Infrared thermometers are a simple device for the non-contact measurement of temperatures. You can only display the average temperature in a measurement area (measurement cone).

The distance to the measuring object and the optics of the device determines the size of this measuring cone – which should be considered at the time of purchase. You should keep the purpose and the conditions in the back of your head – especially if you operate in small rooms!

Der Abstand zum Messobjekt und die Optik des Gerätes bestimmt die Größe dieses Messkegels – was beim Kauf unbedingt beachtet werden sollte. Man sollte dabei den Einsatzzweck und die Gegebenheiten im Hinterkopf behalten – vor allem wenn man in kleinen Räumen operiert!

Infrared thermometers are particularly suitable for:

  • Simple measurements for finding cold walls
  • Fast measurements of large and very hot objects (hot liquid)
  • Rough inspection of heating pipes and installations
  • Coarsly check floor heating / room temperature in different rooms
  • “Molecular Gatronomy” – scientific cooking / professional chefs
  • Simple physics experiments
  • etc.

Clear advantages of infrared thermometers are the low price and the very simple operation. In addition, many infrared thermometers can measure temperatures up to several thousand degrees.

Thermal imaging camera

In contrast to infrared thermometers, a thermal imaging camera captures not only one measuring point, but thousands, even millions, “measuring points” (pixels) at the same time. The resulting image allows a much more accurate and quicker analysis of the temperature profiles of an object.

If you have to deal with the following questions, you should definitely consider buying a thermal imager:

  • Does a radiator have to be changed as a result of age?
  • Does a solar module have hot spots?
  • Does a window have localized thermal weaknesses, or has it been deficiently installed?
  • Are there any abnormalities in a fuse box?
  • Are certain moving parts particularly hot in a device (gearboxes, mechanics) after load stress was applied?
  • Are there cold spots in my floor heating and why?
  • etc.


Ultimately, the choice of thermal imaging camera or infrared thermometer depends on the intended deployment and the frequency of use.

If a simple, coarse measurment object (for example, liquid in a container, furnace temperature, etc.) is occasionally to be examined, then a infrared thermometer suffices. The mentioned and often larger temperature range of infrared thermometers is often a good indicator to buy such a device.

However, if one is interested in small thermal differences in electrical switchboxes, or if one wants to examine a window closer to a house, an imaging device is often an advantage. Even when examining solar modules, it is essential to have an image and not just a measuring point, since localized temperature differences can lead to important conclusions.

In this case, it is not a good idea to save money because wrong conclusions, which result from the use of the wrong device, can become expensive or cause frustration. A good thermal imaging camera can capture details and thus often provide a clear advantage when it comes to troubleshooting and searching weak spots. However, beginners should inform themselves about the required functions and specifications in advance.

When choosing between a thermal imager or an infrared thermometer, you can also look at the “hybrids”: camera infrared thermometers, for simple applications.