What is Thermal Imaging?

Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to “see” “measure” and “record” thermal energy emitted from an object.
Click here to view examples of Thermal Imaging.

How does this help us perform inspections?
Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye; it’s the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared. The higher the object’s temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted. Infrared allows us to see what our eyes cannot.

Infrared thermography cameras produce images of invisible infrared or “heat” radiation and provide precise non-contact temperature measurement capabilities. If objects emit infrared energy at different levels, and we can see the difference in a camera, then we can find and solve problems much quicker and at a lesser cost.

What are some of the uses of Infrared Cameras?

  • Building Structural Analysis
  • Building interior leaks
  • Roof moisture surveys exterior (leaks)
  • Roof moisture surveys interior (leaks)
  • Window leakage (air and water)
  • Insulation voids
  • Poor HVAC Ducting or leakage
  • Electrical wiring compliance
  • Faulty wiring inside walls and ceilings
  • Marine Surveys ( moisture in hulls of boats)
  • Predictive Maintenance

Nearly everything gets hot before it fails, making infrared cameras extremely cost-effective, valuable diagnostic tools in many diverse applications. And as industry strives to improve manufacturing efficiencies, manage energy, improve product quality, and enhance worker safety, new applications for infrared cameras continually emerge.

How Do Infrared Cameras Work
An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image on a video monitor and perform temperature calculations. Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be very precisely quantified, or measured, allowing you to not only monitor thermal performance, but also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems. Recent innovations, particularly detector technology, the incorporation of built-in visual imaging, automatic functionality, and infrared software development, deliver more cost-effective thermal analysis solutions than ever before.

Why measure temperature?
Finding a problem with an infrared camera is sometimes not enough. In fact, an infrared camera image alone without accurate temperature measurements says very little about the condition of an electrical connection or worn mechanical part. Many electrical targets are operating properly at temperatures that are significantly above ambient. An infrared image without measurement can be misleading because it may visually suggest a problem that does not exist.

Infrared cameras that incorporate temperature measurement allow predictive maintenance professionals to make well informed judgments about the operating condition of electrical and mechanical targets. Temperature measurements can be compared with historical operating temperatures, or with infrared readings of similar equipment at the same time, to determine if a significant temperature rise will compromise component reliability or plant safety.

Why Use Infrared?
A picture says a thousand words; infrared thermography is the only diagnostic technology that lets you instantly visualize and verify thermal performance. Infrared cameras show you thermal problems, quantify them with precise non-contact temperature measurement, and document them automatically in seconds with a professional easy-to-read report.

Nearly everything that uses or transmits power gets hot before it fails. Cost effective power management is critical to maintaining the reliability of your electrical and mechanical systems. And today, no one would argue that infrared thermography is the most effective proven predictive maintenance (PM) technology available to quickly, accurately and safely locate problems prior to failure. In June 2001, Maintenance Technology magazine reported a $4 return on investment in for every $1 spent on infrared inspection. Finding and fixing a poor electrical connection before a component fails can save you the much greater costs associated with manufacturing downtime, production losses, power outages, fires and catastrophic failures.

But using infrared images to find a problem is sometimes not enough. In fact, an infrared camera image without an accurate measurement says very little about the condition of an electrical connection or worn mechanical part. And, an IR survey without a simple, fast way to report and analyze inspection results provides no ability to make timely repair decisions or locate and separate those ‘hot spots’ that can cause problems from those associated with equipment operating normally. FLIR’s ThermaCAM infrared cameras not only quickly locate problems, but coupled with Reporter software, their non-contact precision temperature measurement and analysis capabilities instantly deliver the answers you need to understand what repair action to take, and when.

Whether you’re looking at buildings or hybrid circuits, there’s a ThermaCAM infrared camera right for your application. With a complete line of infrared cameras, software, accessories, world-class thermographic training and applications support, FLIR stands ready to meet your specific infrared needs. Flexible rental, lease and purchase plans for our line of infrared cameras are available. FLIR is the one IR company you can specify and justify with confidence. Make sure that all the reliability you planned for gets delivered to your customer.

Click here to view examples of Thermal Imaging.