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Acme DIY Reviews the Heat Seeker by General Tools

The Heat Seeker™ by General Tools is an infrared thermometer that allows you to measure temperatures up close or at a distance. We tested the hand held device in a variety of applications and we'll share our findings.

Heat Seeker Infrared Thermometer

An infrared thermometer measures temperatures using an infrared sensor to very accurately find the temperature of an object. The manufacturer claims the Heat Seeker measures temps from -4° to 605° (F) with an accuracy of ±2°. Our tests supported the claim, although our most rigorous testing was in the 10° to 450° range. We tested it against other conventional thermometers and found it to be consistently accurate. Measurements were taken from a freezer, boiling liquids, oven, heating ducts, fireplace and a variety other objects. Measurements were nearly instant and reliably accurate.

The Heat Seeker has a pistol-style grip, making it comfortable and easy to use. Point the thermometer at the target and pull the trigger. A built in laser pointer makes targeting easy and ensures your aim. The backlit display lights up and displays a changing temperature reading, allowing you to adjust your aim before taking a final reading. Once precisely targeted, release the trigger and the last reading will be held for several seconds. The display shuts off after about 6 seconds to conserve power. The laser can be turned off if you don't want it to come on when you take a reading.

Manufacturers Information:

IRT206 Heat Seeker™ is a precision measuring device used for obtaining accurate temperatures instantaneously without having to contact the object being measured.

  • Rugged, ergonomic design
  • Backlit LCD display
  • Built-in laser sighting.
  • Range of -4° to 605°F
  • Switchable laser pointer
  • Distance-to-spot ratio of 8:1
  • Ultra low power consumption in shutdown mode
  • Extended long time measuring reliability
  • °F or °C selectable
  • Includes 9V Battery

The "spot measurement" of the device is about 8 to 1. This means that at 8 inches, it is measuring a spot roughly one inch in diameter. Therefore, measurements at a distance tend to be an average of the area. The most accurate readings come with measurements taken from a short distance. At four feet the measurement of an motor housing should be accurate. However the same reading taken at twenty feet would measure a spot of about 2.5 feet in diameter, reflecting the surrounding area's temperature along with the motor.

General Tool is marketing the Heat Seeker to the general public as a device to enable a homeowner to conduct their own home energy audit. A homeowner can use the heat seeker to locate energy hot spots, that is, locations where warm or cold air is leaking through your home's shell. It can be used to check heating ducts, windows, doors, rooftops, eaves, hot water pipes and more for energy loss.

The tool is useful for professionals in a variety of trades including automotive, HVAC, electrical, and home inspection. We found the Heat Seeker also to be useful for checking for overheating appliances, PCs, engines, motors as well as checking the temperature of our coffee, BBQ grill (though you still need a meat thermometer to get the internal temperature of your grill items) and in the kitchen it was much faster than a conventional thermometer for candy making (which requires very precise measurements - in case you didn't know).

Bottom line, we are very impressed with the Heat Seeker. Everyone we showed it too, thought it was a great tool, and fun too. At a street price around $50, it may not be a must have for every toolbox. However, we feel it can easily pay for itself if used to conduct a home energy audit. In some cases, the reduction in energy consumption in a single month could easily cover the cost of the Heat Seeker. Add to that the time saved making peanut brittle and we think we could hardly pass up owning one.

[Dec 2008]


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