After researching dozens of the best handheld thermal imagers over the last three years, we have come up with a list of six top selections. This article covers the highlight features, and pros and cons of each option to help you figure out the right one for your needs. Read on!
Here are the best handheld thermal imagers you can buy in 2023:
- Budget Option: Klein Tools TI250
- Widest Temperature Range: HIKMICRO B1L
- Quick Results: Hti-Xintai HT-18
- Lightweight: PerfectPrime IR0005
- Long Runtime: Seek Thermal RQ-AAA
- Fast Recharging: UNI-T UTi260B
|6 Best Handheld Thermal Imagers|
|Klein Tools TI250|
Widest Temperature Range
|Seek Thermal RQ-AAA|
Budget Option: Klein Tools TI250
- Accurate and reliable
- Easy to use - Clear display
- Wide range of temperature – high and low temp alarms from -4 to 752 degrees F
- Not react fast
The Klein Tools TI250 is one of the most inexpensive handheld thermal imagers that we found. But different from other counterparts, this model isn't a slouch at all.
It's easy to use, sensitive to heat and has some customizable features. In addition, it can save images. The three color scheme options are functional enough to work for everything in the kitchen or to find thermal leaking issues around the house.
The price is hard to beat, and the clear display adds to its value.
|Klein Tools TI250 Specifications|
3.18 x 3.11 x 1.03 inches
-4 to 752-Degree Fahrenheit (-20 to 400-Degree Celsius)
0.10 to 0.99
high and low temp alarms from -4 to 752 degrees F
The Klein Tools TI250 is the best budget option for price-conscious shoppers.
Widest Temperature Range: HIKMICRO B1L
- The most versatile model – the extra-wide temperature ranges from -4°F to 1022°F
- Able to work at night - LED work light
- Support image-sharing - Wi-Fi connectivity and the exclusive Viewer App
- A bit difficult to identify what object you are looking at
At a higher price range, the HIKMICRO B1L is equipped with many belts and whistles - such as LED work light, warning light, audio alarm, Wi-Fi connectivity, and the exclusive Viewer App for image-sharing.
These add-ons allow the device to work well in more conditions and meet more requirements, whether it's for mechanical systems, professional inspections, HVAC troubleshooting, or missing insulation.
But what we appreciate the most is the extra-wide temperature ranges from -4°F to 1022°F, along with fast 25Hz frame rates and 19,200 pixels of resolution for superb image quality.
|HIKMICRO B1L Specifications|
12.05 x 7.09 x 4.61 inches
160 x 120; 19200 Pixels
-4°F to 1022°F (-20°C to 550°C).
Max (±2 °C, ±2%)
the extra-wide temperature ranges from -4°F to 1022°F
LED work light
Wi-Fi connectivity and the exclusive Viewer App
If you’re in search for a handheld thermal imager with the widest temperature range, the our favorite pick is the HIKMICRO B1L
Quick Results: Hti-Xintai HT-18
- Quick-scan performance
- Offer a full range of imagery with great clarity - 35200 pixels of resolution & a 3.2
- No option to capture a raw TIFF of just the exact thermal pixels
- The battery life could be longer
Our tester team was pleasantly surprised by how fast this handheld thermal imager responded. Compared to other counterparts in the same price range, this model performs quicker scans, making it a fantastic option for quick wall scanning.
The Hti-Xintai HT-18 has 35200 pixels of resolution and a 3.2" display for a full range of imagery with great clarity. Along with that, it offers 5 palettes to work flexibly in different environments or situations.
We pretty liked its gun-shape design with an ergonomic handle, which feels comfortable to hold at all angles.
Particularly, this device includes a 3 GB memory card.
|Hti-Xintai HT-18 Specifications|
8.8 x 3.6 x 3.3 inches
220 x 160
-20 ℃ to +300 ℃(-4°F to 572°F)
Adjustable from 0.01 to 1.0
± 2.5% or ± 2.5℃
35200 pixels of resolution & a 3.2" display
including a 3 GB memory card
The Hti-Xintai HT-18 delivers the quickest results out of the models we test, making it a good choice for quick wall scanning.
Lightweight: PerfectPrime IR0005
- Effortless to move around & ensure highly accurate results – lightweight and portable design
- Easy to use while you’re wearing gloves – extra-large buttons
- The temperature range isn’t wide
This handheld thermal imager from PerfectPrime is a great choice for professional applications. It features 5 palettes, 35°×26° FOV/shortest focal lengths, a 9Hz image frequency, and 220 x 160 IR pixels.
Moreover, it has a 4GB built-in memory card.
But the best part is, it weighs only 7.2 ounces - which is super-lightweight compared to other options out there. Combining with the portable design and ergonomic handle, it is easy to move around during the whole building inspection and ensures great accuracy in your results.
As a nice bonus, the device has large buttons so that you can easily press them while wearing gloves.
|PerfectPrime IR0005 Specifications|
5.71 x 1 x 3.23 inches
35,200 Pixels; 220 x 160
-4°F to 572°F (-20-300°C)
lightweight and portable design
The PerfectPrime IR0005 is super-lightweight and easy to use, making it our favorite option for professional applications.
Long Runtime: Seek Thermal RQ-AAA
- Ideal for complex jobs - 11+ hours/charge of runtime
- Ultra-high image clarity - 76800 pixels’ resolution
- Very useful - Many advanced features
- Not suitable for inspecting tight areas or viewing wildlife
- Wish it had a longer range
The Seek Thermal RQ-AAA distinguishes itself from the rest for its rechargeable battery which can last 11+ hours per full charge depending upon how often the LED light is used. That makes this handheld thermal imager a consistent performer for complex jobs.
Its 76800 pixels’ resolution is also our favorite, which helps deliver higher image clarity than lower-end models so that you can detect and fix problems faster at home or on the job site.
Some other notable features are the auto & span/level control, 9 color palettes, spot temperature, and a 300-lumen LED work light.
|Seek Thermal RQ-AAA Specifications|
1.5 x 2 x 2 inches
320 x 240
-40F° to 626°F
+/- 4-5 degrees
11+ hours/charge of runtime
76800 pixels’ resolution
the auto & span/level control, 9 color palettes, spot temperature, etc.
If you plan to use your handheld thermal imager for complex jobs, then the Seek Thermal RQ-AAA is your best bet because it offers the longest runtime.
Fast Recharging: UNI-T UTi260B
- Fast-charging - Type-C USB cable
- Rugged & well-built - dustproof, waterproof, and drop-resistant structure & a slip-free rubber cover
The UNI-T UTi260B stands out from the rest for its Type-C USB cable that supports fast charging. You can charge it using power banks, which is convenient to use outdoors.
But that's not all.
The entire structure of this device is specially built to be dustproof, waterproof, and drop-resistant. It also comes with a slip-free rubber cover.
It also packs many practical features, no gimmicks. For example, programmable auto-shutoff, instant image transmission, PC analysis software, sync multi-points, and more. The included micro SD card provides 16 GB of storage.
|UNI-T UTi260B Specifications|
11.02 x 6.54 x 4.57 inches
49152 Pixels; 256x192
-15℃~550℃ / 5℉~1022℉
±2℃ or ±2% whichever is greater
Type-C USB cable
dustproof, waterproof, and drop-resistant structure & a slip-free rubber cover
a lot of advanced features + a 16GB micro SD card
If you’re willing to invest in a high-quality and reliable handheld thermal imager that supports fast charging, the UNI-T UTi260B is our top choice.
How To Choose The Best Handheld Thermal Imager?
One of the most important features of handheld thermal imagers is resolution. It indicates the number of pixels that the device can fill in a frame.
A basic rule of thumb is, that the higher the resolution, the more detailed the image is going to be.
Determining your purpose of use is helpful when considering the resolution of a handheld thermal imager.
- For a night dive, you should pick one with over 384 x 288 of resolution
- For home use, a 220 x 160 thermal resolution is good enough.
- For building inspections, opt for a 320 x 240 thermal resolution
Emissivity is a measure of how efficiently an object emits infrared radiation and plays a huge role in helping the device measure temperature reliably.
This spec is either adjustable between 0.1 and 1 or fixed - typically at 0.95. The choice is up to the type of material and the number of materials that you want your handheld thermal imager to work on.
Similar to the two previous factors, the choice of temperature ranges depends on your purpose of use.
A basic rule of thumb is the wider the temperature ranges, the more versatile the device.
For checking the temperatures of humans and/or animals, it's fine to opt for one with narrow temperature ranges.
For building inspections, air leaks, moisture levels, electrical faults, etc., you should choose a model with a wider temperature range. The minimum should be -40℉ to 626℉.
Which Brands Make The Best Handheld Thermal Imager?
Founded in 1857, Klein Tools is probably the longest US company in the electrical and telecommunications industries. They are also the best on the market in terms of quality and durability.
Although HIKMICRO was founded recently (in 2016), they have had 11 international branches, more than 600 employees, and 73 patents. Moreover, the company earned ISO9001 certification in 2018.
It's not exaggerating to say HIKMICRO is a top provider of thermal imaging equipment at the current.
PerfectPrime is another good brand in the thermal product industry. They are known for providing products that stay in line with advanced technology plus top customer service. They also have teams of top international experts.
What is the difference between thermal imagers and infrared cameras?
The difference between thermal imagers and infrared cameras is the kind of wavelength IR energy that they use.
While thermal imagers use mid- or long wavelength IR light, the infrared cameras use short wavelength IR light.
Besides, thermal imagers only detect differences in heat, and they are passive. Infrared cameras can light up an area of interest, and they are active.
Which is better: FLIR or SEEK?
SEEK sensor is better than FLIR because it doubles the FLIR’s resolution at 320x240 pixels. But in terms of the price, FLIR is more affordable.
Can a phone camera be used for thermal imaging?
Yes, you can.
To turn a phone camera into a thermal imaging camera, you can either use a thermal app download or remove the IR filter.
How far can a thermal imager see?
It depends on the spot size ratio. For example, if your thermal imager has a spot size ratio of 18.62:16000, that means the device can measure a 18.62 mm spot from 16 meters away.
How long do thermal imagers last?
On average, thermal imagers last 1-2 years.
With an avalanche of handheld thermal imagers available on the market, our team has narrowed down your search by researching and testing dozens of options during the past years. All of the six picks in this review are the best handheld thermal imagers that we found, so you can rest assured to bring them home. Don’t forget to visit our blog for more informative articles relating to this topic. Thanks for reading!