Thermal Cameras Go Mainstream In The Sustainable Building Industry

Thermal cameras are important in building inspections. These sophisticated cameras see in a way that human eyes cannot. They create images of the world around them via a heat signature. It is not an image of temperature, but it is thermal energy image. Warm areas and warm bodies stand out against a colder environment. Hot areas glow yellow or even white. The hotter the area, the brighter the image.

These images can offer important information when it comes to heat leaks and electrical issues within a building.  Heat leaks are a problem for energy and heat efficiency. A building with poor insulation and heat efficiency can lose a lot of heat through roofs and walls.

The problem areas show up on these images, so surveyors or inspectors gain a clear idea of the situation. Inspectors can even use their smartphones for inspections ThermalCameras.guide has a great review of the Compact XR smartphone thermal camera attachment. We will discuss this compact thermal camera later in the article.  Again, the brighter the image, and broader the area, the bigger the problem.  

Thermal images offer a view of different areas of the home and components of the heating and cooling system. This means that users can also check the efficiency and health of central heating and HVAC systems. The main AC unit may be fine, with sufficient vents across the home, but there could be a leak along the journey. The more detailed the image, the easier it is to see which spot of the roof has poor insulation, or where the tiniest crack in the wall is.

These thermal images are also ideal for helping with electrical issues within a building. Regular inspections of electrical equipment in this manner can help with some benefits.

(Source: BeachInfrared1)

First of all, there is the safety of the staff, but there are also issues of productivity with ill-suited, out-dated tech and general energy efficiency. Many managers, owners, and employees have no idea of the danger posed by a piece of electrical equipment until it is too late.

Ideally, those in charge of maintaining this important equipment should spot issues while they are small and manageable. Once a major motor, pump or other system component blows up or short circuits, it could mean thousands in lost productivity and damages. Small-scale repairs and upgrades are not problematic. Thermal cameras can detect over-heating motors or overworked systems where elements are far too worn or failing.

Accurate identification of these problem areas can help homeowners and business owners in many ways.

1. Improve the heat retention in a home in cold weather

Many homes struggle to maintain the right heat due to leaks in the lines of air conditioning systems, or poor insulation. Some homeowners will have no idea why the home is no longer energy efficient in this manner until they see these thermal images.

There is a good chance that the solution to the problem lies with something quite simple. Users can fix a mislaid area of insulation with minimal hassle. They could replace a faulty pipe rather than the whole system. The problem is that until scans highlight these areas, many may assume that they have a bigger issue with an entire heating or cooling system.

2. There is the chance to save money

This issue of simple repairs and efficient solutions leads to the second problem of cost. There are two factors to contend with here. The first is the cost of a repair or new installation as homeowners attempt to solve the problem.

Not only is this expensive, but it could also be a wasted expense if the effort doesn’t target the correct problem. Also, this new installation may not be necessary if the majority of the component is functional. A precise target on a scan and a simple repair job mean lower part and labor costs.

Then there is the bigger financial issue of the money wasted on energy. Heat loss in a home means an inability to maintain a comfortable temperature. Therefore users will crank up the heating to compensate. This means more energy and higher bills. This is a big enough a headache for the household budget as it is. It gets worse when homeowners learn that that expensive extra heat was a waste of money.

3. Help the environment

The financial side of heating costs and insulation issues is probably the primary reason for calling for a scan with a thermal camera. However, there will be many homeowners that also see the environmental implications. The less energy used in a home, the greener it is.

There could be many environmentally-minded individuals that recycle and watch their power usage, but still, end up wasting energy. The heat escaping the walls could damage their carbon footprint with their awareness. This is understandably frustrating.

Thermal Cameras for environment

4. A great tool for Home Inspections when purchasing a new home.

This thermal camera tech is not just those renovating a current property. Energy efficiency is a big selling point of many homes – providing they have the right measures in place. It could pay to perform a scan on the house before buying to uncover any issues with the property. It could be that the current owners and seller was unaware of the problem.

Once again, this is all about issues that owners cannot see with the naked eye. However, there could be some known issues that sellers believe they can sweep under the rug because they are not visible. These scans and surveys offer a clearer picture of the state of the home and its actual value. This could then offer some room for negotiation on the price, or simply a reason to walk away.

It all comes down to providing the best possible image of the situation as possible.

A detailed image with sharp focus and a broad range of colors is much easier to understand. This is true for both the operator and the client. Operators need the best possible image to understand the complexity of the issue and precise location of the leak.

At the same time, they need to communicate these issues to clients to explain the best course of action. They can see precisely what needs to happen, for a quick, effective and less costly repair. This is essential for all business and homes losing heat or suffering from electrical faults. There are different ways to achieve this, and some cameras are better than others.

There are lots of different types of devices that technicians can use to get the best possible images of the situation.

The first device to consider here is the spot radiometer. This is the most simplistic of the devices, and the one that many company owners and homeowners may decide to buy themselves. It works by measuring the radiation emitted one spot at a time. This means a very simple reading of one area, rather than a broader picture.

The next option here is the thermal line scanner. This goes a little further as it shows radiant temperature along a line. This image is then superimposed over a picture of the area, but this is still limited. The best option is a thermal imaging camera for a broader field of vision and detailed image. The only problem with these cameras is their suitability for beginners and their cost.

One of the best ways to achieve this in large-scale operations is through the use of a drone.

Thermal imaging cameras on drones offer a great view of a building that could be difficult from the ground. This is especially true with high-rise buildings. This means aerial views of heat loss from the highest stories of major complexes. Also, these drones can fly over large plants and industrial site to survey equipment in areas inaccessible to operators.

On the other end of the scale, there are also cool gadgets that help to turn fairly average mobile tech into something quite sophisticated.

In a world of apps for anything possible, mobile-friendly thermal imaging makes a lot of sense. One such option is the Seek Compact XR “enhanced” thermal imager. The main aim here is actually to provide night-time imaging for wildlife – either for those hunting it or lovers spotting nocturnal creatures. There is still potential for other thermal imaging needs.

Homeowners concerned about potential heat loss, or managers of electrical equipment, can clip this to their smartphone for a different view. There is a wide color palette that is ideal for detailed thermal data. There is a 206 x 156 thermal sensor and a detection range of up to 550m. Unlike many cameras, it is also pretty easy to use due to the Seek Compact app.

What to look for in a personal model of thermal camera?

Ideally, all users need a camera that is tough enough to use whatever the weather or situation. Homeowners must remember that many inspections are better executed outside in the winter for the best results.

The best images come from fixed-focus cameras with user-friendly point-and-shoot tech. This fixed-focus mode is sometimes preferable because of the speed and efficiency. The precision increases with thermal cameras that also come with a built-in laser. Other important features include a good, long-lasting lithium-ion battery, image editing software, wireless data sharing and a large memory.

Thermal Cameras

Hiring a professional to handle these problems with the best thermal cameras

The appeal of these smartphone mounted cameras also lies in the fact that they are accessible. There is the sense that anyone can set one up, head into the attic of a home, or control room of a plant, and take images. This is true.

There is nothing to stop anyone from collecting lots of thermal data from these cameras. However, it sometimes requires an expert eye to decipher them.

There are different ranges to the settings on these cameras – and two types of temperature reading. This can alter the look of the picture and create an unrealistic view of the issue. Therefore, some may see massive problems with roof insulation when they have the wrong setting and things aren’t quite so bad.

Of course, the alternative may be true, and they may still miss bigger problems. Users also have to contend with adaptions for the emissivity of the objects and environmental factors. There are simply too many variables for an inexperienced user.

The other issue with this do it yourself approach is that some people expect far too much from these devices. The camera detects a thermal signature from the objects in its field of vision. This could mean a roof that appears as the wrong color due to insulation issues within. Or, there could be a temperature change on a wall with moisture issues.

Those surveying the home from the outside can’t see the insulation or wall cavity. This is only possible on exposed areas or if operators are in the roof. Some confuse thermal imaging and infra-red vision with x-ray vision and assume that they will see a clear network of pipes – faults and all – through the wall. This isn’t the case at all. No camera is that clever yet, but this is the next best thing.

Is it worth investing in one of these thermal cameras for the workplace?

These cameras are a great investment for all those that prepared to train or hire somebody in to use it. When used properly, these cameras are invaluable pieces of kit. The bottom line here is that these cameras help to identify problems that users cannot see without them. They are invaluable in this respect.

When combined with the necessary expertise of reading the images, they can save companies thousands of dollars. Therefore, one investment for the best equipment could easily pay for itself as soon as users uncover energy efficiency issues or electrical faults.

They may cost a lot of money for a decent handheld model, but this is an investment that can pay of. Energy efficiency and heat leakage detection all depend on the ability to spot problems and solutions effectively. This means the chance to save money in energy efficiency measures, running costs and upgrades. There are two choices.

Companies and homeowners can buy a camera and use it to discover heat and electrical issues personally. Or, they can hire an expert with a similar piece of kit to do it for them. Either way, it is sure to make a difference.

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