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How to Calibrate an Infrared Temperature Gun

Updated May 25, 2017

Temperature is an important physical property of a system and is traditionally measured using a mercury thermometer. One of the main disadvantages of the mercury thermometer is the fact that it has to be placed within the system it is measuring, in order to determine the temperature. A newer breed of thermometer is the infrared thermometer. These devices work by detecting thermal infrared radiation coming from a source and converting it to a temperature, and are particularly useful for determining the temperature of objects that cannot be reached or are at a distance.

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  1. Switch on the blackbody calibration cavity and give it time to reach an equilibrium temperature. This can take about 30 minutes.

  2. Adjust the emissivity setting on the infrared temperature gun. The emissivity is defined as the relative ability for an object to radiate, with respect to a perfect black body. Black bodies have an emissivity equal to 1, so set the infrared temperature gun to this value.

  3. Place the reference thermocouple on the surface of the blackbody calibration cavity. Read off the value of the temperature displayed by the thermocouple and adjust the temperature of the infrared temperature gun. The calibration should now be complete.

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Things You'll Need

  • Blackbody calibration cavity
  • Infrared temperature gun
  • Reference thermocouple

About the Author

Samuel Markings has been writing for scientific publications for more than 10 years, and has published articles in journals such as "Nature." He is an expert in solid-state physics, and during the day is a researcher at a Russell Group U.K. university.

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