One of my favorite new toys is a laser thermometer. In reality, the laser is not used for sensing the temperature, it is only used to properly aim the non-contact infrared thermometer, but the ease of use, and the wow factor will surely cause people to refer to these as laser thermometers.

Infrared Thermometer Here is how it works, you point the thermometer at the item to be measured, even from across the room (the closer you are the more accurate, but it still gives very good readings from a distance). The thermometer measures the infrared radiation given off by the object and calculates the objects temperature. A laser pointer is attached to the thermometer and alligned with the sensor so that it can be used as guide for pointing the thermometer in the right direction.

These infrared thermometers are useful for many applications. The obvious ones are air conditioning and heating, but it is also useful for plumbing. I was able to use my infared thermometer to trace a hot water pipe through a wall (the pipe was touching the inside of the wall, so the drywall heated up when hot water was run). By moving the laser pointer across the wall until the temperature peaked, I was able to find the route of the pipe behind the drywall.

These thermometers are surpisingly inexpensive. I just purchased one for $30, and there are many models and manufacturers making them. Several of the models of infra-red thermometers are listed below. When considering which one you want, check out the reviews and the product specifications.

The above two models include the laser sighting function. The models below are intended for different applications such as food service or medicine, and I do not believe that they include the laser sight. They may also have a lower distance to spot ratio (see discussion below), but some may have greater accuracy (for example, the clinical medical thermometer). Some of the differences in specifications you will want to pay atention to are temperature range, accuracy, and the distance to spot ratio. The distance to spot ratio gives the size of the spot where the temperature will be measured as a function of the distance from the thermometer. A higher ration is better, as it will allow you take more precise readings, rather than sensing an average reading over a larger area. Your application will affect the accuracy that you require - are you looking to see if something is hot, or do you need precise readings, such as for medical measurements.

Click on any of the images below for additional information on the displayed item or click to see additional choices for infra-red thermometers icon.

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If you are looking for more advanced thermometers for imndustrial needs, you can find other temperature measurement devices described at