cooker to the controller provides the feedback needed to make airflow decisions. It's a lot more complicated than that, but that's all you really need to know to use this device.

Test Procedure: This product was tested on an 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain. I loaded 2 lbs. of Kingsford Competition Briquets into the cooker, and lit 1 lb. of the same charcoal in a chimney, and poured it on the unlit coals already in the smoker. The water bucket was about 2/3 full, and there was no food in the cooker. (Shoot me!) The blower was attached to one of the lower vents, and the others were closed. The temperature probe was clipped to the center of the top cooking grate. Another temperature probe was mounted close to the sensor and plugged into a ThermoWorks BlueTherm Duo that was monitored on my computer for temperature recording purposes. The set temperature was 225ºF, consistent with smoking practices.

The outside air temperature was from 90 to 108ºF. Winds were light and variable. Measurements began shortly after the smoker was closed up. The charcoal burned for a little over four hours before the blower began to run full-time, signaling that the fuel was nearly exhausted. At that point, I terminated the test. The captured data from the ThermoWorks sensor was plotted, and the raw data was exported to Excel so that I could calculate temperature maxima, minima, average and standard deviation. The last value gives a measure of how consistent the temperature remained. If the temperature was dead constant, the standard deviation would be zero. The larger the swings in temperature, the higher the standard deviation would be. The values for this test are:

Maximum temperature: 228ºF
Minimum temperature: 215ºF
Average temperature: 222ºF
Standard deviation: 2.0ºF

At one point during the test, around 11 o'clock, I jostled the smoker to dislodge ash from the coals. This gives rise to a spike in the temperature that the thermostat must compensate for. This occured around the mid point of this test.


The graph of temperature versus time was converted to a jpg image so that you can view how consistent the temperature was. (Click on graph to see a larger version of the file.) Keep in mind that the data extends beyond the time when the charcoal was essentially exhausted, so you can ignore the decline on the right side of the graph. The spike that occured just before the coals expired makes the graph look more erratic than it would be in normal cooking because you would add more fuel than you need to complete the cook. Overall, the Auber did a fine job of regulating cooker temperature.

For those who wish to refine the performance of their thermostat, the owner's manual explains how to access the various parameters that are used to control the mathematical algorithm that controls the cooker. You can run it through an auto-calibrate procedure where the controller determines the optimum settings for your cooker configuration. You can calibrate the probe used to supply the temperature feedback. You can also set upper and lower alarm thresholds.

This test was conducted using the 6.5 cfm blower and the standard temperature probe. The controller will accept any k-type thermocouple probe that uses the standard two-pronged plug, so if you have some other probes, you can use them as well.

This is one of the best performing thermostatic controllers I've tested, and it's also the lowest price unit. That's an unbeatable combination! This model does lack the ability to connect to your computer/smart device, so if you need that capability, you might need to keep searching. On the other hand, do you really need to plot graphs and calculate standard deviations? Probably not - it's just food, after all.

I give this unit a solid Gold medal for stellar performance at a bargain price. You'll wonder how you ever lived without one of these things once you've used one.

Addendum:

The manufacturer of this product explains how the user can run an "auto-tune" cycle to allow the controller to "learn" the behavior of the cooker being used. This learning modifies some parameters that are used in the control equations to regulate the fan output. In theory, a controller that is tuned to a particular cooker being operated under a given set of conditions will perform better than one set up with generic settings. I decided to test this auto-tune feature on the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker that I was using in this test. I set up pretty much the same way I did in the earlier tests, except that I used 3 lbs. of charcoal instead of 2. The ambient conditions were close to those encountered earlier. I got the smoker up to about the right temperature by letting the fan run, and then I initiated the AT (auto-tune) sequence. In the graph below (click on it to see a larger version), the temperature swings at the beginning of the test are the result of the tuning procedure, which basically turns the fan on if the temp is below 215ºF and turns it off when the temp is above this value. The fan turns on when the temperature is dropping, and it takes about five minutes of full-on fan to reverse the drop and cause the temperature to rise. When the fan shuts off, the temp continues to rise, peaks, then begins to fall. This cycle tells the controller how quickly the cooker responds to the fan, and the controller then adjusts its parameters to fit the cooker's characteristics.

In order to tell how well the controller worked after the auto-tune cycle completed, I ran the test until the smoker ran out of fuel around 2 p.m. I exported the data that represented the running time between the tuning cycle and that part of the data affected by fuel exhaustion - from about 8 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. This data was imported into Excel to run the statistics. Here are the results:

Maximum temperature: 229ºF
Minimum temperature: 219ºF
Average temperature: 224ºF
Standard deviation: 1.65ºF

The data show a slight improvement in the temperature regulation. Whether you want to go to the trouble of fiddling with this tuning procedure will be determined more by your desire to optimize performance than any real need to do so. Clearly, the advantages are minor - the manufacturer has done a good job of tuning the system right out of the box.

This test was done on a warm summer day. It is possible that if the test were conducted when the outside air temperature was very low, you might improve the temperature regulation more. Or perhaps not. One take-away from this experiment is that the controller isn't overly sensitive to changes in its operating parameters. This is a good thing because it indicates that it should perform well under a wide variety of conditions.

Auber has recently introduced two lithium-ion battery packs that can power up the entire controller package if AC power is not available. The smaller unit stores 3000mAH and the larger one stores 6800mAH. The main port provides 12.6VDC to power your controller and its fan. Each unit also has a USB port that outputs 5VDC to charge a phone or other device that charges via a USB port. See the links below for purchase information.

 

 

Features:

  • Hand-held
  • Leave in Food
  • Leave in Cooker
  • Wireless Remote
  • Infrared Gun
  • Refrigerator / Freezer
  • Thermostats/Temperature Controllers

Price: 

$169.65

Where to buy (buying from these suppliers supports this website): 

Auber Controller

Battery Packs

Included: 

Controller, blower, temp probe, AC adapter, instructions, miscellaneous hardware

Probes: 

80" (2m) K-type thermocouple with standard connector and alligator clip

Accessories: 

Different sized blowers available

Battery type: 

AC Adaptor only

Min / Max: 

-320 to 2400ºF (-200 to 1300ºC)

Ambient operating temperatures: 

-4 to 122ºF (-20 to 50ºC)

Display precision: 

Speed from 32°F to 212°F: 

n/a seconds

Size of numbers in display: 

0.39" (10mm)

Water resistance rating: 

Not specified

Alarms: 

Upper and lower limits, audible

Logging: 

No

C/F Switch: 

Yes

Backlight: 

No

Adjustable: 

Yes

Auto shutoff: 

No

App: 

None

Colors: 

Off-white

Sensor: 

Thermocouple

Return to top

Please read this before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.

Return to top

Return to top

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, and how to cook great food outdoors. There are also buying guides to hundreds of barbeque smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, pulled pork, Texas brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, chili, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best all edited by Meathead Goldwyn.

Brought to you by readers who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world, still growing rapidly, and one of the 25 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, and Alexa. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2016 - 2017 by AmazingRibs.com. All text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs.com and fully protected by US copyright law unless otherwise noted. This means that it is a Federal crime to copy and publish or distribute anything on this website without permission. But we're easy! We usually grant permission and don't charge a fee. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website.