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Best infrared thermometers

Keep employees, students and other groups safe as you reopen.

As businesses begin to reopen to the public following national shutdowns due to COVID-19, using contactless thermometers will likely be a part of safety protocols. When choosing the best non-contact infrared thermometer, consider the type, price, accuracy and measurement range of the device to ensure it’ll be suitable for your specific needs.

Top thermometer picks

Compare some of the best infrared thermometers

NameAverage priceTypeBody temperature measurement rangeBatteries included?Purchase
Non-Contact Digital Forehead Thermometer
$14Spot infrared thermometer32°C to 42.9°CNo – 2 AAABuy now
RAK-F103 Forehead Infrared Thermometer
$100Spot infrared thermometer32°C to 42.9°CNo – 2 AAABuy now
Pangao Non-Contact Thermometer
$42Spot infrared thermometer34.0°C to 42.2°CYes – 2 AABuy now
wellworks Infrared Thermometer
$70Spot infrared thermometer32.0°C to 42.9°CNo – 2 AAABuy now
Femometer Forehead Thermometer
∼ $70Spot infrared thermometer35.5°C to 42.0°CYes – 1 lithium cellBuy now
LITSPED Wall-Mounted Forehead Thermometer
$50Wall-mounted spot IR thermometer34°C to 45°CYes – 18650 lithium cellBuy now
Data obtained Septmember 2020. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

How did we choose these products?

We chose products that are mid-range in price and suitable for a wide range of everyday uses. We considered the thermometer type, body temperature measurement range and third-party product reviews when creating our list.

Types of infrared thermometers

Spot infrared thermometers are the most common type of IR thermometer for general use —and generally the cheapest. But more expensive options may be more accurate and work on larger areas.

Spot infrared thermometersHandheld or wall-mounted devices used to measure the temperature at a spot on a surface, such as a person’s forehead or a grill.
  • Less expensive than other types
  • Wide variety of general and household applications
  • Can be less accurate than more expensive options
Infrared scannersThese devices scan and measure the temperature of a larger area than spot IR devices.
  • More accurate than many spot IR thermometers
  • Used for industrial purposes
  • Expensive
Infrared thermal imagingThese devices use long-wavelength infrared energy to measure temperatures at multiple points. Reflected light does not affect these cameras — so smoke, dust or oncoming headlights won’t interfere with the reading.
  • More accurate than many spot IR thermometers
  • No interference from reflected light, smoke or dust
  • Expensive

How to compare infrared thermometers

Consider these factors when comparing non-contact infrared thermometers:

  • Price. Spot infrared thermometers can cost anywhere from around $15 to $200, while thermal imaging cameras and infrared scanning systems could range from around $200 to $5,000 or more.
  • Type. For general body and food temperature measurements at home, an average-priced spot IR thermometer will likely suffice. If you’ll be using the device to detect multiple people’s temperatures throughout the day, you may want to upgrade to a scanning system or wall-mounted spot IR thermometer.
  • Accuracy. Check to see if the device has been tested for accuracy. Look for what’s called a test-retest reliability rating, which demonstrates how consistent the device is.
  • Measurement range. This tells you the temperature range that the device can detect. If using for human body temperatures, look for this specific measurement range. It may be different from the device’s environment measurement range.
  • Battery type. Most small hand-held devices take AA or AAA batteries, but some larger wall-mounted devices, scanning systems and thermal imaging cameras may take lithium batteries that could be more expensive to replace when necessary.
  • Ease of use and extra features. Is the overall design of the device easy to use? Does it have a backlit display for quick, easy readings? Does it store previous temperature measurements?

What are non-contact infrared thermometers used for?

Contactless infrared thermometers can be used to take temperature readings in a variety of settings:

  • Taking body temperatures.
  • Taking food temperatures when cooking to ensure safe temperatures are reached.
  • Detecting overloaded circuit breakers and faulty terminations in electrical circuits.
  • Detecting mechanical problems within vehicles and motorized equipment.

How to use an infrared thermometer

Get an accurate read of your temperature in four steps:

  1. Turn on the thermometer.
  2. Adjust the settings on the device so that it reads in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
  3. Point the thermometer at a person’s forehead or an object.
  4. Pull the trigger and wait for the reading to show up on the screen.

Tips when taking someone’s temperature with an IR thermometer

When using an infrared thermometer to take a person’s body temperature, follow these quick tips to maximize safety and accuracy:

  • Do not point the device directly in the eyes of humans or animals. Some devices have a laser pointer to help increase accuracy, and lasers can cause eye damage.
  • Stay a safe distance away or wear proper personal protective equipment when taking the temperature of someone who is sick.
  • Aim the device perpendicular to the person’s forehead when taking their temperature.
  • Do not point an infrared thermometer through glass or other barriers when getting a reading. This will negatively affect the accuracy of the reading.
  • Do not use in direct sunlight. This will also negatively affect the accuracy.
  • Read the cleaning instructions that came with the device. Most cannot be fully immersed in water, but should be disinfected between uses.

Bottom line

Non-contact infrared thermometers have become popular devices to take human body temperature, but have plenty of other uses too. Non-contact infrared thermometers can be perfect if your business, office or school is implementing extra safety protocols, or for situations where you want to take an infant’s temperature without waking them.

If you’d rather shop around to make sure you’re getting a competitive price, take a look at our guide on the best places to buy an infrared thermometer online.

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