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Interpreting IR Thermometer Temps

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  • Interpreting IR Thermometer Temps

    I'm getting to my final curing fires and then want to start cooking. I purchased an IR Thermometer. The temp readings vary from spot to spot. And these readings, from, what I understand how an IR Thermometer works, are responding to the surface being hit by the laser and, as a result, can vary as much as a 100 degrees or more. How do you get a reading for the ambient temperature in the oven, which is what I'd think, would be the important factor in doing the actual cooking. Thanks.
    John

    "Success can be defined as moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"- Churchill
    ______________
    My Build Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mYnNG6wjn3VAUqkK6

  • #2
    For retained heat cooking, I pull the coals (or ash) out, close the insulated door and wait a few minutes for the oven to equalize. (Just how long depends on how live the coals were). Then I pull the door and immediately take a reading in the back about 3 courses up from the floor. That is about all that I do nowadays. In the beginning, I used some cheap oven thermometers along with the IR until I started getting used to the oven.
    Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build

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    • #3
      Thanks, Joe. I realize it's probably a matter of using the oven for a while and, as you say, "get used to the oven". I had aimed the laser from the IR to the back of the oven dome's bricks, up near the top and was getting readings of 800-875. Down below bricks more like 725. I put a regular oven thermometer on the oven floor and got 650 and shot the laser in the same spot and got 700. So readings all over the place. Thus my original question of trying to figure out the ambient temp. But I suppose once you start actually cooking in the oven and learn from how the IR thermometer takes its various readings and interpolate all that..... I can see it's a learning process. Much like building the oven. Thanks!
      John

      "Success can be defined as moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"- Churchill
      ______________
      My Build Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mYnNG6wjn3VAUqkK6

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      • #4
        Remember too that an IR thermometer takes a reading relative to how far it's held from the surface that you're aiming at. Invariably, when you shoot readings in an oven, you'll be aiming at different distances to different parts of the floor and dome, so you'll never see consistent readings anyway. I shoot a reading to the middle of the floor and the middle of the top of the dome and leave it at that.

        As I'm getting more experienced with the oven, I'm gauging the heat of the oven more by look and feel so the last few times we made pizza, I did not even use the thermometer although I continue to use it over the next day for retained heat cooking.
        My 42" build: https://community.fornobravo.com/for...ld-new-zealand
        My oven drawings: My oven drawings - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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        • #5
          I prefer to use a core temperature probe that sticks into meat, for example, and measures the temperature from the inside. It is very convenient to control the degree of cooking.

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          • #6
            I do all my temperature readings with my IR spot thermometer.

            You quickly learn that there is no such thing as the "ambient oven temperature": The conductive heat from the floor, convection heat from the air and radiation heat from the dome can all have different temperatures. And they will also vary across the oven, especially during and shortly after the fire.

            Whenever you cook something directly on the foor (pizza, bread, etc...). The floor temperature is the most critical one. And a spot thermometer is great for this, because temperature can vary greatly across the floor (Based on where the fire was, and how much cooking you already did). That's so great about the spot thermometer: You can find a spot with the right temperature, and put the pizza there. As you use the oven more, you get more experience in moving the fire around to get an even floor temperature.

            (In the old days, people would throw a handful of wheat-flour on the oven floor, wait 15 seconds and see the color pattern (smells great too).

            If I need a single "oven temperature" reading, eg. to prepare something from a cookbook, then I just point my spot thermometer always to the same brick in the back of the dome. Consistency over accuracy, I guess.

            When the fire is still burning, then it's hard to get a good dome temperature reading: The surface of the bricks might read high (eg. 900F) but that's a shallow temperature that can drop pretty fast (eg. to 600) once the fire is out. I suppose that a sub-surface probe thermometer can predict this better.
            Last edited by Kvanbael; 01-16-2021, 01:14 PM.

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