Best Infrared Thermometers: Measure Hot Objects at a Safer Distance
Get accurate temperature readings with our top picks for the best-infrared thermometer
TheDrive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
An infrared thermometer gives you the precise temperature reading of the equipment or surface you are working on. It’s a safety tool when working on your car, as it helps you avoid touching hot surfaces and lets you know when your engine is overheating. Infrared thermometers are widely used by mechanics, electricians, HVAC professionals, and even cooks. Follow through our review for a deeper look into some of the best-infrared thermometers the market has to offer.
- Best OverallEtekcity Lasergrip 774 Infrared ThermometerSummarySummaryA non-contact digital laser thermometer with precise temperature reading and an easy-to-read backlit display. It measures temperatures ranging from -58 to 716 degrees.ProsProsBattery included. Its advanced infrared technology accurately measures the surface temperatures of a wide range of equipment. Offers quick readings in less than 500 milliseconds. Has a low-battery indicator. Comes with a battery saver feature. Approved by the FD, FCC, ROHS, and CE.ConsConsFragile plastic body. The aiming laser may be off by a few degrees. Limited temperature range.
- Best ValueNubee Temperature Gun Infrared ThermometerSummarySummaryA non-contact temperature reader that adjusts to the suitable emissivity for different surfaces and saves the maximum temperature data at the bottom of the screen.ProsProsInexpensive. Gives both Celsius and Fahrenheit readings. 500-millisecond response time. Has a large LED display with a readable blue color. Easy to use. Suitable for auto maintenance, cooking, and home repairs.ConsConsLight plastic body. Can’t measure the internal temperature of objects. Poor performance as it gets older.
- Honorable MentionSurpeer IR5D Infrared ThermometerSummarySummaryA futuristic laser thermometer with an advanced Fresnel lens, featuring the latest thermo-sensor technology. It gives accurate readings from -58 to 1,022 degrees.ProsProsConveniently shaped handle. Eight-second auto shut-off mechanism. Offers alarm notifications for temperature limits. Includes a free meat thermometer. Long battery life.ConsConsTakes long to power back on after you change the batteries. It has an annoying beep every time the trigger is pulled.
Benefits of an Infrared Thermometer
- Measure objects at a safe distance. Infrared thermometers can measure objects at a distance of a foot from the surface. You, therefore, don't have to touch hot surfaces with your bare hands. It also comes in handy when measuring mechanical tools where there's no direct access to the equipment.
- Measure moving parts. There are portable infrared guns that can measure moving objects like a motor, an engine's pulley system, or a conveyor belt. You can hold on to the temperature gun as it takes the measurements, since most are lightweight and gives the temperature reading in a second or less.
- Multipurpose tool. The infrared thermometer is not only good for automotive jobs. It can also be used to detect the room temperature, to test the cooking progress of food, for measuring pipes during household repairs, to measure soil temperature in construction projects, and to perform other industrial applications.
- Detect problems. An infrared thermometer can be used to detect faults or errors in mechanical equipment or electrical appliances. You could, for instance, tell when the speakers are overheating and take the necessary steps to identify the cause of the problem.
Types of Infrared Thermometers
Spot IR Thermometers
Spot IR thermometers rely on a spot reflected by a laser beam to determine the temperature of the surface. They either come as handheld thermometers, pocket thermometers, or fixed mount infrared thermometers. Most car temperature guns fall under this category.
Infrared Scanning Systems
Infrared scanning systems are similar to spot thermometers. The only difference is that they scan larger surfaces. They are mostly used in manufacturing industries to ensure that the optimal temperature for different equipment is attained for quality control.
Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras
IR thermal imaging cameras are made from advanced technology with extensive software and hardware tools. They give you two-dimensional representations and temperature measurements of a large surface area, like an entire floor. They are mostly used in industries to monitor conveyor belts.
Etekcity is an online-based company that specializes in home improvement products, outdoor equipment, and consumer electronics. The company is known for its sophisticated yet user-friendly tools, including water filters, lanterns, body weight scales, massagers, power cords, distance thermometers, and infrared thermometers among other products. Some of its best infrared thermal thermometers are the Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Infrared Thermometer and the Etekcity 1022D Dual Laser Digital Temperature Gun.
Taylor Precision Products Inc. is an American manufacturer of a wide range of first-rate home and industrial products. George Taylor started the company in 1851, and it prides itself in its accurate measuring instruments. The company makes some of the best measuring products, including scales, thermometers, and other measurement-related products. One of its best non-contact infrared thermometers is the Taylor Precision Products Infrared Thermometer.
Best Infrared Thermometer Pricing
- Under $30: This is the price range for basic digital infrared thermometer guns that come with a simple design and a limited temperature range. The products here are mostly handheld spot IR thermometers with reasonable accuracy, and most have a fixed emissivity. However, most do have a small, well-lit screen and are user-friendly.
- $30 to $60: Moving farther up the price scale, expect to find some of the best digital laser thermometers that come with a temperature range of -50 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Most products here have an adjustable emissivity, great accuracy, convenient handles, and can store data for future reference.
- Above $60: Some of the most accurate laser thermometers are found within this price range. The products here typically have the best measuring accuracy and pack advanced features that match their price tag, like sturdy design, mounts, long-lasting battery, and a high distance-to-spot ratio.
Emissivity is the level of heat reflectiveness of a surface. Different surfaces come with varying emissivity levels, and you’ll need an infrared thermometer with an adjustable emissivity so that it can conform to the surface that's reflecting the heat. Gadgets with an adjustable emissivity of about 0.1 to 1.0 are preferable. An emissivity of 0.95 is also good enough for reading temperatures on metal, walls, and pipes, but it wouldn't be able to scan oil, water, or glass.
The ideal temperature range for a car thermometer is about -50 to 1,487 degrees Fahrenheit. Although there are some high-end gadgets that spot such a high-temperature range, most products in the market have a limited temperature range of -58 to 1,022 degrees Fahrenheit. Such a range is good enough for automotive use and domestic applications.
Distance-To-Spot (D:S) Ratio
The distance-to-spot ratio is a measure of how far you can hold the temperature gun in relation to the area of the surface. Most temperature guns have a distance-to-spot ratio of 12:1, which typically means that you need to hold the gun 12 inches away from a 1-inch surface. The larger the surface, the farther you have to hold the gun.
- Accuracy: A thermometer that comes with a high-quality infrared sensor and an adjustable emissivity will most likely give an accurate reading. The best IR thermometers have an accuracy of ±1 percent, but anything below the accuracy of ±2 percent is also good enough.
- Readability: The thermometer should display values that are easy to read and understand. A well-lit display also comes in handy when working underneath your car.
- Warranty: Go for a product with a manufacturer's warranty that protects you from workmanship defects. Most manufacturers back their temperature guns with a one-year warranty.
Best Infrared Thermometer Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Infrared Thermometer Overall: Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Infrared Thermometer
The Etekcity Lasergrip is a digital laser thermometer with great accuracy, and it’s great for both indoor and outdoor use. It has an LED-backlight display for easy temperature readings and an ergonomically-shaped handle for maximum comfort when holding the device. With its advanced infrared technology, the unit can take precise readings with an accuracy of up to ±1.5 percent. It measures temperatures within the range of -58 to 716 degrees Fahrenheit.
The gadget maintains a 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio, and you should maintain a distance of about 14 inches between the thermometer gun and a large surface for the best reading. In addition, the unit has a long-lasting, 9-volt lithium battery with an auto shut-off feature and a low-battery indicator. Once the trigger is pulled, the unit gives the reading in less than 500 milliseconds, and it saves the reading on the screen for about 15 seconds.
A major drawback of this unit is that its outer casing is fragile and gives the feeling that it can be easily damaged when handled incorrectly. Also, the laser beam may be off by a few degrees when pointing at a spot. Lastly, its temperature range is limited in comparison to other infrared thermometers.
Best Value Infrared Thermometer: Nubee Temperature Gun Infrared Thermometer
The Nubee Temperature Gun is a quality and affordable product that lets the user switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius. The unit lets you compare the current temperature to the highest temperature by saving the maximum temperature at the bottom of the screen. It also has an adjustable emissivity function of 0.1 to 1.0 and measures temperatures ranging from -58 to 932 degrees Fahrenheit.
This thermometer has a 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio and accuracy of ±2 percent. It gives a fast reading after only 500 milliseconds and features a red-laser pointer for a spot-on aim. A 9-volt battery with an auto-shut-off battery-saving feature and a low battery indicator powers the device. Additionally, the unit is tested for safety and is approved by the U.S.FDA, CE, FCC, and ROHS.
The major drawback of the device is that it comes in a light plastic casing that may get damaged when the device is dropped. Also, the accuracy of temperature readings dwindles as the unit gets older. It may give varying readings for the same surface. Moreover, the device can’t be used to measure temperatures of fluids, animals, humans, and internal temperatures.
Best Infrared Thermometer Honorable Mention: Surpeer IR5D Infrared Thermometer
Not missing our list is the Surpeer IR5D. It combines the latest temperature-sensing technology with an advanced Fresnel Lens to read values with a high level of accuracy, by a degree of ±1.5 percent. The unit displays data relating to the difference in readings, average, maximum, and minimum temperature on the bright LCD screen in just 0.5 seconds.
A 15-milliamp-hour battery that lasts for at least six months and features a six-second auto-off feature powers the unit. It measures temperatures at a range of -58 to 1,022 degrees Fahrenheit and measures objects at a long distance above its 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio. You can also preset the unit to alert you when the highest or lowest temperature is attained.
However, there is no good reason for the gun to have a beep when you pull the trigger. There is also no silencing option for the beep. You may also start to experience some problems with the battery after you replace it. It may take too long to power on or fail to start up. Ensure you replace the battery with the exact stock battery.
- You can use a simple ice bath to calibrate the thermometer. Fill a large bowl with water and crushed ice and let it sit for about three minutes. Set your thermometer to an emissivity of 0.95 and hold it above the bowl so that the lens is perpendicular to the surface of the water. Turn on the thermometer and wait until it reads a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Infrared thermometers do not give the best reading from reflective or shiny surfaces. The darker the surface, the more accurate the reading. You need a gadget with an adjustable emissivity setting to get the best reading from a reflective surface. Also, the infrared thermometer can’t measure any object behind glass. It will measure the temperature of the glass itself.
- Cover the laser beam when you aren’t using the thermometer to avoid overworking the gun by pointing it at unwanted surfaces. Remove the cover gently when you want to use the gun to avoid damaging the lens. As soon as you’re done with the measurements, store the gun in a cool, dry place with the cover back on to protect the lens from moisture and dust.
- To increase the lifespan of the battery, remove your finger from the trigger as soon as you are done taking the measurements. Holding the trigger any longer than necessary will cause the gun to hit objects that don’t need to be measured, which drains the battery faster.
Q: Is it safe to use infrared thermometers on humans?
A: Yes, it’s safe to use a non-contact infrared thermometer for detecting fever in both children and adults. Just hold the thermometer 6 inches from the patient’s forehead, and it will take the reading. However, medical thermometers are by far more accurate than most handheld infrared thermometers, which are designed for measuring hot objects.
Q: How often do I need to calibrate my infrared thermometer?
A: First off, you should calibrate a new thermometer right before using it. You should also calibrate it if you drop it, after you charge it, or right after you measure a variety of extreme temperatures, like boiling and freezing temperatures. Generally, you should calibrate your device every time you feel it’s a bit off.
Q: How accurate are infrared thermometers?
A: It depends on the quality of the thermometer you choose. IR thermometers come with different levels of speed and accuracy, and some top of the line products have the best accuracy of ±1 percent. The more you spend on the infrared thermometer and hope that it's from a high-end brand, the more accurate it is.
We chose the Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Infrared Thermometer as our top pick due to its minimalistic design, accuracy, and speed when it comes to measuring surfaces.
If you are on a tight budget, you could try the Nubee Temperature Gun Infrared Thermometer, which is one of the best cheap infrared thermometers.
Do you have any thoughts on our review? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
- RELATEDBest OBD2 Scanners: Diagnose and Solve Automotive Troubles QuicklyFind those tricky automotive issues with these great OBD-II scanner optionsREAD NOW
- RELATEDBest Car Health Monitors: Our Top Picks to Diagnose Your CarDiagnose your car without the hassle of seeing a mechanic with an OBD-II scannerREAD NOW
- RELATEDBest Serpentine Belts: Top Picks For Keeping Your Engine ActiveSecure your engine’s functionality for a long time with our top picks for the best serpentine beltsREAD NOW
- RELATEDBest Head Gasket Sealers: Permanently Solve Coolant and Engine Oil Leak ProblemsPermanently seal cracks and coolant leaks with our top picks for the best head gasket sealerREAD NOW
- RELATEDBest Jump Starters: Our Top Picks for Getting Your Engine Running AgainGet your car moving again with these top jump startersREAD NOW