Dewalt’s 12V Max infrared thermometer has a 12-1 distance-spot size, and a temperature range of -20°F to 932°F (-29°C to -500°C), accurate to ±1.5% or ±1.5°C. The emissivity setting is fully adjustable, and the thermometer has a customizable hot-cold alarm.
The IR thermometer looks great on paper, but how well does it work?
One of the things you’ll notice right away is the large digital display, which is backlit and easy to read. I also particularly appreciate that the digital display is recessed and shrouded by the same protective rubber non-marring material that is used on the grip.
The IR thermometer shares the same basic design features as Dewalt’s other 12V Max offerings (except for the LED work light). Dewalt’s 12V Max handle is quite ergonomic and comfortable to hold and use, but it does make the IR thermometer a bit larger than it has to be.
Most of the infrared thermometers on the market today are compact units that take standard alkaline batteries. Dewalt’s is one of the very few that are powered by rechargeable 12V/10.8V battery packs. While this could be a convenience for pro users, the added cost and size of the 12V Max platform will certainly make the IR thermometer less attractive to DIYers and occasional users.
Use & Performance
To turn the thermometer on, simply pull the trigger and wait a few seconds until the temperature screen comes up. After that, just point and sample. If you leave the tool idle, it will auto-shut off to save battery life.
To hold a measurement, take your finger off the trigger, and the last temperature reading will be locked on the screen. This is confirmed as “scan” disappears from the screen and “hold” pops up. At this point, you can also toggle the min/max button to view the minimum, maximum, and average temperature readings that were recorded during a scan.
The emissivity is set to 0.95 by default, and is adjustable in 0.01 increments. There is table in the user manual with common emissivity values, but you can find this information online as well. (Here’s a nice table by Fluke.) Many users won’t ever need to adjust the emissivity when taking comparative measurements, but these values must be adjusted to match the material being sampled for greatest quantitative accuracy.
When a reading goes beyond the adjustable high and low temperature alarm range, you’ll hear a beep and either a blue or red LED will light up. You have the option of disabling either the audible or visual alerts.
Overall, the IR thermometer was exceptional easy to use, and it performed better than expected. When I passed the review sample to a colleague who wasn’t at all familiar with non-contact IR thermometers, he looked at the tool strangely for a minute, and then used it naturally. Aside from having to give him a brief primer on emissivity, there was absolutely no learning curve.
When I compared the IR thermometer’s readings to those of a thermocouple I know to be highly accurate, the measurements were spot-on.
The thermometer samples a 1.5″ diameter spot at a distance of 12″, 3.0″ at 36″, and 5.3″ at 60″.
Taking into account that the Dewalt IR thermometer kit also includes a li-ion battery, charger, and kit box, its ~$130 price is appropriate for what you’re getting. Searching around, the other IR thermometers (e.g. Extech 42511) that I could find with comparable temperature ranges, distance-spot ratios, and adjustable emissivity settings were priced about the same.
To be perfectly honest, I initially had some doubts about how the tool would perform. The specs look great on paper, but I was not sure how the IR thermometer would compare against more established models since it is one of Dewalt’s first 12V Max tools and one of their few measurement tools.
Bottom line, Dewalt’s 12V Max IR thermometer performs very well, and I cannot find anything significant to complain about.
The only thing that would make this tool better is if it had a built-in emissivity library, but that’s a bit much to ask for.
Thank you to Dewalt for providing the review sample unconditionally.