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Temp Gun Digital Infrared Thermometer Review

Digital Infrared Thermometer - Temp Gun

The Temp Gun PE-1 Digital Infrared Thermometer

by "Burn" for

More: Temp Gun Mini, PE-2 and PE-3 Review


The Temp Gun PE-1 is an infrared thermometer at a great price.

It's also lots of fun and useful too!

Use to measure tire temperatures, exhaust and head temperatures, or to find out if your radiator or oil cooler is working properly.


Owning a Temp Gun digital infrared thermometer is a two-for-one experience.

Everyone agrees that it's loads of fun, yet it's also is a very helpful diagnostic tool.

You'll probably think of dozens of uses for it, some serious and some just for grins.

For example, just for kicks I found that my dog's head seems to run a consistent 90.3 degrees, but her thighs only register 87.

The LCD screen on my laptop computer hits about 80 degrees and the keyboard is an uncomfortable 117 -- could that be due to the lightning strokes of my fingertips dancing across the keys?!

But I also found that the Temp Gun is a handy way to compare the thermal properties of winter motorcycling jackets.

I discovered that some winter jackets leak lots of heat, with a couple of mine measuring in the high 60's on the outside at the chest area, which means that too much heat is escaping past the "thermal" liner.

I discovered that by carefully choosing the fabrics and by layering what's underneath that I can greatly decrease the amount of heat that leaks through. You'll be amazed at how much heat leaks through certain garments.

Why a Digital Infrared Thermometer for Motorcycles?

Now that may be a frivolous use of the Temp Gun, but there is relevancy for motorcyclists.

By using the Temp Gun, I learned that my '84 BMW R100RS needs a carburetor adjustment. The right cylinder must be running lean, because the right side exhaust consistently runs about 51 degrees hotter than the left.

The Beemer's air-cooling system must work, because the cylinder heads only get up to about 147 degrees, but they jump about 40 degrees when the bike idles.

And its rear tire seems to consistently run about 20 degrees hotter than the front.

The Temp Gun is yet another wonder of the micro-age, a digital infrared thermometer. It comes in a nice metal box, and includes a wrist strap, a built-in metal stand and an instruction guide.

Pro Exotics even throws in a spare battery, which is a gift, because they claim a 40 hour battery life for the Temp Gun in continuous use.

A recent "Tech Q&A" in a magazine got me interested in digital infrared thermometers.

The author said that a digital infrared thermometer is a "must-have for any motorcycle service department or serious home mechanic".

He gave several good examples of using an infrared thermometer; for example, diagnosing a dead or poorly running cylinder, checking when the radiator fan kicks in to make sure it's working at the proper temperature, tire temperatures and more.

But, with all due respect, he had a slip of the pen. He calls them "laser thermometers", but the laser has nothing to do with it, other than to act as a high-tech pointing device (that also can at least double the cost of the thermometer).

I'm certain he knows that it's the infrared sensor that measures the temperature, not the laser.

This is a common misconception.

Sure, it's cool to wow your friends by pointing a laser at an exhaust pipe or tire to get a reading, but it's the infrared sensor that's doing all the work.

Digital Infrared Thermometer parts

Also, infrared thermometers are more accurate when they're closer to the part being measured.

So if you're standing 3 meters away just to look cool with the laser beam, you're probably getting a very false reading anyway.

Think of the infrared sensing capability as being similar to a flashlight beam; it gets wider with distance.

If you want a reading of, for example, your rear tire during a track day, you wouldn't hold the thermometer 60 cm (2 feet) away from the tire.

The result would be a combined reading that would probably include the center of the tire, the edges of the tire, the brakes, wheel, exhaust, and who knows what else?

The point is that the laser function only adds cost. You can buy the Temp Gun, sans laser, for 35 bucks (plus shipping), which is a steal.

The Temp Gun

The Temp Gun is a tiny device, measuring 18 mm thick, 37 mm wide and 68 mm tall (0.7" by 1.46" by 2.67"). It only weighs 32 grams, and easily fits in most any pocket.

It has a huge range of -27.4 degrees F to +420 degrees F (or -33 to 215.5 degrees C when using the Temp Gun Celsius scale).

To take a basic temperature reading, press and hold the gray button.

I found that it takes a second or two for the reading to "settle down" to a steady number. But the Temp Gun has several neat features that go beyond basic temperature reading.

Besides easy conversions from Fahrenheit to Celsius, the Temp Gun can be set to measure either a minimum or maximum temperature.

For example, when set to the maximum mode, the Temp Gun will measure the absolute hottest point in a range of things that you've pointed it to. It also has a "lock mode", which allows it to display a continuous temperature reading for up to 60 minutes.

Digital infrared thermometer

The LCD screen of the Temp Gun tells you which mode you're in.

It also has a little battery life display.

The Temp Gun shuts off automatically after 15 seconds, which is a nice feature to help improve battery life.

There are other error messages that let you know if the temperature is outside the range of the Temp Gun's sensor and more.


The Temp Gun is fun to have around the house, but it's also a serious diagnostic tool that's especially useful for motorcycle repair.

Temperature readings can be very helpful and almost the only way that some diagnoses can be made.

Since motorcycles are so compact, it's hard to determine temperatures without a remote sensor like the Temp Gun.

It's loaded with easy to use features, comes in a great little storage case, and even includes a spare battery. Factor in the one year guarantee, and it's a buy!

Tempgun Model PE-1

This is the new model Temp Gun, replacing the original.

The Model PE-1 weighs only 46 grams (1.25 oz.) with the battery, and has a new ergonomic shape that's more comfortable to hold than the original.

The Model PE-1 is 94 mm long (3-5/8"), 36 mm wide (1-3/8") and only 19 mm (3/4") thick in the middle.

The two main buttons that control the readings are located directly under the user's thumb, and seem to make the new model easier to use than the original.

Temp Gun Model PE-1 digital infrared thermometer

The range of the PE-1 is -27 to 428 degrees F (-32.8 to 220 Celsius).

It also has an infrared accuracy of plus or minus 2% of the reading or 2 degrees Celsius, whichever is greater.

The claimed battery life (CR2032 battery) is 40 hours of continuous use, and it shuts off automatically after being idle for 15 seconds.

Included in the package are the Temp Gun with battery and a hand strap. The PE-1 is guaranteed for one year from the date of purchase.

Like the original, the PE-1 is lots of fun; you'll find all sorts of uses for it.

It records in either Celsius or Fahrenheit, and it has a minimum and maximum mode which allow the PE-1 to be waved over an object to record the minimum or maximum temperature.

This feature is very useful when visual access is limited. The PE-1 also has a "Lock" mode to hold the last recorded temperature

The LCD display has error messages when needed that let you know when the temperature is beyond the range of the unit.

Also, it warns you when the temperature change is too drastic (in which case the PE-1 must be stabilized to the ambient temperature before continuing).

A battery life icon is also displayed whenever the Temp Gun is being used.

Pro Exotics also offers an optional aluminum case for the PE-1 that includes a handy belt retractor and a spare battery and a Model PE-2 and PE-3 are also available.

The PE-2 unit costs $45.00 and adds a red sighting laser and has a temperature range to 482F (250C).

The PE-2 will also have an adjustable emissivity setting for precise calibration, and a tighter infrared "cone" distance to spot ratio (D:S) of 8:1 (e.g., at 8 inches it will read an area 1 inch in diameter).

The PE-3 will be the "top of the line" digital infrared thermometer at $100.00. It will have the widest temperature range, from -76F to +1000F and will include a thermocouple that covers -83F to +2500F (-63.9 to 1371 Celsius).

The Temp Gun PE-3 also has a red sighting laser that can be turned on and off and a backlit LCD.

The PE-3 has adjustable emissivity; it can provide average temperature readings; a High/Low temperature alarm; and it can calculate the difference between high and low readings.

More Temp Guns: Temp Gun Mini, PE-2 and PE-3 Review

Master Listing of All wBW Motorcycle Product Reviews

wBW Review: Temp Gun Digital Infrared Thermometer
Manufacturer: Temp Gun List Price:  $25.00-$100.00
Colors: Black Made In: China
Review Date: January 2005
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