What is a Temperature Probe?

A temperature probe is a specialised device used for measuring and monitoring the temperature of fluids, gases and surfaces in various environments across industry. They are designed to accurately sense and convert thermal energy into a readable signal, providing information about temperature changes in a specific location or substance.

These probes come in various types, each using a different method to measure temperature variations. Common types of temperature probe include thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) like Pt100 sensors, thermistors, and infrared thermometers. They differ in the way they measure the temperature, the operating range they cover, their accuracy, and their suitability for different applications.

Typically, a temperature probe consists of a sensing element that reacts to temperature changes, housed within a protective sheath to shield it from external factors such as moisture, chemicals, or physical damage. They often feature connectors or interfaces like transmitters for integration with temperature measuring instruments, data loggers, or control systems, enabling real-time monitoring and analysis of temperature data.

These temperature probes find wide application uses across many industries, such as healthcare, food processing, manufacturing, aerospace, and scientific research. They are crucial for maintaining optimal conditions, ensuring product quality, safety, and efficient operation within different processes and environments.

Types of Temperature Probe


These probes rely on the principle of a thermoelectric effect, generating a small voltage which is proportional to temperature differences at the junction of two dissimilar metals. They are well suited to extreme temperatures and harsh environments due to their robustness and versatility. Find out more about how a thermocouple works.

RTDs (Resistance Temperature Detectors)

Usually Pt100, these sensors make use of the resistance vs. temperature relationship of platinum. As temperature changes, the sensor's resistance changes proportionately, providing highly accurate and stable readings within defined temperature ranges. Find out more about how an RTD works.


These sensors also rely on a change in electrical resistance with temperature variations. Thermistors are highly sensitive to temperature changes, but have a limited temperature range compared to other probes.

Infrared Thermometers

Measuring without physical contact, these probes detect the infrared radiation emitted by an object to determine its temperature. They are invaluable in applications where non-invasive or non-contact temperature measurement is required.

Is a temperature probe better than a thermometer?

Temperature probes such as the thermocouples and RTDs mentioned above are available in a wide variety of styles and constructions suited to almost any temperature measurement application. They offer high accuracy and versatility in terms of connection and integration with display, control and monitoring equipment and can be tailored for various industries and applications, providing detailed temperature data that might be crucial for quality control, process optimization, or research purposes.

Thermometers, such as Infrared Thermometers are ideally suited for on-the-spot measurements. They are portable, convenient and easy to use.

Comparing Thermocouples, RTDs, Infrared and Bimetallic Thermometers

Feature Thermocouples RTDs Infrared
DesignTwo dissimilar metal wires enclosed within a protective sheath Platinum element encased in a protective tubeOptical system within a protective housing
Temperature RangeWide range, suitable for extreme temperaturesPrecise within moderate rangesSurface temperature measurement
AccuracyGood, slightly lower compared to RTDsHigh accuracy within specified rangeMay have limitations compared to contact-based sensors
ApplicationsIndustrial settings with extreme conditionsLaboratory, HVAC, precise industrial processesNon-contact surface measurements
AdvantagesRobust, wide temperature rangeHigh accuracy, stabilityNon-contact, rapid readings
LimitationsSlightly lower accuracy compared to RTDsLimited temperature rangeLimited to surface temperature

We specialise in the design of thermocouples, RTD Pt100 sensors, infrared thermometers designed to meet your specific application needs. From surface RTDs or robust mineral insulated thermocouple probes to high temperature ceramic sheathed sensors, our engineers are available on 01895 252222 or via the Live Chat to assist you with design advice.

Need advice on choosing a temperature probe?

Contact one of our experienced engineers on
01895 252222 or use the Live Chat button.

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© 1998- TC Ltd., P.O. Box 130, UXBRIDGE, UB8 2YS, United Kingdom
Tel.: 01895252222, Email: