Maverick XR-50 Remote Four-Probe Thermometer Review

Maverick XR-50 Remote Four-Probe Thermometer Review
The Maverick XR-50 is an extended-range, four-channel wireless remote food and cooker thermometer that employs RF to send temperature data from the transmitter to the receiver. It ships with two straight 6" probes and two straight 3" probes. The "XR" stands for extended range; the manufacturer claims the units will communicate over 500' (152m).
 
The transmitter and receiver are sturdily built and their weight reflects this quality. The four probes consist of a stainless steel braid that is heavier than most and should hold up well. Both the transmitter and receiver have folding stands on their backs that can double as hangers, but the detents on the stands are anemic and will fold or unfold very easily. Each has magnets on its back that allow you to stick the devices to a steel surface. The battery compartments have waterproof seals and clever latches, allowing quick battery changes without tools. The jacks for the temperature probes are fitted with seals to block moisture if it rains. The manufacturer claims that the transmitter is water resistant if all four probes are plugged in: otherwise, the unoccupied jacks can allow water entry.
 
The display is identical on both the transmitter and the receiver. All four temperatures are displayed as well as the upper and lower alarm limit for each channel. Each channel can have its alarm set on or off, independent of the other channels. All alarms can also be switched on or off together. Each display can indicate the temperature in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, and the displays can be the same or set differently. Each has a blue backlight that can be illuminated by pressing any button. The display is somewhat sensitive to viewing angle; if the top of the unit is tilted away from you, the display can be difficult to read.
 
To set the alarm limits, you double-press a button associated with your desired channel, and a high-limit indicator flashes. Pressing the up/down arrow buttons changes the value, then the Set button is displayed. This process locks in the upper limit, then the lower limit indicator flashes, which is set the same way. Or you can simply press the channel button to set the lower limit to 32ºF automatically. A long press on the channel button turns the alarm on or off for that channel only. The alarm thresholds can be set on the transmitter only, but they are readable on both units.
 
The alarms behave intelligently. If you set a temperature range for your cooker between 200º and 250ºF, the alarm will not arm itself until the lower threshold is crossed, which prevents the alarm from going off while your cooker is heating up. When an alarm does go off, the display flashes the temperature of the affected channel, and the back light flashes on and off. An audible alarm also sounds. Pressing and holding the channel button mutes the audible alarm and the backlight stops flashing after a few seconds. Pressing the Alarm button turns the alarms for all four channels on or off.
 
Accuracy in food temperature ranges is excellent. Once the temperature reaches 325ºF, the unit reads low by 7º, which is within the tolerance band typical of these instruments.
 
Setup is a breeze and won't require re-reading the instructions if you haven't done it for a while. If communication is lost between the transmitter and the receiver, the remote display will flash its digits after about 20-30 seconds. If communication has not been re-established after two minutes, the audible alarm on the remote will sound while the digits continue to flash.
 
The overall build quality is excellent. Both the transmitter and receiver have soft silicone borders to protect against shock if dropped. As mentioned, the cables are heavier than most, and the plugs will seal out rain if you have all four probes plugged in. But it would be nice to have a few dummy plugs to insert into the transmitter if you're not using all four probes on a rainy day. I'd also like to see sturdier construction on the stands on the rear of the units: they fold too easily. And some folks might miss the timer feature found on some competitor's products. These are minor quibbles.
 
The unit comes with a one-year limited warranty on the electronics and the probes. The owner's manual is well-written and has contact information for the manufacturer, including a telephone number, e-mail address, website, and mailing address.
 
This thermometer setup is solidy built, performs admirably over a long range, and has an intelligently designed user interface. It does everything it should do, and does it well. A well-deserved Gold Medal.
Thermometer Function: 
Leave in Food
Leave in Cooker
Wireless Remote
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: 
$89.95
Included: 
Four probes, transmitter, receiver, 2 probe clips, instructions
Probes: 
(2) length: 6" (15cm), diameter: 0.158" (4mm), tip: 0.1" (2.5mm), cable: 41" (104cm); (2) length: 3" (7.5cm), diameter: 0.158" (4mm), tip: 0.1" (2.5mm), cable: 42.5" (108cm)
Accessories: 
Grill clips
Battery type: 
(4) AAA (included)
Battery life: 
Not specified
Min / Max: 
14 to 572ºF (-10 to 300ºC)
Ambient operating temperatures: 
Not Specified
Display precision: 
0.1º
At 32ºF it actually reads: 
31.8/32.0
At 130°F it actually reads: 
129.4/129.4
At 225°F it actually reads: 
224.1/224.1
At 325°F it actually reads: 
318.7/318.6
Speed from 32°F to 212°F: 
n/a
Size of numbers in display: 
Temp: 0.56" (14mm)
Water resistance rating: 
Rain-resistant if all four probes are plugged in to transmitter
Alarms: 
Audible/Visible, including loss of signal
Weight: 
Transmitter: 7.7 oz (218g);Receiver: 5.6 oz (159g)
C/F Switch: 
Yes
Backlight: 
Yes
Adjustable: 
No
Auto shutoff: 
No
Colors: 
Maroon/Black
Sensor: 
Thermistor

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About the features, specs, and technical terms

Adjustable. The accuracy of some thermometers can drift, and these thermometers can 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 Wi-Fi 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 a final reading and because the sensor can be 1/2" long or more they cannot 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, which generally makes these bi-metal dial thermometers both unreliable and misleading.

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

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

IR (infrared) sensors. Infrared-sensing thermometers measure the energy radiated from a warm surface and convert it to a temperature reading. Some surfaces emit more infrared at a given temperature than others, so some units allow the user to adjust the emissivity setting to fine-tune the accuracy of the thermometer. This should rarely be necessary unless very high accuracy is needed. These units are useful for determining the temperature of a cooking surface like a skillet or griddle.

Liquid filled thermometers. Old-fashioned liquid filled thermometers are very small glass tubes filled with a liquid that sits in a bulb at the bottom. As it warms, the liquid expands. These thermometers 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 they are within plus or minus 3°F of the target temperature. 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 different probes, the Min/Max can vary with the probe.

Oven. We often use the term "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. This type of thermometer often comes pre-inserted in your Thanksgiving turkey. Although there is a chance that it will be accurate, the thermometer will read only one small part of the turkey, may stick, and will likely be set to a high temperature that is meant to prevent litigation rather than produce a juicy bird. The popup thermometer is often to blame when your turkey tastes like cardboard. Throw it out.

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

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

Speed. We measure how long it takes the thermometer to go from 32°F to 211°F and from 212°F to 33°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 takes five times that. So if they say the time constant is 0.6 seconds, as does the manufacturer of the Thermapen, the unit will be precise with a full reading in about 3 seconds. Another factor to consider 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 and precise read in 2.5 seconds. 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 consists mostly of water, reads faster than bread, which consists mostly of air. That is because water is a better conductor than air.

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. These sensors are best for leaving in large roasts and ovens 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, making them 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 quantifies protection against solids like dust, and the second digit quantifies protection against liquids. The digits range from IP00 to IP68. If a thermometer is rated IP65, it was tested and found to be 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 along 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 lacking 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 our thermometer testing, ratings, and reviews. He uses special equipment calibrated and rated by the National Institute of Standards & Technology to check the accuracy and speed of thermometers. He uses an ice 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 taking objective measurements, he evaluates based on subjective criteria such as ergonomics, ease of use, flexibility, warranty, access to support, and build quality. Finally, we consider value when giving our awards.

nist calibration machine


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

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