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post-craftsmanir.jpgAs most racers know, these “contact-less” thermometers are extremely handy.  Just use the built-in laser pointer to target a specific area and the gun’s IR sensor accurately measures the intensity of the IR energy radiating from it to give you an almost-instantaneous temperature reading.  It’s great for looking for the hottest item under the hood and checking your tire temperatures — or, for that matter, your competitor’s tire temps in the pit next to you.

The IR sensor averages the temperature within its “sight,” and that area gets bigger as range increases.  Most units (like the one above) shoot an area about the size of a quarter at close range (6″ or so) and work up to 5′ – 10′ away (with an area a couple of feet across).

If you need more accuracy — or a laser “circle” to show you the measured area — more expensive “industrial” versions are available from a wide variety of sources.  Try “heat gun” or “infrared thermometer” on Google for lots and lots.  Besides those features, the other bang you’ll get for your bigger buck is increased temperature range and accuracy. 

The Craftsman gun measures up to 1000 degrees F with a 2% accuracy, which isn’t bad for most home/shop purposes.  It wouldn’t work to measure brake disc temps, though, as they get a lot hotter than that. 

Sears sells the Craftsman unit for $80, and we found similar quality units for the same price around the ‘net.  Watch out for cheap-o units that only measure to 600 degrees F or so.

Note: Sorry for the lame photo.  We chose to write about the Craftsman (instead of all the similar units we found online) because the price/performance balance was pretty good and you can actually go put your hands on one if you want to know more.  The bad news is that the Sears site doesn’t have anything approaching a decent photo.  One would think that if a family-owned tool store on Amazon can put out a good photo of their product, Sears could.  But sadly, one would be wrong.

Craftsman Infrared Thermometer [Sears]
Street Pricing for Various Other IR Thermometers [Froogle]


2 Responses to Finds: Infrared Thermometers (Temp Guns)

  1. Myself says:

    About a year ago, I dropped my dad’s Raytek MT2, and the LCD cracked as it hit carpet from 4 feet up. Not the durability I’d expect from an eighty-dollar unit, but whatever. I owed him a replacement, so I spent an evening on the internet researching the options.

    I liked the feature set and price range of the Pro Exotics Tempgun line, so I ordered a PE-2 for him and a PE-1 for me. They’re both great little units, I use mine constantly while working on computers. It’s incredibly handy to be able to take temperature readings of heatsinks, chipsets, hard drives, and fan blades (which tells you the temperature of the air moving past the fan, of course) as fast as you can push the button.

    I’ll say that again, for emphasis: For me, the instantaneous reading is more important than the non-contact aspect of an infrared thermometer. I’m impatient, and it’s simply awesome to wield a point-and-know thermometer. Whatever brand you settle on, I’m sure you’ll get addicted to this aspect.

    Being non-contact also makes them handy in the kitchen, by the way. Jab-type thermometers are still useful for internal measurements, but if you just need to know the surface temp of a slab of beef, or a pot of stew, infrared can’t be beat. Other infrared games include measuring the temperature of the sky (ask a physicist about this), or putting a cheap unit into lock mode and rubber-banding it to your car’s mirror pointing down, for instantaneous road surface measurements. Apparently reptile owners use them for checking basking temperatures too, which is how an exotic pet company ended up in the instrumentation business.

    Oh, and if you get a Tempgun PE-2, spring for the case, too. Otherwise the buttons get pushed in storage and you go through batteries like candy.

  2. J Ewishki says:

    Can you use a thermal imager as an infrared thermometer as well? http://www.fluke-ti25.com

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