The infrared thermometer used to be the exclusive domain of scientists and high-end manufacturing processes. Technological advances however, mean they’re now available to just about anyone who wants one. And who would want such a thing? Homeowners, auto mechanics, chefs, rescue workers, firefighters and anyone else who needs to obtain a fast accurate temperature reading for just about any purpose. Because there isn’t broad-based familiarity with this type of technology (yet) potential users often find themselves stressing over whether to buy model X or model Y. But fear not. We’ve done the research for you and brought together the Best Infrared Thermometers in one tidy list.
The Best Infrared Thermometer
With a measurable temperature range of nearly 1,000 degrees, a 10 to 1 distance to spot ratio and a response time of 0.5 seconds the Fluke 62 Max IR Thermometer is a smart choice for home and business owners. The Fluke not only displays the actual temperature to within 1.5 degrees but also presents you with the minimum, maximum and average temperatures of a surface. It’s light, highly waterproof and easily clipped to your tool belt or pants belt. It will also survive a drop of 3 meters which means you can take it up the ladder with you. It’s rich feature set, outstanding build quality and attractive price make it our Best Choice. Make sure you always have it handy in your tool box.
Ideal for commercial or home use.
IP54 water resistance rating.
Temperature range -20 to +932 Fahrenheit.
12:1 distance to spot ratio.
Precision laser technology.
Clip to your belt for easy transport.
- ModelFLUKE-62 MAX
- Weight 9 ounces
EnnoLogic thermometer is a high-quality non-contact thermometer they’re offering at a very competitive price. It has most all the functionality you expect from a much more expensive IR thermometer including dual laser pointers for more accurate readings and a nearly 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range. You can set your emissivity levels depending on the material, choose between Fahrenheit and Celsius and set high and low alarms for various materials or processes. Great for chefs, electricians, plumbers, dedicated DIYers and building maintenance technicians who keep it in their tool belts at all times. It’s our Best Value.
Temperature range -58 to +1,202 Fahrenheit.
Toggles easily between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
500 msec response time in most cases.
Distance to spot ratio 10:1.
Measures min, max and average temps.
- Weight5.9 ounces
The Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Digital Infrared Thermometer sports a nice clean profile, an uncluttered display and offers many high-end features for very short money. It has a distance to spot ratio of 12 to 1, an effective temperature measurement range of -58 to +1,022 F, an auto-off feature that kicks in to help conserve battery power and it returns your temperature in less than a second. If there’s a downside here it’s that there’s a decent chance you may need the 2 year warranty because we wouldn’t call the construction particularly robust. It’s just a discount IR thermometer with a lot of useful features that’s a nice tool to have around the house or in your tool bag in case you ever need it.
Backlit LCD display.
Temperature range -58 to +1,022 Fahrenheit.
Response time approximately 0.5 seconds.
Distance to spot ratio 12:1.
Comes with 9v battery installed.
Low battery indicator.
- Weight6.4 ounces
Klein has a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the most dependable hardware on the market. Their IR10 infrared temperature gun is right in keeping with the well-constructed, practical nature of most of their products. It features a large, clear LCD display with optional backlight, a temperature range of 1,240 degrees Fahrenheit, dual targeting lasers that combine to produce an extremely accurate reading and a generous distance to spot ratio of 20 to 1. You should get about 8 hours of total operational time out of a single 9V battery. To ensure accuracy of your readings it features fully adjustable emissive levels and you can set high and low limits for different processes. It’s practical, dependable, easy to use and our Premium Pick. Make sure you also check our guide to the best laser measuring tools for more great tools like this.
Dual laser targeting system.
Temperature range -40 to +1,200 Fahrenheit.
Fully adjustable emissivity levels.
Distance to spot ratio 20:1.
Measures air, gas or liquid temps.
Large, easy to read display.
- BrandKlein Tools
- Weight7.4 ounces
The PerfectPrime IR0002 is a compact thermal imaging device that provides temperature data across a wide area in your choice of 3 different resolutions: 35,200 pixels, 3,600 pixels and 1,024 pixels. It scans a temperature range from -30 to +562 F out to a maximum ideal range of 16 feet. While that ideal range may seem somewhat limited hunters may still find the IR0002 useful since it can paint in a rough outline of a deer at 70 feet in pitch dark. It will also help you locate a leaky air duct in the basement, determine where the insulation may be wanting on your house or scan for hot spots on an electrical panel. Our handy guide to the best moisture meters features more great products like this.
High end thermal imaging.
8GB Micro SD card.
Temperature range – 30 to +562 Fahrenheit.
Full HD display screen.
Powered by 4 AA batteries.
- Weight10.4 ounces
The Dewalt DCT414S1 is heavier than most of the other thermometers on our list but it’s beautifully balanced so any extra weight doesn’t cause undue wear and tear. It has a temperature range of nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery and has a 8GB micro SD card for storing data. It also features hot and cold limit, color-coded indicators and an alarm feature that alerts you to troublesome hot spots. The battery recharges in about 40 minutes and the 12 to 1 distance to spot ratio lets you stand back at a safe distance from hot items should you need to. Love this product? Check out our review of the best screwdriver sets for our top picks.
Temperature range -20 to +932 Fahrenheit.
Generous data storage capability.
Powered by 12V lithium ion battery.
40 minutes to full charge.
Hot/Cold indicators to recognize trouble quickly.
Class II infrared laser.
- Weight4.59 pounds
The Flir TG165 non contact thermometer is another pocket sized thermal imaging camera that can provide a range of useful information for electricians, plumbers, insulation specialists and do-it-yourselfers. It has an effective temperature range of -13 to +716 Fahrenheit, a Lepton IR imaging engine, a 9hz refresh rate so you always have the latest real-time information and it doesn’t require any special training to use. It features a hefty 24 to 1 distance to spot ratio and comes with an 8GB micro SD card to store important images for customer reference or later use. It’s light and accurate but it’s also going to cost you a pretty penny. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best band saws.
9hz refresh rate.
Temperature range -13 to +716 Fahrenheit.
8GB micro SD storage card.
24:1 Distance to spot ratio.
USB cable included to D/L imagery.
10 year thermal imager warranty.
- Weight1.85 pounds
Although the Milwaukee 10:1 Infrared Thermometer does not let you adjust emissivity levels it has a lot of other things going for it that warrant inclusion here. Including a shielded LCD screen, a 10 to 1 distance to spot ratio, a nearly 800-degree effective measuring range and the fact that it will survive a 9-foot drop. It’s also affordable, has a high/low-temperature alert system and a 7 point reinforced frame. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best magnetic wristbands.
Temperature range -22 to +752 F.
7 point reinforced frame.
Distance to spot ratio 10:1.
Displays min, max and average temps.
High and low temp alerts.
Powered by 9V battery.
- Weight11.2 ounces
If you’re looking for a cheap, versatile non contact thermometer that’s highly accurate, has an effective measuring range of nearly 1,100 degrees and an easy to read, backlit LCD you owe it to yourself to consider the Surpeer IR5D digital infrared thermometer. It has an uber-fast response rate of half a second, shuts down automatically after 8 seconds of inactivity to save battery and comes with a free meat thermometer that makes it one of the most kitchen friendly IR thermometers on our list. You may also like to check our guide to the best cordless drills.
Response rate 0.5 seconds.
Temperature range -58 to +1,022 F.
Backlit LCD display.
Distance to spot ratio 12:1.
8 second auto off.
Ideal for home or business.
- Weight10.6 ounces
The last of our best infrared thermometers is the Taylor Dual Temperature Infrared Thermometer. This is a compact device intended to help around the kitchen and is perfect for chefs or just concerned parents who want to ensure the food they’re preparing for their kids has been properly cooked. It’s small, comes in a handy pouch, runs on 2 AAA batteries and has an effective temperature range of -67 to +482 Fahrenheit. The stainless steel probe is built into the device and easily folds out when you need it and there’s an auto shut off feature that will help preserve battery life. If you are a passionate handyman check out our guide to the best hearing protector.
Measures internal and external temps.
External temp range -67 to +482 F.
Internal probe measures up to 626 degrees F.
Includes 5 inch stainless steel probe.
Auto shutoff saves battery.
Adjustable emissivity levels.
- BrandTaylor Precision Products
- Weight4.8 ounces
Infrared Thermometer Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Infrared Thermometers
Infrared thermometers offer an array of different features so choosing the one that’s right for you can seem a bit confusing. In an effort to bring clarity to the process we’ve created this list of the most important features to look for in an infrared thermometer and why they’re important.
Temperature Range - Obviously you buy a thermometer in order to figure out the temperature of different things. So the effective range of the thermometer is important. Most of the best infrared thermometers on the market today have an effective range that starts well below zero (Fahrenheit) and extends upward past 1,000 degrees (again, Fahrenheit). Some designed for industrial purposes can measure even higher temperatures. Essentially if you are purchasing the contactless thermometer for home or automotive use you won’t need anything that measures the extreme ends of the temperature spectrum. So the standard range of about -58 to just over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit should be more than sufficient.
Accuracy & Speed - One of the most impressive attributes of the digital infrared thermometer is their accuracy. Typically the thermometer will be accurate to within just a degree or so, unless you’re measuring the extreme low end of the temperature setting. In that case the margin of error may be up to about 3 degrees. In addition, a standard IR thermometer for domestic or light business use (as in a restaurant) will typically return an accurate reading in about .5 seconds. Which is more than fast enough for anyone, even those engaged in temperature sensitive manufacturing processes.
Emissivity - The emissivity of an object is its ability to emit thermal radiation from its surface. This is important if you are to get an accurate reading of the actual temperature of an object. Most of the best infrared thermometers allow you to adjust the device to account for the different emissivity levels of different materials. This way you can be sure you’re always getting an accurate reading.
DS Ratio - The DS ratio is the distance to spot ratio. It is a measurement of the size of the area to be measured relative to its distance from the measuring device (the thermometer). It often takes some time to get used to understanding the DS ratio but it’s not really that complicated. Within the DS ratio 1 equals the diameter of the area you are measuring. Whether that is 1 inch or 1 foot. While the larger number represents the multiple used to determine the maximum distance at which you can expect to get an accurate measurement.
So, if you intend to measure the temperature of an area that is 1 inch in diameter, and your infrared thermometer has a DS ratio of 10 to 1 then you can’t hold the thermometer more than 10 inches from the area you are measuring (1 inch x 10). Likewise if you are measuring an area that is 2 inches in diameter and your IR thermometer has a DS ratio of 20 to 1 then the furthest you can position the thermometer from the object would be 40 inches (2 inches x 20). And so on.
Types Оf Infrared Thermometers
There are 3 main types of infrared thermometers on the market today. They are:
- Spot infrared thermometers - Most infrared thermometers sold for home or light commercial use are some type of spot thermometer. These measure the temperature of a specific spot on a given surface. Whether that’s the surface of your roast, or your car radiator, or your arm or the coffee pot.
- Infrared scanning systems - A scanning system is similar to a spot thermometer except that it does not confine itself to a specific spot on a surface. Instead, it will scan a large portion of a surface in order to determine the average temperature of that surface. In most cases you’ll only find these in factories where it’s necessary to keep track of the temperature of various materials in order to ensure the quality of the finished product.
- Infrared thermal imaging cameras - Formerly the exclusive domain of the military or NASA, thermal imaging has found its way to the home and the toolbox of the average electrician. They’re no longer strictly big picture devices that can tell us something about distant galaxies or enemy encampments in the distant hills. Today’s thermal imaging cameras are palm sized dynamos that will tell you if your pizza is evenly cooked, or if the person standing on the dark on your porch is friend or foe.
Uses Оf Infrared Thermometers
Infrared thermometers have a wide range of applications and are often used by:
- Auto mechanics - Auto mechanics use the IR thermometer to assess the state of a car’s cooling system, to diagnose whether a car is overheating and what might be the cause, to find the cause of misfiring and to check the state of disc brakes, ball bearings and air conditioning systems.
- Manufacturers - IR thermometers are often used in factories to keep an eye on various manufacturing processes. They’re also used to diagnose the state of machinery and to determine whether certain ingredients (whether organic or inorganic) used in various processes are at the right temperature.
- HVAC technicians - Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning technicians use laser temperature sensors to determine the location of leaks in the system, to assess potential insulation issues, to identify possible electrical faults and to determine the temperature of various pipes, ducts and assorted substrates.
- Chefs - Professional chefs often use this type of thermometer to make sure various foodstuffs are at a safe temperature. This helps prevent the proliferation of contaminants and ensures any dishes served to the public are safe to eat.
- Electricians - Electricians need IR thermometers to diagnose a range of potential problems, identify electrical hotspots, prevent various types of equipment from overheating and ensure a balance of electrical power within a given system.
- Parents and medical professionals - Infrared thermometers are used by medical professionals to quickly and accurately assess a patient’s body temperature in a non-invasive way. Parents also use them to assess the state of their children if they seem ill or otherwise out-of-sorts.
- Homeowners - Homeowners have found that having a digital infrared thermometer at the ready can be useful for cooking, checking for leaks in the air conditioning or heating system, baking and even demonstrating to kids why they shouldn’t touch the oven door, coffee maker or toaster.
Infrared Thermometer FAQ
Q: What is an infrared thermometer?
A: Sometimes called a laser temperature gun or contactless thermometer this is a device that measures the thermal radiation that different objects emit. Nearly every object and being on earth emits some type of infrared radiation and this is what the IR thermometer picks up on. Most of the best IR thermometers are able to calculate the emissivity of different objects as well. Emissivity is the amount of thermal energy different materials are capable of emitting. Some hold onto more IR radiation than others. So, you simply enter the emissivity of the object or the material you want to take the temperature of into the IR thermometer, then point it at the object, pull the trigger and it returns an accurate temperature.
Q: How to use an Infrared Thermometer?
A: To use a spot thermometer power up the unit and then give it a moment to run through its self-diagnostic programming. Then select whether you want to measure in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Keep in mind the DS ratio as explained above and make sure you don’t try and obtain a temperature by exceeding the recommended distance between the object and the thermometer. In most cases you don’t want to try measuring from the longest allowable distance. You want to get as close as possible. Sometimes, however, the heat from the object will make it impossible to get very close so don’t hurt yourself. Pull back to the max distance allowable to get your reading. It will still be accurate to within a degree or so.
Q: Are infrared thermometers accurate?
A: Yes. The best infrared thermometers are highly accurate. And the closer you are to the object whose temperature you want to measure the more accurate the reading will be. But even if you have to pull back to the maximum allowable distance you’ll still get a highly accurate reading. When purchasing an infrared laser thermometer keep in mind the kind of objects you intend to use it on. If they tend to be extremely hot you’ll want to make sure the IR thermometer will allow you to measure them from a safe distance.