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Best Infrared Thermometers

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 51 Models Considered
  • 39 Hours Researched
  • 2 Experts Interviewed
  • 212 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best infrared thermometers

    Last Updated August 2018

    Are you looking to buy an infrared thermometer? These handy tools can prove helpful in a number of situations.

    • Medical professionals, engineers, and some mechanics use infrared thermometers in their daily work.

    • Infrared thermometers are used by some home cooks to measure how hot a pan is when cooking foods that require precise temperatures.

    • Homeowners can also use an infrared thermometer to pinpoint areas of the home that may need some extra insulation.

    An infrared thermometer works by bouncing an infrared beam off an object and measuring the heat differential. Below, you'll find an outline of the elements to consider when shopping for an infrared thermometer. We've also included information on pricing and the best ways to use an infrared thermometer around the home. 

    When you’re ready to buy, please refer to our five preferred infrared thermometers. We’re happy to endorse all of them after careful product research and customer reviews.

    Most infrared thermometers take temperature readings in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.

    Ways to use an infrared thermometer

    The advantage of an infrared thermometer is that you don't need to be up close to an object to measure its surface temperature. You can accurately measure items from a safe distance, thereby minimizing the danger of an accidental burn.

    In the kitchen

    A cook might use an infrared thermometer for the following purposes.

    • To check the surface temperature of oils, pans, foods, etc.

    • To verify the temperature of food storage spaces

    • To assess temperature before baking bread or the preparation of other temperature-sensitive foods

    Denise
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Denise has a background in healthcare and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.


    Denise  |  Health Care Professional

    Home use

    Infrared thermometers are not just for professionals. Homeowners and others can use them for the following reasons.

    • To find areas of poor insulation in a home or structure

    • To detect air leaks in a home or structure

    • To assist in at-home mechanical fixes

    • To measure body temperatures of humans and animals

    EXPERT TIP

    Infrared thermometers are best for dealing with objects too hot to touch or too far to reach.


    Denise  | Health Care Professional

    Professional use

    Various professionals use infrared thermometers on the job.

    • Heating and cooling professionals use infrared thermometers for evaluations and equipment checks.

    • Food workers use infrared thermometers to ensure temperatures meet prescribed safety standards.

    • Electricians use infrared thermometers to check for hot spots and other potential issues.

    • Mechanics use infrared thermometers to check for overheating, among other things.

    • Medical professionals use infrared thermometers to measure body temperature.

    • Firefighters use infrared thermometers to locate hot spots after a fire.

    Valuable Accuracy

    The Fluke 62's D/S ratio is a fairly standard 12:1, but where most competitors offer fixed emissivity, the Fluke 62 offers variable emissivity between 0.1 and 1. This means that you can calibrate the thermometer to each surface you measure. It takes a bit more work, but the precision you get in return allows for more accurate feedback. The Fluke 62 MAX Plus infrared thermometer also provides both Fahrenheit and Celsius readings. Its range is sizable at -22°F to 1,202°F and -30°C to 650°C. A class-leading accuracy of just ±1% is one of its most significant features.

    Questions to ask when choosing an infrared thermometer

    If you’ve found a particular infrared thermometer you like, try to find the answers to these questions before you buy it.

    What is the temperature range of the infrared thermometer?

    An infrared thermometer with a larger temperature range has a higher number of applications. Not everyone needs an infrared thermometer to detect hot spots; some infrared thermometers allow for the measurement of very cold temperatures. In other words, it's not just high-end temperatures that matter for some users. Low-end temperatures are important, too.

    In general, you'll find infrared thermometers have a temperature range of around -60°F to 930°F. Pricier models geared toward professionals may provide an even higher temperature range.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some infrared thermometers have two lasers to help frame the space that you are measuring.

    How accurate is the infrared thermometer?

    Two aspects can affect the accuracy of an infrared thermometer: distance-to-spot ratio (D/S) and emissivity.

    • Distance-to-spot ratio is a figure that lets you know what surface area an infrared thermometer can measure and from how far away. A D/S of 14:1, for instance, means that the thermometer can measure a one-inch wide area up to 14 inches away. The farther you move from the target in question, the less accurate your reading will be.

      That said, getting close up doesn't necessarily translate to a higher degree of accuracy. Essentially, the D/S figure lets you know the optimum distance for an accurate reading.

    The most common D/S ratio for infrared thermometers is 12:1.

    • Emissivity has to do with an object's reflectivity. When you use an infrared thermometer, you're directing a beam of light at an object. You can't see it, but that's mainly how this kind of device works.

      Your reading can be affected by an object's emissivity, which is basically how reflective it is. If you're attempting to read the surface temperature of a shiny stainless steel pan, for instance, you'll likely get an inaccurate reading because the pan is not very emissive.

      Many infrared thermometers allow you to adjust for emissivity in the event that you must measure an object with low emissivity that cannot absorb the light emitted by the device.
    EXPERT TIP

    Read the manual when you receive your infrared thermometer. Many have specific ways to calibrate them in order to get the most accurate results.


    Denise  | Health Care Professional

    Infrared thermometer prices

    Quality doesn't deviate with price too much when it comes to infrared thermometers.

    Most homeowners don't need to spend more than $80 to $100 for a good one.

    Professionals who require more precision when measuring should opt for an infrared thermometer with reliable accuracy. These infrared thermometers will likely cost over $100.

    Fast Response Time

    The Etekcity Lasergrip's D/S ratio is a fairly common 12:1, but its response time – the time it takes to register a temperature – is under half of a second, which is quite impressive for such a low-cost infrared thermometer. Emissivity is fixed at 0.95. (Minimum emissivity is 0; maximum is 1.) The Etekcity's emissivity makes operating the thermometer easier. However, it means that things with highly reflective surfaces can give misleading results.

    Tips

    • Calibrate your infrared thermometer before using it to ensure accuracy.

    • The durability and construction of an infrared thermometer matters, especially for people who use this tool on a daily basis for work.

    • Take note of the battery type required for a particular infrared thermometer before you buy it.

    • An infrared thermometer can provide surface temperature readings but cannot give you interior temperature readings. That’s why you should never use an infrared thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat or other cooked foods.

    • If you plan to measure the temperature of reflective objects, choose a thermometer that can be adjusted for emissivity.

    Generally speaking, homeowners don’t require the same accuracy from an infrared thermometer as someone in a professional setting might.

    FAQ

    Q. Can I use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of meat I'm cooking?

    A. No. You need a meat thermometer for that. Infrared thermometers can tell you the temperature on the surface of the meat but not the temperature inside the meat. Relying on an infrared thermometer to check the interior temperature of meat is an unsafe practice.

    Q. What's the laser for? Does it measure heat?

    A. No. The laser's function is merely to help you direct the thermometer. It does not help measure heat in any way.

    Q. How do I use an infrared thermometer?

    A. Most infrared thermometers sold for home use function in a point-and-shoot manner. Simply point the thermometer at the object you want to measure and click to get a reading. The laser that emits from the device helps guide you as you point and shoot.

    Q. Why would I use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of my pan when cooking?

    A. That's a good question. Some might find using this kind of device in the kitchen to be a bit of overkill. But an infrared thermometer is actually a useful tool that can help novice cooks familiarize themselves with cooking temperatures. Stove top knobs don't provide exact temperature control, so an infrared thermometer takes the guesswork out of temperature adjustment when using a pan to sear, fry, or sauté.

    Many cooks tend to overheat their pans, which damages them and leads to overcooking. An infrared thermometer can provide you with some guidance and help make you a better cook.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Steph
      Steph
      Writer