Thermal Imagers Information Thermal imagers detect heat patterns in the infrared wavelength spectrum.  Thermal imagers rely on the emission of thermal or infrared energy by all objects above 0 Kelvin. They detect energy emissions (heat) in the infrared wavelength spectrum of 1 micron to 100 microns.  Thermography, thermology, thermal wave imaging, thermovision and thermal infrared night vision use thermal imagers, some of the actual devices appear like slightly oversized...
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Q & A on Thermal Imagers

We asked our users for their input on Thermal Imagers. Here are the results of 909 users familiar with Thermal Imagers.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing thermal imager design?
120 answers
Answers:
Detectors for 3-5micrometer and 8-12micrometer. Advanced and improved optics and mirrors designed for this. Micro-syncro motors as conformation of the image. Cooler systems. Continuing progress in the technologies for displays. New materials for finished products lighter and more compact.
~Irene H, Design Engineer, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Chalcogenide glasses molding instead of single point diamond turning get less expensive manufacturing of aspheric surfaces and diffractive optical elements. All in focus to reduce thermal imager costs.
~Eduardo P, Design Engineer, Buenos Aires, Argentina
1) power supply design by portable units, 2 ) the way of cooling the element 3) size of the camera 4) possibility to merge images of other "normal"ccd camera's into one image
~george N, end user, the Hague, netherlands
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Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative thermal imagers?
142 answers
Answers:

Flir. They are designing imagers for the military...lots of R&D dollars going there.

~John M, Owner/operator Jeminspections, Sarasota, FL
I only know about FLIR. There is a company that makes a great rotating 3D laser imager, but it's not a thermal measuring device at this time.
~Larry C, Research & Development, Seattle, WA
Flir, Fluke
~Ruslan T, Technical Support, Moscow, Russia
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Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used thermal imagers for?
219 answers
Answers:
Electrical connections / panels hotspot diagnostics: Electrical motor bearing performance and fault diagnostics: Other rotational component operation diagnostics (rolls, pumps, gearboxes, etc): Force-loading variations in paper machine press sections, coating and (super)calender sections; Drying cross-machine profile diagnostics; Moisture streaking through water content in cross machine profiles: Condensate cooling system performance checks: Hydraulic and lubrication oil system performance checks.
~John R, Project Manager, Durban, South Africa
As an electrician we use them to check for hot or loose connections and components that are going bad or to spot mechanical binds that cause problems for us. Also used when I was working on the Fire Dept., we used them to locate hot spots inside of walls to reduce the need to strip out more drywall and cause more damage. We also used it to search for people at night in wooded and field areas during a search and rescue.
~Purchasing, Davisburg, MI
Hazardous materials - used for temperature surveys on tanks impinged on by flame or other heat source Fires - used to find hotspots in burned structures; smoke filled rooms with no visible flames; search and rescue of victims in obscured visibility areas; wildland firefighting to detect deep-seated burning in vegitation Clandestine drug labs - detect heat signatures from suspect buildings
~Mike, Emergency Response/Planner, Gravenhurst, Canada
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Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that a thermal imager has been used for.
93 answers
Answers:
This one I have mentioned is extremely "non-standard." It is often reported that "haunting" entities make the air cold in their vicinity. Could this be a way of detecting them? Or a variety of other odd phenomena that could cause air temperature or surface temperature changes?
~Larry C, Research & Development, Seattle, WA
Detection for any hidden camera inside of room, by using thermal imager can see any difference temperature around a wall if there are any embedded object inside. (with certain heat distribution).
~Thomas T, Engineering Consultant, China
Checking overhead lines where there are more than one circuit on a structure to monitor temperature variations in relation to the loading cycles and to differentiate between the circuits according to the load at present.
~Don P, Electrical fitter, Napier, New Zealand
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Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of thermal imagers?
48 answers
Answers:

Some cameras on the market have an accuracy level of + - 5 deg C with no emissivity correction - this can lead to a camera showing a piece of equipment to be within spec for temperature when in fact it could be up to 50 deg C out. Emissivity is the single biggest factor in getting a correct temperature measurement

~Alan T, General Management, UK

Many... 1. Trying to locate people under the surface of a lake 2. trying to see if an oil cracking furnace was reaching its construction temperature limits with an uncalibrated thermal imager through an impure flame (there are solid impurities in the flame) 3. monitoring small targets without proper tele lens 4. monitoring very low emissivity targets 5. looking for thermal bridges on a building with low indoor outdoor temperature difference.

~Konstantinos R, Thermographer, Athens, Greece

Yes. Some thermographers get lax in assuming what they "see" is correct and true- Only once they realize they made a f****p then they call me in to assist- I normally then also use the opportunity to train them up as to what and why they made the incorrect diagnosis (I also did it in my "beginning days " and those are "lessons " that you never "forget.").

~Justin R, Hydrological Thermographer, Cape town, CA
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FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
142 answers
Answers:

For Bld & infrastructure : 1. They must be operable in the disaster condition. 2. They must be movable. 3. Easy to operate. 4. Easy maintenance. 5. Do not have high cost to operate. 6. Can be movable by regular plane baggage. 7. Weight maximum 10 kg

~Aryo Seto I, Architect, Jakarta, Indonesia
A small, light, and low priced handheld for low temperatures up to 100°C for domestic use for a home owner to be able to check their homes for heat less points. A small, light, and reasonably priced handheld for temperatures up to 800°C for use in dust laden areas.
~Alan C, Senior design engineer ferrous industries, Oberursel, Germany
Helmet-mounted unit with remote telemetry Integrated 'heads-up" display (HUD). Cross use for night vision applications for driving in low/poor visibility conditions. Adaptability to airborne systems for emergency site recon.
~Mike, Emergency Response/Planner, Gravenhurst, Canada
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Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of a thermal imager?
82 answers
Answers:
Choose an ir camera that delivers accurate, repeatable results; buy a camera with high detector resolution/image quality, with a wide temp range, with a built-in laser pointer, with software upgrade potential, adequate image fusion capabilities, that you yourself can change the battery, of lightweight and that outputs standard JPEG format, ergonomic for extended or frequent use and finally with a built-in visual camera and lights to help clearly document your work. Therefore go for a product that can be upgraded and definitely buy a thermal camera from a manufacturer with strong post-sale technical support and certified training.
~Tassos A, General Management, CHALANDRI, GREECE
If you're looking for very small temperature changes - i.e. damp in walls then the sensitivity of the camera is more important than the resolution. Don't be distracted into thinking that you need a high resolution camera - with cameras now offering to combine a visual image with a thermal image you can get clarity of an image combined with accurate temperature measurement.
~Alan T, General Management, UK
Know the limitations if you have them; test the manufacturer's claims as to capability; know your requirements before asking manufacturers to come in with their product; stay away from "bells and whistles" unless they are adding value to the use; train with and maintain the unit properly before claiming that "it doesn't work"
~Mike, Emergency Response/Planner, Gravenhurst, Canada
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Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using thermal imagers?
63 answers
Answers:

They should always buy cameras with minimum 30Hz frame rate, with moveable spot meter, moveable and resizeable box/circle feature, motorized focus, digital camera with flash with .jpeg radiometric imaging, capable to making infrared video, fully radiometric with minimum 9-10 Hz, removable battery and full version of thermal analysis software, with operating condition at 50 Deg C and 90 humidity. Service center or set-up should be certified for backup service. Seller / manufacturer should have certified training facility. First time buyer should always club certified training program with their purchase.

~Shaibal G, Thermographer, Kolkata, 44
Compare what is out there at the price you can afford. Look at how you and your company will use the camera. You get what you pay for. If you are checking a few motors think about small hand held, no camera no data retrieval. If you have a complex site buy the best you can afford it will pay for itself.
~Jerry W, Electrical Supervisor, Salem, OR
No as I have not used a thermal imager yet. I have only heard that the possible accuracy is limited due to restrictions in use. I have to get close to hot machinery and need accurate readings even in an area where ambient temperatures can be above 40°C.
~Alan C, Senior design engineer ferrous industries, Oberursel, Germany
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