Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Aug. 6, 2018

Working on your car sometimes requires you to know the exact surface temperatures of the various parts you are working on for safety reasons. While you can always employ other methods of measuring surface temperatures, a more practical, more convenient, easier, and more accurate way to determine temperature is to use an infrared thermometer. These IR thermometer temperature guns are perfect not only when working on your vehicle but also anywhere else in your home. If you need to measure the temperature of a particular object or surface, a temperature gun should do the trick. However, you’d have to be quite picky if you want to get only the best infrared thermometer for your own use. Check out our list of the best infrared laser thermometers available.

The Best Infrared Thermometer 

It couldn’t get any simpler than this. The Lasergrip 774 infrared temperature gun may have a slightly limited temperature range, maxing out at 716OF, but it sure can be a very handy tool for a multitude of applications. It’s a non-contact thermometer allowing you to safely measure and read the temperature of the car surfaces you’re working on so you don’t necessarily burn yourself needlessly.

The temp gun from Etekcity features just the right technical specs that will make it very easy to operate. Its hold, scan, and lock functionality is always a charm while the slim and ergonomically-shaped handle won’t be causing any discomfort on your hands real soon. The large blue LED-backlit display makes temperature reading so much easier, too. The temperature sensor technology embedded into the 774 together with its advanced infrared technology allows it to take very precise measurements of surface temperatures up to with ±2%. The distance-to-spot ratio is at a standard 12:1 which should help increase the distance between the object being measured and the Lasergrip without losing accuracy.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1022 OF
  • Accurate up to ±1.5% with distance-to-spot ratio of 12:1
  • Adjustable emissivity from 0.1 to 1.0
  • 12 laser points within target circle
  • Quick response times at less than 500 ms
  • 25-second auto shutdown mode
  • Data retention and low battery indicator
Specification
  • Brand Etekcity
  • Model Lasergrip 774
  • Weight 6.4 oz

Featuring 12 laser points and a central dot forming a circle on the target object for measurement, this infrared thermometer promises greater accuracy of its temperature readings. It comes with a much higher temperature limit of 1022 degrees Fahrenheit, which can further increase its applicability, although there are very few situations or circumstances in the house that can really reach such high temperature readings.

Nevertheless, with an HD LCD display providing clearer information you’ll never miss any temperature reading from the Estink IR thermometer. It’s got a temperature bridge alarm, which turns the LED indicator into a bright red, warning you that the surface temperature being measured has surpassed the limits set on the device. It’s got an auto-shutoff feature, too, although it’s quite long at about 25 seconds. Compensating for the heat emitted by various surfaces can be easily compensated as the Estink comes with adjustable emissivity settings.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1022 OF
  • Accurate up to ±1.5% with distance-to-spot ratio of 12:1
  • Adjustable emissivity from 0.1 to 1.0
  • 12 laser points within target circle
  • Quick response times at less than 500 ms
  • 25-second auto shutdown mode
  • Data retention and low battery indicator
Specification
  • Brand Estink

The 1022D is a substantially better temp gun than Etekcity’s other non-contact infrared thermometer, the 774. First, it comes with dual laser instead of a single beam, allowing for greater precision when it comes to taking temperature measurements over certain distances. Second, the emissivity settings can be adjusted on the 1022D, affording you with greater precision when it comes to measuring temperatures across various surfaces. Third, the maximum temperature has been bumped up to 1022 degrees Fahrenheit, although finding the application for such extreme temperatures at home can be quite challenging.

The 1022D comes with the same ergonomic gun type of thermometer that the brand is known for. The barrel is relatively short, giving it a more compact appearance. It feels nice and stable on the hands, too. At the very least you will not have to worry about a less secure grip on the handle while you’re busy working on something in your car or anywhere else around the home.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1022OF
  • Accurate up to ±2%
  • Fully adjustable emissivity at 0.1 to 1.0 with distance-to-spot ratio of 12:1
  • Selectable units of temperature between Fahrenheit and Celsius
  • Super quick response time at less than 500 ms
  • Scan, hold, and record functionalities
  • Dual laser design for improved precision
  • Customizable temperature range
Specification
  • Brand Etekcity
  • Model Lasergrip 1022D
  • Weight 6.1 oz

For those who need the best infrared thermometer you might want to consider the Lasergrip 630 in a contemporary black finish with blue-gray console. This temperature gun has the highest maximum temperature that can be measured by any device as far as this list is concerned at 1076oF. If you’re thinking of measuring just how hot your car’s engine can turn out after a grueling ride in the mountains, then this one’s for you.

The distance-to-spot ratio is also way higher than the conventional 12:1 at 16:1. This means you get to measure the exact temperature of a scorching hot surface without ever getting close to it and without ever sacrificing the accuracy of the temperature readings. One can also easily adjust the emissivity settings to compensate for the heat naturally emitted by various surfaces so you’ll obtain the correct temperature reading.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1076OF
  • Accurate up to ±2%
  • Fully adjustable emissivity at 0.1 to 1.0 with distance-to-spot ratio of 16:1
  • Selectable units of temperature between Celsius and Fahrenheit
  • Super quick response time at ≤500 ms
  • Dual laser design for improved precision
  • Customizable temperature range with minimum and maximum settings
  • Scan, hold, and record functionalities
Specification
  • Brand Etekcity
  • Model Lasergrip 630
  • Weight 8 oz

For those who love to cook the perfect meats in their preferred levels of doneness, getting this non-contact infrared thermometer will also get you a free meat thermometer which you can stick through the meat you’re cooking to check its internal temperature.

Bu of course, that’s just the bonus as this infrared thermometer also works like a charm when it comes to measuring the temperature of almost anything you have in mind, but most especially when you’re working on your car. The SURPEER IR thermometer actually comes with almost the same temperature range as most of the temperature gun units we have on this list. Its emissivity settings can also be adjusted while also featuring the now-standard 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1022OF
  • Accurate up to ±1.5%
  • 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio with adjustable emissivity of 0.1 to 1.0
  • Advanced Fresnel lens with latest thermosensor technology
  • 6-second auto shutoff battery-saving mechanism
  • Alarm notification for temperature limits
  • Comes with free meat thermometer
Specification
  • Brand SURPEER
  • Model IR5D
  • Weight 10.6

This non-contact thermometer from Helect has a lovelier design than most of the products we’ve seen so far. The black accents on a yellow chassis remind you more of that iconic brand of heavy duty machinery. However, it does feel comfy on the hands and provides remarkably accurate temperature readings of up to 1022 degrees Fahrenheit.

The arrangement of the buttons is pretty straightforward, although you might be pressing on a couple of buttons if you happen to have a slightly bigger thumb than the rest of mankind. The LCD display is oriented rather horizontally, not vertically as we’re more accustomed to looking at. It’s a welcome change and one that will give you a much better temperature reading as you toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit. It comes with a single red laser dot to assist in pinpointing the exact area where you want the temperature to be measured. At least you can now measure the temperature of even the tightest spots in your car’s engine bay.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1022OF
  • Distance-to-spot ratio: 12:1 with accuracy of up to ±2%
  • Selectable between Fahrenheit and Celsius
  • Red dot laser targeting system
  • Auto shutoff mechanism with low battery indicator
  • Automatic data hold
Specification
  • Brand Helect
  • Model H1020
  • Weight 9.6 oz

One of the least expensive temp gun units in the market yet equally effective in giving you accurate temperature readings is this temperature gun from HOLDPEAK. The 981C comes with the same temperature range that most of the other infrared temperature gun products in this list come with at minus-58 degrees to 1022 degrees Fahrenheit. Its emissivity is also fully adjustable to allow for temperature compensation and ensuring a more reliable reading, although its +/-1% accuracy is more than enough guarantee.

The 981C comes with a smaller profile, perfect for including in your toolbox for storage right in your trunk. The display comes in a bright green LED which is quite unusual since most of the units available in the market come with either the soft white or the blue LED. At least, green is way cooler to the eyes, allowing you to continue your work without really complaining about eye strain.

Key Features
  • Temperature range: -58OF to 1022OF with ±1% accuracy
  • 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio with 12-point aperture
  • Fully adjustable 0.1 to 1.0 emissivity
  • Quick response time at less than 500 ms
  • Circular laser target pointer
  • Selectable between Celsius and Fahrenheit scales
  • Independent switches for laser and backlight
  • Low-battery indicator with auto power off
  • Temperature bridge alarm
Specification
  • Brand HOLDPEAK
  • Model B019TRGYW2
  • Weight 4 oz

The Fluke 62 Max Infrared Thermometer is designed for automotive, electrical, mechanical, and HVAC use. It provides non-contact surface temperatures measurements on wiring, cables, gears, bearings, etc. The device measures temperatures in a range of -22 to 932 degrees Fahrenheit as well as 30 to 500 degrees Celsius.

Users report that this thermometer is easy to set up. It’s also backlit, which is helpful in low light conditions. It features a 10:1 infrared distance to spot ratio and laser sighting for accuracy and displays minimum, maximum, the difference between the two readings, and average temperatures. It’s dust and splash-resistant as well as compact and lightweight enough to attach to a tool belt or belt loop. It works in hard-to-reach areas and can survive a 3-meter drop.

Key Features
  • Non-contact surface temperatures measurements
  • Easy to set up
  • Backlit for low light conditions
  • Displays a wide temperature range
  • Dust- and splash-resistant
Specification
  • Brand Fluke
  • Model 62 Max
  • Weight 8.99 ounces

Best Infrared Thermometer Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Consider When Buying an Infrared Thermometer

One of the things you need to consider when buying an infrared thermometer is its effective temperature range. This is the range of temperature that the device can accurately measure. Most of the devices in the market today can easily and accurately measure temperatures as low as minus-58 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 1022 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also those that can go even higher, although its domestic applications may be a waste of the device’s technical features since it is quite rare to have things at home running beyond 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another consideration is emissivity. Most infrared thermometers come with fully adjustable emissivity levels to compensate for the various temperatures of different surfaces that may affect the infrared energy emitted by the target object. Now, it is up to you if you need a fixed emissivity setting or not, often depending on what you will be working on.

The distance-to-spot ratio of the temperature gun also needs to be considered. This is a reflection of the size of the measurable area related to distance. The larger the surface area to be measured, the farther is the distance, the greater the distance-to-spot ratio. For example, if the area to be measured is 1 inch and the device has a DS ratio of 12:1, then the maximum distance you can place the thermometer from the surface of the object being measured without losing accuracy of reading is 12 inches or 1 foot.

Other things you may want to consider include the manufacturer’s warranty, price, ease of operation, ease of cleaning and maintenance, and the readability of the device’s temperature readings.

The Many Uses of Infrared Thermometers

Because infrared thermometers actually measure the temperature based on the infrared energy emitted by a target object, virtually anything can be measured with these devices as almost everything gives off infrared energy. Here’s a partial list of the many uses of such devices.

  • Automotive systems – diagnosis of overheating problems, poor cooling, and engine misfires as well as evaluation of catalytic converters, radiators, thermostats, brakes, bearings, and tires
  • HVAC systems – identification of infiltration or leaks, insulation issues, and electrical faults as well as assessment of radiant heating, pipes, and equipment
  • Manufacturing – monitoring of optimal operating processes, equipment temperatures, and temperatures of substrates, ingredients, or materials
  • Food safety and quality – application of HACCP procedures, prevention of cross-contamination, and continuous monitoring of food temperatures
  • Electrical systems, components, and circuit boards – diagnosis of potential problems, ensure optimal operating temperatures of electrical components, detection of hot spots, prevention of equipment failure, and promotion of power balance
  • Medical applications – assessment of body temperature
  • Fire safety – detection of hot spots
  • Home applications – checking for leaks, optimal operating temperatures of household appliances, crafting beer, making bread, making candles and soaps, and preventing contact burns, among others

Types of Infrared Thermometers

There are 3 types of infrared thermometers that are commonly used in a variety of applications today.

  • Spot IR thermometers

As the name implies, these infrared thermometers measure the temperature based on the infrared energy given off by a ‘spot’ on the surface of the object being measured. The temperature guns that we are very familiar with can be classified as Spot Infrared thermometers.

  • Infrared scanning systems

These operate just like spot IR thermometers except that they measure the temperature of larger surfaces. These are typically found in manufacturing facilities where they are integrated as quality control mechanisms ensuring the optimal temperatures of the various materials used in the manufacturing process.

  • Infrared thermal imaging cameras

These infrared thermal monitoring systems are top-of-the-line and feature highly extensive hardware supported by equally extensive software programs. Infrared cameras provide a two-dimensional representation of an object or a large area. If infrared scanning systems are designed to monitor whatever passes through the conveyor belt, infrared thermal imaging cameras cover an entire room or floor.

  • Infrared in a Nutshell

Infrared is nothing more than a type of electromagnetic radiation that is highly invisible to the naked eye, but can be easily determined as ever-present because of ‘heat’. What we feel as ‘heat’ is actually infrared radiation. Anything that has a temperature of at least minus-450 degrees Fahrenheit tend to emit infrared radiation. That being said, even your ordinary household freezer will emit infrared radiation. It is this energy that infrared thermometers measure and convert into an approximate temperature to give you a non-contact temperature reading.

Best Infrared Thermometer FAQ:

Q: What is an infrared thermometer?

These are measuring devices that infer temperatures based on the thermal radiation emitted by a certain object. A device measures the amount of infrared energy that is being produced by the object being measured. The device also measures the same object’s emissivity or its effectiveness in emitting thermal radiation often compared to a perfect radiator or black body. These measurements are then computed to come up with a range of temperature that best defines the object’s actual temperature.

Q: How do infrared thermometers work?

The infrared thermometer focuses light emitted by the object and funnels this into a detector or a thermopile. Within the thermopile, the infrared radiation is converted into heat before finally transformed into electricity. The IR thermometer actually measures the amount of electricity generated by the infrared radiation and this is what gets displayed onto the screen.

Q: How to use an infrared thermometer?

Simply power up the unit and allow it to run a few seconds of self-diagnostics. Select the temperature unit you want the temperature gun to display. Check the distance spot ratio of the device that you have or read the manufacturer’s recommendation for the optimum distance between the thermometer and the object being measured. Make sure to observe this distance when pointing the laser on the area that you want to measure. Generally, the closer you are to the object, the more accurate is the measurement. However, if the object you’re measuring is simply too hot, doing it a safe distance is still best. Depress the trigger and give the device a few seconds to measure the temperature. Whatever you do, don’t use the temperature gun on an object that is adjacent to objects that have a largely different temperature. You’re also not supposed to use the infrared thermometer on objects with shiny or highly reflective surfaces as well as magnetic objects. Also, don’t point the laser onto an object with a glass or smoke in between the object and the thermometer; it will measure the infrared radiation of the smoke or glass and not the object behind these.

Q: What is the measuring range of digital infrared thermometers?

The accuracy of digital infrared thermometers is directly related to its distance-to-spot ratio. In this rule, there is a direct relationship between distance and the area being measured. The larger the area, the farther is the distance. Alternatively, the smaller the area being measured, the shorter is the distance between the thermometer and the object being measured. This plays well into the measuring range of digital infrared thermometers. For example, if an object has a size of 6 inches and the infrared thermometer has a DS ratio of 12:1, then you can actually position the thermometer some 72 inches or 6 feet away from the object and would still be guaranteed an accurate reading. If you move the thermometer a few inches farther, then you are not only measuring the 6-inch ‘spot’ but also its immediate surroundings. If this immediate surrounding is cooler than the ‘spot’ this will have an effect on the accuracy of the temperature reading. As such, if one is to understand the measuring range of IR thermometers, then one clearly has to understand the underlying principle of the distance-to-spot ratio.

Our Top Pick

Almost all of the products we’ve listed can be the best infrared thermometer. However, when one has to look at the product that can offer the best value for your money then that one has got to be the Etekcity Lasergrip 774. Sure, it has a lower maximum temperature reading and comes with a fixed emissivity setting, but these hardly matter if you’re only looking for a device that you can easily use in your car and in your house. Most of the products we’ve listed have industrial and commercial uses, making the Lasergrip 774 a great tool for vehicle-owners who would also like to extend the device’s usefulness into other aspects of his home.

Temperature guns make it relatively easy and super safe to measure the temperatures of almost any object. And when you’re working with your car you’d definitely want to check first if it’s safe to handle a certain automotive part so you can service it properly. The good news is that these infrared thermometers are so versatile any object that gives off infrared energy can be measured of its temperature.

Sources:

  1. How Do Infrared Thermometers Work? – General Tools
  2. Infrared Thermometers – Grainger
  3. The Working Principle and Applications of Infrared Thermometers – AZO Sensors
  4. Infrared Thermometer – Wikipedia

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