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Cigar Tip: XIKAR PuroTemp Wireless Hygrometer System

14 Apr 2015

xikar-puro-temp-duo

Who among us hasn’t, at least at some point, worried about humidity and their cigars?

Some become obsessive about maintaining conditions, some opt to simply gauge it by feel and instinct, and many fall somewhere in the middle.

I confess I probably am closer to the first category, though more by necessity than temperament.

Florida’s extreme heat makes a cooled humidor almost a necessity. And extraordinarily high humidity levels also can play havoc with humidor conditions. I’m sure many of you in other parts of the country have dramatic weather conditions to contend with as well.

For me, this has meant lots of futzing through the years with ways and means to keep my cigars in shape. The latest: the Xikar PuroTemp Wireless Hygrometer System.

Here are the basics:

There’s a base unit, with stand, that displays the time and, from up to three remote sensors, temperature and relative humidity readings from inside the humidor. The base can also be programmed to beep a warning when temperatures or humidity levels rise or fall to selected points. A button allows you to select displays from each remote unit. The package comes with one sensor, and sensors also are sold individually.

Unlike most better thermometer/hygrometer units, there’s no way to adjust the readings on these. According to Xikar, the company opted instead to invest the time and attention necessary in the factory to get the temperature and humidity settings correct from the start.

It is important to recognize that the wireless technology isn’t WiFi. You can’t interface with a smartphone or computer, so there’s no way to automatically chart the readings over time.

I’ve been using and evaluating my PuroTemp system for about three months and, overall, I’ve found it to perform as advertised. The one caveat occurred about a week or so after I got it home. That was when the connections between the base and the remotes began to drop frequently and then fail to reconnect for a long time, if ever.

I contacted Xikar, and they had no qualms about honoring the lifetime warranty and had me ship the components to Kansas City, Mo. About a week later, I heard from Xikar’s Ken Dolinger, who’d supplied me with information earlier as I prepared this review.

“It was tested by our head engineer, he found that your sensors are working great but something was wrong with your base unit,” Dolinger emailed. “So I will be sending your sensors back and a new base unit.”

Since getting the new base, I’ve experienced no problems.

I tested the unit in numerous ways, including remotes side-by-side in my filled Avallo Cooled 1200 cabinet humidor; remotes individually and together in a sealed container with a 69% Boveda pack; and remotes together and individually in a desktop humidor without cigars and several 69% Boveda packs.

xikar-puro-tempAccording to Xikar, the units are accurate to within 2 percentage points for relative humidity and a single degree Celsius for temperature.

With regard to temperature, I observed little variation between the two sensors, whether I was measuring in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

For relative humidity, it was a different story. Overall, once I had a properly working system, I found both remotes to operate consistently and within the stated tolerances both internally and in relation to each other.

To be clear, though, the two remotes did not report identical humidity readings. Within the sealed container, for example, one sensor consistently read 67% while the other read 71%. That’s within the 2 point tolerance for each but, as you can see, leaves them 4 points apart.

Now, relative humidity can be very difficult to measure exactly, even with professional-grade equipment. A correction at 70% may, or may not, hold at, say, 50%. The Boveda pack I’m using may not track at exactly 69%. Inside my Avallo, three fans run independently on timers, and Rh is almost certain to vary as one or the other moves air inside the unit, as well as when they’re all off.

Some variations are inevitable.

I think it’s a mistake to get too hung up over exact readings. I don’t know whether the philosopher Emile Durkheim was a cigar smoker, but he could be the patron saint of humidor maintenance for writing, “To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness.”

For me, knowing the tolerances of the two sensors is enough. It should be more than adequate to keep my cigars in the range I want and to warn me when the Rh is dropping or rising too much.

Xikar lists the range of sensors and base unit connectivity as 60 feet, depending on possible obstructions and interference. I did some spot checks, though none likely as far as that, and never had a problem with response.

There are a couple of additions that I think would improve the overall PuroTemp package:

1. A battery level indicator on the base screen and alerts of some sort from each remote when the battery level runs low.

2. Simple stickers included to label the remotes.

The list price is $79.99 for the basic PuroTemp system, consisting of the base unit and one sensor. Additional sensors list at $39.99 each. Poking around online, it looks like you can save as much as $25 on the base and sensor package, and $6 to $8 on a sensor. You’d need to add postage and handling to nearly all these costs.

That’s a pretty fair chunk of change, especially considering that Xikar’s equally touted PuroTemp Round Hygrometer lists for only $29.99 and can be had online for $19.99.

Only you can decide whether the wireless functionality is worth the money. In my case, the decision was helped by what seemed to me to be quite a bargain.

I got an email for a Thompson Cigar event featuring Xikar at its outlet store near Tampa International Airport. It advertised 20% off. I checked and saw that Thompson offered the PuroTemp system online for $67.99 and a sensor for $33.99. I called to see if they would have the system at the event, and a clerk told me that while they didn’t routinely stock it in the store, they would be selling it then.

At the event, I picked up a unit and went to the cash register where I learned the discount was 30% rather than 20% and that I also had a $30 credit I’d accrued in some program I wasn’t even aware of. So, I grabbed a second sensor and had them tally the bill.

Altogether, I paid a few pennies under $58 out the door.

So, I’d advise checking out a Xikar event if you’re in the market for the PuroTemp system.

Overall, I rate the PuroTemp system highly. It is clear, simple to operate, and lives up to expectations. And it comes from a company with a first-rate warranty and an impeccable reputation.

George E

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

2 Responses to “Cigar Tip: XIKAR PuroTemp Wireless Hygrometer System”

  1. Archie Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    Thanks for this really thorough analysis, George.

    I fall into the camp of those who go by feel. I’ve often wondered if having fans, accurate digital readings, etc. would improve my cigar experience. I suspect having some tech probably would, but I’m not sold it would add more value than the system would cost me.

  2. Mike Friday, April 17, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    I have long used an inexpensive digital hydrometer. Accurate within 5% RH, and it has served me well.