The trick is to smoke the meat without making the meat smoke

Maverick ET-732 - New & DEFINITELY Improved

First Image
I have been using the Maverick ET-73 for the last 7 years and for the most part it has served me well. But it wasn’t perfect. It did have some issues (both big & little) and annoying “features”. About two years ago Maverick introduced a new and improved model: the ET-732 which pretty much cleared up all of the problems and annoyances with the first model. I picked one up in August as part of my Big Green Egg Purchase. This blog will go over some of the problems & annoyances with the ET-73 and discuss the solutions. It will also cover several new features. At the end of this blog I will also list a previous blog entry I’ve written on remote read thermometers, which I think are essential grilling and smoking tools.

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This picture shows the changes to the transmitter viewed here from the rear. From top to bottom: The new antenna which quadruples the range, the on/off switch is now on the exterior of the unit at the top of the back panel, the pivoting kick stand allows the unit to be stood up or hung & the only real downgrade: the two tiny screws at the bottom which need to be removed to access the battery compartment.


“Third

The front panel of the receiver shows several of the new features: the antenna, and the waterproof membrane switches,


Before getting into the specifics let me talk big picture. It is still a 2 unit solution with a transmitter intended to stay out near the grill and a remote receiver that picks up the signal from the transmitter. There are two probes, one a grate level probe that is clipped on just above the grate and measures the temperature at the grate where you are cooking. There is also a food probe intended to go into the food. Both of the probes have a 3 foot (1 M) braided metal wire that terminates in male plugs that go into gasketed female jacks on the transmitter. The ET-73 and the new ET-732 are somewhat similar in appearance. They are the same width & height and the new ET-732 is slightly thicker. There are two big differences in their appearance. The new unit has about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) radiused corners vs square corners for the ET-73. Also the new unit has black plastic covered antennas which stick about 1 inch (2.5 cm) out of the white plastic body. While they look somewhat similar they are also quite easy to tell apart. Now onto the improvements.

IMPROVEMENTS:
ET-73 PROBLEM NUMBER 1 - Limited Range
The ET-73 has a 75’ (maximum range. This is measured in open spaces with no intervening walls. When I first got the ET-73 the signal reached into every part of my house about 60’ total distance. It was often spotty at the far end of the house and would come and go sometimes, particularly if the batteries were old or cold. At this time my house was a would framed house with wood shingles, over would sheathing over wood studs. One of the problems I ran into was after my house received vinyl siding the reception went WAY downhill. The wood shingles were removed and a foil faced sheathing was installed underneath the siding. Wrapping the house in a thin layer of metal was about the worst thing you could do for reception. After the vinyl siding .was installed I barely got reception in the Kitchen which was the room closest to the grills-only about 20’ away. Actually it was worse than that: The only two spots in the Kitchen that worked were set in the Kitchen window or the glass portion of the Kitchen door.

ET-732 - SOLUTION - Quadruple the Range
The ET-732 is said to have a 300’ range. I am sure the exposed antennas play a role in the increased range of the ET-732. I can’t vouch for the 300’ range, but I can say iI got 100’ outside, which is the most I’d ever need. More importantly, the signal now reaches every part of my house again and is very strong.

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ET-73 PROBLEM NUMBER 2 - You Needed to Open the Back of the Transmitter to Synch the Units
In some ways this was the most annoying aspect of the unit. To use the units you had to synch their signals to one another. To turn on the transmitter you needed to remove the rear kick stand, insert a quarter into a slot in for a set screw holding the battery cover in place. You needed to remove the battery cover, being careful not to let the thin rubber gasket fall out. Then you have to throw a tiny on off switch. The tiny switch was awkward for big fingers and was also somewhat temperamental. Sometimes during the cook, particularly in cold weather, you would lose the synch and you’d need to repeat the whole process again. Every time you had to do this you.d wonder if there wasn’t a better way.

ET-732 - SOLUTION 2 - On/Off Switch Mounted on the Exterior of the Unit
There is a rubber coated on off switch on the outside of the unit. You no longer have any need to open the transmitter up to turn on the unit.

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ET-73 PROBLEM NUMBER 3 - Probes Only Rated to 400 Degrees. (205 C)
Go over 400 degrees (205 C) for more than a very short time and you’ve burned out the probe. Don’t ask me how I know this. The base station temperature readings topped out at 410 degrees.

ET-732 - SOLUTION 3 - Probes Rated to 716 degrees (380 C)
Far less likely to burn out if they are exposed to a flare up. The base station goes up to 572 degrees (300 C). This is even more important now that I own a BGE. My smoker never ran over 300 degrees (150 C) and my gas grill has flame tamers over the burners which help minimize the flareups. The BGE being a charcoal grill is far more likely to have a flareup.

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ET-73 PROBLEM NUMBER 4 - Units Lose Synch & You Get No Warning
The units do lose synch, sometimes because the batteries are weak, sometimes in the extreme cold. Eventually you will get a “- - -” reading which shows the synch has been lost.

ET-732 - SOLUTION 4 - Unit Has Lost Synch Alarm
Within 4 minutes of loosing synch you get an audible alarm.

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ET-73 PROBLEM NUMBER 5 - Receiver Unit Not Waterproof
This wasn’t a big problem for me since I kept the receiver in the Kitchen. But if I ever left it outside by mistake after a synch it could get wet. The On/Off switch that was concealed inside the battery compartment on the transmitter was mounted on the outside of the receiver. Also the 5 buttons on the front of the unit are not waterproof switches. You can see a seam around them.

ET-732 SOLUTION NUMBER 5 - Receiver Unit Waterproofed
The receiver unit has raised waterproof membrane switches. While I don’t necessarily need this feature, it is a nice safeguard. Plus the use of the membrane switches means the unit won’t collect food around the edges of the buttons and will be easier to keep clean. So while I don’t need the waterproof aspect, I don’t need to worry about getting the internals wet when trying to clean around the buttons.

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UPGRADES AND DOWNGRADES:
There are also some new features which are nice touches, but not essential to my use of the ET-732. There is also one area where the usability has gone down hill, but I can live with it because of other improvements it brings.

ET-732 ENHANCEMENT NUMBER 1 - Receiver Backlight Far Brighter
The ET-73 has a rather dim green backlight which is somewhat difficult to read. The ET-732 has a far brighter orange backlight which is easy to read even from a distance. Now I don’t use the receiver outdoors, most of the time but the brighter light would come in handy synching the unit. Also if you do use the unit outdoors it will be a good feature for you.

ET-732 ENHANCEMENT NUMBER 2 - Receiver Remembers Settings
After power up/power down the unit retains your last settings. I don’t know if there is a time limit to how long it remembers the settings.

ET-732 ENHANCEMENT NUMBER 3 - Transmitter Kickstand Rotation
Transmitter kickstand can be rotated and has click stops so it can be supported by or hung from it’s kickstand.

ET-732 DOWNGRADE - Transmitter Battery Compartment Access
You need a teeny tiny phillips head screwdriver to access the battery compartment. I do mean tiny as in small jewelers screw driver. I’m sure this helps make the battery compartment more watertight, but heaven forbid you don’t have a jewelers screw driver handy if your batteries die in the middle of a cook. While this is a Royal PITA, it does only happen occasionally if you remember to turn the unit off when you are done. Just be sure to have a jewelers screwdriver available at all times. And do bring the unit inside and work over a large table with warm dry hands-these screws are REALLY tiny.

SHOULD I BUY THIS UNIT?
If you don’t already own a Maverick ET-73, the answer is a resounding yes. No question-remote read thermometers are an essential tool. This is particularly true if you do much low and slow where you are trying to hold a temperature for hours or tens of hours. It is great being able to stay inside where it is warm and dry and you will get an alarm when the smoker temperature goes out of your preset range. You will also get an alarm when your food reaches your set temperature.

If you already own an ET-732, the question is a bit more difficult. The older your ET-73 is the more likely I am inclined to say yes. You have gotten your money’s worth and the new features are a very compelling reason for an upgrade. If your ET-73 is almost brand new, then your decision is a little harder. Take a look at the 5 major improvement and how the ET-732 improves on the issues with the ET-73. Depending on how much they bother you, this should drive your decision on wether to spend the money to replace your ET-73. For me it is a no brainer, just the improved range was worth it for me. Your mileage may vary.

SOME RELATED LINKS
Here are some links to previous blog entries I’ve written about remote read thermometers.

REMOTE POSSIBILITIES- 2009 blog about the Maverick ET-72 & ET-73 remote read thermometers and their use.
REMOTE READ ROTISSERIE THERMOMETER - 2010 blog entry about the Maverick ET-75 remote read rotisserie thermometer.

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