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http://www.thermoworks.com/pdf/thermopop_operating_instructions_web_a.pdf

The manual lists an "Operating Range" of "Between 32f to 122f". I thought this was the safe temperature for the entirety of the thermometer, but then it says " Do not expose the entire thermometer to temperatures over 190°F (88°C). " so the body can endure temperatures above 122f.

Does anyone know the guidelines about proper thermometer body (where all the electronics are) care?

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The operating temperature range is the ambient (surrounding air) temperatures under which you can have the thermometer on, and it'll function properly (give correct readouts) and not excessively shorten its lifespan.

Almost all electronic devices can take higher temperatures when they're off. This is a combination of several things, including especially that the electronic components themselves generate heat, so when on they run hotter than the ambient temperature. Some are also more likely to be damaged when there is current running through them. Also, their electrical properties change depending on temperature—and at too-high or too-low temperatures, that may exceed the tolerances.

Normally you'd see a separate storage temperature quoted—but in this case, presumably they don't expect it to be stored above 122°F either. But rinsing it under 160°F water (it's IP66-rated, after all) should be fine—as long as its off. Boiling water, however, would not be. Nothing in the spec sheet says you couldn't run it through the dishwasher to clean it (again, while off)... but I'd ask ThermoWorks first before trying it...

  • With a CR2032 lasting 5000 hours, it's only using about 0.0001 watts - I doubt it's much hotter when on. – Cascabel Apr 5 '16 at 0:35
  • @Jefromi probably not, but one component may be... So yeah, that may not be the major concern here. – derobert Apr 5 '16 at 0:37
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Looks like it means that the thermometer will function between 32 and 122 F.

So, don't expect it to function if it's in your freezer and don't expect it to function properly at temps greater than 122 F.

The difference between 122 F and 190 F is that at 122 F the thermometer won't work (possibly it will work but will have reduced accuracy) but it will still be fine and continue to function properly if you drop the temp below 122. When you hit 190 F, the plastic will likely start to melt.

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    And while brief exposure to temperatures above 122F is probably fine, don't be too surprised if extended exposure ends up permanently damaging it. – Cascabel Apr 4 '16 at 19:51
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It's the range at which it will display an accurate reading.

Or in some cases, any reading.

Update : I guess the terminology is different for this thermometer, as it says "Guaranteed accuracy ±2°F to 248°F" suggesting that it can handle 248°F ... so I'm guessing that in this case, it's talking about the ambient air temperature. (and it's possible that the 190°F limit is like the storage temperature on computers -- you can let it get to 180°F, provided you let it get back to the allowed operating range before use).

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    My guess is that the "operating temperature" is actually the safe operating range for the battery, not the entire device. The probe can probably take a wider range of temperatures, the electronic components somewhat less so, but the battery the least variation without the possibility of dangerous leaks. – logophobe Apr 4 '16 at 20:46
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    The specs section down low is even clearer: "±2.0°F (±1°C) from -4 to 248°F (-20 to 120°C); ±4.0°F (±2°C) thereafter" The operating range is from that same section, so it seems pretty clear you're right that it's referring to ambient air temperature, i.e. what the body (display, battery, etc) can handle as opposed to just the probe. – Cascabel Apr 4 '16 at 20:46

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