GETTING IN RANGE
It is important to pick an infrared thermometer that is rated to measure items within the temperature range that will be applicable to your uses. Every IR unit on the market today is rated for a specific range of temperatures, and it will not be accurate if you are trying to measure items that fall outside of that range. Therefore, before picking out an infrared thermometer, you are going to need to think carefully about what you will be measuring and the expected temperature ranges for those items.
As an example, you may find one unit that is capable of measuring temperatures from as low as -40F all the way up to 428F while another unit ranges from -4F all the way up to 626F. Most units will be suitable for covering moderate temperatures, but you need to carefully check the specs on any infrared thermometer that is being purchased for the purpose of measuring extremely cold or extremely hot items.
Another important element of IR thermometers is the distance-to-spot ratio that they offer. Commonly available ratios include 4:1, 8:1, 30:1, and even 50:1. What does the distance-to-spot ratio mean? It refers to the distance you can be from the object that is being measured while still receiving an accurate reading. So, the bigger the ratio, the farther away you can stand from the target object while still getting a good reading. For example, with a 30:1 ratio you can be standing 30 inches away from your target and still accurately measure an area of 1 square inch. To measure that same area with an 8:1, you would need to be standing 8 inches away. Higher distance-to-spot ratios are usually found on models with very high temperature ranges, allowing you stand a safer distance away from the heat source.
Naturally, this is another element that needs to be factored in when you are picking out an IR thermometer model. Are you going to be right next to the objects that you are measuring, or will you need to keep your distance for safety reasons? If you are going to be back a significant distance, make sure the model you pick out is capable of remaining accurate thanks to a large distance-to-spot ratio.
Although infrared thermometers are limited to taking surface temperature readings, they remain a valuable tool that is used by professionals in a variety of industries. When you are picking out your own IR unit, be sure to pay close attention to both the distance-to-spot ratio, as well as the temperature range that is offered by that model. Once you do receive your thermometer, read all of the instructions carefully and use the unit in accordance to the manufacturer’s recommendations in order to get the most accurate readings possible. While not the perfect tool for every temperature measuring job, there is a good chance you will find plenty of occasions to put an IR thermometer to work for you.