Definition – a thermal imaging cameras is a device that detects heat when pointing the device at hot or cold spots in a room, item or area. It is a handheld device that shows varying levels of heat on its integrated visual display, or by connecting it to an iPhone or Android phone.
Who uses a thermal imaging camera?
A variety of industries have the need for heat detection or heat leakage as well as cold spots for buildings which are looking to reduce heat-loss or direct the flow of different temperatures throughout. Other specialists that would need to buy or hire a thermal imaging camera would be maintenance workers, surveyors, electricians, product manufacturers, medics and emergency response units but they’re also used by hobbyists such as wildlife photographers or bird watchers.
Wasted heat is expensive but the same is true for allowing excessive cold air in from outside. The same is true from the other side of the coin, for example, when you want certain areas to be cool, machines to be temperature-controlled or limit their ambient heat to allow more efficient running of the said machine.
Modern infrared cameras show colours from red to yellow to blue depending on the temperature. Certain older-style thermal imaging cameras show their visual display in black and white, with white being heat. This can be busy to look at and read correctly, whereas a colour-display shows a better gradient of heat or heat-loss. Red, orange and yellow is generally the hottest part of where you’re pointing the thermal imaging camera, whereas colder areas are blue or purple, and green is generally a ‘nice’ room temperature.
Thermography, which is the viewing of heat energy by the visible infrared display, was first established in the late 18th century by William Herschel, a German/British astronomer. He found that when using a prism, he could see the visible light spectrum and by using a thermometer he found that reds had lower frequency, a longer wavelength and lower energy compared to the purples which are the opposite. Visible light that sits between gamma ray, x-ray, ultraviolent, infrared, microwave and radio waves.
The latest versions of thermal imaging cameras can be an add-on to your iOS Apple smartphone or Android smartphone. This level of lens handling coupled with clever sensor-handling shows the infrared radiator emanating from objects you point your phone at which is converted into an electronic signal which then maps out the ‘temperature’ that is seen on the phone’s screen. This makes way for a great choice of either having a standalone thermal imaging camera or as a smaller addition to one’s smartphone.
Depending on your needs as an electrician or electrical installer, a good checklist to see what type of thermal imaging camera to buy can be listed in the following way:
- Usage and needs
- Image resolution
- Thermal range
- Size and weight compared to convenience
- Lens interchangeability
Once you see a full range of thermal imaging cameras, you will have a better idea of what suits your needs. Other names include, heat seeking cameras, thermal camera, infrared cameras and the biggest and best brands that make these are: Fluke, FLIR, Megger, TIS and Hikmicro.