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Pros and Cons of Thermapen?

Hi guys,

So we all know that the Thermapen is the king of thermometers right now. But it's really damn expensive. I have one too but I personally think it's far too expensive for what it is. I can source high quality thermocouple sensors and components for much less!

I was thinking about making a product that could rival the Thermapen and offer it much less. Maybe throw it up on kickstarter or something to get some funding.

What do you guys NOT like about the Thermapen? I personally I think it should come with a backlight if they're charging us 90 bucks for one. This could really help me draw up a list of features to include.

Would love to hear some thoughts.

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  1. The only down side is the price and honestly, they have addressed that to some extent with the Thermopop for $25. http://www.thermoworks.com/products/l...

    It's a second or two slower than the thermopen and the only down side I see to it is the probe doesn't fold up. Thermoworks has a backlit thermopen, it's a couple of dollars more.

    I suppose the ideal would be a thermopen with the thermopop thermister instead of the thermocouple to hit the $25 price point and a backlight. In other words, a thermopop in a thermopen case, at the thermopop price point.

    1. I'd like to see:

      1. A feature whereby the very tip is insulated/decoupled so that hitting a bone or the bottom of a pan doesn't throw off the reading.

      2. A clipped version that can be left in a pan (stove or oven) with both a LOUD alarm and a Bluetooth link to a mobile device.

      3. Switchable to whole-number mode, so you don't see the flickering 1/10s.

      4. Rubberized body.

      5. Backlight.

      6. Accidental-dunk-proof (100% sealed)

      5 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Hi Kalokahu,

        Thanks for drawing up this list, its pretty eye opening. I'm really interested something you mentioned and that is bluetooth connectivity.

        I think theres enough space in the thermometer body for a small bluetooth transmitter. What do you want to use the BLT connection for? Live streaming of the temperature reading?

        I guess that would mean an app is required!

        Thanks and keep em coming!


        1. re: benjamin831

          Hi, Benjamin: "What do you want to use the BLT connection for?"

          Beyond simply streaming the reading, I think a simple app should also be able to allow the user to select a finish temperature, and then predict an approximate time-to-finish, at least for oven use with meat. You might need to put a second sensor in the body and a "start" button. At the very least, if the device was tracking and plotting the temp as you went, it might help minimize the number of holes poked in a perfectly good roast, and provide a very useful heads-up when things are getting near done.

          Imagine millions of homes that would at least have a CLUE about when their Thanksgiving meal will come together without the crude (and undependable) math involving weight, temperature and 15-minute increments.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            That would be really fun, as well as useful! Would not further goal of cutting cost, but I'd love that. I've never seen a calculated estimate of doneness that came close to what is actually happening (ie, the weight and temp etc calcs). There must be too many variables with each bird - and likely other roasts as well.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          The ChefAlarm they make comes with a pan clip and has a loud alarm with a volume button and is backlit. It doesn't link to a mobile device though.

          1. re: rasputina

            Damn, there goes my Nobel!

            For my next feat, I will reinvent the internal combustion engine.

        3. I can;'t think of a single con.

          1. <But it's really damn expensive. I have one too but I personally think it's far too expensive for what it is. I can source high quality thermocouple sensors and components for much less!>

            Well, thermocouple sensors are very accurate for sure. Have fun.

            1. There are already $20 to $50 thermocouple thermometers around. No one talks about them, though the ones I've used have worked very well (though I suspect there are quality control problems). If you can make one that will sell, retail, at a grocery store, for ten bucks, then you've got something.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dscheidt

                True, I noticed some on Amazon when I was doing some research. But truth be told, a lot of the thermometers out there are quite hideous. They really look out of place if you have a nice kitchen with fancy cookware.

                I think Thermapen was the first popular folding thermometer with tons of colors.

                1. re: benjamin831

                  the people who care what their thermometer look like will simply not use one, or will use an inferior one that they think looks cool.

              2. Have it activate by hitting a button, not by folding in and out the probe (once first used)

                1 Reply
                1. re: danlind3

                  I'd like that, too. Once I use it and set it aside, I've got to fold and re-open to activate it again.

                  A button would be simpler. Perhaps another point of moisture intrusion, though.

                2. I am surprised nobody else would like to see this:

                  I would like to see a "Hold" feature. More than once I put the pointy end into something in the oven, but it responds so fast to temperature changes, the reading has changed between the time I pull it out of food and the time I pull it out of the oven to look at it.

                  Seems there would be room for a small button somewhere on the body facilitate this feature.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: al b. darned

                    That's actually really useful, I have the same problem as well but never thought of a hold feature.

                    Cool! Sounds like we have something. I'll def keep you guys posted if I go thru with this.

                    Keep em coming!

                  2. Here are a couple of things I'd like to see on the thermapen:
                    -A clip so I don't have to hold onto it all the time when cooking
                    -A button to turn off or put it to sleep without having to fold it (to avoid getting food everywhere on it when I have to use it multiple times several minutes apart)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sirrith

                      Yeah, sleep and activate are pretty useful.

                      What do you think about a MAX and MIN function?

                      1. re: benjamin831

                        That could be useful, but it would also introduce more buttons, which I'd rather avoid; I like the simplicity of the Thermapen.

                    2. Racing stripes and mag wheels! :D

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: benjamin831

                          But seriously though..I love my Thermapen. I use it in a pro environment and I couldn't be happier with it's performance.
                          I was lucky enough to purchase my pen for $70 tax and shipping included through a local purveyor's promotion.
                          Even if I had to spend the $90.+ it would be well worth it for me.

                      1. Do you guys think a MAX and MIN mode is useful at all?


                        8 Replies
                        1. re: benjamin831

                          Hi, Benjamin:

                          I have a Taylor 9867 with this feature; Min/Max is rarely used.

                          This points up another issue: You probably want a lockable KISS mode without any bells/whistles/advanced features. Far too many of today's devices are easily switched to unwanted "advanced" modes, especially when 1 or 2 buttons program EVERYTHING.


                          1. re: benjamin831

                            If we are still talking about a hand held unit, I don't think you need a min max readout, you won't have it in the food that long. It might be useful for use in a pot to measure temperature of a liquid if there is a pot/pan clip, however. A hold function so you have time to look at the reading after you remove it from the food would be useful, although I use the Thermoworks Chef Thermometer for smoking an oven product temperatures and it has the remote cable, so that's not really an issue in my case.

                            Honestly, if you could make something as good as the Thermopen with maybe just a couple of improvments and sell it at a reasonable price, I think you could sell many. The Maverick PT-100 is similar but only $11 less than the Thermopen and not rated as good by "Meathead".

                            1. re: mikie

                              I took a look at this Maverick thermometer and it looks pretty insane. It's a huge departure from what made Thermapen successful. I think that product is going in the wrong direction. It's all about keeping it simple.

                              What's this "Meathead" thing you're talking about?

                              1. re: benjamin831

                                Meathead is a BBQ bloger that's fairly well known. He reviews gadgets and other grilling stuff. Great web-site, lots of hints on how to smoke and grill food.


                              2. re: mikie

                                I've had a Maverick the one with the wireless remote unit, personally I think they are crap.

                                1. re: rasputina

                                  benjamin831, definitely note this post. If you really intend to go up against Thermoworks (and I think at their price point they might be vulnerable), the three most important things you can insist on in your product are build quality, build quality, and build quality. I'd like a lot of the functions people are talking about here like a backlight, a freeze function (heh), left-handedness and so on but what makes me love my Thermapen are its accuracy (which is easy to duplicate) and its build quality (which is apparently not). It feels solid, it will take a drop without breaking, everything fits together extremely well, the probe is thick enough not to bend out of true, it's got enough heft to make it feel like a real instrument without being too heavy for its function.

                              3. re: benjamin831

                                I have it on the Thermoworks ChefAlarm, yes I think it's useful for things like frying, candy making and on the smoker.

                              4. Hi benjamin,

                                Likely no one else cares about this, but you asked. The damn thing is right-handed. I've gotten used to it, but never liked this aspect of it, and still have to fiddle with it every time I use it. Try it left-handed and you may see what I mean.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Hey Duff, looks like you need to take a trip to the "Leftorium" :)

                                  1. re: petek

                                    Don't I know it. I still recall the great scissors debate of 2013.

                                  2. re: DuffyH

                                    Hi DuffyH,
                                    Try the Thermopop, the display rotates, so it's always right side up and easy to read.

                                    1. re: mikie

                                      Thanks mikie,

                                      That's my vow. If it breaks again, rather than have it repaired, I'm getting a cheap Thermopop.

                                      I should note we've had our pen about 10 yrs, and only had it repaired once. $25 for the repairs, and it's like new.

                                  3. How about a surface temperature tip attachment? It would be more accurate than my IR thermometer on shiny surfaces. I'd welcome that, especially since Thermowoks wants $129 for their model.


                                    FWIW - There is a backlit, splash proof model already. At a premium, of course. This is Thermoworks, after all. http://www.thermoworks.com/products/t...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      Ooh yes, I'd forgotten about that, I would like something like this very much. But currently not much enough to pay what that one costs.

                                      1. re: Sirrith

                                        That's me too, Sirrith. I covet, but I'm cheap. So my $35 IR gun with all it's inaccuracies will have to do for now.

                                        My cats always run at least 20ยบ warmer than the tile floors. So there's that.

                                    2. I wish there was an on/off button, use rechargable AAAs, thermal insulation for the bbq use and water sealing so I don't have to hold my breath each time I wash it. that's it. otherwise perfect.

                                      the price was painful once, but it's satisfying each time I use it and have juicy not-overcooked meat.

                                      a backlight would contribute to unreliability.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: filtered

                                        Is there any reason why you think a backlight would compromise reliability?

                                        I think water resistance is a must. If I'm going to develop a thermometer, it's gotta be comfortable being under a running tap.

                                      2. I want an instrument that's as accurate as the Thermopen that I can leave IN the meat, while it's cooking on the grill, in the oven or on the stove top. I have an oven probe that connects to an external reading device that beeps when the desired internal temp is reached, but I'd sure love a wireless version of that, ESPECIALLY for use when I'm grilling, so I could carry the monitor around with me -- maybe even clip it on somewhere.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                          I don't know how its accuracy compares to Thermopen, but we use this for the grill or when I use the Nesco for a hunk of meat. We've been very happy with the results.


                                        2. So things are happening!. We're starting to prototype the product and we should have a working unit out by mid Oct.

                                          In terms of the "guts" of it, we're working to get it to match Thermapen. Thermapen is def very fast. I think we can get it close to 90-95% of their speed.

                                          We're also considering all the features you guys suggested. We're def gonna have a HOLD and MIN/MAX feature. We're trying to figure out a way to activate those features without any buttons. It's gonna be very very cool.

                                          I'm super excited get this working! I'll give you guys more updates once we have a working prototype.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: benjamin831

                                            Any chance for a left-handed version?

                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                              Sorry Duffy, no plans for a lefty version yet. Me and my engineers took a hack at coming up with a left handed version but unfortunately it became very expensive due to the extra tooling :(

                                              1. re: benjamin831

                                                The dream lives on, unfulfilled. *sigh*

                                                1. re: benjamin831

                                                  Why not just have the display on the top?

                                                  1. re: Sirrith

                                                    I think that's an excellent idea, Sirrith. Moving the display does 3 things, all of them good:

                                                    1. Easier to read
                                                    2. Works for righties and lefties
                                                    3. Doesn't look like a Thermapen clone

                                              2. re: benjamin831

                                                Good Luck!

                                                FWIW, other than for bragging rights, I think 90-95% speed is perfectly fine. 5-10% increase over a second or two is negligible.


                                              3. Another thing the Tpen is good at is taking a temp at a fairly precise area/depth within the target. I wonder if other sensor types are as precise. That can really make a difference with fairly thin steaks, etc., where you kinda want to know the temp w/in a mm or two.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: danlind3

                                                  Yep, that precision depends on where the sensor (which is about the side of a pen dot) is placed.

                                                  If its done well, the sensor will but at the very very tip of the probe. This i something we're taking into account when we're making our thermometer.

                                                  1. re: benjamin831

                                                    Do we design consultants get a discount?