Thermoworks' line of Thermapen products has long been some of the best instant-read thermometer probes on the market. To date, the Thermapen One may be the fastest, most accurate instant-read thermometer I've had the pleasure of using.
While Infrared Thermometers don't quite have the overall utility of a good Instant Read probe, that being said an infrared thermometer probe is a super convenient thing to have around. In the case of the Thermapen IR, Thermworks has combined the functionality of a good Infrared thermometer probe as well as the overall capability of their already incredible instant-read probe to create a really useful temperature tracking tool.
If you're in the market for a good thermometer for things like candy-making or deep frying along with a high-quality instant-read thermometer probe for all your day-to-day temperature reading needs, then you should 100% consider the Thermapen IR as your next kitchen gadget addition!
Thermapen IR Thermometer Review.
What we liked:
- High-quality K Type Thermocouple
- Fast readings
- Easy to use IR mode
- Auto On/Off saves on battery life
- Super simple design
What we didn't like:
- Uses button cell batteries
- IR control panel can be difficult to understand at first
Look and Feel:
If you're at all familiar with the Thermapen line of instant-read probes then the design of the Thermoworks Thermapen IR should be familiar. The Thermapen Infrared Instant Read Thermometer is built on the same platform as the majority of the Thermapen line and closely resembles the Thermapen Classic, MK4, and Thermapen One. The thermapen IR combines the classic k-type thermocouple probe found on almost all Thermoworks models with an instrument-grade infrared sensor that can provide quick surface temperature readings in seconds.
The major difference between the Thermapen IR and the other Thermapen thermometers is the presence of two control buttons on the front of the thermometer along with the glass infrared sensor at the bottom of the thermometer. While most Thermapen thermometers have no buttons or controls present on the thermometer body itself, the IR needs two buttons to allow you to control the Infrared functions.
Beyond the infrared sensor and controls, overall the Thermpane IR is almost identical to all the other Thermapen probes. With a large body and an easy-to-read LCD screen located directly in the center of the thermometer, the Thermapen IR is a straightforward and intuitive thermometer model. Like the Thermapen Classic, MK4, and One, the Thermapen IR has a 360° rotating display that makes it super easy to take readings from any angle or direction.
The probe folds into the thermometer base and rotates 180 degrees on a sturdy hinge located at the top of the thermometer body. There is no power button to operate the Instant read probe, you simply extend the probe from the body and the auto-on function activates the thermometer.
The buttons located below the LCD control the Infrared probe and only activate when the probe is folded back into the thermometer base. The button closest to the infrared sensor is the scan button and activates the thermometer. Once activated provides an almost instant infrared reading. The mode button located below allows you to switch between hold and max/min functions which I'll go into detail about later.
The back of the thermometer is sparse and only contains the battery compartment along with a panel providing technical details about your probe along with the serial number. Unlike many of the Thermapen models, the Thermapen IR runs on two lithium cell button batteries. While this power solution does provide over 1000 battery hours, I still wish the folks at Thermoworks had opted for a more common power source like a AAA battery.
Two features that you'll find on most of the Thermapen line but are noticeably missing from the Thermapen IR are a waterproof design and a backlight. While a backlight isn't a huge issue for me, thanks to my smartphone I've almost always got a flashlight on me, the lack of a waterproof design is frustrating. My feeling is that the presence of the Infrared probe prevented the Thermapen IR from being waterproof like the Thermapen MK4 or One. So, if you plan on purchasing one of these probes make sure to be careful around water or heavy rain.
- Prope Range: -58.0 to 572.0°F (-49.9 to 299.9°C)
- Probe Accuracy: ±0.7°F (±0.4°C) from -58 to 392°F (-49.9 to 199.9°C) otherwise ±1.8°F (±1.0°C)
- Infrared Range:58.0 to 661.8°F (-49.9 to 349.9°C)
- Infrared Accuracy: ±1.8°F (±1.0°C) from 32 to 212°F (0 to 100°C) otherwise ±3.62°F (±2.0°C) or 2% of reading, whichever is greater
- 1 s Infrared Readings
- 2-3 s Probe Readings
- Adjustable emissivity infrared from 0.1 to 1.0
- Auto-Rotating Display
- Includes NIST-Traceable calibration certificate
Using the Thermapen IR Instant Read Infrared Thermometer.
Using the Thermapen IR throughout a Sunday Brisket smoking session was a lot of fun. Given how familiar I was with the Thermapen line of products overall, using the instant-read probe was a cinch.
The Thermapen IR was built on the same platform as the Thermapen Classic, MK4, and One so putting the instant-read probe to use throughout my smoking session was super easy. Speed-wise all my readings through the day averaged 3.5s which puts it right in line with the MK4. Currently, the Thermapen One is the fastest instant-read thermometer I've used, but before this year the MK4 was the former undisputed Instant Read champion, and the Thermapen IR is right in line with almost identical reading times.
Taking readings using the instant-read probe mode on the Thermpane IR was as straightforward as I've come to expect from all Thermapen models. Once you extend the probe from the body the display turns on automatically. Thanks to the super thing step-down probe, the thermometer slides into any protein or product with ease. Once inserted it took an average of 3.5s to provide a final stabilized reading, but the initial temperature reading was always within 10-15°f of the final temperature which really emphasizes the sensitivity of the K-type thermocouple found in these thermometers.
While using the instant-read probe portion of the Thermapen IR was straightforward and familiar, using the Infrared sensor required I spend some time with the user's manual to fully understand the capabilities of this tool.
Out of the box, it's simple enough to take a quick infrared reading simply by pressing the scan button located at the bottom of the thermometer body. Within 1-2 seconds the infrared sensor provided a stable temperature reading. I got a little carried away and proceeded to temp my firebox, the fire itself, my brisket, the inside of my smoker, and the outside as well.
Once I'd thoroughly tested the basic IR function, I decided to play around with the different modes to better understand the IR capabilities. Cycling through the modes using the second button on the control panel, I was able to switch between the HOLD function to the MIN/MAX function.
The hold function is in my opinion the more useful of the two, as it allows the thermometer to continue to display the stabilized reading after you have finished using the SCAN button. The reading will persist for 30 seconds after which the thermometer will turn off.
The MIN/MAX function will display the highest and lowest reading from a given temperature reading session. As with the hold function the values will display for 30 seconds before the thermometer goes into sleep mode.
Beyond the Min/Max and hold Function the Thermapen IR can also provide an ambient temperature reading, which isn't super helpful when it comes to barbecue or grilling, but it's a cool feature nonetheless.
The infrared has a 5:1 diameter target area ratio, so it's important to take your infrared readings from as close as possible to get the most accurate reading possible.
One function that I didn't mess with was the adjustable emissivity infrared settings. Accessible through the MODE menu, you can adjust the emissivity to help Take more accurate temperature readings from items with different coloring or reflectivity. The Thermapen IR comes set at .95 emissivity which is great for darker or organic colors, but you can adjust it to suit your specific needs.
Is the Thermapen IR right for you?
The Thermapen IR is an awesome thermometer that expands on the already incredible Thermapen Mk4 set up with incredible results. While many people won't need the expanded capabilities of the Infrared Probe, if you're looking to really drill down into your cooking process it can be a really effective tool and metric.
The infrared sensor at the back of the thermometer makes it easy to measure things like the surface temperature of a cooking surface or protein. Thanks to the same high-quality K-type thermocouple used in all of the Thermoworks instant-read models, the Thermapen IR does a great job as a traditional instant-read thermometer probe.
If you've always wanted an infrared thermometer and you're in the market for a new instant-read high accuracy probe as well, the Thermpaen IR checks all the boxes. The Thermapen IR incorporates the already incredible K-type thermocouple probe, a highly accurate IR sensor, and the clean design of the Thermapen line, making it an incredibly attractive thermometer option.
In terms of price tag, the Thermapen IR is one of the most expensive Thermapen models, but you're essentially getting two thermometers for the price of one, so at the end of the day you're coming out ahead.