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How to Calibrate an Infrared Thermometer Infrared thermometers can be calibrated for accuracy just like other thermometers.

In ETI's UKAS Calibration Laboratory technicians use industrial black bodies to calibrate infrared thermometers. Black bodies approximate zero reflected ambient radiation and therefore the unimpeded emission of infrared energy for a given emissivity value, typically 0.95.

Without having access to a black body, the next best way to calibrate your infrared thermometer is to use a simple, inexpensive Infrared Comparator Cup. It is best to calibrate your infrared thermometer at more than one temperature (at 5C and 60C] for example) and the Infrared Comparator Cup makes it easy.

If neither of these are available, you can do a quick calibration using a properly made ice bath.

Using a boiling point for calibration is more difficult with an infrared, factoring in variables in air pressure and elevation, are further complicated with infrared thermometers owing to the steam generated by boiling. That steam and the evaporative cooling and condensation that ensues makes it difficult to obtain an accurate infrared measurement of a boiling liquid. But the surface of a properly made ice bath is a dependable 0.0C

Calibrating Your Infrared Thermometer with a Properly Made Ice Bath To calibrate your infrared thermometer with an ice bath:

Step 1: Fill a large glass to the very top with ice (crushed ice is preferred but not required).

Step 2: Slowly add very cold water until the water reaches about one half inch (1 centimeter) below the top of the ice.

Note: If the ice floats up off the very bottom of the glass at all, the ice bath will likely be warmer than 32.0F (0.0C). Pour off any excess water.

Step 3: Gently stir the ice mixture and let it sit for a minute or two.

Step 4: Make sure your infrared thermometer is set to an emissivity setting of 0.95 or 0.97.

Step 5: Hold your infrared thermometer so that the lens or opening is directly above and perpendicular to the surface of the ice bath.

Note: If you hold your infrared thermometer too far from the surface of the ice bath or hold it at an angle, your measurement will include the sides of the glass or container or even the table it is resting on and give you an inaccurate reading.

Step 6: Taking extra care to ensure that the "field of view" (the size and shape of surface area being measured) is well inside the sides of the glass or container, press the button on your infrared thermometer to take a measurement.

If you perform the test correctly, and your infrared thermometer is properly calibrated, it should read within your unit's stated accuracy specification of 32.0F (0.0C).

Infrared thermometers cannot typically be calibrated at home, but they are known for their low drift. If the results of your ice bath test are within your unit's manufacturer's listed specification, you are good to go. If, however, you get a result that is outside the listed accuracy specification, you should contact the manufacturer.

Feel free to contact the ThermoWorks Calibration Laboratory (calibration@thermoworks.com)with any further questions.

How to calibrate an infrared thermometer

How to calibrate an infrared thermometer

We're frequently asked how you should check the accuracy of an infrared thermometer. As with any type of calibration, you need a reference point by which you can compare the thermometer. We recommend 2 ways of achieving this:

Crushed ice solution Comparator Using a crushed ice solution is reasonably straightforward. Essentially you need to make a crushed ice and water mix that has a slurry consistency (This is to ensure that you are measuring a uniform temperature). Then by pointing the infrared thermometer (Ensuring the area being measured by the thermometer is only covering the ice slurry mix) you can determine whether the the thermometer gives a true reading of 0C.

This is a good method of checking accuracy but, of course the downside of this method is that, you are only making your comparison at 1 point and you are reliant on the mix being at 0C.

A comparator check is, in many ways, even easier and delivers more accurate results. This method requires you to compare the temperature as indicated by the infrared thermometer with the temperature indicated by a thermometer that has already been calibrated (Preferably by equipment that has been previously calibrated using equipment traceable to UKAS). The benefit of this method is that you can compare against a range of temperatures (Should you wish) and you have greater confidence in the temperatures that are being indicated.

As a practical example. You could use equipment like the X107:

Place the comparator pot in the area you wish to check the temperature of and leave for 15/30 minutes until the temperature is stable. Connect the thermometer to the pot and turn on Aim the infrared thermometer vertically in to the comparator pot as close as possible, and compare the readings. You may wish to record the results as part of your own QMS

Once you have checked the readings, remove and turn off the electronic thermometer. Pack back in green case. Return the X107 kit annually to Tempcon for Calibration.