An infrared thermometer is one of the must-have devices at home. Aside from its wide array of residential uses, it has also become popular in the medical, research, industrial and commercial arena.

Buying an infrared thermometer can be hard especially if it is your first time. The technical terms and the factors to consider might be a lot to take in.

We compiled information you need to know before purchasing an infrared thermometer. We broke it down into simple and easy-to-digest parts that even newbies in the industry could understand.

Table of Contents

Best infrared thermometers in the market today

Based on the features measured above, there are the top infrared thermometers you should consider buying. These IRs ticked most, if not all, the necessary capabilities you should look for in a thermometer.

Fluke 62 MAX plus IR thermometer

This is the best overall infrared thermometer in the market today because of its durability and reliability. This industrial-grade non-contact model has dual lasers for precise measurements. It has a temperature range of -22F to 1202F.

It can handle automotive and mechanical repairs because of its small size which easily fits in tight spaces like pumps, panels, and motors. It can also measure temperatures in breakers, ducts and vents, that is why it can deal with HVAC and electrical repairs.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy-to-read LCD screen
  • Dust and water resistant with IP54 rating
  • Small and compact enough to be clipped by a carabiner

Cons

  • No drawbacks so far

[email protected] JXB-178 No-touch forehead thermometer

If you are looking for a no-touch infrared thermometer for medical use, the JXB-178 is the best model for you. You can point it at an adult or child’s forehead at 3-5 cm distance and after pulling the trigger, the tri-color backlit screen will display the temperature in 1 second. The screen will change color depending on the temperature range (green, orange, and red for normal temperature, low fever, and high fever respectively.) It has an accuracy of 0.6F at 89.6F to 109.F temperature range

This thermometer is durable because it is sold by the reputable American company, Easy Healthcare Corporation which has 18 years of experience in the industry.

Pros

  • Can be muted
  • Can save up to 32 readings
  • Fast readings in just one second
  • Medically-grade, FDA-cleared class II
  • Easy to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit
  • Non-contact, based option for hygienic purposes
  • Can measure room and object’s surface temperature
  • Screen will change up to three colors to indicate temperature state

Cons

  • None

Etekcity 1022D dual laser digital infrared thermometer

Despite its lower price, the Etekcity 1022D can be at par with its counterparts in terms of features. Because of its high measurement range at -58F to 1022F or 50C to 550C at +/-2% accuracy, it can be used in cold locations. For more accurate results, place the thermometer at 14.17 inches or 36 centimeters distance from the object surface.

This thermometer also has a low battery warning and Auto-off function for better battery life. Aside from this, another convenient function is the automatic data hold function which saves the temperature results.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • With backlit LCD night or dark use
  • Quick results at only less than 0.5 seconds
  • With dual class 2 lasers for measurement precision
  • Energy radiated from the surface can be adjusted to cater various surface types

Cons

  • None

Taylor precision products dual infrared/thermocouple thermometer

This Taylor Precision product has dual capacity because it comes with an internal probe and an IR thermometer device, making it an ideal option for measuring cooking temperature. Infrared thermometer cannot measure cooking temperature alone, hence, its addition of internal probe makes it a winner in the kitchen-use category,

Its emissivity can be adjusted to cater different surfaces. The probe can measure as high as 626F and the temperature range is from -67F to 482F.

Pros

  • Splash proof
  • Comes with two AAA batteries
  • Light and compact at 4.8 ounces, 5.1” x 9.1” x 2”
  • Automatically shuts off for battery life preservation
  • Highly versatile, can be used for roasting, baking, sous, vide, and grilling

Cons

  • None

Etekcity lasergrip 774 non-contact digital laser infrared thermometer

The Etekcity Lasergrip 774 is the best budget model in the market today. With its class 2 laser temperature, this non-contact digital infrared thermometer can measure temperature in less than 500 milliseconds. You just have to point the thermometer at 14.1 inches (36 centimeter) for better accuracy, and this reading will be projected on the LCD screen for 15 seconds. It has a temperature range of -58F to 716F or -50C to 380C.

Pros

  • Not expensive
  • Durable UV-coated external casing
  • With backlit LCD screen for low light
  • Comes with a 9-volt lithium-ion battery
  • With auto-off function for better battery preservation
  • With battery monitoring through the low battery indicator

Cons

  • Accuracy problems on reflective surfaces because of non-adjustable emissivity

FLIR TG165 spot thermal camera

This thermal camera can easily scan cold or hotspot areas making it ideal for identifying appliances and system issues. It has a range of -25C to 380C or -13F to 716F. The cool and hot spots are easily differentiated by the color-coded and easy-to-read display. The has an 80×60 resolution with 9hz refresh rate, and 150mK sensitivity using the FLIR’s Innovative IR Imaging Engine. This makes the FLIR TG165 the best visual infrared thermometer.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Compact and portable
  • Can survive 2 meters drop (based on drop test)
  • Comes with a USB cable and 8gb micro-SD card
  • Spot thermal camera data can be saved on computer

Cons

  • No drawbacks so far

Etekcity lasergrip 1025D temperature gun with non-contact voltage tester

This temperature gun is your best option for electrical system work because of its voltage detection which adds extra protection. Even without contact to a surface, you would be able to detect the presence of a live AC voltage through its non-contact voltage (NCV) mode. Estimations of the voltage will then be displayed on the screen using a series of lines to indicate highs and lows. To locate the maximum voltage source, just follow the sound of the consistent beeping. The temperature readings range from -50C to 550C (-58F to 1022F).

Pros

  • Comes with a 9-volt battery
  • With backlit display to show the dual lasers’ readings
  • With non-contact voltage (NCV) mode to check live AC voltage
  • With adjustable emissivity for compatibility with different surfaces
  • Has low battery indicator and auto-off feature for lesser battery consumption

Cons

  • Would be better if voltage readings are shown

What is an infrared/laser thermometer?

Infrared thermometers are also known as laser thermometers. These devices can measure the temperature of surfaces through lasers, without direct contact. The thermal radiation emission of objects is used to derive temperature readings. Because these are non-contact in nature, infrared thermometers are popular in industrial applications especially in cases when the object is too hot for contact measurement.

How does an infrared thermometer measure temperature?

Infrared thermometers utilize lenses. The lens focuses on the infrared rays or light emitted by the object and then funnels it into the thermopile or the detector. The absorbed IR radiation is then converted into heat and then to electricity. Lastly, the amount of electricity produced is projected on the screen as the temperature reading.

Three types of infrared thermometers

IR thermometers

IR thermometers are also known as spot infrared thermometers. This utilizes one or two laser surfaces. These have a gun-shape and work without contact. Temperature readings can occur in less than one second. You need to point the thermometer and pull the trigger in order to measure the temperature in that specific spot. Because of its non-contact nature, these are commonly used in cooking (checking fridge, food, oven temperature. These are also popular for ordinary consumers for household and in non-commercial industrial works.

IR or infrared scanners

These are distinguished from the IR thermometers because IR scanners are capable of scanning bigger areas compared to the IR thermometer’s spot capacity.  IR scanners make use of 1 or more spot lasers. Because it can cover larger areas, infrared scanners are used for measuring moving objects’ temperatures by pointing the lasers in a rotating mirror. These are not popular in household use; instead, IR scanners are commonly used for industrial purposes.

Infrared cameras

Infrared thermal imaging cameras, commonly known as infrared cameras, use infrared wavelength to measure an object’s temperature. A thermogram, or a two-dimensional image is then used to show the data. The temperature is identified by the glow it produces. Because infrared cameras can measure large spots in one go, these are best used for surveying.

What are the uses of infrared thermometers?

Infrared thermometer has a wide array of uses ranging from home to industrial works. Here are some of them:

Food safety and cooking

An infrared thermometer helps you check if your stove is at the right temperature before you place your ingredients in it. After cooking, thermometers can also be used to monitor if the food is stored in appropriate temperatures based on the standards on food and safety.

Industrial and manufacturing use

In the area of quality assurance, infrared thermometers are extremely useful in checking if the products abide by the intended storage temperature. These are also used to routinely check if the equipment needs repair or maintenance.

Health and medicine

Infrared thermometers are used to check if the medicine is stored in the right temperature. These are also used to check human and animals’ temperature.

Mechanics and automotive

Infrared thermometers are used to determine the cause of overheating. These are also very essential in doing routine checks on equipment’s parts such as the brakes, tires, and engines.

Heating and cooling

Issues and problems with insulation, leaking, and coils can easily be diagnosed using an infrared thermometer.

Electrical systems

Hot spot checking and potential problem diagnoses are just some of the uses of infrared thermometers in the area of electrical systems. With this, equipment failure can be prevented, and the root cause of issues can easily be diagnosed and addressed.

Residential use

Home chores require infrared thermometer use. These chores may range from cooking, soap making, insulation and heating checking, and home renovating.

What to look for when purchasing an infrared thermometer

The terminologies you will read in the reviews below might be too hard to understand. Here are some features and factors that you should look for when buying an infrared thermometer. Their definitions are also given to make it easier to understand.

Purpose

Where and what you will use your thermometer for will dictate most of your buying decisions, particularly the model’s temperature range. You can opt for lower temperature ranges if it is just for residential use like measuring temperatures when cooking or checking your air conditioner. A higher temperature range is needed if it is for commercial, industrial, and repair use such as checking machines and motor engines’ temperature.

Price

If you are just using the thermometer for home or residential use, there is no need to buy the most premium and expensive models. If it is for commercial and medical use, it is best to go for the higher-end models than settle with cheaper ones. Hence, how you will use it and what features you will look for will dictate how much you should invest for a thermometer.

Accuracy (high versus low)

Accuracy refers to how precise, specific, and on-point the temperature readings your device gives. If it is for machinery and commercial cooking use, accuracy matters a lot. The higher the device’s precision, the better.

Emissivity (adjustable versus fixed)

Accuracy is sometimes affected by a device’s emissivity. Emissivity means how effective it is in radiating energy in terms of thermal radiation. A higher emissivity like 0.95 means it is best for surfaces with dark matte textures like asphalt or tiles because it is capable of radiating the object’s temperature.

Objects with shiny exterior such as polished metal have low emissivity ratings. Using a device with a fixed emissivity setting for these kinds of surfaces could lead to false readings. Instead, it is better to use a thermometer with adjustable emissivity (from 0.10 to 1.00) in order to make the device compatible with the surface you are measuring.

Distance to spot (D:S) ratio

The distance to spot or D:S ratio is the ratio between the distance you have from the measurable surface and the spot it is able to read. This ratio lets you know how far or close you are from the object in order to get precise measurement.

For instance, a 12:1 ratio means that if you are at a 12-inch distance from the surface, your thermometer will be able to measure a 1-inch diameter of that spot. The distance you have from the surface is directly proportional to the size of the spot you will measure. Hence, if you are aiming to measure small spaces, moving farther away from the object will affect the accuracy.

Warranty

Most of the thermometers, even the cheap models can get the job done with an accuracy of +/- 2 percent. These can also measure various surfaces with its adjustable emissivity. However, most of these low-end models do not last long. It may be inexpensive initially but the cost of purchasing a new thermometer every year could add up. Check if the brand offers a warranty. Most companies offer 2-3 years warranty, with the shortest being 30 days. Some companies would even offer up to 10 years warranty. The longer the warranty, the better.

Additional features

These are some additional features that are not really essential but would make the product more user-friendly and convenient to use.

Lasers

Thermometers with built-in lasers offer more precise measurements.

Backlight screen

This gives extra convenience especially if you usually use your thermometer in dim areas. As much as possible, the screen should show if the temperature is in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Optimal temperature adjustment

Different surfaces have different maximum temperatures. Being able to adjust your thermometer’s optimal temperature to cater these variations, and to know when the desired temperature is hit, is a plus. Some IR thermometers even give an alarm when the temperature exceeds the intended one.

Durable exterior

This is really needed especially if you constantly bring your device and expose it to elements such as heat, water, and dust. This ensures protection from breakage due to fall or exposure to harsh surfaces.

Hold and auto-off function

The hold function shows the readings for a specific amount of time. The auto-off function on the other hand, automatically shuts off your device when not in use in order to save battery.

Fast response time

Having a fast response time saves you from the hassle and wasted time of having to wait for the IR thermometer to show the right temperature.

Belt clips and carrying case

These two are very essential if you always carry your thermometer. You can clip it to your belt with through the belt clips or carrying case to ensure safety as well as lesser chances of forgetting the device.

Steps on how to use an infrared thermometer

Once you already have your infrared thermometer, bear these steps on how to properly use it.

  1. Turn on the thermometer.
  2. Set your preferred measurement unit. It can be in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the manual and the terminologies, especially the D:S ratio.
  4. For adjustable emissivity units, adjust the emissivity at optimal setting depending on the surface measured.
  5. Direct the thermometer in front of the object you are planning to take the temperature of. Stay away from spots with close varying temperatures.
  6. Pull the trigger to see the temperature on screen.

Dos and don’ts when using infrared thermometer

  • Make sure to adjust the emissivity of your device before measuring the temperature of shiny or reflective objects.
  • Remove the smoke, transparent or glass barrier before measuring the object behind it. Not doing so will lead to measuring the glass or smoke’s temperature instead.
  • Bear in mind that moisture, smoke, fog and other particles might affect the temperature.
  • Do not measure temperature near devices with radio frequency of with an electromagnetic strength of greater than or equal to 3 volts/meter as this can affect the readings.
  • Do not use the device to measure food or other materials’ internal temperature. It can only measure the surface temperature.

FAQs

What temperature range are infrared thermometers capable of measuring?

The actual range of temperatures that Infrared thermometers can measure depends on the model. Generally, these can measure both extreme temperatures—above boiling point and below freezing point. For instance, the Fluke 62 MAX Plus has an accuracy of +/- 1C and can measure -22F to 1202F or -30C to 650C.

Are infrared thermometers accurate?

The accuracy of an infrared thermometer depends on its model. Moreover, accuracy can be affected by the surface emissivity and the D:S ratio. Most IRs accuracy fall with +/-2 % margin of error.

Can an infrared thermometer be used for cooking?

The answer depends on what specific part of cooking you are going to use it for. If it is for measuring stovetops, grill, pan, and oil, the answer is yes. If it is for measuring food temperature, it’s no because IRs cannot measure internal temperature. For better accuracy in measuring kitchen equipment’s temperature, put the object in a solid surface and pre-heat for 5-10 minutes. After that, put a little amount of cooking oil to improve emissivity, before getting the temperature.

What are some ways to calibrate an infrared thermometer?

There are several ways to check your infrared thermometer’s accuracy. One is through mixing water and crushed ice until consistency is slurry. Then measure it to see if your thermometer gives a zero-degree Celsius reading. The closer it is to zero degree, the more accurate your thermometer is.

Another is by using a device with a solid non-glossy matte base and high emissivity, called infrared comparator cup. Compare the temperatures between your infrared thermometer and the calibrated reference thermometer with the aid of the cup.

What does NIST certified mean?

NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology. Infrared thermometers with this certification mean that it passed the said agency’s standards in terms of accuracy. In order to get this NIST certificate, the product has to be tested by a third-party official tester which means that the manufacturer who wants this certificate has to pay an extra fee for the testing. NIST certified IRs are essential for research and hospital use. However, if it is just for residential use, there is no need to buy those expensive models with NIST certification.

Do all types of infrared thermometers have the same function?

Infrared thermometers have different functions; hence, they are not the same. Generally, these have a +/-3 percent accuracy, but the type of thermometer which suits you depends on your needs. For instance, if you are using it primarily for cooking, construction, and checking human body temperature, a thermal IR thermometer gun is the best type for you.

Are infrared thermometers and laser thermometers the same?

Yes, infrared thermometers and laser thermometers are the same. There are just misconceptions that they are different because of the variations in terms, but actually it just means the same thing. Other names for infrared and laser thermometers are the following

  • No touch thermometer
  • Non-contact thermometer
  • Remote thermometer
  • Point and shoot thermometer
  • Laser temperature gun
  • Thermal temperature gun

Conclusion

Infrared thermometers have various uses from residential to commercial. These are also used in the medical and research field as well as in industry and automotive industry to check for equipment malfunctions. If accuracy is your priority, the Fluke 62 MAX Plus is the best model for you. If you are on a budget yet don’t want to compromise the quality, the best model for you is the Etekcity 1022D dual laser digital infrared thermometer.

Last update on 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API