How does an infrared gun measure temperature?

Written by alexis rohlin
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How does an infrared gun measure temperature?
Infrared guns are used to measure an object's temperature from a distance. (infrared thermometer image by Vladimir Titov from

Infrared guns are thermometers used to measure the temperature of objects that are hot, potentially hazardous or out of reach. They are commonly used in kitchens to measure food temperatures and to see if cooking surfaces reach the correct temperature. Infrared guns are also called infrared thermometer guns or an infrared pyrometer.

How It Works

The infrared gun detects the heat signature of an object with optic sensors. These sensors are a series of lenses and mirrors that condense the infrared energy that an object omits onto a detector that transforms the infrared energy into an electrical signal. This signal is interpreted and turned into a temperature reading on the gun's display.


Infrared thermometer guns can be used in home heating and cooling systems, fire and insurance inspections, in diesel and automotive industries and in manufacturing.

Cooking Thermometers

Infrared cooking thermometers detect and measure the infrared energy emitted by food and calculate its temperature. Using the infrared gun on surfaces to find their temperature requires that its reflectivity, such as that of a shiny metal pan, is taken into account before measuring or it will effect the reading's accuracy. By spraying the surface with cooking oil, its reflectivity is compensated for, and it will give a good temperature reading.

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