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3-39 Condar Probe vs. 3-19 Condar Probe. Test Results.

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by pen, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    For some background to understand why BeGreen sent his older condar probe from Washington State to Pennsylvania to test it compared to my new condar probe, you can read up here.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/51149/
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/51880/
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/69677/

    Brief Background.

    About 1 year ago I purchased a Condar Probe meant for single or double wall pipe. When it arrived at my home it was damaged and they sent another. As I started using the probe I soon realized that when installed according to the instructions, this thing was showing my stove pipe temps to be maxed out with a stove top of only 500 degrees! After testing both probes I had against each other and finding them equal, I contacted Condar and a dialogue began. It was decided that I should send back my damaged unit to them to test in condar's test furnace to check it's accuracy. The results came back near perfect.

    The problem

    If this probe reads near perfect, then why it is showing temps in the unsafe zone when my pipe surface thermometers and IR thermometers are saying things are OK? Who do you believe?

    Hypothesis:

    My theory was that radiant heat which would be much greater on single wall pipe as compared to double wall was affecting this probe even though the packaging claimed it shouldn't. After a series of tests (which can be viewed in the top thread I linked to at the beginning) I found that radiant heat did in fact make it read warmer.

    Further testing led me to make an insulator (check out the 3rd link above) to try and simulate double wall stove pipe temps for my probe. When doing this the readings dropped and seemed reasonable. What would have been a 1200 degree temp w/out the insulator was reading roughly 1000 with it.

    At this point, I figured problem solved in that the company simply should not have claimed that the probe works well on single wall pipe because there is too much radiant heat there, but can be trusted on double wall because of the added insulation. So we began wondering, what about the old tried and true probes that also carried this claim which people have used for years and have provided readings that seem reasonable?

    Well, to test just that BeGreen sent me his 20 year old probe and I tested them against each other. As it turns out, the old probe meets the packages claim that it will provide reasonable temp readings on single wall pipe. It ran almost consistently 200 degrees less than my probe thermometer at operating temps. With both probes at room temp, they would read identically.

    The conclusion:

    I like my probe thermometer, it reads consistently I just have to mentally adjust where the "redline" is from 900 to 1100 degrees for cruising since this new probe is reading higher than it should be about 200 degrees. On startup, I will occasionally take it to 1250.

    On double wall pipe, I think the temps and scale should be fairly accurate and trustworthy. As such, cruising should be kept at about 900 and it shouldn't get much over 1000 on start up.

    Further questions:

    What the heck is different? Why does the old read reasonable and the new is high? Condar claims they are identical probes other than an updated face plate. A visual inspection also shows they look identical and the size of the scale on each is the same.

    I think that condar was wise enough to make seperate flue and stove top surface thermometers with different scales on them to account for differences in operational temps there, why not do the same for the probe thermometers and make one faceplate for single wall pipe with an updated scale and keep the current one for double wall pipe?

    Here's some pics to show you what I found.

    Your comments are welcome as always.

    Thanks BeGreen for making this possible.

    pen

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Great tests Pen, thanks for posting. I guess I can cancel my appointment with the shrink :). The results are similar to what 3fordasho is getting with his Tel Tru thermometer. I'm sticking with the old school.

    PS: The Condar probe is only 5 years old. Our Sandhill glass dial thermometer is now past 30 and still doing well.
  3. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks, Pen.

    I'm feeling 'vindicated' as well. I'm betting despite the difference in age, my 20 year old Condar probe would read more closely to BeGreen's 5 year old model than to the 'modern' Condars.

    I wish there were still a probe available that's accurate with single wall pipe.

    Peter B.

    -----
  4. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    I'll just keep using my new (and only) Condar probe on my single-wall and subtract 200 degrees.
  5. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    My mistake for confusing the ages!

    I just can't believe they would make them to work fine for some many years then in just the past few years turn them into junk. Why were the old ones OK on single wall and these not? If they did make a component change, why not update the scale or reprint it with a double scale, one for DW pipe and one for SW pipe?

    I will continue to use mine as my wife really NEEDS the fast response this thing has. But had she installed something like this without me around to interpret the fact that it is reading too high, she'd be burning way too cool and making a dangerous situation in the chimney.

    I feel vindicated as well.

    pen
  6. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Pen and Begreen for the testing.

    Are you guys sure Begreens probe isn't past it's prime and inaccurate? I think Condar states the probe's only last 14,000 hours and Teltru stated these coil type probes don't last long at temps over 800.

    I have found my new SBI probe to be reading about 50-150 degrees less than the Condar in the 500-1000 degree ranges. Looks like mine fall right in between your two. I guess it doesn't really matter if you know all this mentally and you could always recalibrate these probes pretty easily, just put a wrench on the outer nut and turn the dial.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I don't think so. The probe is only (correction, my error here) 4 years old, it was bought in Nov. 2006. We burn less than you cold country folk, so the mileage is low. Usually we only get about a month or two of 24/7 burning in per season. And it has been very consistent in readings so far. I think the new Condars are off. Not sure why.

    PS: not sure where Condar came up with the 14000 hr number. Our old Sandhill probably has a lot more than that on it and is still quite accurate. Do probes wear out faster?
  8. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Peter's 20 year old probe still tests spot on.

    Considering BeGreen knows well how his stove operates, I would imagine if it were declining due to age that he would notice.

    My probe gets the bejeepers run out of it and I can tell you it certainly isn't declining.

    BTW, the bimetallic coil on these things is one heck of a tough looking bugger. I haven't seen one thicker / more coiled.

    pen
  9. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I just remember reading that number somewhere, could of been on the back of the package? It sure does seem that the Condars are reading high and would really like to here their side of the story.
  10. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    If you read back through the links I provided you can read it! I had correspondence with the VP of manufacturing last winter. Check out the first and 2nd link.

    I emailed him again last Friday but he has not responded yet. I'll wait another week then send a pic or two from this new set w/ BeGreen's for comparison.

    pen
  11. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Begreen,
    Are Pens stack temps similar to yours, or are yours a little lower with your double wall pipe? I'm thinking lower.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Right now my pipe temps are missing. LOL My wife asked me last night what happened to the thermometer? She's been using it and missed it.

    Usually we run flue temps between 4-600F, with startup spikes up to about 700F. 800F if it's a spaceout. Double-wall pipe.
  13. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    When you are reading 600-700 w/ your DW pipe and that probe what kind of stove top temps are you running at?

    pen
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's usually a peak reading, only after a fresh charge of wood, with the air wide open and the stove top temps are climbing. As soon as the air is backed off, the flue temps start declining, stove top temps keep increasing. If it is really taking off with the stove top at or above 700F, the flue temps may stay in the higher range of 600F+ for 30 minutes or so.
  15. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    While your thermometer definitely read better on my stove pipe than my own, it sounds like it was still getting affected by some radiant stove pipe heat since I saw 800 on your probe w/ similar temps.

    That is of course assuming that my 30 lets an equal amount of heat up the flue as your T6.

    I think this all could be resolved if they would just make 2 probe faces for each kind of pipe. Wishful thinking unfortunately :)

    pen
  16. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Pen,
    Time to change your pipe out to double wall and test again before you send that probe back to Begreen. ;-P
  17. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    I had it in my possession for about 40 hours. The poor thing is probably ice cold in the back of some truck right now just waiting to take the 2000 mile trip back home.

    My wife said "He sent what???? From where????" followed by "You guys are a band of nerds" in the most endearing of ways of course :lol:

    I wouldn't have an easy way to hook up double wall for testing. The ideal thing would have been to send BeGreen his probe back along with mine. But my wife really needs the probe when operating the big black beast so I didn't dare this week. If BeGreen's in the mood, I may during a time I know I'll be home so we can compare both ways.

    It's what the nerdery would want us to do :)

    pen
  18. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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  19. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Wow, I spent some time looking for them today. Good find. It would be great for someone that has the new model to pick one of these up if they still have them. (hint, hint)
  21. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Now this is going to be interesting...
  23. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    Todd:

    Good catch... now duly bookmarked... but I'm going to let pen be the guinea pig. I've already got four of the newer (high reading) probes I need to peddle before I'll spend more $$$ on another.

    But I'd trade all four for a pair of _accurate_ 3-19's.

    That is, if I end up burning wood after this year.

    Peter B.

    --

    PS - This from Mike Whitt at Condar as of 2/6/09:

    "... item number 3-19 has been discontinued and replaced with
    the 3-39 FlueGard which is virtually the same thing."

    -----
  24. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Maybe you should of called them first to make sure they still sell the 3-19 and just haven't updated the web site?
  25. shawneyboy

    shawneyboy New Member

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    First and foremost, thnks Pen and BG for spending the time and money to do all of this. I know I, and I am sure everyone else greatly appreciates it. Pen, I look forward to the "new old probe" test as well as what ever feedback you get from the VP when you send him your videos. They should pay you like they do their R and D people. You are certainly on to something here and will most likely help them improve/fix their product.

    Thanks again,

    Shawn

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