How Do Infrared Thermometers Get Their Instant Readings?

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Fast, Accurate, and Portable: That’s the Summary of an Infrared Thermometer.  But how non contact thermometers work is another question.  And we can break down their functionality to offer some enlightenment. 

avantek dual laser infrared thermometer

IR thermometer, laser thermometer, gun thermometer; these are all colloquial names for one of the most common thermometers in industrial, cooking, and personal care business.  But aside from these nicknames, infrared thermometers is the professional, flagship nomenclature for the devices.

They can generate instant readings through a laser beam, inferring the laser thermometer name.  And these lasers can retrieve accurate information from thermal rediation, that converts into a Fahrenheit or Celsius measurement.  But the wildest feature is that all of this can be achieved through the simplicity of being a hand held device.  So not only can you get fast, accurate results, but you can also get these results through the benefit of it being portable.

And I’m sure the intrigue and curiosity doesn’t stop there.  Here are some of the major selling points for great devices.

How Fast Are Infrared Thermometers?

They are instant fast.  And I’m sure you don’t believe me.  Because often, when people say the word “instant,” they’re thinking instant oatmeal or instant oil changes.  But those aren’t really instant.  They are just an accelerated procedure to achieve the same result that would normally take longer.  But with infrared thermometers, we’re not waiting to achieve results.

The high-density laser light is emitted with one purpose; to detect the thermal radiation from the surface.  That laser light can measure how much thermal radiation is projecting from that surface area.  And by factoring the radiation, with the emissiviity of the surface, the temperature gun is able instantly calculate the temperature of the surface.

So although it’s difficult to fathom that this little laser light is doing more than just sitting on that surface.  It’s retrieving vital information to relay it back to the computer in side the housing unit.  So this should dispel any assertions that it’s magic.

But there are a few things the end user should be aware of; specifically that this is only reading the surface temperature.  Which is perfectly fine if you’re an epoxy flooring installer, or an equipment handler.  But if you’re a chef, or a cook, then you would want to consider a probe thermometer.  When cooking, it’s important that you get the internal temperature of the meat.  Not just the surface.  Although the surface can give you a good idea of what the internal temperature may be, it’s not going to let you know if your cooked food is safe to eat.

Another feature to keep in mind is that the laser temperature will only read the temperature for that specific area that the laser light is touching.  So if you’re trying to get the reading of a 5000 square foot concrete slab, you can’t just point and shoot the laser gun just once, and expect to know the average surface temperature.  It’s best to get the reading in multiple locations, and then conclude an average temperature for that area.  It’s very common that some locations are cooler or hotter than others.  So be responsible, and take many readings.

How Accurate is an Infrared Thermometer?

It’s very accurate.  Their accuracy can be off by 4 °F.   If you’re trying to monitor a person’s temperature, such as a sleeping baby, then a 4 degree difference could be too much.  However, when dealing with industrial equipment that has more room for error, an infrared temperature gun is an exceptional tool.

But basically, the accuracy is determined by the distance and by the surface’s emissivity.  The distance plays a large role in the accuracy.  Basically, the closer your infrared gun is, the more accurate the reading will be.  As your distance increases, the diameter of the laser spot also increases.  But as it increases, it becomes less concentrated, reducing its ability to relay the actual thermal radiation.

But the emissivity of the object can also obstruct the results.  An object’s emissivity is how well an object can release its thermal radiation.  Typically, an object without any reflection properties will have an easier time releasing radiation.  But an object like a mirror, or glass, with a high reflection, will be much more difficult to read.  Some thermal thermometers have control settings that allow you to accomodate an object’s emissivity.  But for the most part, a lot of thermometers don’t offer this feature.

coleman digital infrared thermometer

But overall, the accuracy you get from a hand-held device is pretty incredible.  It might not give you internal results, or results that you’d want to write in stone.  But the results are close enough to help you make an informed decision on many of the objectives you’r trying to complete.

 

And just How Portable Is this Magic Unit?

fluke industrial infrared thermometer

They are pretty friggin’ portable.  They are hand-held units, and they are extremely easy to operate.  The only difficulty that could occur is how much customizing the end user might need to do.  From Celcius to Fehrenheit, to memory settings, to emissivity control.  There are a lot of factors to consider before pulling the trigger.

But as long as you select the right infrared thermometer, with the most informative instructions, there’s not a problem that the end user shouldn’t be able to fix.

But overall, even though infrared thermometer come with many names and aliases, they all function the same, provide similar results, and generally are just as easy to handle.  But user beware.  They are designed for industrial purposes, for HVAC guys, epoxy floor guys, and anyone else that’s in the industrial field.  These thermometers don’t serve very well for food or personal care.  But that’s not to say they don’t get you in the right ballpark.  But if you’re dealing with a hot baby, then you’ll want your readings to be as accurate as a rectal thermometer.  Which is why you might want to consider a rectal thermometer for a baby, as uncomfortable as that may be for both the user and the baby.

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