The ThermoWorks Smoke X4 is an evolutionary product along the lines of the original Smoke and the Signals. It is a four-channel transmitter/receiver pair (also available in a two-channel model) that is touted to have a line-of-sight range of two kilometers or about 1.25 miles. This is an order of magnitude greater than other long-distance remote thermometers. The Smoke X4 also works with the ThermoWorks Billows blower for thermostatic control of a wood- or charcoal-fired cooker.
In the way of comparison, the newer Smoke X4 has a much longer range than the original Smoke, and can be had in either a two-channel version or the four channel tested here. While the original Smoke could bridge to the internet using the Gateway accessory, the newer model cannot be used in this way. The four-channel Signals unit does not have a dedicated receiver like the Smoke products, relying instead on a connection to a smartphone. Customer preferences will dictate which product is most appropriate.
Like the orignal Smoke (without the Gateway accessory), this unit works without needing a smart phone, relying on its included remote receiver. It cannot be monitored via the internet or Bluetooth. The included receiver displays all four channels, just like the base unit. All settings are configured on the base; the user cannot change alarm triggers via the remote receiver. The upside of this arrangement is that the base can be used without the remote if you’ll be close to the cooker. In this case, the transmitter can be turned off to conserve battery power.
The package includes four probes: three long, L-shaped pointy ones for food and one shorter probe for measuring the cooker temp. If the cooker probe is inserted into channel four, and a Billows blower is attached, this channel becomes the controller for the temperature regulating system. You can set the desired temp and the system will maintain it, given adequate fuel.
On the base unit, each channel displays the probe temperature, the upper and lower alarm limits, the minimum and maximum temps since turn-on, and the alarm status – on or off. The remote unit displays everthing for each channel except the min/max info. If the Billows is attached, channel four displays the cooker temp and the target temperature, and it sounds an alarm if the temp in the cooker is not within 25°F of the set value. See the Billows review for more details.
The probes are robust, with a heavy stainless steel braid and strain reliefs at both the probe and the plug. They are water resistant, but ThermoWorks cautions against submersion. Both the transmitter and receiver are solidly built, like all ThermoWorks products. The price reflects the quality level, but you only have to pay it once.
How about the range? ThermoWorks says up to 1.25 miles (6600 feet) – line of sight. I set the transmitter in our yard and started walking. I lost contact when I was about 900 feet away, and regained contact when I was around 700 feet from the transmitter. I live in an RV park, so there were a lot of rigs spread around, along with a large building and some tall conifers. Radio waves are affected by many things. This radio works around 915 MHz, in the UHF band, where trees and buildings absorb a lot of the RF energy. My conclusion is that the range of this transmitter/receiver pair should be adequate under nearly all circumstances.
The unit comes with decent instructions without having to search online for a manual. Contact info for the manufacturer is included in the documentation. The warranty is two years. This is an industrial grade tool that should last forever. If you don’t need the ability to connect via smart phone and you need longer range, this unit could well be your ticket to ride. Recommended.
Leave in Food, Leave in Cooker, Wireless Remote
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Bill McGrath - Bill McGrath is AmazingRibs.com's Thermometer Maven. He has sophisticated equipment, an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, and an MBA (almost) from UC Berkeley. Despite being mostly retired, he is still the person responsible for developing and updating all of ExxonMobil's training modules.