A tachometer is a measuring tool that functions to measure the RPM (revolution per minute) of a particular rotating object. For instance, if you are going to measure the RPM speed of a spindle motor of a milling machine, this device is able to do that.
People use this device in many areas such as automotive, DIY repair, industries, metalworking, motorcycling, etc. That said, there are a variety of tachometer types available on the market in which the purpose of each model is different from one another.
For example, a tachometer for automotive is not ideal; even unable, to use for industries. While a tachometer for the chainsaw is designed for small machines that work by the inductive method. The tachometer for accurate measurement should be versatile for all purposes.
The laser tachometer, on the other hand, is a nice model that lets you measure the RPM with a distance. This allows you to safely perform a measurement. In this model, you need to mount the tape to reflect the laser.
In this post, we are going to present some best options for the best tachometer available on the market that you could take a look at. The next section is the buying guide. It’s some factors you need to take a look at when buying.
Top 7 Best Tachometers
1. Extech 461920-NIST Laser Tachometer with NIST Certificate Requestable [Best Overall]
A certificate of traceability is highly required to claim that a particular measuring instrument is accurate and precise. In this case, a certificate of traceability to NIST is one of the certificates you could trust. For professional or scientific, you need to purchase the instrument along with this kind of certificate.
Extech 461920-NIST is the best laser tachometer for handheld and non-contact use. It comes with a certificate of traceability to NIST. So, if you are looking for a reliable laser tachometer, this is the best one to pick up.
It’s able to measure the speed of a spinning object from 2 up to 99,999 RPM. There is no need to contact the rotating shaft to measure the speed. If the spinning disk being measured is dangerous for a close distance, this laser tachometer is another advantage. You could set the distance from the spinning object up to 1.6ft (0.5 meter). So you are safer than too closely stand near the spinning disk.
You could click the “MEM” button to display the saved readings such as maximum, minimum, last readings. Powered by a 9 Volt battery, you could enjoy the backlight screen, able to use in dimmer place.
Extech 461920 is pocket size, non-contact, and reliable tachometer that you could carry anywhere. It’s also accurate and safer to use because you can maintain the distance against the object being measured.
- The NIST certificate can be requested
2. REED Instruments R7050 Compact Photo Tachometer and Counter
Another photo tachometer that we have on the list is Reed Instruments R7050. It’s able to calculate revolutions per minute (RPM) and the total revolutions of spinning objects without getting into contact with them due to the built-in laser pointer.
This laser allows you to calculate the RPM although you are distanced up to 1.6 feet away from the object being measured. That said, you are safe from the rotating object and harmful engine without a lack of accuracy. As advertised, it has 0.05% accuracy.
Like other tachometers, this one comes with internal storage to save some data such as last reading, minimum, and maximum reading. We see this is as the standard feature of a digital laser tachometer should feature.
Along with this tool, you can purchase the product with a certificate of traceability to NIST. That means, for professional use, this is one of the other great options available on the market to pick out.
- A non-contact / laser model, no need to contact the surface
- NIST certificate traceability can be requested
3. Shimpo DT-107A Handheld Contact Tachometer
If you are looking for a contact tachometer, then this option is one you have to consider before buying. This Shimpo DT-107A digital tachometer is another way to measure the RPM speed of a particular rotating object by measuring it directly using the wheel.
Shimpo DT-107A is designed to measure the rotating speed by using a wheel. The wheel or roller will be contacted to the rotating object. For instance, this wheel will contact the conveyor belt in the milling machine. When the belt rotates, the wheel rotates as well, the RPM is counted.
This contact tachometer model may not appropriate for some cases, however, unlike the laser tachometer that requires a plate to reflect the laser, this one doesn’t. Therefore, you could this for other purposes such as measuring a surface speed which is a linear speed.
It counts the RPM, FPM, YPM, mPM, etc. It’s able to measure in the range of 0.1 – 25,000 RPM and displayed on the LED screen model.
- Comes with NIST certificate of traceability
- Works for linear speed measurement as well
- Since it’s a contact tachometer model, the risk of injury may happen.
- The wheel is considered small
4. Electronic Specialties 328 EZ Tach Plus (Wireless and Clip-on Wired)
Electronic Specialties 328 EZ tach plus is the best tachometer for small engines that we recommend. If you are looking for a tachometer for motorcycle, chainsaw, generators, snowmobiles, outboards, and even cars, then this one can meet your expectation. It can work both wirelessly and inductively using the alligator clip (wired).
If you prefer the wireless way, simply put the tachometer near the engine. But if you prefer to use the clip, then it requires you to attach the clip to the spark plug wire. You could watch the video below of how it looks like.
It’s able to measure the speed up to 20.000 RPM. It’s suitable for 2 and 4 stroke engines. By clicking the left button (STR #CYL), you change the setting in order to meet the stroke and the cycle of the engine you are going to measure. The 2 stroke is available up to 4 cycles and the 4 stroke is available up to 8 cycles.
Another feature that we highlight is the flashlight. Hitting a single click on the right button will activate the backlight of the screen so that helps you see the reading in any situation. While hitting it twice will activate the flashlight. The flashlight is important to help you work freely by brightening the area of the spark plug wire you are going to clip on.
- Great for small engines (2 and 4 strokes)
- Comes with flashlight and backlight screen
- Doesn’t come with a NIST certificate
5. Hardline Products HR-8061-2 Chainsaw Tachometer
If you are looking for a tachometer for chainsaws, generators, and alike, one of the best options available is this Hardline Products HR-8061-2. It’s designed for any machine that is no more than 2 cycles. You could use it to measure or monitor the RPM of the machine when it is running.
It works inductively. That said, the vibration of the chainsaw is used to measure the RPM speed.
The installation is simple and can be put in the place you want. Simply, you need to connect the tachometer and the spark plug wire. Wrap the spark plug wire with the given wire to absorb the vibration to the tachometer. Mount the tachometer with the given two-sided tape. Leave it and check anytime when it is running.
If you are creative, you could set the position of the tachometer as if it’s a built-in feature of the machine.
Another advantage is the battery. There is a small battery inside of this tachometer so you don’t need to connect it to a power source. Despite a battery-powered device, it can last for up to 10 years.
The video below gives you an idea of how to install this tachometer.
- Inductively measure the RPM
- Easy installation
- The price is affordable
- Only works on 2 cylinder machine
6. Neiko 20713A Non-Contact Laser Photo Tachometer
Neiko 20713A is a tachometer that is designed for non-contact RPM reading. It works using a laser. This tool is very simple. There are two buttons. The “MEM” button functions to store the readings. And the “TEST” button functions to run the reading.
It’s able to measure the RPM speed with a range of 2.5 to 99,999 RPM. You could save the last, maximum, and minimum reading and show it on the screen later. Its size is about the palm of your hand. In terms of power, it just requires three AAA batteries.
Overall, Neiko is a nice laser tachometer if you are on a budget. If you are going to inspect the spindle speed of your lathe or mill machine, this one is able to do the job. The brand Neiko is not too bad. Another good product from Neiko is its Neiko automatic center punch.
- Not for scientific use
7. Auto Meter 233911 Autogage Silver Tachometer
Auto Meter 233911 is great to install in your car. This device allows you to quickly spot the RPM of the machine while driving. Its silver color will look amazing on your car dashboard panel. It’s suitable to use for 4-8 cylinder engines and 12V ignitions.
Though it looks nice, however, this tachometer is versatile. You couldn’t use it for other purposes. Once it’s installed, you can’t easily move it.
- Great for vehicles
- Nicely put on the dashboard
- Limited use
Tachometer Buying Guide
Choosing the best tachometer for your needs is not complicated. There are a few things you just need to consider. However, if you are too careless, you could pick the wrong one and end up wasting time and money.
1. Choose the Right Type/Model
A tachometer for a car dashboard is different from a tachometer for inspecting the spindle speed of a lathe. This tachometer works only if the machine is running. You can’t use this kind of tachometer for measuring the RPM of a spinning disk because its property which is stationary and non-handheld.
Other models available on the market are the contact and non-contact tachometer. The contact tachometer commonly comes with a wheel that contacts the spinning object. When the object is spinning, the tachometer’s wheel is spinning as well. The non-contact one comes with a laser beam.
You could prefer the laser model when you have to maintain a distance to the machine to be measured. Set the distance and you are safer. The contact model requires you to contact the spinning object but this one doesn’t require tape for reflection like the laser model one. And also, this model can be used to measure a surface speed which is a linear movement.
There is an inductive model for small engines. This model requires a wrapping to the spark plug wire. Choose this if you don’t want to handheld the tachometer. Anytime the machine is running, you could easily check the RPM because the device is mounted on the engine.
Whether it’s handheld or non-handheld, that depends on your need. For monitoring, the non-handheld should be preferred. A handheld tachometer is preferred for inspecting a particular spinning object.
2. RPM Range
It means the RPM range it can measure. A smaller range limits its measurement.
For a professional or scientific purpose, an accurate tachometer is extremely required. Accuracy also means it’s traceable to the standard measuring instrument that is acknowledged by the world.
The easiest way to trust a measuring device is the NIST certificate it comes with the product. It means that the product has been tested by the NIST standards. This certificate can be requested but it is commonly expensive.
Another way is to trust the certificate of calibration from the manufacturer’s lab. If the calibration instrument of that lab is traceable to NIST, then it is a good sign.
Those are the 7 best tachometers available currently on the market that we successfully put here together. As you could see, they look different by type and model. But, their function is the same, to measure the rotation speed.