Signals is the latest wireless barbecue thermometer from ThermoWorks.
I’ve been using their Smoke thermometer for the last couple of years and it’s easily my favorite barbecue purchase to date.
The only downsides to the Smoke are that it can only measure two things at once, and connecting to your phone requires the additional purchase of the Gateway Bridge.
The new Signals meat thermometer promises to address both of these issues.
In this detailed Signals review, I’ll run through all the new features and help you decide if it’s worth the cost.
Update – 10/16/2020 – I’ve updated my initial review after ThermoWorks completely rebuilt the app experience.
ThermoWorks sent me a free Signals in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Signals Overview and First Impressions
The first thing you notice about the Signals is how much DNA it shares with the Smoke.
This is a good thing in my opinion. The Smoke has been the #1 rated barbecue thermometer since it was released.
The construction is very similar so you get that premium ThemoWorks build quality. The unit feels very solid in your hand and the protective casing means the Signals should survive any drops.
Check out this video review I did for the Signals thermometer.
I love that you can still use the Signals by itself. It’s so common for Bluetooth meat thermometers to cheap out on the transmitter.
Sometimes I don’t feel like using my phone to check my barbecue temperature, so it’s nice that you can still use the receiver to check all your temperatures and set high and low alarms.
In our original Signals review, we were pretty lukewarm on the app experience.
Since then, ThermoWorks have listened to customer feedback, and rebuilt the app from the ground up, adding some new features and making it all around easier to use.
Once connected, you can monitor your cooks from anywhere with an internet connection. You can also modify your alarms from your phone or view and download graphs of your cooks.
We’ll cover everything you can do in the new app later on in the review.
What we like:
- Four probe capability – The unit ships with three pro-series meat probes and one pro series ambient temperature probe. The added capacity lets you monitor two grills at once, or more meat in a single smoker.
- Built in WiFi/Bluetooth – I never liked that you had to buy a separate bridge to get WiFi connectivity on the Smoke. On the Signals this is built in, and works incredibly well. Having both WiFi and Bluetooth means you aren’t stuck with terrible Bluetooth range and connection issues.
- Improved app & cloud experience – Since the initial launch ThermoWorks have vastly improved the app and graphing features.
- Rugged construction – ThemoWorks market this as a product for professional chefs and pro barbecue teams. This shows when you look at the rugged construction which is also IP66 splash proof. The large LCD screen is really nice and easy to read even in direct sunlight. It’s also backlit so you can use it any time day or night.
What we don’t like:
- Costly – You can get other Bluetooth 4-channel meat thermometers for under $100. With the $229 price tag Signals is definitely a product for hard-core barbecue enthusiasts.
ThemoWorks have knocked it out of the park again. Few other thermometers that comes close in terms of construction and probe quality.
The only question left is, is the price tag justified?
What’s in the box & manufacturer specifications
The signals comes neatly packaged in a plastic protective casing. As well as the 4-channel thermometer transmitter unit, the package contains:
- 3 x Pro-Series High Temp Cooking Probes
- 1 x Pro-Series High Temp Air Probe
- 1 x Grate Clip
- 12V USB Power Adapter
- 8 High Temp Silicone Color Probe Rings.
- 1x Instructions and cooking temps guide
My unit was fully charged so I didn’t need to worry about charging it before use. The battery life of 16 hours is a far cry short of the 1,800 hours on the Smoke.
You give up the battery life to have the WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity though.
Including 3x meat and 1x ambient temperature probes is right for most people.
But you don’t have to use it like this, if you have any other pro series probes you can configure it how you like e.g. 4x meat probes or 2x ambient 2x meat if you need to run two smokers at once.
You also get a small instruction manual that has some USDA recommended safe cooking temperatures on the back.
Signals Manufacturer Specifications:
|Product||4-Channel Wi-Fi/Bluetooth BBQ Alarm Thermometer|
58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C)
|Cable Max Temp||700°F|
|Accuracy||±1.8°F from -4 to 248°F|
|Bluetooth Range||95 feet line of sight|
|Water Resistance||IP66 Splash-Proof|
|Battery Life||Rechargeable, about 16 hours|
|Display Size||1.88 H x 3.97 W inches|
Using the Signals BBQ Thermometer
Using the Signals is very straightforward.
Setting up the main unit is as easy as connecting the probes and holding the power button on the back.
The unit will automatically use Bluetooth to try and pair to any device within range, but it’s worth spending some time with just the physical unit.
The large backlit LCD screen is split into four panels. One for each probe channel.
It’s nice that you can see the temperature of each channel at once. A lot of cheap Bluetooth thermometers have a small screen that cycles through each probe.
You can also see the high and low temp alarms. You can set these on the app or on the unit directly.
You can give each probe a name (up to 4 characters) via the app.
The other buttons on the main unit let you activate the backlight and control the alarm volume.
Using the ThermoWorks app
The initial ThermoWorks app had some issues and with an average rating of just 1.7 on the App Store store, it was clear improvements had to be made.
Rather than making tweaks, ThermoWorks decided to completly rebuild the app from the ground up.
The new version is vastly improved and now has a healthy 4.7/5 on the App Store.
Going through setup was painless.
- Getting from either the Apple App store or Google Play store.
- When you open the app you’ll be asked to set up a ThermoWorks account. This is used to save your cook data and to set your profile preferences.
- Once you have logged in you’ll have the option to add a new device. So long as your Signals is powered on and within range, it should pick it up straight away.
- Next, it’ll ask you to input your home Wifi details.
This is one of the genius features of the Signals. Using your home WiFi network gives you far better range and means you don’t have to worry about Bluetooth constantly dropping off.
If the WiFi signal is lost (because your three year old decides to unplug the router, for example…) the Signals automatically falls back to using Bluetooth without you having to do anything.
This is also useful if you are using the Signals at a barbecue comp where there’s no WiFi.
Once connected, you can go do your Signals home screen where you can see all your temperature readings from each probe.
You can tap on a probe to give it a name so that it’s easy to recognize, and set high and low alarms.
I like that there’s no meat presets to choose from. You get to set exactly what temperature you want the alarm to go off at.
Inside the probe controls, you can assign the ring color, which matches the silicone rings included with the Signals.
Tapping on the “Graph” icon opens a different screen where each of your probes readings are recorded over time.
You can toggle each probe on or off, for example, if you just want to measure your smoker temp over time you can see that.
This is handy for seeing how long some meat was stalled for, or if your pit had any temperature spikes.
There are a few other useful features in the app, like the ability to see the device battery percent, toggle between °F °C and add notes about your cook.
You can record every cook as a “session” which saves all the graphs and data to the ThermoWorks Cloud.
As well as the app, all your data is accessible via a web portal. Using the account details you setup when first registering the Signals, you can login through any browser.
You can also control the Signals from the Cloud with the option to set alarms and rename probes from the web interface.
I love this feature because I can keep it open in a tab on my computer and keep an eye on my temperatures throughout the day without having to constantly reach for my phone.
The cloud interface is used to view all your previous saved sessions so if you want to see exactly what you did on a cook six months ago, you can bring it up and check your exact temp graphs and any notes you made.
You can also export the data as a CSV file, or save the graph iamges in PDF, PNG or JPG format.
One last killer feature for competition BBQ teams is the ability to share a live session which lets you share a link to anyone without an account.
Add automatic temperature control with Billows
You have the option of purchasing the Billows automatic temperature control fan that works with Signals to control the temperature of your charcoal or wood smoker.
The fan connects to your smoker easily and then plugs into your Signals.
You then use your Signals device or the app to set your desired pit temperature.
You’ll need to have the Signals plugged in for it to work.
We have a full Billows review if you want to learn more.
Alternative thermometers you might want to consider
Both of those digital meat thermometers are in a much lower price bracket.
If you’re not convinced by the Signals, the two main alternatives I would consider are the FireBoard and ThermoWorks own Smoke.
ThermoWorks Signals VS FireBoard FBX11
The FireBoard actually offers 6 channels, 2 more than the Signals.
You can opt for the basic package which includes 1x ambient temp probe and 2x meat probes, or go for the ‘extreme bbq addition’ which includes 2 ambient probes and 6 food probes.
At $249 the extreme bbq addition costs $20 more than the Signals.
Like Signals you get cloud connection so you aren’t limited to Bluetooth range.
The main unit on the FireBoard isn’t quite as impressive. It’s much smaller and has a LCD screen that rotates through each of your temperatures.
App experience is good, with a few more options including the ability to send text or email alerts when your alarms are hit.
You can also set conditions on the alarm, for example only go off after a certain amount of time. This is pretty cool, I hate my alarm going off just because I opened the lid on my grill for 30 seconds.
The unit isn’t waterproof so don’t leave it out in any rain without protection.
Finally, the FBX11 comes with support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This is the lazy man’s dream as you can sit back in your chair and just ask Google what your brisket temperature is at.
The bottom line:
At a similar price point, I’d lean towards the Signals because I like a more functional transmitter. I spend more time around my smoker, so being able to easily check temps and control alarms on the actual unit is nice. As is the waterproof and rugged design.
If I only cared about app experience or needed to use 6 probes the FireBoard is still a great choice.
Get the latest price on the Fireboard website.
ThermoWorks Smoke VS Smoke X vs Signals
If you want to check your temperatures on your phone, there’s really no competition you should just buy the Signals.
If you’re not fussed about Bluetooth/WiFi connectivity and don’t need to measure more than 2 things at once, I’d probably stick with the Smoke.
I’m still very fond of the small wireless receiver that comes with the Smoke. The 300ft range smashes any Bluetooth connection, and I liked having it not on my phone so I didn’t have to worry about dropping it.
If you don’t want WiFi or an App, but you still want four channels then your best bet is to go with the new Smoke X4. This gives you insane range, more probes and a few other improvements over the original smoke.
Should you buy the Signals?
Hopefully, this review has helped answer any questions you have about the Signals.
With its excellent build quality and intuitive design, the Signals ticks a lot of boxes for me.
If you like to compete in barbecue competitions, or just like to invest in your tools, the Signals will definitely pay off.
It’s a shame the app doesn’t quite compare with some of the competitor apps. But it gets the basics right.
If money isn’t an issue, I would still recommend the Signals even if you never plan on using the app.
Always buy ThermoWorks products directly from their website to ensure you get the best pricing and warranty.