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What Is A Thermal Imaging Camera?
A thermal imaging camera is a device for detecting sources of infrared energy radiations or emissions. An ordinary camera uses light to record images, whereas thermal cameras make pictures not from light, but from heat. This means that they enable the user to see things that could never be seen with the eyes alone and to see them regardless of visibility conditions including darkness, smoke or fog.
How Does It Work?
The way thermal imager works is by transforming thermal energy emissions into visible light. Every object in the world gives off some degree of thermal energy, and the warmer an object is, the more thermal energy it emits. Because this energy is radiated as heat, not as light, it cannot be seen with the naked eye under normal conditions, but a thermal imaging camera can remedy this.
It can do this because it contains an infrared detector, which detects and measures the radiation from the object, which is focussed through the camera’s optic lens. The detector uses this to create a temperature map or thermogram, which is translated into electrical impulses. These impulses are in turn translated into information via the signal processing unit, which then displays the information to the viewer, shown as colors according to the temperature values.
Thermal Imaging Camera Used in
Nowadays a thermal imaging camera has a huge number of important applications, and additional uses are being discovered all the time. One very vital application is in firefighting and military use, in fire rescue situations, where visibility can be very difficult because of thick smoke. A thermal imager can help rescuers detect the presence of people who might be unconscious and unable to call for help and can also be used for locating a fire below a floor system. The cameras are now being integrated into firefighting and rescue services in many parts of the world. They are also used in other rescue situations, such as earthquakes or air crashes, to locate the presence of victims.
- The Fluke thermal imaging camera is particularly built for use in really tough work environments and rescue situations. What makes every Fluke thermal imager particularly distinctive is that each one is fitted with the innovative IR-Fusion? technology, which enables the user to see images in both infrared and visible light fused together. This helps to communicate critical information much more easily and quickly.
Another major use for a thermal imaging camera is in building maintenance, particularly preventive maintenance programs, both in manufacturing premises and commercial buildings. Before the advent of the thermal imager, building maintenance was usually a matter of reacting to equipment failures and other emergencies after they had happened. Now the cameras are increasingly used in routine maintenance, for instance detecting heat gain or loss in utilities and structures, including insulation systems. They are especially helpful for professionals carrying out electrical maintenance, as they help them to detect faulty components, uneven voltage distribution, or connections likely to overheat.
Other professionals who benefit greatly from using a thermal imaging camera are law enforcement officers, especially since the advent of the handheld thermal imager. For instance, officers can detect escaping suspects who could previously conceal their whereabouts by wearing dark clothes. The cameras are also very useful in accident investigations. Modern cars with their anti-lock braking systems no longer leave skid marks, but a collision generates friction which can be detected for more than 30 minutes afterward.
As well as use in industry, security and law enforcement, a use for a thermal imaging camera has been discovered for homeowners who want to make their homes more energy efficient. A thermal imager can be used to detect where most of the heat is being lost from the home. Heat is usually lost from places like attics, wall vents, chimneys, or badly sealed windows, but the only way to know where to insulate is to identify the exact patterns of heat loss. This can be a big money saver in detecting and stopping heat loss.
A thermal imager can also come in useful by showing up hot spots to detect problems like dangerous wiring, or heat vents that do not work or showing cold spots to identify where water or air is leaking in from outside. Currently, these are more often used by potential purchasers, to reduce the price of a house, but they can equally well be used by the seller to prevent these problems showing up before the inspection starts.
- The Extech thermal imaging camera, particularly the i5 model, is very suitable for home use, as it is specially designed for the entry level user. The Extech thermal imager can detect even tiny temperature variations, which could signal moisture or electrical problems. It is compact enough to fit in your hand – so can be smuggled into the house if necessary – and weighs only 12 ounces.
Because the price of the thermal imaging camera is coming down all the time, this technology is becoming increasingly affordable. It can be used by businesses, even small ones, individuals, and public services, without worrying about excessive expenditure. Because it is a means not only of cutting costs, conserving energy, and helping the environment but also of saving lives, it is cost effective for all concerned and by all standards.
Inspection Camera Reviews
Inspection cameras, otherwise known as snake cameras, are small pieces of hi-tech equipment that allow you to see into tight or awkward spaces.
Such cameras have an optical scope that provides visual access to areas that would otherwise be out of sight normally, such as under the hood of a car, in a ceiling cavity or inside a drain that is giving you problems.
What do you need to take into account when buying an inspection camera?
- Check to see if the particular model you are looking at is waterproof or not, or ask yourself if you really need a waterproof solution in the first place.
- Will you need to use it at night? If so, consider a snake camera that functions well in low light conditions.
- Ensure that the battery is rechargeable and that it runs for a long time on a single charge. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a job and the camera going flat on you.
- In addition to a high-quality camera, you also want a high-quality LCD screen that can convey the image appropriately. If you don’t want to use an attached screen, then check for compatibility with laptops, television screens, and computers.
- A snake camera should also be comfortable to hold and lightweight to maximize ease of use, especially if being used for long periods of time.
- It should be easy to set up out of the box and the instruction manual should be intuitive and understood by all skill levels.
Some of the highest rated inspection cameras
You will discover that most major hardware and tool manufacturers offer their own models in this category, with some being more suited to the home handyman and others meant for more professional, industrial use.
- Dewalt DCT410S1 inspection camera
The Dewalt DCT410S1 has a 3 foot mounted camera with a detachable LCD screen for added flexibility. It also has a pistol grip control to make handling it much easier and the good thing about this Dewalt product is the fact that it is waterproof.
As a result, you can use it to survey the inside of water pipes or other moist environments where a probe camera is required.
The thing that people love about this camera is that it is a great little tool to have in the house to use when the need arises whether it be suited for a diesel mechanic who works out of his own garage or for someone doing a bathroom or whole house renovation. It also comes with a 12-volt lithium-ion rechargeable battery and a 3-year limited warranty.
- Bosch PS90-1A Optical Scope
The Bosch PS90-1A inspection camera has a large 2.7 inch LCD screen and the picture that you get on the LCD screen is very bright making it ideal for use in low light conditions.
Like the DCT410S1 it comes with a 12-volt rechargeable battery and also comes with a host of accessories and add-ons including a hook, mirror, and magnet for those more complex situations where a little bit of extra skill is required.
Having said that, it is probably best suited to the casual or serious home handyman that likes to get jobs done around the house without having to employ someone else.
People love the rugged build and easy to grip handle, and of course the fact that a little bit of exploratory work saved them from tearing a whole wall down in some cases.
- General Tool DCS300
The General Tool DCS300 is perhaps not as high quality as some of the other models mentioned previously.
What this camera does offer you is a large 3.5-inch screen for not much more than a model with a much smaller screen. It is also a fair deal lighter than comparable models if you like that sort of thing and does come with a nice carry case.
Unfortunately, the battery is not rechargeable, rather the DCS300 snake camera comes with a single 9V battery which has a very short life. For situations when the battery runs flat there is the option to plug the unit into the wall but ideally, you would like the batteries to be rechargeable and to last for a decent period of time.
- Milwaukee 2310 inspection camera
The Milwaukee 2310 represents a camera that gives you decent value for money.
It comes equipped with a reasonably sized 2.4-inch screen, which certainly isn’t the biggest you’ll find in this industry. On the other hand, it does offer some extra features to make up for it like a digital glare reduction feature and 200% digital zoom capacity.
It is generally agreed upon that the 2310 inspection camera is great at more simple tasks like looking in blocked pipes or between suspect walls but a few people have expressed concerns about the quality of the image that you get, which is a pretty big part of the camera to have issues with.
There are a couple of other usability issues too like the fact that it isn’t easily worked into place, and that the screen is very glory in bright sunshine.
On the whole, though the Milwaukee 2310 is definitely one you should check out if you are a casual snake camera user and want a relatively cheap option.
- Provision 100 PV100 Fiberoptic Scope
The Provision 100 PV100 scope is cheaper still than the Milwaukee 2310 – you can usually pick it up for just over $100.
This inspection camera can fit into openings less than a half inch wide and it has strong ultraviolet diodes which provide a very bright light so that you can see everything that is going on in the enclosed area.
Another good thing about the 100 PV100 scope is that both the lens and associated cable are fully waterproof and able to be submerged fully in water without any problems.
Of course with the lower price, there are inevitable shortcomings. Firstly, the 18-inch cord is too short in most instances, so consider grabbing the 36-inch version instead.
Secondly, the eyepiece has to be looked through in a certain way, which means you might find yourself in an awkward position when trying to move your body into the same alignment as the eyepiece itself.
This Provision snake camera is still a great way to save hours and hours of costly inspection work if you are willing to put up with a few minor annoyances.