How to Calibrate Your Infrared Thermometer

A number of different industries use infrared thermometer to make consistent and accurate tests of temperatures in a wide array of scenarios. 

Being prepared

There are a number of elements to take into consideration and steps to be taken prior to calibration to achieve an accurate result. The first step is to find the unit specs from the manufacturer. A manual is usually provided with the information required to authenticate calibration such as the calibrations source’s emissivity estimate and the infrared thermometer’s field of view.

This data needs to be referred to when the tests are reported to ensure consistency with future tests. The specs of the radiation source that will be used to test the readings should also be known. A black body is the name of a testable source for the calibration of infrared thermometers, coming as an IR cavity or a flat plate. The former will have the radiation source inset, but the latter will not. 

A laser pointer is often used by an infrared thermometer to help the operator with gauging their directional readings, though the thermometer’s alignment needs to be checked to be sure it is up to date to avoid the risk of throwing off readings. 

Other aspects to consider include the ambient temperature of the testing environment.


An accurate tool is required to make an accurate test. A highly calibrated infrared thermometer or control probe that has been calibrated to the highest possible standard will be needed.

When using a black body, be it an IR cavity model or flat plate, the radiation source size needs to be noted for the calculation of the distance between the radiation and the tool. Multiple black body units should not face each or be placed near air drafts. 

A partition can be used to undermine any other sources of radiation beside the target object that could be emitting heat. An infrared comparator cup or a correctly made ice bath could be used instead of a black body. 

A mounting device allows a stable measurement to be set up while maintaining measuring distance and alignment. A hand, fixture or tripod could be used. 

A distance measuring device such as a measuring rod or tape measure can be determine the distance-to-spot size ratio that needs to be maintained. 

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Calibration procedure

After the completion of the prep work and the collection of data, the next step is to do the test. Calibration points need to be tested on the temperature range the thermometer is calibrated for. With a wide temperature range use no less than three points, with just one or two needed for narrower ranges. 

Set the thermometer reflected temperature and have the unit and field of view aligned to keep a safe distance to allow the source to be looked at by the entire optic, which should be right in front of the thermometer, which should not be more than five degrees from normal when targeting the surface area. 

After the thermometer has been set and aligned, the measurement can then be taken. Take multiple readings and base the measurements on ten times the response time of the device. 

A well calibrated infrared thermometer can keep accuracy in all areas, making regular maintenance and testing vital to ensure accurate performance. 

If you’re looking for an infrared thermometer, check out the range of options available at RS today!

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