I present to you my IR thermometer. I got this nifty little gadget for Christmas (2005) and since then I have been playing with it constantly! It is a lot of fun, and very easy to use.
Now down to the basics. Does this little handheld gadget work? The answer is yes. Is it for everyone? I’d have to say no, it depends on what you expect from your thermometer.
Measuring in at just shy of four inches (3 7/8″ actually) and being lighter than most cell phones Radio Shack’s IR Thermometer is a handy little piece of equipment for what it is meant for. Radio Shack’s site even gives you 99 uses for it. Interestingly enough though, not a one of those is as a tool used in ghost investigations.
The thermometer has a standing range of two feet in front of the eye located on top of the device. By pressing the yellow button on the side (visible above) you will get a temperature reading in less than a second, literally. This little thing is very zippy. You also have the option of holding the yellow button down. I have played with that feature while walking in and out of the house and it does a fairly good job of keeping up with me. With my home being just shy of 70F and outside being 28F (yay! Snow and cold) the thermometer actually kept up. It went down through the 60’s, hit the 50’s then the 30’s (missed the 40’s every time) and settled at the outside temp. So I thought, hey! What if it was a less drastic change? So I opened my refrigerator door and walked to it slowly then fast. From 70 to the upper 30’s it went nice and smooth. Now, I should warn that the owner’s manual says: “Protect the thermometer from “thermal shock”, caused by large or abrupt ambient temperature changes. Allow 30 minutes for the thermometer to stabilize before use when exposed to large temperature swings.” I would say that a temp change of 50 degrees is fairly drastic, and it still did a great job repeatedly of documenting the drop and the increase after I stayed outside for twenty minutes and came back in. Are you thinking about hot spots and cold spots yet?
The temperature range is printed as 0 to 400F or -18 to 200C (yes, you can change the reading from Fahrenheit to Celsius and back). I did however get it to read down to -10F by testing it in my freezer. That is more than the manufacturer gave it to. The leeway in the owner’s manual is +/- 7F (+/- 4C). It also has written down for accuracy plus or minus 2.5 to 4 degrees. Now the only way I could really test accuracy is with another thermometer. The only other one I have is a digital body temp one. So, here is what I did: I heated water just a bit so that the body temp one would read it, then I dipped the body temp one in the water and got the reading of 101.5F. I then pointed my IR Thermometer at the water surface, about an inch off of the cup of water. I got the reading of 100.5F. Not too shabby. I then placed a ruler vertically and started seeing how far away I could get the thermometer and still get a true read. About a foot away from the water’s surface is when the water temp started to not show accurately. And by the time I was two feet above the water I was getting the regular air temp. So the eye does pick up about two feet away from the object or air mass. I have checked this now in other ways as well, with different sized pots of warm water and with a bowl of ice cold water. The thermometer stayed steady at being accurate up to two feet away.
The IR Thermometer also comes with a built in belt clip. This is helpful when you have your hands full, or are just walking and decide to whip out the handy dandy IR thermometer to take a reading in a two-foot area around you. Now, as I said, it’s not for everyone. But if you want it as a back up to other thermometers, or you happen to walk into a warm or cold spot, it will work wonderful for that purpose. There are also the other 99 uses I mentioned above. They can be found here: www.radioshack.com.
Gripes? Do I have any about this product? Kind of, but for what I wanted it for, they are not really gripes, more of suggestions for when the next model comes out. The IR Thermometer does not log readings. You can hold down the yellow button and follow the reading change, and you can take a quick temp, but you will need to write down the temps you record. Which works for me since I write down everything as back up anyway, but some might not like this manual approach. The other idea that could be improved on is the lack of back lighting. You will need some other source of light to be able to read the screen in darkened areas.
The price range is near $50 right now. I was lucky enough to get it on sale for $30. The 12V alkaline battery is sold separately for an additional $3-4.
Overall I would recommend this product. I would also give it a four out of five stars due to the fact that it wasn’t made for ghost hunting, and yet I think it does a very decent job. The product (so far) seems to live up to and even exceed, in some cases, the manufacturers guarantee.