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One week ago I sent an inquiry about why a digital thermometer seems to have a bigger temperature difference, as compared to a previous, more accurate, thermometer.

However one of their support staff replied: "We have an overall 4 degree tolerance so that is considered accurate."

I then replied by giving an example of forecast.

"If the forecast says the highest temperature will be 20°C tomorrow but it turns out to be 24°C, then would that be considered as accurate?"

(I did not mention anything about back yard or if the forecast must be very accurate close to where I live.)

Then the staff replied as below.

"If the temperature reading is within 4 degrees of one of our products, or a mercury thermometer, it would be considered accurate. Please keep in mind, your local forecast is not always going to be what the temperature is in your back yard. That could be taken miles from your house. For example, I live a mile away from the air port and my temperature is always about 7-10 degrees different than what they have."

If that is the case, I am wondering if anyone would want to watch such a forecast that has 7-10 degree difference than where they live.

If I place the thermometer in the refrigerator and it measures 4°C, but it is actually 4°C less than the actual temperature, then would the foods not become rotten when the actual temperature is 8°C?

Please provide some opinions about how accurate a thermometer should be, and also about the example of forecast.

  • 1
    Not sure this is a cooking question – paparazzo Sep 2 '18 at 17:55
  • @paparazzo Agreed. – Cindy Sep 2 '18 at 18:29
  • 2
    Why not? We have several thermometer questions. This question appears to be asking about the precision that is necessary...It might be helpful if the OP specifies cooking...which is the context I used below. – moscafj Sep 2 '18 at 18:33
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a cooking question. Forecast is clearly weather forecast. I gave OP an hour to clarify and they have not been back. – paparazzo Sep 2 '18 at 19:29
  • I also agree that what the OP wants to know (how accurate a weather thermometer should be) is not necessarily going to be answered in a cooking context (how accurate an oven thermometer, or candy thermometer, etc. should be). Maybe Engineering.SE? – Erica Sep 3 '18 at 21:30
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If they provide the tolerance, and the product measures within that tolerance, it is an accurate tool according to the manufacturer. There is always some error...or potential error... in any type of measurement. To me, the most important thing here is that the manufacturer has provided you with the tolerance of their product; that is, + or - 4C. For most cooking purposes (perhaps with the exception of sous vide cooking, more on that in a minute), this type of variability is probably not that problematic. You could, of course, calibrate it with boiling water to see where your particular unit falls. Then, proceed from there. Having the tolerance allows you to decide to be ok with a product, or search for one that is more precise. Back to sous vide, and by way of example...my immersion circulator has a tolerance of + or - 0.1C. In this case, however, precision is much more critical. On the other hand, my oven fluctuates by 25 to 50 degrees F. In the end, you will have to decide if the tolerance is appropriate for your use. That is, how precise of a tool do you actually need? The weather example is not really helpful, as it is more about prediction than measurement.

  • 2
    Sugarwork also comes to mind as something which requires high precision and accuracy. – Peter Taylor Sep 3 '18 at 21:10
  • Regarding to moscafj's answer, I am wondering why the last few sentences are exactly the same as the answer of Regin Asylvia on answersmode.com website. The sentences that are exactly the same are as shown below. "however, precision is much more critical. On the other hand, my oven fluctuates by 25 to 50 degrees F. In the end, you will have to decide if the tolerance is appropriate for your use. That is, how precise of a tool do you actually need? The weather example is not really helpful, as it is more about prediction than measurement." – user69039 Sep 6 '18 at 18:11
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    @user69039 you'll have to ask Regin Asylvia, since my answer was posted on September 2nd, and that answer was posted two days ago (September 4th), it was clearly copied from this site. – moscafj Sep 6 '18 at 19:57

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