Hand held infrared (IR) non-contact thermometers are one of my favorite tools that I use in my Energy Conservation Engineering “Day Job.” If you are not familiar with what they are, think of them as an industrial version of the fever thermometers that came on the market about ten years ago or so.
The easy and quick to use electronic thermometers have replaced mercury thermometers in mom’s medical kit. You aim them in your child’s ear and instantly know whether to send them to school that morning or to keep them home.
The version, I use is the low price industrial strength unit that is lightweight and easy to carry. They are shaped generally like a pistol.
What are they good for?
They are great for quickly taking the temperature of any solid object. They do not measure air temperature.
You need to point them at something and squeeze the trigger to see the temperature of that object. As example if I am walking through a building I can check the room temperature and know what the ventilation equipment is doing with just a few quick aim and trigger pulls of my thermometer.
I look for objects that heat up or cool off quickly to match room air temperature. By taking the temperature of a metal filing cabinet, I know what the temperature of the room is.
By aiming at the return air register, I get another check on the room air temperature. By shooting a temperature of the supply air grill, I can tell if the air conditioner or furnace is working. And, I can collect some information about how well it is working.
They are very good for easily getting temperature information from a safe distance.
· You can get the temperature of hot material or equipment without risking a burn.
· You can find hot spots on electric apparatus without getting close enough to risk a shock.
· You can take the temperature of machinery, while it is running, without getting your finger pinched.
These are just a very few of the many uses.
Why Did I Buy Two?
I had been using a borrowed Infrared Thermometer so I decided to buy myself a new one and ended buying two. Why two?
Two reasons, first when I get just one of something I usually lose it very quickly and have to buy another one. It has also been my experience that if I buy two, I never lose either one. The second one is not a spare, it is insurance so I don’t lose one.
The other reason for buying two is I couldn’t make up my mind which one to get. I bought two different brands to compare.
Both brands have a very good “laser” pointer built in so you can see what you are aiming at. Both are made in China.
I really had to search the Raytek to find the CHINA mark hidden inside the battery compartment. Raytek is a US company and they don’t seem to want the customer to know that their product is made in China.
Both have a good digital read out window that gives the temperature readings in degrees and tenths of a degree. Like many digital instruments, they mislead the user about accuracy. I don’t understand why they show the temperature in tenths of degree when the best they can do is an accuracy of plus or minus 1 degree C or 2 degrees F.
The accuracy of both brands is very similar and plenty accurate for the work I do. They give reasonable readings when the target you are aiming at is between minus 20 and plus 932 F.
They work as longs as they are in a location where the temperature is between freezing and 120F. If you can stand being there, in normal work clothes, it will do a fine job.
IR thermometers have a limited field of view. That is a good thing. The cone of vision of the Kintrex is a little more focused than the Raytek unit. Why is that important?
If you shot a real gun at a wall, 10 feet away, the area the bullet hits is the same size as the bullet. If you stand ten feet away from a wall and shoot the Raytek at it, you will hit a 12-inch diameter area. It measures the average temperature in that 12-inch diameter area.
If you shoot the Kintrex from ten feet away from a wall, it will hit an area that is 10-inches in diameter and gives you the average temperature of that 10-inch diameter area.
The father away you are, the bigger the area that the IR thermometer views. If you are 20 feet away, the Raytek will “see” a 2-foot diameter spot on the wall. At a 20-foot distance, the Kintrex “sees” a 20-inch area. The smaller view area of the Kintrex is better.
The bigger problem is that the laser pointer on both brands just shows you a very small dot of red light. The small red dot at the aiming point gives folks the idea that the instrument is just measuring one small area when it may actually be taking an average of a large area.
An example is if you are taking the temperature of a hot water pipe at the ceiling of a room, you get the average temperature of part of the pipe plus some of the ceiling. If you think of the temperature as being just the pipe, you are wrong, unless you are holding the IR thermometer up close to the pipe.
The Kintrex has a little longer battery life. If you use either one of these a lot you do need to carry the right spare batteries, or risk a black out at an inconvenient time. Another reason to have two of them.
The Kintrex allows you to switch between Centigrade and Fahrenheit with ease using a thumb button. On the Raytek, you have to open the battery compartment and hunt for the little switch to make the change over.
In my current job, I work and think in Fahrenheit and never change. When I used the Kintrex, I had to look at the display to make sure I was in the right mode.
I used to work in the chemical industry, where I worked with engineers who worked and thought in Centigrade. I used Fahrenheit while working in the powerhouse and around the boilers. I had to be bilingual in the language of temperature. The ease of switching between C and F is important in that kind of job environment.
During on the job tests, both brands did what I needed done very well. No functional problems with either one.
If I were to buy another one now, I would buy the Raytek for purely personal preference reasons.
I like the trigger on the Raytek better. It is a traditional index finger trigger. The Kintrex has a button for a trigger. Remember I said it was a personal preference.
I like the shape of the Raytek better it has a more traditional pistol grip handle and better balance. The graceful taper of the Kintrex grip handle makes it feel top heavy and it tends to slip out of my hand too easily. It does have holes in the end of the handle to add a lanyard to loop around your wrist.
The curved shape of the Kintrex housing makes me aim high. I had to use a ready fire aim method of getting on target with it on every reading.
The straight top on the Raytek housing let me get on target with the first shot. The Marine in me that knows good control is hitting the target with the first shot. Getting on target temperature readings quickly is a time saver, especially when your are taking many readings, during a tour through a building.
Both brands come with a carrying case, both are good. I like the Raytek carrying a little better.
I would recommend either brand, because they both do the job very well.
If you switch between C and F temperature scale, in your work, the Kintrex is definitely a better choice.
The Kintrex may be more accurate, for some types of work, with its smaller field of view.
I like the very clear pictorial Raytek instructions. The do a great job of showing how to use it and what to use it for.
The Price of the Kintrex Beats Raytek
As with most electronic items, the price for IR thermometers has dropped. The quality and features have improved over a very few years. I remember buying a similar Raytek several years ago. It was bigger and heavier with about the same performance; it cost about $160 then.
I ordered both of the new ones from Amazon with normal delivery.
The delivered cost of the Model MT6 Raytek was $68.18
The delivered cost of the Model IRT0421 Kintrex was $54.16
by Birney Summers – 2009 All Rights Reserved
2016 Update note Prices have dropped and more brands are available.