HoldPeak HP-981B Laser Infrared Thermometer Review

HP-981B thermometer 9


The HoldPeak HP-981B Laser Infrared Thermometer was kindly provided to me by HoldPeak free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. No additional compensation was given in exchange for posting this article on my blog.

The HoldPeak HP-981B Laser Infrared Thermometer is available in the UK from HoldPeak Fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £13.98 with free P&P for Amazon Prime Members. In the US the HP-981B is available from HoldPeak Fulfilled By Amazon.com at a cost of $17.62 with free P&P for Amazon Prime Members. (Prices correct at time of posting).


To enlarge an image and view its description, please click on the image.


I have to confess I’ve been looking at non contact thermometers for a while now to aid me with reviews of such products as chargers and power banks to detect any heat build up during prolonged use. While my power monitor works well at detecting efficiency simply stating “it feels warm to the touch” is neither professional nor an accurate means of comparison.

While many may perceive the devices a tool for trade use they are in fact useful beyond the engineering / science applications that they were originally designed for. Granted the highly accurate and rugged devices aimed at the trade sector still cost a small fortune in recent years, ever more affordable versions have become available such as the HoldPeak HP-981B.

Many consider such budget devices as a toy or a gimmick, while they may not be as durable or accurate as their trade counterparts they are still far from being just a toy. In fact, during my testing the HP-981B help me confirm a fault with a storage heater that I had suspected for some time, essentially paying for itself in a matter of minutes.


The HoldPeak HP-981B Laser Infrared Thermometer is supplied with a retail styled cardboard box bearing product information, specifications and illustrations.


Inside the box the device is sealed within a clear plastic bag and lose in the bottom of the box is an illustrated information leaflet in clear well written English.


The device comes supplied with a rectangular 9v battery that is located within the battery compartment. It is no connected and it is sealed in a layer of plastic that will require removing prior to connecting.


Overall measurements of the device taken at its greatest points are as follows…

17cm high, 8cm long and 4.25cm wide and it weighs exactly 150g with the supplied battery installed.

The grip measures 108mm tall and 30.6mm wide. In the middle the grip measures 36.11mm deep, at the base is a lip to prevent your hand slipping away and this measures 44.37mm deep. The trigger at its greatest point protrudes by 10mm measuring 10.03mm wide and 23.43mm tall with a contoured shape to fit your index finger.


The LCD display measures 23.19mm x 19.88mm, the centre button measures 9.21mm x 7.32 and the buttons located either side measure 7.54mm x 5.58mm. It should be noted that the button measurements are far from 100% accurate as they are made from rubber and a little squishy.



Temperature range: -30c to 450c (-22f to 842f).
Accuracy -30c to 0c: +/- 3%
Accuracy 0c to 100c: +/- 2%
Accuracy >100c: +/- 3%
Response time: 500msec
Spectral response: 8-14um
Emissivity: 0.95
Operating temperature: 0c to 60c
Relative humidity: 10%-95% RH non condensing
Storage temperature: -20c to 60c
Battery life: 12 hours
Distance to spot ratio: 8:1

Additional features: Laser target, data hold, back light, auto power off and Celsius or Fahrenheit readout.


Please take care when using this device, it contains a laser and can seriously damage someone’s eyesight that can result in temporary or even permanent blindness. When using the device to take readings from reflective surfaces care and consideration should be taken not to accidentally reflect the laser into someone’s eyes.



The device is very simple to use, simply hold down the trigger and it begins to boot up and within 2 seconds starts taking readings from the surface aimed at. For as long as the trigger is held down it continues to take and display temperature readings. When the trigger is released the last temperature reading taken continues to be displayed on screen for approximately 8 seconds before it switches itself off.


On the rear of the device below the LCD screen there are 3 buttons. The button on the left enable or disables the laser pointer, enabling the laser helps to ensure accuracy and readings can be taken with it switched off.


The center button changes between Celsius or Fahrenheit readouts on the LCD and the right button switches the green backlight on the display on and off.


The battery compartment is located within the handle of the device and it is accessed via a small recess on either side of the handle. This can be rather tricky to access as you cannot simply pop one side, then the other, both sides have to be pulled away at the same time.


The easiest way to open the compartment is to place your thumbs either side of the trigger and your index fingers on the rear edge of the grip so you are holding the device in a dual pincer grip. Then, with your fingernails of your middle figures push the battery compartment flap away.

The build quality is perhaps not the devices strong point. The trigger is a little wobbly and rattles, and the rear panel containing the LCD and buttons while secure can be moved by hand indicating that it isn’t perhaps as secure as it should be. As long as handled, stored and used with care there really isn’t anything to worry about, but it clearly isn’t designed to be used day in day out within a workplace environment.

My first test with the device was pointing it at my FireAngel CO2 alarm that has a thermometer feature. The CO2 alarm indicated a room temperature of 21c and the HP-981B detected a surface temperature on the alarm near its probe of 21.9c.


The next test was in our fridge, a thermometer in the fridge indicated a temperature of 5c. The HP-981B detected a temperature of 5c on a plastic carton of milk located in the door and a temperature of 4.7c to 5.1c for a plastic tub of butter located on the top shelf. Rather interestingly the back surface of the fridge gave a reading of -1.8c and the front left hand side of the fridge gave a reading of just over 8c.


It would appear our fridge, perhaps isn’t working as well as it should, something I have suspected as there is ice build-up on the rear yet the thermometer inside reads 5c. Clearly a problem with insulation on the sides of the fridge and perhaps time to consider a replacement. (This is a prime example of the use of the device and how it can quickly pay for itself).

Next was onto the freezer, a thermometer located in the bottom drawer indicated an internal temperature of -22c. Pointing the HP-981B at a bag of oven chips in a reflective crumpled plastic bag gave a reading of about -11c. Pointing at the thermometer itself with a glass front cover gave a reading of -29c and pointing it at a plastic tub containing ice cream gave a reading of -26c to -27c.


These readings highlight the limitations of the device when used with certain types of material. Also in fairness the tests were likely done at too great a distance.

Last up was a storage heater in our utility room, this is automatically switched on between 2am and 7am. The storage heater has two or three separate elements within that warm up bricks inside the heater, which retain heat and slowly release it during the day. For some time now I have somewhat suspected that the element on the left isn’t working as well as it should or perhaps not at all.


At 9am the right side of the heater has a reading of over 58c and the left just 47c. By 6pm the left side was reading 36c and the right 40c. The HP-981B has proved my suspicion that there is a problem with one of the elements which I can now go ahead and replace once winter is over.

Additional testing…



Firstly the size of the detection area depends on the distance that the device is used from the surface being read. At a distance of 12″ the detection spot is 1.5″ in diameter. At a distance of 24″ the detection spot is 3″ in diameter and at a distance of 42″ the detection spot is 5.3″ in diameter.

To ensure accuracy the surface being detected should be larger than the detection spot from the HP-981B. The manual indicates that for greatest accuracy the surface being read should be at least twice the size of the detection spot.

The type of surface being scanned also has an effect on readout accuracy. As per the manual…

“Most organic materials, painted or oxidised surfaces have an emissivity of 0.95. Inaccurate readings will result from measuring shiny, polished or metal surfaces. To compensate cover the surface to be measured with masking tape or black matt paint”.


Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope it has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.


HoldPeak is a registered trademark of HOLDPEAK Instruments.

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