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In Reply to: Thermo Pen IR Thermo Use Questions posted by The Judge on December 02, 2011 at 14:59:38:
IR thermometers measure the temperature of surfaces essentially. So, if you needed to know how hot a pizza stone is, or the surface of a griddle is, you can use an IR thermometer. It won't measure the air temperature in a cooker, just the outside surface of the cooker. It won't measure the temperature of a piece of meat, just the outer surface of a piece of meat. So, I'm not sure what you would necessarily use it for when cooking on a big bbq unit. Unless your son has asked for one so he can do something specific, I'm not sure that's what you want.
Read on only if you are really interested :-)
If you do buy one, there is one thing to consider, whether or not it has adjustable emissivity setting. The thermometer is measuring the infrared radiation emitted by a surface. The composition of the surface dictates how much of the IR radiation it emits at any given temperature. A flat black surface emits a lot of IR. A shiny stainless steel frying pan emits very little IR. So you have to tell the thermometer essentially what type of material you are measuring by setting the emissivity. Cheaper IR thermometers use a fixed setting that is good for a lot of things, but would be absolutely dead wrong if you were measuring something shiny. If you have a thermometer with adjustable emissivity, you can get a table that tells you what to set it at for various materials.
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