When it comes to instant-read thermometers you’ve got the Thermapen from ThermoWorks, and then all the budget knockoffs.
The Spark aims to shake up the premium portion of the meat thermometer market.
Made by the people behind the popular FireBoard 2 Drive smart thermometer and temperature controller, it offers a range of features, some of which we’ve never seen on an instant-read before.
We’ve been testing out the FireBoard Spark over the course of several weeks to see how well it performs, and if the features make it worth the hefty price tag.
Fireboard sent me a free Spark in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Fireboard Spark overview & first impressions
The Fireboard Spark is marketed as an instant-read thermometer, but that’s under selling it.
The big innovation here is the addition of a leave-in probe port for long term temperature tracking.
What’s the big deal you ask? Let’s look at a typical cooking scenario:
Let’s say you are reverse searing a thick ribeye steak. For the first part of the cook, you need a leave-in probe to keep an eye on temperatures so you can take your steak off at the perfect time.
The Spark also has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities to connect to the mobile app. From there, you can monitor temps, create recipes and track your entire cook with the touch of a button.
The first thing I noticed when using the Spark was how large the LED display was. It’s easy to read in the day or night. You can also adjust a few items in the settings menu like the brightness, contrast, and whether it displays Fahrenheit or Celsius.
The design of the thermometer looks modern and the probe folds into the back of the device smoothly.
There is a power button on the device, and on the opposite side, a port for the leave-in probe if desired. The device turns on automatically when you extend the probe out.
There is also a built-in magnet on the device so you can stick it on your fridge or any magnetic surface which I found useful.
If the Spark gets dirty, it can be hand washed with mild soap and water since it is IP66 waterproof. However, it cannot be submerged in water and is not dishwasher safe.
FireBoard Spark technical specifications:
|Temperature Range:||-58 to 572 °F (-50 to 300 °C)|
|Accuracy:||±0.7 °F (±0.4 °C) from -4 to 392°F (-20 to 200°C); |
±1.8°F (±1.0°C) full range
|Resolution:||1.0° or 0.1° user selectable|
|External Probe Port:||10K or 100K Thermistor FireBoard Probes|
(probe is sold separately)
|Battery:||2600mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery|
|Display:||192 x 64 LCD, Backlit|
|Waterproof:||Yes – IP66|
|Dimensions:||6.25″ x 1.4″ x 1.1″ (159mm x 37mm x 27mm)|
|Weight:||5oz (145 grams)|
|Price:||Check Latest Price|
What I like:
- Huge LED display – Makes it really easy to check temperature no matter how bad your eye sight is, even with high glare or in the middle of the night. Displaying the previous captured temperature on the side of the screen is a nice touch.
- Great if you already own a FireBoard device – SyncMode allows you to track your other Fireboard devices using the large display. Leave your Spark on the countertop and avoid the need to constantly check your phone.
- Web and mobile apps ahead of the competition – Thermometer apps almost always have terrible user ratings. The Fireboard app is ahead of the pack with scores of 4.3 and 3.9 out of 5 on the Apple and Google app stores.
What I don’t like:
- Leave-in probe sold separately – It’s only an extra $17, but this is a core feature of the Spark which is already priced at a premium.
What’s in the box
The Spark comes with a few items including a quick start guide, a card for testing the accuracy of the probe, a certificate of calibration, a food temperature guide, and a sticker.
The Spark also comes with a charging cable that can be connected to a USB port. Fireboard claims the thermometer’s battery life can last up to a year on a full charge with normal use.
Using the Spark thermometer
When first receiving the thermometer and unboxing the contents, you will find a certificate of calibration as well as an instruction guide on how to test its accuracy.
Basically, you fill up a glass full of ice and then add water until it reaches the top. When you stick the probe into the ice water, it should read 32 degrees F. I wanted to try that for myself and found that it did read 32 degrees F in the ice water, so it seemed to be calibrated correctly.
Furthermore, I tested the probe on several cooks including on some grilled chicken, ribeye steak, and even a brisket. I found that in all 3 tests the probe was very accurate and cooked the meat to my desired temperature without any issues.
Some thermometers, although accurate, will take several seconds before displaying the final temperature. The Spark is extremely responsive.
As I was using the Spark to check the temperature of certain proteins, the reading on the LED moved quickly and vibrated when it was locked into the final temperature.
You can also see recently captured reads along the left side of the device. As the probe is reading, it does not lag at all, but feels very quick and responsive. I was highly impressed.
I couldn’t find any published read time specifications, so at this point, I assume it is slower than the Thermapen ONE.
Leave in probe
The leave-in probe is a nice feature that I have not seen with any other instant reads on the market. I tested the probe for 8 hours while smoking a brisket point.
I was also able to monitor everything from the app while indoors most of the time. It was extremely convenient and worked well with the WiFi and the device itself to give a true reading.
The probe length is also quite long and it was no problem running it through my smoker and back to the Spark.
Fireboard Cloud and WiFi
The other feature I want to highlight is the Fireboard cloud. The fireboard cloud lets you monitor your cooking in real-time from a phone using WiFi or Bluetooth, but it can also sync your Spark with other Fireboard devices to act as a remote or even a monitor to display readings.
If you have multiple fireboard devices, the Spark will fit right into the family!
Should you buy the Fireboard Spark?
I can see the Fireboard Spark appealing to three types of buyers:
- People who already own a Fireboard device and will take advantage of the syncing capabilities.
- People who don’t already own a leave-in thermometer, and want a single device for checking temperatures whether they are smoking or grilling.
- Pro level chefs who want to record temperature readings.
Some of the features are nice, but if you already own a Thermapen and leave-in probe like the ThermoWorks Smoke then the price tag is hard to justify.
If you are looking for an instant-read thermometer with a sleek design and all the bells and whistles – this is the one.
The screen is better than the Thermapen ONE, although the read time isn’t quite as quick.
I was very impressed with all of the features, and above all the easy usability. There is no hassle looking through lengthy instruction manuals. Everything just makes sense and works the way you would expect it to.
If you can get past the price, there’s no denying this is the most feature-packed instant-read thermometer on the market.