Infrared Thermocouples

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The term 'infrared thermocouple' typically refers to an infrared thermometer having an electrical output akin to that of a thermocouple. Some infrared thermometers come equipped with both infrared thermocouples as well as infrared sensors. Normal infrared sensors can detect and measure the strength of infrared radiation that is being emitted by an object. Thermocouples measure ambient room temperature.

Infrared Thermocouples, IR Sensors, and RTD Probes

Thermocouples operate by creating a voltage between two dissimilar metals. The voltage that is created between the two metals is directly related to the temperature of the metals. For example, a K-type thermocouple, which is used in many infrared thermometers, uses nickel-chromium and nickel-aluminum alloys to create a wide range of voltages across a broad swath of temperatures.

On the other hand, some IR thermometer designers include infrared thermocouples or ports that allow for the addition of thermocouples.

Other IR thermometers may also include probes that are used in taking internal temperatures. RTD (resistance temperature detector) probes operate with a mechanism similar to thermocouples--they measure the resistance of a metal wire that changes as a function of temperature. Probes are included in some industrial thermometers, but are usually absent from smaller handheld non-contact temperature detectors.


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