I’m sure you’ll agree that a infrared
thermometer must be accurate, easy to use,
and able to withstand tough working conditions.
That was our top criteria for selecting
the best infrared thermometer. If you want
to cut to the chase, the Raytek Laser,
is a combination of all these features
and was selected the “Best Overall”
pick from our editorial team.
Infrared Thermometer Comparison
|0 to 750||
| -58 to
|0.95||0.10 – 1.00||0.95||0.95||0.95||0.95||0.95||0.95||0.95||0.95|
|500 ms||<500 ms||500 ms||500 ms||500 ms||500 ms||500 ms||<500 ms||<500 ms||500 ms|
|Wavelength||8 – 14 um||8 – 14 um||8 – 14 um||5 – 14 um||8 – 14 um||8 – 14 um||10 – 14 um||8 – 14 um||10 – 14 um||8 – 14 um|
|Resolution||0.1 °F||0.2 °F||0.1 °F||0.1 °F||0.2 °F||0.2 °F||0.1 °F||0.1 °F||0.1 °F||0.1 °F|
Infrared Thermometer Buying Guide
What is an Infrared Thermometer?
Infrared thermometers are temperature measuring devices that are used to determine the surface temperature of various objects. The difference between an infrared thermometer and a regular thermometer is that it is not necessary to touch the object to read the temperature.
What they measure is the energy that radiates from the object. Any object that measures above absolute zero will put off infrared energy. If infrared energy readings are high, then that indicates the temperature of the object is very hot.
Infrared thermometers are made up of three basic components.
- Optical system
- Processing Unit
The process is as follows: the optical system gathers the infrared energy that is put off from the object being measured. It is passed through the detector and that transforms the energy into an electrical signal. Once they are transformed into electrical signals they are once again changed in the processing unit into an actual temperature measurement.
When systems start to malfunction, one of the common occurrences is that the temperature will rise. By being able to track these temperatures, problems can be diagnosed before they become huge, potentially critical problems.
There are many terms that an infrared thermometer is called by. These other names include:
- Digital pyrometer
- Digital infrared thermometer
- Wireless thermometer
- Temperature gun
All of these names indicate the same tool and all perform the same function. Infrared thermometers have been around since their invention in the18th century. They were initially used to measure the temperature of kilns. As the years passed their use grew to include such systems as industrial, engineering and manufacturing. They were very useful in situations where the systems were moving, where they contained hazardous or aggressive materials, (an example of this would be parts with high voltage) and objects or parts that had a high temperature and could not be touched.
Infrared thermometers come in many different shapes and sizes and host an array of features as well. How you intend on using the thermometer is a factor in determining which one is the best choice for you. In recent years, the price of these important tools has come down making them much more available for use by individuals rather than just in the commercial sector.
Considerations Before Purchase
- What temperature range do you need? – You want to make sure that the infrared thermometer that you purchase is able to handle the temperature range you need. There are many different ranges that different models have. Know ahead of time what range you need so you purchase a unit that is able to accommodate your needs. With advancements in technology, not only can infrared thermometers measure extreme heat, they can also measure extreme cold. Depending on the model, they can typically measure anywhere from -58 degrees to 932 degrees F but some of the premium models have the ability to measure as much as 1832 degrees F.
- Emissivity – It is important for the readings that the infrared thermometer gives to be accurate. Not all objects will emit the infrared energy on an equal basis. One factor that will affect the amount of infrared energy emitted will include the type of surface it is. There are other factors as well. The thermometer will make an adjustment, taking into consideration these different factors based on the emissivity readings. You can get a unit with fixed or adjustable settings. What the infrared thermometer is used for will determine which type is better.
- Distance to Spot Ratio – This is another factor that will have an effect on the accuracy of the thermometer’s readings. As the distance between the thermometer and the object being measured increases, it will make the object appear to grow larger. The way this works is easily explained in the following example. If you are measuring an object that measures 10” in size and the distance to spot ratio is 10:1 then the distance that the thermometer can safely measure will be 100”. Any farther than 100” will result in skewed measurements since the thermometer will also measure the surrounding objects. You will need to know the distance of the items you will be measuring so you are sure to get a unit with the proper distance to spot ratio.
- Warranties and Return Policies – The majority of infrared thermometers will come with a manufacturer’s warranty of some kind as well as a return policy. It doesn’t always work this way, but typically, the more expensive the thermometer is the better the warranty is and the more generous the returns policy is. Even though most infrared thermometers are durable and sturdy, they are extremely sensitive so having this protection in place is important. Be sure to check the warranty and returns policy on the units you are considering.
Common Uses for Infrared Thermometers
An infrared thermometer is used in many different professional situations. It offers many time and cost benefits that make it very popular. These benefits include:
- Being able to perform diagnostics quickly and you don’t need to shut down the systems
- Preventing equipment malfunctions
- Remaining compliant with any industry or regulatory requirements
- Getting temperature measurements without using invasive methods
Below are some of the common professional uses for infrared thermometers:
Food Service –
- Monitors the temperatures of food at various points including when it is received, stored in the store rooms, cooked, served, cooled and then reheated. Since there are specific requirements in temperature for these points, the infrared thermometer ensures the safety of the food at all junctures.
- Can help prevent cross contamination
- Scans the ductwork for any air leaks or problems with insulation
- Monitors all of the HVAC equipment including pipes, radiant heating, live circuits and other equipment to make sure that they are operating properly.
- Can conduct energy checks to see if there are any energy leaks
- Monitors objects that are on a conveyor belt that are high temperature objects (metals, plastics, etc)
- Make sure that things are running smoothly
- Monitoring equipment temperatures
Fire Safety –
- Can detect hot spots in floors, doors and other surfaces during and after a fire.
The applications listed above are just a few of the commercial applications. There are also general uses they are good for around the home.
- Checking your home insulation for leaks
- Checking the windows and doorframes for leaks
- Checking the furnace and air conditioner to make sure they are operating correctly
- Checking the temps of refrigerators and freezers
- Checking the surface temps of things like playground slides, etc to prevent contact burns
- Checking the surface temperatures of food and drink containers that may contain hot liquid.
With all of the different models of infrared thermometers on the market today, you will be able to choose the right one for your needs providing you have taken the time to get the knowledge you need ahead of time. You will also need to know what types of temperature taking jobs you have so the ranges of your infrared thermometer include those ranges.
The top rated infrared thermometers here are some of the best available and cover a wide range of temperature capabilities. They also have many additional features such as auto on/off switches to save battery life, backlit displays for easy viewing even in low light conditions, wide ranges of temperature capabilities from extreme cold to extreme heat, ergonomic designs and much more.
Even though a lot of home owners may not know about these types of thermometers, they can be very useful in every day applications around the home and garage as well as being used in professional settings from HVAC companies to fire departments. There are so many uses for this tool that everyone should have one to keep track of things that they need to watch out for.
Infrared thermometers have a lot of uses that you may not have even known existed but one thing remains consistent and that is that they are a useful tool that can help you monitor your electrical, automotive, and mechanical systems to ensure that they are up to par and are operating properly. When your systems are operating correctly, you will save time, energy, money and reduce the risk of critical breakdowns in those systems.
With the information you have gotten from then top rated reviews and the buyer’s guide you are now ready to shop for an infrared thermometer that will work for your needs.