The 10 Best Infrared Thermometers
10. Champion Temperature Gun
9. GoerTek GM320
8. Mastercool 52224-A
7. Nubee 8380H
6. Fluke 59 Max+
5. Etekcity Lasergrip 630
4. EnnoLogic eT650D
3. Amprobe IR-730
2. Holdpeak 320 Non-Contact
1. Fluke 62 Max Plus
A More Powerful Thermometer
When most people think of thermometers, the small devices that they place in their mouth or on their forehead to check if they have a fever are likely the first things that come to mind. Yet, while these medical thermometers are very effective for checking a person's body temperature, they are not useful for much more.
Not only do they have a limited measurement range, but they are also contact devices. This means that they need to be in direct contact with the surface that they are measuring, making them impossible to use with objects that have temperatures that are high enough to melt metal or plastic. For situations where you need to measure the temperatures of objects from a distance, you should consider a good infrared thermometer.
How exactly does an infrared thermometer measure the temperature of an object without being in direct contact with it? Each object in the world radiates thermal energy. The hotter an object is, the more of this energy it contains. Infrared thermometers use a detector that transforms thermal energy into electronic signals that can be read on the screen in less than a second. Most of these devices use a laser pointer to measure an exact area. This combination of versatility and speed makes an infrared thermometer an essential addition to your toolkit, whether you're an engineer working long hours in the plant or someone looking to make several repairs around the house.
While the first prototype of the infrared thermometer was patented at the start of the 20th century, the first commercial model wasn't introduced until the 1930s. Over the next few decades, scientists from all over the world further developed infrared technology, largely for military reasons. Today, infrared thermometers are widely available and are valuable tools for many professionals.
The Many Uses Of Infrared Thermometers
While probes and contact thermometers are generally more accurate than their infrared counterparts, there are many situations where non-contact devices are ideal. Infrared thermometers are best used with objects that cannot be touched, such as when the surface is too far away to reach or too hot to touch.
Many people working in construction, manufacturing or mining use infrared thermometers daily. This is because they frequently have to interact with objects that can be dangerous, such as molten metal, electrical equipment, and degreasing units.
One of the most common uses of infrared thermometers is to measure the temperature of moving things. This can include objects on a conveyor belt, particularly inside manufacturing plants. In some professions, these devices are also used to take the temperature of living organisms, such as animals in their natural habitat.
These devices can also be used to take the temperature of food. They are especially useful for food that carries the risk of contamination, which makes a great infrared thermometer invaluable for health inspectors and food manufacturers. They can also be used to measure frozen foods that are difficult to puncture with probes.
Infrared thermometers have plenty of use around the house, too. For DIY experts, they can be handy for hard-to-reach areas, such as air conditioner ducts. They can also be used to check the surface of a grill, so you know exactly when to begin the barbecue.
Choosing The Right Infrared Thermometer
There are many factors that go into choosing the perfect infrared thermometer for you.
One of these factors is accuracy. Most infrared thermometers are accurate up to a certain temperature, after which their accuracy tends to vary between models of varying prices. High-end models are typically accurate within one percent of the reading.
Unless you use these devices in a professional setting, the distance-to-spot ratio can be a bit tricky to understand. It essentially measures how well a thermometer can sense a small, specific area from a great distance. For example, if a thermometer has a distance-to-spot ratio of 15 to one, it can detect the temperature of a one-inch circle from a distance of 15 inches. If the D:S ratio is smaller, then you would have to get nearer to the object to maintain the one-inch circle.
Another factor to keep in mind is whether the model you are purchasing has a fixed or an adjustable emissivity. Emissivity is the measure of how much infrared energy an object can emit on its own. Objects with a high emissivity, such as living things, tend to mostly emit their own thermal energy. On the other hand, objects with a low emissivity, such as metals, tend to be reflect the thermal energy of their environment. This results in poorer readings for thermometers with a fixed emissivity. If you will be using your infrared thermometer to measure the temperatures of a variety of surfaces, then one with an adjustable emissivity is ideal.
If you work in a rough environment and are exposed to the elements, you may want to consider picking up a shockproof model. These often have rubberized bodies that protect the internal components from damage, allowing them to function even after being dropped several times. You may also want to consider a water resistant unit if you work somewhere near a body of water.
Just like any device you need to use for extended periods of time, you should also consider how comfortable it is to grip. Depending on the shape, material, and size of the model, infrared thermometers are easier on the hand than others.
Lastly, if you intend to use an infrared thermometer heavily, then you should take note of its battery life. While most models should be able to last for a full day in the field before you need to charge them, it's still best to take their longevity into consideration, especially if you need to use it constantly in your line of work.