ReptiFiles was provided a free ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer in exchange for an honest review, whether positive or negative. The review below is our honest, unbiased opinion, to the best of our ability.
Infrared is another name for heat energy, but it’s actually a low-intensity type of radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum. Wavelengths of energy between 780 nm and 1 mm are classified as Infrared, and are further subdivided into Infrared-A (780 nm-1.4 µm), Infrared-B (1.4-3 µm), and Infrared-C (3 µm-1 mm). All three types of infrared can be found naturally on Earth, but the Sun (our primary source of infrared) mainly produces Infrared-A and B. Like most wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum, Infrared is invisible to human eyes.
Infrared thermometers are also known as “temperature guns”. Most infrared thermometers are capable of detecting and measuring all three types of infrared radiation, enabling the user to measure the surface temperature of an object quickly from a distance. Infrared thermometers work by using a lens to focus infrared wavelengths coming from an object onto a detector, where the wavelengths create an electrical current that gets translated into a temperature readout.
There are many different types of infrared thermometers, with a variety of applications. Some must be used just a few inches away from the target object in order to provide an accurate readout, while more powerful devices can gather accurate measurements from several feet away. Medical-grade infrared thermometers are currently popular for checking human body temperature, but among reptile enthusiasts, infrared thermometers are used to check temperature gradients and basking surface temperatures.
The ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer is ReptiliaCare’s debut into the reptile industry. Started by two reptile lovers, ReptiliaCare’s goal is to create terrarium-specific devices with more features and better performance for keepers. According to one of the owners, James, they decided to start with an infrared thermometer because “while we were looking for an infrared thermometer for our own reptile needs…we realized there wasn’t one that was really what we wanted in terms of accuracy, features and size.”
Let’s see how this thing stacks up against the competition, shall we?
- 8:1 distance-spot ratio
- Temperature measurement range: -26 to 536°F (-32 to 280°C)
- Emissivity: 0.95 (fixed)
- Backlit LCD display
- Laser aiming guide
- Point and click functionality
- Automatic power off function
- Auto data hold function
- Pocket sized for convenience (3.85” x 2.2” x 1.15”)
- 2 x 1.5V AAA battery (not included)
- Lanyard included
- Comes with free digital “care guide”
As of 10/22/2020, the ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer holds a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, with 13 reviews.
The label is attractive, professional, and clearly implies the product’s intended use. The clear plastic packaging is secure, but easy to open with just your hands. Scissors make opening easier but are not necessary. The included instructions manual is helpful, informative, and clearly put.
The ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer certainly feels nice in the hand (for the record, I have TINY hands). It might be too small for someone with particularly large hands, but otherwise it’s a nicely ergonomic design, including anti-slip ridges on the sides.
The “SCAN” button is on the side, which I find very counterintuitive. I would rather have it on the same surface as the screen, preferably below the screen rather than above. However, the buttons are labeled, which makes it fairly straightforward to use even without reading the instructions.
The ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer also comes with a wrist loop/lanyard. It’s a nice touch, but probably unnecessary. I suppose it’s a nice precaution if you’re worried about dropping it, but the plastic housing seems sturdy enough. I wasn’t inclined to test this by dropping it repeatedly on a hard floor from various heights — feel free to do this yourself and comment with your results!
How do you gauge performance on an infrared thermometer? How do you know if the numbers it reads are accurate? As it turns out, there’s a pretty simple way to test an infrared thermometer’s calibration at home. It’s called the Ice Bath Test.
For this test I used the ThermoWorks ice bath calibration test instructions listed at https://www.thermoworks.com/infrared_tips_icebath_to_calibrate_infrared. The Reptilia Care Digital Infrared Thermometer was tested alongside the device which I have been using for at least the last 2 years: the Ekekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-Contact Digital Infrared Thermometer.
The Etekcity 774 has a distance-spot ratio of 12:1, so I held it 6” above the water to create a 1/2” spot. The Reptilia Care Digital Infrared Thermometer has a distance-spot ratio of 8:1 so I held it 4” above the water to create a 1/2” spot. The two devices were alternated between uses (10 uses each, 20 uses total) to help compensate for human error as well as potential changes in water temperature over time.
The ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer had an average reading of 25.5°F/-3.6°C over the course of 10 uses.
The Ekekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-Contact Digital Infrared Thermometer had an average reading of 31.5°F/-0.2°C over the course of 10 uses.
Both devices consistently measured lower than the water’s presumed actual temperature.
Assuming that the water temperature was indeed 32°F/0°C, the ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer proved inaccurate by an average of -6.5°F/-3.6°C and the Ekekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-Contact Digital Infrared Thermometer proved inaccurate by an average of -0.5°F/-0.2°C, which means that the Eketcity device seems to be more accurate in this test.
Please note that these results are from an informal, at-home test and are not intended to replace formal calibration testing.
The ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer actually didn’t work the first time I inserted the batteries and pressed the “SCAN” button. I consulted the user manual several times, popped the batteries in and out, checked the orientation, the whole nine yards. Eventually it turned on after I re-inserted the batteries again, but I still have no idea what I had been doing wrong before.
It’s easy enough to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius modes on this device, although I think it’s more straightforward to designate different buttons for each mode rather than trying to make one button perform multiple functions.
I consistently found that the layout of ReptiliaCare’s infrared thermometer definitely gets in the way of taking a measurement and seeing the screen at the same time. I can’t use the device and check the readout at the same time, which is not an issue with the temp gun design.
Although the “laser” guide (likely an LED, not an actual laser) can be turned off to conserve battery power, I recommend using it because otherwise you’ll have no idea where you’re actually reading the temperature unless you’re very close to the surface in question.
Since it’s supposed to be pocket-sized, I also checked the Reptilia Care Digital Infrared Thermometer’s pocket-friendliness in skinny jeans cut for women – the most unforgiving, restrictive pants of them all. Results: It did not fit in my front pocket, but it fit alright in my back pocket (it made a huge lump, if that matters to you).
What’s with the included “care guide”?
As advertised on the package, there is a free downloadable “care guide” that you can get with a code that it included on the product package. After you enter your name, email, and code, it gets sent to your email. I received the email after a few minutes.
Considering that reptile husbandry and care information is my main gig, I was VERY interested to see ReptiliaCare’s “care guide” and “habitat guide”. Since you’re here for a review on the infrared thermometer and not on ReptiliaCare’s content, I’ll keep it brief:
The ReptiliaCare Care Guide is not a species-specific care guide, but rather an introduction to basic principles of reptile lighting, heating, and a few other aspects of terrarium setup. While the intention behind this is clearly good, and it highlights some important points, it’s not easy to read, and some of the recommendations either illustrated or explicitly stated reflect an outdated approach to reptile husbandry. I feel that a new reptile keeper who reads this guide would likely come away from it either confused or with a misconception of what constitutes modern, high-quality reptile husbandry, so I can’t recommend it as a reliable source of information.
On the other hand, the ReptiliaCare Habitat Guide is an interesting resource that appears to be a simplified version of Dr. Frances Baines’ UV Tool. The information on Ferguson Zones, biomes, winter treatments, photoperiod, and microhabitats is quite valuable to helping reptile keepers of all stages better understand their reptiles’ basic habitat needs. However, I do wish that this guide contained scientific names alongside the common names, as common names alone can cause confusion.
Although I directly compared the ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer against my Etekcity Lasergrip 774 during the calibration test, in all fairness, it’s a somewhat unfair comparison, as Etekcity’s products are industrial in nature rather than specific to the reptile hobby. So let’s compare ReptiliaCare’s product with their direct competitors in the reptile niche: Zoo Med and Exo Terra.
Price information was gathered on October 26, 2020 for comparison purposes and is not a guarantee of cost. Cells left blank indicate that information is not available.
|ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer||Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Infrared Thermometer||Exo Terra Infrared Thermometer|
|$26.70 on Amazon||$10.72 plus shipping on Amazon||$19.20 on Amazon|
|Small, handheld design||Small, handheld design||Small, handheld design|
|2 buttons||2 buttons||2 buttons|
|Scan button on side||Scan button on front||Scan button on front|
|LCD screen display||LCD screen display||LCD screen display|
|LED red “laser” guide with toggle||LED red “laser” guide with toggle||LED red “laser” guide with toggle|
|Measures between -26 to 536°F (-32 to 280°C)||Measures between -28°F to 230°F (-33° to 110°C)|
|8:1 distance-spot ratio||1:1 distance-spot ratio||Recommended distance between sensor and object is 2.5-3”|
|Automatic shutoff after 20 seconds||Switches to standby after 15 seconds||Automatic shutoff after 15 seconds|
|Batteries not included||Includes 1 CR2032 battery||Includes 2 AAA batteries|
Things I Liked About the ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer:
- Instructions manual is well-laid out, informative, and helpful
- Labeled buttons
- Offers many of the same features you can find in other infrared thermometers
- Wide temperature range makes it useful around the house as well as in the terrarium
- Inclusion of educational material is a thoughtful touch
- “Laser” guide doubles as a pet toy — animals like to chase the light
Things I Didn’t Like About the ReptiliaCare Digital Infrared Thermometer:
- One button governs multiple functions
- Device shape and button arrangement prevents user from viewing readout while taking measurements
- Aiming is slightly awkward and counterintuitive
- Slightly inaccurate — consistently reads low by an average of 6.5°F
- Batteries not included, which I find weirdly negligent
Conclusion: I’ll Stick with My Etekcity, Thanks
ReptiFiles Rating: 2.5 stars
The Reptilia Care Digital Infrared Thermometer offers all of the standard features expected of a basic infrared thermometer, plus a nice wide range of use and an expanded distance-spot ratio. But it’s hindered by less-than-optimal ergonomics, lack of included batteries (which you really think would be part of the package, considering the price), and most of all, inaccuracy.
Consistently reading an average of 6.5°F/3.6°C too low doesn’t seem like much if you need to check your oven temperature, but it can be the difference between fresh and spoiled food for a refrigerator. Similarly, calibrating your reptile’s basking spot 6.5°F too warm probably won’t harm heat-loving species like bearded dragons and uromastyx, but it can absolutely harm the ones which are sensitive to heat, such as crested geckos and chameleons.
I would have preferred to see this product modeled after top-performing industrial equipment rather than using budget-motivated consumer brands as the standard to beat.
Overall I just felt underwhelmed by this product and can’t find a particular reason to recommend it. If you’re looking for a reptile-branded infrared thermometer that fits in your pocket, then yes, the ReptiliaCare is probably your best bet. But honestly, if you’re in the market for an infrared thermometer, you’re probably going to save money and get better performance from an industrial-grade model.