General Tools 12:1 Wide Range Infrared Thermometer Tool

General Tools Thermo Seeker

There comes a time in every hobbyist’s life where the basic tools that you have just don’t cut it, and you have to make an investment into a specialty tool. Regardless of your hobby, if you are passionate about it, you’ll soon outgrow the basics and make that decision to upgrade what you have, or add to it.

This just so happened to me recently. For years I’ve been building engines ranging from meager 100 horsepower replacements to 500 horsepower stump pullers for various off-road vehicles. However, I’ve always lacked a good way to tell if a cylinder is firing correctly, or the temperature and an engine head or radiator, and the right way to do this is with an infrared thermometer. I couldn’t however, part with several hundred dollars that most tool companies wanted me to spend so I found myself borrowing one over and over again.

I have a rule about borrowing tools… If I have to borrow it more than twice, it’s time to buy it, and this is where General Tools steps in once again to help budget-minded hobbyists like us. General Tools offers a low-cost, high-quality infrared thermometer with laser targeting called the 12:1 Wide Range Infrared Thermometer (part # IRT657), and it sells for about $50. This tool will allow you to accurately measure the heat from a variety of distances.


The General Tools 12:1 Wide Range Infrared Thermometer Tool Review

General Tools Thermo SeekerFor testing purposes, we took the before and after temperatures of a piece of steel that we put a MAPP gas torch onto, and we fired up the engine on one of our vehicles. For the engine test, we started the engine and measured the exhaust manifold for several minutes, watching the temperature rise. We also tested measuring several exhaust manifold tubes and found that the temperature, while fluctuating slightly (even when held still), measured accurately across multiple surfaces.

Quick Stats: 

  • Measurement range of -40 degrees to 1076 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees to 580 degrees Celsius)
  • Non-contact (infrared) thermometer with a 12:1 distance-to-spot (D:S) ratio
  • Unique star burst laser targeting system helps in approximating target size
  • Emissivity fixed at 0.95
  • Degrees (Fahrenheit or Celsius) unit selectable on front panel
  • Large (1.6 in. diagonal) backlit LCD
  • Low (less than 30mA) power consumption when laser and backlight are off, extends battery life
  • The IRT657 comes with a soft carrying case, a 9V battery and a user’s manual
  • Auto power off trigger : Inactivity for 7 seconds
  • Battery life 50 hours, with backlight and laser pointer off
  • Operating temperature 32 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius) at less than 75% relative humidity (RH)
Pros Cons
  • The backlit LED is large, bright and easy to read in all lighting conditions
  • The Thermo Seeker has a nice, ergonomic design
  • It is small enough to fit into tight spots
  • The laser guides you to the right area and helps determine measurement-coverage areas
  • Auto-off function saves battery life
  • Some temperature fluctuations on occasion  


General Tools 12:1 Wide Range Infrared Thermometer
Accuracy (temp)
Ergonomic design
Overall Quality
General Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer General Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer
General Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer General Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer
General Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer General Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer



The VerdictGeneral Tools Thermo Seeker Infrared Thermometer

We have been using the General Tools infrared thermometer for several months now measuring the temperature on a variety of different items, but mostly for car engines that we’ve been working on. Overall, this has been an extremely useful tool for our shop, providing us with a quick method to determine temperatures on various components such as exhaust manifolds/headers, engine heads, radiators and more. The star-burst laser targeting system is better than pinpoint lasers that we’ve seen on more expensive models as it helps to determine the size of the area that you are measuring based upon how far you are from the object – a nice feature. That, coupled with the large, easy-to-read LED makes for a great choice for any hobbyist or professional looking for an infrared thermometer that won’t break the bank.


General Tools

80 White Street, Suite #1
New York City, NY. 10013
Phone: 212-431-6100


About Rick Webster

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *