Condar develops new electronic catalyst monitor for woodstoves

Condar Company, long-time North Carolina manufacturer of bimetallic probe thermometers for catalysts and of digital catalyst monitors, has introduced in 2015 a new model of electronic temperature sensor for catalytic products.

The new Watchman™ electronic catalytic monitor comes about as a result of updated Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring all catalytic woodstoves, wood-burning fireplace inserts, and residential wood-fired forced-air furnaces to come equipped with temperature sensors for proper operation. Some manufacturers have included these for years, others offered them as options, and some haven't offered them - leaving consumers to their own devices. The EPA "new source performance standards" took effect May 15, 2015. New OEM-specific versions of bimetallic probe thermometers Condar designed for original equipment manufacturers are now in production.

Watchman™ electronic catalyst monitor

Condar is the only producer of electronic monitors specifically designed for wood-burning catalysts. Its compact monitor operates on a 9-volt alkaline or lithium battery for the battery version, or comes complete with a converter for 120-volt wall current for the AC version. It displays remote read-out up to 2000℉ via a six-foot thermocouple cable, ending with Condar's high-temperature probe inserted into the appliance.

The digital monitor shows when to engage the catalyst when it attains 500℉. When the catalyst reaches maximum 1400℉, the consumer knows higher temperatures exceed safe and efficient operation, both for the woodstove and for the catalyst. The Condar electronic product has been market-proven for years, used with many manufacturers' catalytic wood-burners.

Quickly increasing market demand, as a result of the new EPA rules, caused Condar in early 2015 to launch R&D to update its successful digital catalytic monitor. The new product has been re-engineered to increase its USA production volume and offer new consumer benefits.

The electronic read-out is completely redesigned, with LED temperature displaying numbers 40% bigger than the previous design. As a consumer product used in residential homes, the monitor is stylish yet inconspicuous. In some applications the consumer wants to mount the unit neatly on a wall or a fireplace surround. (A hanger and hardware is included for this optional application.) The new Condar unit improves these features with fresh industrial design.

Audio signal feature

A simple-to-use touch-pad adds the new benefit of a gentle audio signal to alert the operator when the recommended catalyst temperature is attained. Once the catalyst attains temperature enough to close the bypass - directing smoke exhaust through the catalyst - the user can hear a programmed audio tone. If audio signals aren't desired, or the user simply prefers to watch temperature read-outs, the audio feature can be turned off. Alternatively, Condar can program its new product to audio-inform when to engage the catalyst, calibrated appropriately for a manufacturer's wood-burner. For information about custom audio signal programming, e-mail

Replaceable probe and cable

Condar's type-K thermocoupler uses a new industry-standard connector, but remains replaceable. The ultra-high-temperature probe (at the appliance end of the thermocoupler cable) withstands Fahrenheit temperatures as high as 2000 degrees inside some wood-burners and can be lengthened from Condar's standard four-inch length (¼" diameter) to five, six, or greater lengths for OEM manufacturers and specific models.

Technical operation

The monitor, when powered on, operates in an automatic mode. During operation there is a small flashing dot, indicated by the power button, to tell the user the monitor is on and functioning. The LED display flashes "cool" in intervals of three seconds up to 250℉. The monitor displays the temperature in intervals of three seconds between 250℉ and 650℉, and provides an intermittent beep at 500 – 600℉ to signal the wood-stove operator to engage the catalyst or move the bypass handle. Over 700℉ and up to 1350℉ (catalytic burn phase), the LED temperature display flashes every one minute to let you know the catalytic burn temperature. At 1400 – 1600℉, the LED display flashes in intervals of three seconds with an intermittent beep to warn the user of overheating. At 1600℉ and higher the monitor displays the temperature continuously and also emits a continuous warning beep code to signal the operator to adjust draft immediately to avoid destruction of your catalytic combustor and potential damage to fireplace components.

The "display temp" button can be pressed to display the LED temperature display continuously for 2½ minutes; this feature can be activated at any time during the burn cycles. Limit pressing the "display temp" button to minimize power consumption. A 9-Volt battery is included and the Watchman features a compartment for up to two batteries. Great care was taken to minimize the amount of power requirement but still provide all of these features. Additionally, there is an 18-hour time-out that shuts the device down automatically.


The monitor is 4¾” x 3½” with extruded aluminum housing and nylon molded end caps. Included is the 6' thermocouple cable and 4" (standard size with ¼" diameter) stainless-steel probe assembly. Also included is a 9-Volt battery and hanger with hardware for optional wall mounting. Condar will continue to manufacture the new Watchman™ electronic catalytic monitor, as well as its conventional probe thermometers with bimetallic engineering, at its plant in Columbus, North Carolina. For further information about these new products for wood-burning catalyst monitoring, please contact Mike Whitt.