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 10 Best Tachometer Reviews in 2023
1. Extech RPM10 Tachometer [Best Overall]
If you are looking for a tachometer that is able to measure the RPM in multiple methods, Extech RPM10 is the answer. It can measure both in contact (wheel and cone contact) and non-contact (laser) way. Herewith, you can easily solve many RPM measurement challenges by using a single handheld tachometer.
Non-contact Laser Method
Choose the laser method to measure for high-speed RPM. It lets you measure high RPM because the measuring range is from 10-99.999 RPM. When the object going to be measured is located in a hard-to-reach place, the laser method can help. In addition to this method, you can safely measure the RPM from the distance up to 6.5 feet. However, it’s advised to measure in a distance shorter than that.
Cone Shape Tip
If the center of the rotating shape is reachable, this cone tip is designed for it. Put the cone tip on the center of the rotating shaft, then you can measure the RPM. However, this way has only a measuring range of 0.5-19,999 RPM.
The contact wheel tip lets you measure the RPM and linear speed. Unlike the cone tip that putting on the center of the rotating shaft, the contact wheel requires you to put it on the outer surface of the rotating shaft.
To measure the linear speed, one of the examples is the belt measurement, you could also put the wheel contact on the surface belt. The unit reading of this linear speed measurement is selectable in either feet/minute or meter/minute.
Infrared Laser Thermometer
Overload RPM may increase the temperature of the machinery. Using this non-contact laser thermometer, you can easily assess whether your machines work exceeding the operating temperature or not.
Extech RPM10 is a high specification tachometer that is appropriate for professionals. This handheld tachometer allows you to measure in three ways that means letting you solve many measurement challenges with ease. It has a great operation distance. Further, this unit can be obtained with a certificate calibration that has traceability to NIST. Industrial machinery maintenance requires a serious and reliable tachometer, you could rely on this instrument.
- Dual measurement modes (laser photo and contact), even surface velocity measurement
- Two unit readings for surface velocity measurement (feet/minute or meter/minute)
- Greater operation distance up to 6.5 feet; appropriate for industrial use.
- Max RPM is up to 99999
- An option to calibrate it traceable to NIST is available
- No backlight
2. REED Instruments R7100 Combination Contact / Laser Photo Tachometer
Reed R7100 is a budget option tachometer that is able to do contact and non-contact RPM measurements, even linear speed measurements. If Extech RPM10 is too expensive for you, you could consider this one.
It comes nicely as a set with reflective tape to reflect the laser beam, wheel adapter for linear speed measurement and RPM as well, batteries, cone tip adapter for contact measurement, funnel adapter for contact measurement, and hard case.
Another benefit is the measuring range. The range of the contact (laser) and non-contact (cone tip, funnel, and wheel adapter) mode is respectively 0.5-19,999 RPM and 2.5-99,999 RPM.
However, the laser mode is only able to perform a measurement at a distance of up to 1.6 feet. Besides, in comparison with Extech RPM10, its reading unit for surface speed is only m/min (meter/minute).
If you are requiring a digital tachometer for a milling machine, this one is suitable for that purpose.
- Contact and non-contact RPM measurement in a single instrument
- Linear (surface) speed measurement
- Shorter operation distance which is only 1.6 feet
3. Extech 461920-NIST Laser Tachometer with NIST Certificate
Extech 461920-NIST is a handheld tachometer for non-contact use. This reliable pocket-size non-contact tachometer lets you carry it anywhere. It comes with a certificate of traceability to NIST. So, if you are looking for a reliable laser tachometer, this is preferable to pick.
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 1.6 ft (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 a dimmer place.
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- The NIST certificate can be requested
- handheld non contact tachometer
4. 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 tachometer should have.
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.
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Check here for REED Instruments R7050 with calibration certificate.
- non-contact / laser model, no need to contact the surface
- NIST certificate traceability can be requested
5. Shimpo DT-107A Handheld Contact Tachometer
If you are looking for a contact tachometer, you could consider this option. 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 and other contact tips.
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.
The advantage of this instrument is there many unit readings you could switch. It counts in 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.
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- 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
6. Electronic Specialties 328 EZ Tach Plus (Wireless and Clip on Wired Tachometer)
Electronic Specialties 328 EZ tach plus is the best tachometer for small engines that we recommend. If you are looking for a tachometer for chainsaws, motorcycles, generators, snowmobiles, outboards, and even cars, 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 a flashlight and backlight screen
- Wireless handheld tachometer
- Doesn’t come with a NIST certificate
7. Hardline Products HR-8061-2 Chainsaw Tachometer
If you are looking for the best tachometer for chainsaws, lawnmowers, generators, dirt bikes, and other small engine machinery, Hardline HR-8061-2 can be used for that. This device is designed for any machine that is no more than 2 cycles.
As a tachometer, you could use it to measure or monitor the RPM of the machine when it is running. Aside from that, it’s also an hour meter. It measures the number of hours the engine has worked which is important for an oil change reminder.
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
8. Neiko 20713A Non-Contact Laser Photo Tachometer
Neiko 20713A is another budget 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. Another good product from Neiko is its Neiko automatic center punch.
- Not for scientific use
9. Auto Meter 233911 Autogage Silver Tachometer
Since monitoring your RPM is important in regard to gear and throttle, this device allows you to quickly see the engine 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 a 12V ignition system.
- Great for vehicles
- Nicely mounted on the dashboard
- Limited use
10. Actron SP0F000025 Bosch Sport II 2-5/8″ Tachometer Black Dial Face
Another great mounted tachometer for your cars is Actron SP0F000025. It has a diameter of 2-5/8″ which is neither too large nor too small. This size allows you to put this dial analog tachometer on the steering column so that you can easily notice it.
Its measuring range is 0-8000 RPM. Moreover, it’s suitable for 4, 6, and 8 cylinder engines. There are 4 cables. The most important cable is the green one. You have to hook the green wire to the negative side of the ignition coil so that it measures the RPM. The other cables (power, dimmer, and ground) need to connect correctly. A test light or voltmeter may be required to find the car’s cable that is correct for the red power cable of this tach.
- Nice to install on the steering column; no need to drill and doesn’t break your car dashboard
- need technicians to install this instrument
What to Consider When Buying Tachometer
Choosing the best tachometer for your needs should take into account the following things.
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 measuring range that it can measure. The photo tachometer commonly has a broad range of up to 99,999 RPM. This model is indeed designed for high-speed RPM measurement. On the other hand, the contact type model commonly provides a shorter range. As you could see on the list above, the typical range is 19,999 RPM. This RPM is great to use for low speed RPM 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 that comes with the product. 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, it is what you have to expect.
How to Install An Automotive Tacho Meter
Those are the 10 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.