How to Measure Temperature Remotely
In hostile atmospheres like toxic zones, very high temperature areas or remote locations, where objects are not amenable to direct temperature measurements, remote measurement techniques are deployed. In such applications, remote temperature measuring techniques are resorted to, and devices used include Infrared or Laser Thermometers as described below.
Infrared Thermometers or Laser Thermometers
These devices sense the thermal radiation, also called Blackbody Radiation, emitted by all bodies, and the emission depends on the physical temperature of the object whose temperature is to be sensed. Laser Thermometers, Non-contact Thermometers or Temperature Guns are names of variants that use lasers to direct the thermometer towards the object.
In these devices, a lens helps the thermal energy converge onto a detector, which in turn, generates an electrical signal, and drives a display after temperature compensation. The devices produce fairly accurate results and have a fast response, unlike direct temperature sensing, which is difficult, slow to respond to or not accurate enough. Induction heating, firefighting applications, cloud detection, monitoring of ovens or heaters are some typical examples of remote measurement of temperature. Other examples from the industry include hot chambers for equipment calibration and control, monitoring of manufacturing processes, and so on.
These devices are commercially available in a wide range of configurations, such as those designed for use in fixed locations, portable or handheld applications. The specifications, among others, mention the range of temperatures that the specific design is intended for, together with the level of accuracy (say, measurement uncertainty of ± 2°C).
For such devices, the most important specification is the DISTANCE-TO-SPOT RATIO (D:S) where D is the object’s distance from the device, and S denotes the diameter of the area whose temperature is to be measured. This implies that a measurement by the device concerned provides the average temperature over an area having a diameter S with the object placed at a distance D away from the device.
Some thermometers are available with a settable emissivity to adapt to the type of surface whose temperature is being measured. These sensors can thus be used for measuring the temperature of shiny as well as dull surfaces. Even thermometers without settable emissivity can be used for shiny objects by fixing a dull tape on the surface, but the error would be larger.
Commercially Available Types of Thermometers:
• Spot Infrared Thermometer or Infrared Pyrometer, for measurement of temperature at a spot on the object’s body
• Infrared Scanning Systems, for scanning large areas. This functionality is often realized by using a spot thermometer that aims at a rotating mirror, such as piles of material along a conveyor belt, cloth or paper sheets, etc. However, this cannot be termed a thermometer in the true sense.
• Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras or Infrared Cameras are the ones that generate a thermogram, or an image in two dimensions, by plotting the temperature at many points along a larger surface. The temperatures sensed at various points are converted to pixels, and an image is created. As opposed to the types described above, these are primarily dependent on processor- and software-for functioning. These devices find use in perimeter monitoring by military or security personnel, and monitoring for safety and efficiency.