Comprehensive Guide on How to use Infrared Thermometer?

Written by: Kaushik Jethva

Last Updated: November 30, 2022

steps for using an infrared thermometer
A woman measures temperature with the use of an infrared temperature.

Thermometers are one of the first things we reach for when someone in the family falls ill. Proper knowledge of how to use infrared thermometer and measuring the body temperature of the affected person provides us with accurate information regarding his/her need for immediate medical attention. There are many types of thermometers, but a non-contact infrared thermometer is one of the most commonly used because it shows temperatures without the risk of transmitting germs.

An infrared thermometer reads a person’s or an object’s temperature using infrared rays from a certain distance and displays the result immediately with accuracy.

1 How to use infrared thermometer

If you have recently purchased a thermometer and you are not aware of how to use infrared thermometer, follow these simple steps below for measuring temperature with accurate readings:

  1. Step 1: First of all, remove the infrared thermometer from the box. You will find your IR thermometer along with 2 Double-A or Triple-A batteries depending on the model you purchase.
  2. Step 2: To power on the thermometer, the unit requires the installation of 2 Double-A or Triple-A batteries. Do not use rechargeable batteries. Install the batteries into the base of the unit. Be sure to observe the correct polarity when installing the batteries.
  3. Step 3: Hold and press the trigger for 5 seconds to turn on the thermometer. After the thermometer is turned on, you will notice that the home screen is displayed in front of you. You can press the trigger from the home screen to take a reading or enter the Menu system.
  4. Step 4: If you want to configure the unit from the home screen, single press the Mode button on the side of the unit to select between body room and surface temperature modes. Make sure make the body mode is displayed when monitoring body temperatures.
  5. Step 5: The temperature unit comes in Celsius scale by default. If you want to change the unit from Celsius to Fahrenheit scales, press and hold the Mode button for 2 seconds. You will notice that F-1 is displayed on the screen. Now, single press the Mode button to toggle between Celsius or Fahrenheit scale. Single press the Memo button 3 times to return to the home screen display.
  6. Step 6: A majority of non-contact thermometers comes calibrated out of the box but it’s highly recommended to test it for accuracy and recalibrate if necessary.

2 How do infrared thermometers work?

An infrared thermometer detects the radiation from objects due to the movements of molecules inside them. Higher temperatures accelerate the movement of molecules and emit more infrared radiation. The thermometer measures and converts the object’s radiation into heat.

Once the heat is converted into electricity, it is sent to a detector, which then shows the object’s temperature on a display. An IR thermometer can measure temperatures as close as several centimeters away or as far as many miles away using infrared radiation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this non-contact thermometer was used widely to detect high temperatures from far away, allowing people to stay away from each other. IR thermometers are a convenient option while measuring the temperature reading of a fragile or potentially harmful object.

3 How to use infrared thermometers to measure temperature?

how to measure temperature with an infrared thermometer
A person taking body temperature readings by placing an infrared thermometer on the wrist.

To use the NCIT correctly, the user must strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines. According to the standard user manual, a user should follow the following information and recommendations:

Setting up the thermometer and preparing a suitable environment

There is a possibility that the thermometer will be affected by the environment in which it is used. To get accurate results, make sure to keep a few things in mind:

  • Avoid direct sunlight and radiant heat sources, and keep the device out of drafts.
  • The ambient temperature should be between 60.8-104 F (16-40 C) and the relative humidity should be below 85 %.
  • Before using the NCIT, allow it to adjust to the room and temperature changes for 30 minutes.

Clean the thermometer between intervals

Before using the thermometer, carefully clean the NCITs according to the instructions under Cleaning and Disinfecting. It is not recommended to immerse the thermometer in water or other liquids.

Getting the person ready to be diagnosed

The person using an NCIT should typically ensure several things before taking a temperature measurement:

  • To accurately measure the temperature, the forehead area should be clean, dry, and not blocked by anything.
  • The body temperature of the person or the temperature at the forehead test area is not affected by excessive clothing or headwear, for instance, a cap or a sweatband, or by facial cleansing products like face wipes while measuring temperatures.

Using the thermometers for accurate reading

  • Hold the sensing area of the thermometer at 90 degrees perpendicular to the forehead and inform the person to remain steady at a distance of 5-7 inches during the measurement.
  • Be sure not to touch the thermometer’s sensing area, and keep the sensor dry and clean.

4 How does the temperature scale work?

temperature scale in a thermometer
A temperature scale in a thermometer indicating 2 different units of measurements. Fahrenheit and degree Celsius.

A mercury thermometer works as a tool to measure a person’s body temperature or to measure the temperature of an object with numbers marked for different temperatures. Traditional thermometers contain a glass tube filled with mercury liquid inside it. When the thermometer is placed in a person’s mouth or immersed in a substance, the mercury expands and rise which indicates a person has a fever.

While experimenting and designing a standard thermometer, Daniel Fahrenheit determined that the freezing point and the boiling point of water would be separated by 180 degrees using his Fahrenheit scale. He noted cold freezing water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. To determine the temperature of the mercury on the glass, he made a thermometer and placed it in freezing water. A few minutes later, he took the same thermometer, placed it in hot boiling water, and marked it at 212 degrees. After getting the accurate temperature readings, he marked 180 evenly spaced points between those two.

Parallel to the above experiment, Anders Celsius decided that freezing and boiling points should be separated between a range of 0 to 100 degrees. He marked a freezing point of water at 0 degree Celsius and a boiling point of water at 100 degrees Celsius on a Celsius scale.

5 Wrapping Up

Nowadays, non-contact thermometers or infrared thermometers are becoming increasingly popular due to their vast uses in the health sector. The device can be used to measure body temperature without having to touch it. Consequently, the chances of infection and transmission of diseases get automatically reduced.

You have plenty of choices when it comes to infrared thermometers, no matter if you want one for your home or clinic. If you are aware now of how to use infrared thermometer, here are a few popular infrared thermometers to help you make the right decision.

FAQ's about Infrared thermometers

Where should you place an IR thermometer?

If you want to get accurate readings, place the device around 5 cm above your forehead. You can place the thermometer near to the forehead or wrist for accurate temperatures.

While measuring the forehead, if the reading displays a temperature higher than 103 F or 39.4 C, you are likely to have a high fever. In this case, you should immediately consult a doctor for a sooner and healthy recovery. These are some common symptoms of fever: severe headache, pain in the abdomen, neck pain, and vomiting.

Infrared thermometers can be measured for accuracy with a comparator at any ambient temperature. To reduce the possibility of a difference in temperature between the inside surface and the base test hole, it is recommended that the temperature of the inside surface and the base test hole be 22°C, stable room temperature.

Infrared thermometers can be used to check whether someone is feverish in your family or not. It has been found that forehead thermometers are less accurate than other methods of reading temperature, such as reading temperature by rectal, oral, rectal, or ear methods.

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Kaushik Jethva
Written by: Kaushik Jethva author

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Updated: November 30, 2022
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