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Author Topic: Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer - Review  (Read 8860 times)

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Phyllomedusa

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Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer - Review
« on: November 02, 2012, 01:59:53 PM »
Thanks to Conrad I had the ability to test the Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer.
IR Thermometers are not necessary for all of us, but can be very helpful. The Fluke is designed for high Temperature ranges (up to 650°C) and tough environments (IP54 and Drop tested). Certainly the price is higher than a cheap Chinese model, but the quality is very good as well.

I received the Fluke 62Max+ well packed. About the package of the IR Thermometer itself:
My first impression when I saw it online was that It’s one of those plastic packages you need to cut open and twist around to get it open. When I finally had it in my hands that was changed to a positive. It is indeed a clear plastic display package, but you can fold it open. So you get the meter out easily and you can keep the package (if you may think of reselling it one day).
A little minus is about the screen protector. It is imprinted with the display digits, so you have to peel it off and can’t keep it on the display for protection.
All in all the packing seems rugged enough, but one of the strong marketing points of the Fluke 62Max+ is it’s robustness anyway. So you wouldn’t need to worry here when it is getting shipped to your address.



In the package there is the Thermometer itself, an energizer AA battery (the Fluke only needs one AA to run), a printed manual, a warranty card and a clip for the meter to attach it to your belt or tool bag.
That means the meter is ready to go when you receive it. I would have preferred a case or holster for the thermometer, but as Fluke even doesn’t ship their top-end multimeters with a protective bag, this wasn’t a surprise for me.
About the handbook: Well, I am a bit mixed about that. It is a big bonus that you actually get a printed manual and not just a CD or Mini-CD with a PDF. It seems a lot of manufacturers go back to real hardcopies and I highly appreciate that! Most of the manual is described by pictograms which is always considered to be the best way to teach people. There are a few annotations and not every image really makes clear what they want to tell you. For example I still "guess" by Trig in the menu, they mean an auto power off. Next point would the warning about the emissivity, which is right, but leaves you a bit alone in the manual. In a pictogram it is shown how to set the emissivity, but for new owners it isn’t really clear what that function does and why it is so important. They also give you a warning to look up the emissivity in the table, but there is no table supplied in the manual. So there could be some improvement on the manual.
Aside from all that I find it really nice to get a quality battery delivered with the meter. I received a lot of entry-level equipment (well, the Fluke is certainly not in that level) just with with some cheap batteries.


So let’s get started with that fellow. The 62Max+ feels really good in my hands. It feels rugged on nothing makes a noise when I twist and press on the case. So the Thermometer is from very good built quality. The case is "rubberized" (or made from an Elastomer) and so the Thermometer sits securely in your hand, even with gloves. Well, personally I try to avoid gloves as much as possible, but sometimes you really need them/should wear them to keep your hands protected. It is good to know that you can then still rely on the Fluke and set it up with your gloves on.
I really don’t have very big hands either and so I often have "problems" to keep something gripped in my hand, as these are developed for bigger hands. One example: I need to stretch my fingers quite a lot when I want to hold my Multimeter in  my palm. That can become uncomfortable after a while. With the Fluke there is no such problem. It really feels like designed for your hand. I like that a lot.
As it is some kind of gun-grip, it is also designed to be used one handed. There is no problem of reaching the buttons under the lcd with just your thumb.

The laser marks are two points which define the diameter of the area that is measured by the 63Max+ at the current distance. So with increasing distance the diameter will increase too, what is not that surprising. The lens has a 12:1 magnification that mean, you’ll have an 1cm sample-spot at a distance of 12cm.
The Thermometer is rated as IP54 which means it will be protected from splash-water. So you can use it in the rain, but avoid diving with it. Fluke also claims it can handle a fall from a height of 3m. I haven’t tried that, but I don’t doubt that either.
Due to a sealing, the battery compartment lid is a bit tight. So if you have unscrewed it, you need your fingernails to peel out the cover.

I think we had enough of the case right now and I’ll switch to the LCD.
Most of the LCD can be seen clearly and is in big letters; well, at least the Temperature is. The secondary digits like Min, Max or Avg temperature are much smaller and squeezed into the lower right corner of the LCD. These could have been better for users with weak eyes, but you can read it.. On the other side, the contrast is very good and you can easily read the Temperature. The back-light is pretty bright and gray with a slight blue tint. In dark area it is very good to read and had a nice contrast to the red laser marks.



Phyllomedusa

  • Guest
Re: Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer - Review
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2012, 02:11:32 PM »
About the functions. There are several highlights and things you need to know when you operate the Fluke 62Max+. You can just take a sample and see the measurement or you can keep the trigger pressed and scan an area. The display will update at about three readings per second. After the scan you can use the “SEL” Button to select between the secondary display.
It can show you the Minimum, Maximum, Average and Difference Temperature. The difference Temperature will be calculated from the first sampled temperature. These mode may be helpful to find hot or cold spots or check the difference on your area.

What I dislike here, is that these values have no decimal place and it doesn’t seem to be rounded in the right way. For example. I measure around my room and see 18.8°C as Maximum temperature, but the thermometer shows me just 18°C as Max. At least they could round that to a whole degree. At the minimum you don’t have that problem, as 14,3 gets down to 14°C as Min. That also means the “Diff” mode is not that accurate as it is calculated by the Min and Max values. These are better if you expect big changes in the temperature. For example: checking for non-working cylinders on a motor ( no burn means much less temperature).
My second complain here is about the auto-power off. After 5s the meter will shut down and the only way to bring it back on is to press the trigger again (which will erase your readings). So you need to hurry and if you have to note down the measurements you’ll have to remember them or be quick.

You can also set a Min/Max Alarm on the Thermometer. That could be handy if you check for overheating parts and so on. As this works quite nice it could be much better, as it will only show you the Alarm text blinking. If you stay within the defined error it shows you the Alarm text as stable. Fluke could have solved this better, like with a flashing back light or flashing the digits or a bigger font. The alarm in this way could easily be overseen.

The two laser marks it uses to show you the sampled area are nice and bright. You can easily see them even from higher distances. The Laser itself is described as “rotating laser” by Fluke. I was curious what they mean by that, but that only means that the marks are in a vertical pattern when you take a reading close to your object and these move to a horizontal pattern when you measure objects far away. I think this should aid you in defining the sampled area when measuring in close distance, as the Vertical aligned dots won’t be hidden by the housing of the Thermometer when you take a look on it.
Now to a bigger part: The emissivity! You can set the emissivity on the Thermometer, as a lot of entry-level IR-Thermometers have a fixed emissivity of 0,95.

What does this mean?! Let’s talk a bit physics here:
If you have an object that will absorb all incoming radiation (for example Infrared rays) and will also emit all of this absorbed radiation again (no loss of Energy), this  object is called a black-body, as it would appear indeed black. This black-body is more a theoretical approach as everything in nature has some kind of reflectance and loss, but it is the cornerstone of Thermography and Remote Sensing today. This black body has an emissivity of 1.0 (or 100%). The emissivity describes the likeliness of an material compared to a black-body. Different materials will be more or less behaving like a black-body, you may get that a black painted wall will be more like a black-body than a white painted wall. Therefore the white wall has a lower emissivity than a black wall. When you measure the black wall and the white wall, and both of them would actually have the same temperature, you will measure a lower Temperature of the white wall. The emissivity depends on the color and the material of the object you measure.
As I said, the manual gives you a warning about this, but there is no data provided.
Some materials you may need to know:

Glass                          0.92-0.94
Granite                       0.45
Gypsum                      0.85
Cotton Cloth                0.77
Anodized Aluminium    0.77
Bare Aluminium          0.07
Polished Brass             0.03
Oxydized Brass            0.6
Carbon                       0.81
Cast Iron                    0.6-0.7
Smooth Ice                0.966
Concrete                    0.85
Copper                       0.023-0.052
Rusted Iron                0.61

Take a look here http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/emissivity-coefficients-d_447.html or google for a table. The data is out there. Just keep in mind that the reading on a shiny (polished) and bright object will be much lower than it’s actual temperature. Instead of guessing you have the ability to correct for this factor with your Fluke 62Max+. By the way...the same applies to Thermal Imaging Systems.


One thing that I was thinking about was what will the meter show me when I exceed the measuring  range of -30°C to 650°C. Would it give me a false reading or a warning. And indeed, the Thermometer is designed in that way, that it gives you an error (dashes instead of digits) when your Temperature is lower or higher than the measuring range. I tried this with liquid nitrogen and a glowing oven. So the meter is safe if you keep the material in mind.
I don’t have a IR Calibrator so I couldn’t really check if the stated accuracy was right, but the reading do make sense if I check it inside with the room temperature and some cloth. As it is designed for high temperature ranges, it should be fine I guess.
And please keep in mind that you’ll measure the surface temperature and not the ambient air temperature with an IR Thermometer. I often saw people complaining about false reading in the air. It was never built for that purpose.

Phyllomedusa

  • Guest
Re: Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer - Review
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2012, 02:20:28 PM »
To sum it up:
The Fluke 62Max+ is a rugged and reliable companion. It feels solid and stays securely in your hands, even with gloves. About the control buttons they could be a bit wider spaced, when you have big gloves and the Display could have better solutions for the secondary reading.
Also the Manual could be better and the firmware could be better, with an adjustable Auto Power off and decimal digits for the Min/Max functions.

Can I recommend it?
If you seek for something robust enough which will survive for years in your tool bag, this is the right choice. The price of about 140Euro, is surely much higher than those Chinese models which you can get online, but Fluke is known about their high in quality products.
That means, if you want an IR Thermometer to just play around, this one may not be the best choice, but if you need accurate measurements on all surfaces and want to take the Thermometer with you all the time, only such professional solutions are the worth getting ones.
Those are rugged and powerful tools for professionals or amateurs.

If you don’t need the high Temperature range, accuracy or narrow beam you can get the brother Fluke 62Max which has an 10:1 optics, 1,5(%)(°C) accuracy and -30 to 500°C Range. In my opinion the 20 Extra bucks for the Max+ are well spent!

http://www.conrad.de/ce/de/product/102268/Fluke-FLUKE-62-MAX-PLUS-Infrarot-Thermometer-IR-Thermometer-Optik-12-1-30-bis-650-C

+Accuracy
+Selectable Emissivity
+Min/Max/Avg Function for Wide Area Scans
+only one AA Battery needed
+Bright Laser marks and Display
+Built quality
+IP54 rated
+easy to open Package
+Ready to run
+Yellow and Easy to find in your tool bag.... OK, it’s Fluke’s CD

-Short auto-power off time
-Manual could be better
-missing emissivity table
-Min/Max/Avg has  no decimal digits

There will be a follow up with some real usage scenarios, for example car engine temperature measurements and additional performance tests.

My thanks to Conrad electronic again for supplying me with the 62Max+ for a test.
Comments and statements are welcome.


I may need to evaluate and a video camera soon...

Online Kiriakos GR

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Re: Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer - Review
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2012, 12:57:20 AM »
This is a very interesting product evaluation.
There is valuable feedback hidden behind this words,
which are coming from the mouth (keyboard) of one young professional with significant experiences.

Other than the plus and minus of the design, your evaluation offers also information's about the basics of Thermography, which gives to your text double value.

I am aware of how time consuming was to prepare this evaluation, and I like to congratulate you about it.

 
Comments ? I do not have any, but I do have one question for you.
Lets say that Fluke are adding two AA batteries in it, and extents the sleep mode to two minutes,
would you feel happy about the fact that now it would have an larger in diameter grip point?

 
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Phyllomedusa

  • Guest
Re: Fluke 62Max+ IR Thermometer - Review
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2012, 09:30:39 AM »
No, I wouldn't be too happy if the grip would be getting much larger. The use of just one AA is great!

Well, if the APO would be selectable or at least at 15s instead of 5s, I doubt it wouldn't drain the battery much more. The lasers, backlight and IR circuit eat most of the energy. If the run time would be running down to 6-7hours instead of 8, It wouldn't mind that.
It can be kind of annoying if you scan an area and then have to do it again because the APO kicked in and shut down the Thermometer.
Another solution would be a kind of wake-up on the "Up" button after a scan.  The buttons are fairly good protected/recessed or just an APO-Off which can be set in the menu.

 

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