Have you been shopping around for the best thermal imaging camera? Look no further. In this article, we’ll discuss the top 5 infrared cameras and add a few buying tips just for you. So what exactly are we talking about?
A Thermal imaging camera (TIC) or the infrared camera is a device that functions using infrared radiations to form an image. These cameras mostly operate in a wave range of up to 14000nm. They then convert heat or thermal energy into visible light for analyzing objects within cloggy environments such as smoke and darkness.
They were originally devised for the military to use during firefighting. However, today, their uses have advanced, and they come in several sizes and shapes to allow portability.
How Does a Thermal Imaging Camera work?
Thermal imaging cameras focus their special lenses to objects which in turn emit infrared light. The infrared detector scans the light and creates a detailed pattern using the different temperatures emitted to form a thermograph. The thermograph is then transformed into electrical impulses which are sent to the signal processing unit where they are translated into data and displayed. The information is shown in the form of color intensities according to the strength of the infrared emission.
What Defines a Good Thermal Imaging Camera?
The quality of the camera is very important. It needs to have excellent sensor resolution as well as other functional features. Even though the budget is equally important, don’t go for a cheap product and compromise the quality.
The sensor resolution of an infrared sensor is a significant factor when purchasing a thermal imaging camera. Low resolution can limit the gadgets application. When the field of view is large, with a low resolution, you will have difficulties in viewing the exterior façade of the house. In addition, when examining an electric circuit, a low lens resolution camera and a narrow field of view are appropriate since the object in question is small.
Ease of use
The camera should be easy to use especially for beginners. Most devices come with many additional features which can be confusing to a beginner and this may increase the training cost and period. However, it’s essential that the integrated camera and the laser provide easy targeting to allow quick operations. Finally, the camera should not have very many buttons because they can cause difficulties for people with large hands and they can also cause confusion when working.
FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera
FLIR TG165 is designed to bridge the technology of single spot infrared thermometers and the former FLIR thermal cameras. This is the light gadget for troubleshooting in factory production systems and building inspections. The gadget has a micro thermal sensor exclusively from FLIR that enables you to view the heat and identify the specific spot which you intend to measure. You can quickly identify the unseen hot or cold spots, and therefore assist you to troubleshoot and store data and images. These you can avail the customers as well as use in your reporting.
The gadget has an inbuilt digital camera that can show the hot spots fast and accurately. It also comes with diverging dual lasers that enable you to identify the affected area. The camera’s 24: 1 spots ratio gives a safe distance when measuring. It is also easy to use and doesn’t require specialized training to operate since it automatically detects the cold and hot spot in its field of view. Its ability to download images quickly from a microchip and the USB as well as saving the data and pictures makes it ideal for instant reporting as well as documenting.
The device is small in size and can fit in a pocket; can withstand a two-meter drop; comes with a lanyard; international charger; 8 GB memory card and a USB cable.
The device is mainly used to identify overheated moving parts such as pulley belts, electric motors, and overheated bearings. It is also used to check fans for high powered electrical equipment. FLIR TG165 also helps in ensuring the functionality of radiant flooring and in heat conditioning control by detecting heat loss from doors and windows. It also monitors switch gears that control the operating temperatures in a production process. Finally, the device evaluates the electrical condenser for irregular heat patterns. It spots overloaded breaker and malfunctioning air dampers in a production environment.
Fluke VT04 Imager
The VT04 Visual IR is a gadget that is very vital in situations where the single spot heat reading is less and a high resolution thermal image is more than you require. The device is ideal for identifying intermittent shortcomings by monitoring instruments regularly. It alerts you when temperatures go beyond the expected parameters. It has a spot thermometer capable of thermal imaging and a troubleshooting camera with an infrared heat map. The VT04 pyroelectrical technology allows infrared heat mapping which enables you to identify when the temperatures are insufficient in a specific spot. On the other hand, the high-resolution allows you to locate and get any issues concurrently as it combines thermal blended and digital photos. In addition, you can identify cold and hot spots with temperature markers. It efficiently documents the shortcomings using the smart view software.
VT04 Visual IR is used primarily to monitor overloaded breakers and to evaluate expansion compressor heat valves; as well as to check the overheating of an electric motor and overheating bearings. In addition, the device checks the operation of the combination starter in a production environment; monitors unbalanced power supply by three-phase electrical power supply; checks faulty heat patterns of the electric condenser as well detecting malfunctioning of switchgears. It also monitors the functioning of power factor capacitors.
The imager ensures the operation of radiant and hydronic flooring; monitors overheating of pulley belts and pulley; spots potential heat loss from entrance and ventilation as well check the malfunction of cooling fans in high powered electrical machines. It comes with other accessories such as mini SIM card and a hand strap. Finally, you get Lithium ion batteries to ensure constant power supply and the smart view software copy in compact disc, an adapter micro USB charger, as well as a hand case to prevent external forces damages.
Seek Thermal XR for iOS-Apple
Seek Thermal XR Is an advanced camera with extra features for improving the image quality as well as enhancing recording capacity and video capabilities. This device is ideal for detecting electrical short circuits, and missing insulation, as well as air leakages. The gadget comes in different models which connect to various digital gadgets such as the iPhone, iPod, and the iPad. It uses a lightning connector to enable the use of videography and thermal photography feature on other digital gadgets. It also comes with the predator or the heat sensitive camera used in movies. Its Android version is also available in the market.
The size of the camera is small and convenient, and the durability is checked by the thin magnesium Black cover. The lens is fixed on the left side to allow easy mounting of other IOS devices that you might use. Seek Thermal XR comes with durable and compressed hard plastic bag with a keychain ring for easy portability. The gadget enables you to connect to a smartphone and get a thermal image of the object in your environment and records the surrounding environment.
The device uses include home repairs and maintenance. With these, you can see the defects inside the pipes. It also detects the malfunctioning of the heating system by showing the exact point where the heat is escaping through. Additionally, it checks the hot or cold spots in your home cookers and dysfunctions of the heating systems.
The device is suitable for home security since it can detect and transmit unwanted intruders whether animals or other human beings in your compound (at night or during the day). It can pick infrared waves of any animate or inanimate object and also gives virtual images using different colors. Also, it can measure the temperature variation. The tiny sensor chip enables the gadget to create the images. It also enables your camera to detect temperature range between minus forty degrees Celsius to 330 degrees Celsius.
4. Seek Thermal Reveal
The Seek Camera design allows work and leisure activities. The device accurately inspects electrical and mechanical equipment and documents the problems in total darkness as well as during the day. It has features such as a mini camera and 300-lumen flashlight that can detect heat points within the temperature range of minus 40 to 626 degrees Fahrenheit using its vanadium oxide microbolometer. The device can detect running engine heat signatures; malfunctioning and overheated pipes, human or animals trespassing in smoky and foggy environments, and give a display in its 2.4 color LCD.
To enhance your leisure and productive work experience, the imager has features such as a control pad with three buttons, and an intuitive menu, as well a quick 3-second startup; a combination that enables low light environment navigation and performance. The 300-lumen flashlight together with the inbuilt slot for micro SD card and its memory card allows you to save the data as well as transfer and document on your laptop where you can later do the analysis. The gadget comes with an internal lithium battery which can be charged to give you uninterrupted service for ten hours a day and can go for a whole week.
Other essential features include shock resisting; watertight casing and polycarbonate body covered with non-slip rubber. This feature allows working with the device in an outdoor environment, professional settings, as well as harsh terrain and climate. Finally, it has a wrist yard; cable for USB charging, and a wall charging system.
FLIR C3 with Wi-Fi
FLIR C3 comes with every feature needed for detecting problems, recording documented footages, and for alerting issues to the concerned party at the right time. This is the best thermal imaging camera for building, inspection, and electrical repair as well as maintaining facilities. The large, intuitive auto orientation touchscreen allows you to view thermal images clearly any time of the day. And the inbuilt WIFI enables seamless connection uploading of pictures on other devices such as a tablet, phone, or laptop using a direct wireless connection.
The gadget area box mode allows the detection of the image hottest and coldest points to notice any shortcoming. It is small in size which makes it super portable. FLIR C3 has full radio thermic imaging camera which captures the image according to its temperature reading and gives the exact temperature of every part of the detected image. This feature enables you to have the general view of heat distribution within the image, and you can also do more analysis. The FLIR tool and software will enable you to have a detail thermal report which you can document for future use and is available for the management or the customers.
The MXS mode of the gadget camera enhances the detail level of the object by extracting the details from a standardized digital image. It then mixes and blends the two to come up with a perfect model. In layman’s language, you can view the image captured at the time of capturing clearly. Additionally, the defined object can assist you to see the specific component in an electrical panel.
Other essential features include the ability of the pocket size camera to perform other different tasks; the ability to deliver accurate temperature readings, and a high internal memory that can store up to 500 images. The device comes with a reachable battery that can go for two hours, and the temperature operating range is between minus 10 degrees to 159 degrees Celsius.
Look for useful additional feature depending on the type of work you plan to do with the camera. For instance, an electrician needs to check using the integrated digital camera, and mostly the image combining display type is perfect for diagnosing and documenting electrical damages.