Different Types of Thermometer and Their Uses

Different Thermometers

There are many different types of thermometer available in today's market. Before you make your purchase, it is vital that you are made aware of the range of products available to you. You should also understand and consider each type of thermometers suitability for various different uses. Complying with safe storage regulations in a catering establishment will require a very different thermometer to manufacturing of goods. Just as a generic office or workplace thermometer is not suitable for critical industrial measurements. At ATP we believe it is important to choose the right thermometer to suit your intended application. So let's take a look at the different thermometers we offer and their ideal uses.

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Probe Thermometers

Probe thermometers are easily one of the most common types of thermometer. They deliver instant temperature readings of foods, liquids and semi-solid samples. The probe is often equipped with a pointed tip making them ideal for penetration and immersion. They are ideal for use in the catering trade for hygiene testing, retail outlets, and laboratories. Two types are typically available. Fixed probes offer a pen like structure and are often cheaper and simpler to use. Wired probes are often more complex with a at least a 1 metre cable and extra features. Alarms, folding designs and a whole heap of features are available. If being used in a professional environment traceable calibration is something we highly recommend.

Buy a Probe Thermometer


  • Very easy to use with simple displays
  • Highly portable
  • Probes will vary in size, material, and manoeuvrability
  • Wired probes maximise utility without compromising accuracy
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

Infrared Thermometers

Infrared thermometers are one the go-to types of thermometer for non-contact measurement. The non-contact feature makes them the best tool for measuring extremely high or low surface temperatures. It is common for them to include a laser targeting system designed to show the centre of the measurement area. Out of all thermometers, they can be the most complex to use due to complexities such as spot-size and emissivity. We recommend you visit our Infrared page to learn more about them. They find use in places such as the automotive trade and air conditioning systems. Manufacturing processes that involve extreme temperatures also find them useful. Traceable calibration is recommended on these devices as well as a clear understanding of spot size and emissivity.

Buy an Infrared Thermometer


  • Non-contact allows extreme temperatures to be safely taken
  • Measurements are available at the pull of a trigger
  • Laser targeting systems allow accurate placement of the sensor
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

K-Type Thermocouples (K-Type Thermometers)

K-Type thermocouples are one of the more specialised and niche types of thermometer. They deal with extreme temperatures and are most common in laboratories and industry. This type of device caters for applications that need high precision. Their most notable feature is the ability to facilitate a range of interchangeable plug in probes. 'K-type' actually refers to the probe metal composition. We still refer to the unit as a K-Type as it is the most common type of probe. Each probe has a specific purpose. We divide these into the categories of air, liquid, penetration and surface probes. If you have several applications in one professional environment k-types are your best option. Models with multiple sensors allow comparative readings. We recommend you check out our thermocouple probes before purchasing. Due to the high precision needed with these devices we always recommend calibration.

Buy a K-Type Thermocouple


  • Wide temperature measurement ranges.
  • High accuracy
  • Fast measurement response times
  • Interchangeable probes suitable for every application
  • Dual sensor models allow comparative readings
  • Probes will vary in size, material, and manoeuvrability
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

Temperature Data Loggers

Temperature data loggers allow the recording of continuous temperature measurements. Once activated, they record the temperature at predetermined intervals and save it to memory. It is typical to download the data and view it on a graph but some devices display the data in real-time. Most devices are compatible with any pc, laptop or tablet. Their design allows them to track heat levels in critical areas where a constant temperature must exist. Common places to find them includes storage rooms, transportation, and laboratories. Data loggers are ideal if you’d like to submit regular records to management, auditors, or work colleagues. Types of thermometer that perform critical roles such as this should always be calibrated.

Buy a Temperature Data Logger


  • The recorded measurements can be attached to emails or reports
  • User settable alarm limits are normally included
  • A user may select the logging rate, start time, and logging mode[
  • The supplied analysis software provides a graphical display of data
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

Temperature Labels

Temperature indicator labels are not strictly a type of thermometer but boy are they useful. These labels are self-adhesive temperature proofing foils. They are ideal for use in processes which need to reach specific temperature values such as sterilization. Labels are great for a clear indication of when temperature values are exceeded. We sell a great deal of these to breweries for monitoring tanks during brewing. They are a relatively cheap, yet effective way to achieve permanent records of accuracy. Each foil segment on a label is sensitive to a different temperature and when exposed to its rating will turn black. The most common models are irreversible meaning they are a one time use once activated.

Buy Temperature Labels


  • Each segment has both °C and °F temperature values
  • Each label is oil and water resistant
  • The colour change is irreversible even after the object being measured cools down
  • After use, labels can be removed and stuck to reports
  • Fantastic for traceability reports

Dual Sensor Thermometers (Indoor Outdoor)

Indoor outdoor thermometers are unique due to how they record and display data. Unlike many other devices they contain two probes. These probes come in a variety of forms. The most common arrangement is an internal probe within the unit itself and an external probe sometimes connect via a wire. The external probe can be placed a long distance away from the unit. Some external probes can be wireless for a longer range. The display shows both readings at the same time allowing direct comparisons. A common use is as fridge freezer thermometers. They are also common in storage areas and classrooms. They are an inexpensive but more durable alternative to analogue devices. We recommend traceable accuracy on any device that gets used in a professional environment.

Buy Dual Sensor Thermometers


  • Allow comparison of different locations at the same time
  • Help identify external causes of internal temperature change
  • Each sensor reading is displayed on the main unit
  • The main unit can typically be wall or desk mounted
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

Analogue Thermometers

Analogue thermometers are often one the cheapest and most popular types of thermometer. They are ideal for use in the home or in non-specialist environments where traceable accuracy is not required. Most people associate analogue with liquid filled devices. But the term is inclusive of a range of Bi-Metal devices that operate using mechanical components. The visual display is often a dial or pointer or scale.

Buy Analogue Thermometers


  • Typically measure in both °C and °F
  • Can be immersed in liquids
  • They require very little maintenance
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

Thermal Imaging Cameras

Whilst not strictly a type of thermometer their use in measuring temperature earns thermal imaging cameras an honourable mention. Thermal image cameras allow immediate identification of hot and cold areas via thermal imagery. They are ideal for detecting hidden problems. Thermal imaging cameras have a variety of uses such as surveying buildings to find moisture and leaks. They can also identify energy loss and poor insulation and electrical faults.

Buy Thermal Imaging Cameras


  • Some cameras facilitate the download of imagery to PCs or Laptop computers.
  • The recorded data can then be attached to emails or reports, and is great for fault finding or traceability in controlled environments
  • Variable image display resolution
  • Some models include a correction for emissivity and reflected temperature
  • Variable measurement range, resolution and accuracy

Types of Thermometer Continued - Calibration

Besides choosing the right type of thermometer it is also important to understand when you need traceable accuracy. Traceable accuracy can be the difference between high standard of readings and wasting your time. The last thing you want to do it fail a health and safety audit or waste an industrial process. Make sure you are right the first time and learn about the calibration services available to you and your instruments..

When you’re choosing a thermometer it is important to understand how it works. Specifications such as temperature measurement range, resolution and accuracy affect how the thermometer operates. An appreciation of the maintenance required to achieve repeatable measurements is also recommend. Many environmental conditions can interfere with the instrumentation and should be given consideration. Inaccurate readings will affect the credibility of your future measurements and organisation.

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