When choosing an IR thermometer, think about how far away you'll need to be from the things you're measuring, and how small those things are.
Here are some things that can potentially influence results:
- Steam, smoke, fog, frost and dust in the air can deflect some of an object's infrared energy before it reaches the thermometer.
- A dirty or damaged lens on an IR thermometer can interfere with its ability to focus infrared radiation.
- An IR thermometer that has been stored somewhere that's hotter or colder than the environment in which it's being used may need some time to come to temperature before delivering accurate readings.
- Strong radio frequency (RF) interference can influence infrared temperature readings.
Glass, plexiglass and other visually transparent materials are usually "opaque" to infrared light. If you try to measure a temperature of something on the other side of a window, for example, the readout will tell you the temperature of the glass, even if the thermometer's laser pointer passes through it.
To be accurate, IR thermometers must be kept clean. To clean, use a soft cloth or cotton swab with water or medical grade rubbing alcohol and carefully wipe first the lens and then the body of the thermometer. Allow the lens to dry fully before using the thermometer. Never use soap or chemicals and never submerge any part of the thermometer in water.
There's a quick way to estimate the maximum distance from which you can reliably measure an object of a certain size with an infrared thermometer: Multiply the size of the object by the first number in the distance-to-spot ratio.
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