Infrared Temperature Sensors

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The most common non-contact thermometers are probably infrared temperature sensors. Pyrometers, the alternative to IR thermometers, are also relatively common, but their unique approach to measuring temperatures (which necessitates that object being measured is hot enough to glow) limits their range of applicability. Many infrared temperature sensors, however, can remotely measure the temperature of almost any type of material from minus 50° Celsius up to several thousand degrees Celsius.

Handheld Infrared Temperature Sensors

There are two main types of IR thermometers. Handheld thermometers, often used for everything from firefighting to automotive engineering, are compact, portable ways to gauge the surface temperature of an object from afar. Fixed-mount thermometers are often included in machinery and equipment as part of the control mechanism for the cooling system.

As the distance to the target increases, the target area of the IR sensor grows proportionally in diameter. The growth ratio of the target area for IR thermometers is called the distance-to-target ratio. The distance-to-target ratio of handheld thermometers varies with make and model, from 1:1 (for pocket thermometers) to 180:1 on some full-featured professional models.

Handheld infrared temperature sensors often utilize a laser to help users increase the accuracy of their measurements. On single laser models, the laser is projected into the center of the target area. Some professional models incorporate multiple lasers that encircle the entire target area, allowing users to zero in on the exact area that they want to measure.

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