The $10 Simplification

Good enough

Much as I dislike those cheap, bargain items I referred to in my previous post, I have to admit I take a certain fiendish delight in accidentally finding something I need at a ridiculously low price. In this case I needed an outdoor thermometer, but because of the way the house I live in is oriented, every side gets the sun at some point during the day; this makes a basic window thermometer impractical. There's also no acceptable way to run a cabled temperature probe to the outdoors, leaving a wireless sensor as the only realistic solution.

Knowing the outside temperature is useful, but not mandatory, and there are other ways to get some sense of weather conditions. If the birds are panting, it's hot, and people wearing jackets means it's a cool day. So an outdoor thermometer was one of those back-burner things; I figured I'd eventually spot something I could use, and in the meantime, I'd just get my temperatures from the various weather sources on the Web, or listen to the radio.

A couple days ago, my ambivalence finally paid off. While staggering through the local Megamart, I happened to spot one of those bright red price tags they put on stuff that isn't selling well, or is taking up shelf space needed for the new & improved version, or whatever. Hey! A wireless thermometer! For ten bucks, confidence was not high; on the other hand, Megamart is known for its liberal return policy, so I grabbed it anyway.

The thing is, it works really well. That 433 MHz frequency the remote uses to burp its temperature readings back to the main unit does a good job of penetrating most structural materials, and accuracy is more than acceptable. As you can see from the photo, there's a difference of only four-tenths of a degree from the reference thermometer. There's also a relative barometric-pressure display, although it's just one of those "range of readings using icons" things; there's no actual numeric value for pressure. On the other hand, a good weather station will set you back considerably more than $10. So will a high-quality wireless thermometer for that matter.

There's nothing to complain about, really. At least not until those infernal AAA batteries they decided to use in the remote unit go dead, but then, I might be pleasantly surprised about that, too. Anyway, this is one of those products that doesn't belong in the best category, but when you consider the price, probably qualifies as good enough. 


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