Infrared Cameras for Thermography

in Infrared Camera Systems

What is Infrared Thermography and what thermal cameras should I use for inspections?

For a Selection Of Infrared Cameras for Thermography click here.

Infrared thermography cameras can be used for a wide array of energy audits which is ideal for missing insulation, roofing, mold detection, building envelopes, weatherization, and home inspections.

thermography thermal cameras are amazing detector and lens combinations which allow us to image real time live applications. infrared FLIR (forward looking infrared) systems. Electrical and mechanical inspections with home energy audits, building envelopes, mold, insulation, roofing and air infiltration. condition monitoring and PCB R&D surveys also apply to infrared thermography.

Like vibration monitoring, oil analysis and other forms of predictive maintenance (PdM), infrared (IR) thermography often spares facilities from minor periods of downtime at the least; catastrophic equipment failure at worst.

Most commonly used to find “hot spots” in electrical equipment, infrared technology has uses in plenty of other places in around the plant, particularly as more plants incorporate comprehensive PdM programs into their routines. “About every two weeks, we scan our conveyor systems and look for hot bearings in the rollers,” says one Predictive Maintenance supervisor at an apparel mfg plant. “You can use infrared thermography cameras for anything, production-wise, even the buildings themselves.”

The top and bottom connections are loose & could have caused downtime at the facility. The middle connection is operating correctly at 87 degrees F

Area +A is 231 degrees F. Area +B is 99 degrees F. The fuse at area A needs attention in order to prevent facility down time.

New Thermal Infrared cameras range from between $10,000 and $60,000 USD. Cost depends on the type of system and it’s features. Demo cameras are also avaliable.

Spi / Heatseeker IR inspections

IR cameras see specific problem areas on roofs in order to target the exact location that needs attention. Substation electrical survey, the bright area indicates problem spots.

Today’s small, medium and large companies are either buying thermal infrared cameras, or contracting the work out to an infrared inspection firm.


One Infrared expert says; “With infrared, you’re measuring intangibles-how much downtime you’ve eliminated, or how many fires you haven’t had. With a utility company we can come in and say, ‘If your substation goes down, you have 2,000 homes that have no meters turning for eight hours; how much does that cost?’ And they can start calculating payback.”

Indeed, electric utilities usually have little problem getting their moneys’ worth out of infrared equipment. A senior engineering associate for Energy Transmission & Distribution Systems, New Orleans, LA, argues that he has seen a return on his company’s $300,000 investment in about a year. “We have transformers that cost between four and five million dollars a piece; if we can find a problem that will save one transformer, we’ve paid for our program for years.”

In a manufacturing plant, it often isn’t quite that simple to figure Return On Investment (ROI). An expert points to equipment availability as a way of measuring payback. “If we can catch a problem before it becomes a failure and schedule the repair during a planned shutdown, we’ve recouped some of our investment,” he says. “We have between $35,000 and $40,000 worth of equipment that we purchased about four years ago and it has paid for itself very easily.

This type of scenario is easily referenced after the purchase, but justifying costs to management beforehand can be tough. “We have documentation on steam traps,” says an infrared professional, “where we look at the cost of steam production at, say, $12 to produce 1,000 lbs with a 60% efficiency in the trap. If you can reduce that figure by 25% with infrared, you can calculate very easily what the energy savings will be for that plant.”

Most all newer thermal imaging cameras will be portable, handheld and will store images for documantation. The newer thermal imagers generally use the point and shoot method, and are easy to operate. Training should be considered because while the camera does most of the work, the user needs to be able to interput the images he/she has acquired.

The more time and usage you get with the infrared camera, the more familiar you get to calling a problem.

The use of infrared thermography is likely to aid in locating potential problems, therefore reducing downtime.

– J. Powers

Residential / commercial energy audits infrared inspections

SPi Energy Audit / Mold detection cameras An infrared home energy audit is done in two parts. First, an inspection of the exterior shows areas where expensive heated or air conditioned air is escaping. Second, an inspection of the inside shows where warm or cold air is entering. Both steps pinpoint areas where improvements can be made. Older buildings are especially vulnerable to heat and cooling loss and it is not uncommon to see entire walls, ceilings or attics lacking sufficient insulation. Thermal (Infrared) inspection is simply the best method of identifying those areas that need improvement, increasing your home’s thermal efficiency and therefore saving you money! Electrical fuse and circuit breaker boxes can be checked at the same time. Checking them for hot spots. You may be amazed by some of the problems that can be found in these areas. Any time a circuit is running abnormally hot, it is costing you extra electricity. Our Infrared Imagers can also see water damaged walls, ceilings and floors. Our thermal infrared cameras see the UN-SEEN. if you have, or think you have a problem, we want to take the guess work out of fixing it, thereby saving you money on un-needed insulation, window, door or heating/central air upgrades. SPi thermal imaging & their customers is not associated with any other companies or contractors, ensuring you of an unbiased evaluation. It is our policy at to ensure the highest quality standards possible while providing the home owner with an accurate, detailed description of all areas of their residence which may be of concern.

Insulation problems can plague almost any home and even new homes can suffer. Older homes, which were not built using any type of insulation standard, should be evaluated on a consistent basis to determine if there are any problems and which of the latest technologies would most benefit the thermal efficiency of the home. Many homes which have had modern insulation upgrades or were constructed using them may be susceptible to problems which may never be diagnosed without the use of a thermal imager. Some of these include:
1. improper insulation installation. A common source of thermal efficiency problems is improper insulation installation. Often these problems are almost impossible to detect without an infrared inspection. Some of the most common problems are blown insulation which does not fill the entire cavity into which it was blown and batts of insulation which when installed were either not seated properly, were compressed into the cavity or do not fill the entire cavity. Batts are strips of insulation that fill the space between two studs
2. Insulation which was installed using steel staples. These staples are subject to corrosion, and it is not uncommon to see them completely rusted away. This allows the insulation to shift its position in a wall, which can result in large gaps between where the insulation has settled inside a wall and the top of the wall. These types of gaps are a substantial source of heat and cooling loss.
3. Access plates. Electrical outlets, telephone jacks, cable jacks, light switches, door bells, etc. These areas are quite often completely lacking any insulation and can be the source of annoying and normally undetectable drafts.
4. Fire Alarms, recessed lighting, ceiling fans, etc. These items installed into the ceiling, are often not insulated after installation and can be a major source of heat and cooling loss.

Heat and cooling loss through other areas of residence. There are tons of places in your home that your money is literally flying out the window. Some of these areas are the window and door seals of your home. The older the home, the more likely it is that there are leaks in these areas. Even new homes can suffer from problems around doors and windows. As a home settles over the course of time, the windows and door frames receive stress, this stress transforms into warping which can cause the seals to leak. You may never notice leaks like these, but they maybe there. We have seen new homes of less than 30 days old, with gaps of almost a 1/8 inch in places around the windows, these gaps were allowing air to pass in and out of the home completely unrestricted and the windows were so warped they were almost impossible to open and close. If on the coldest of days, especially when a strong wind is blowing, it seems like you just cannot keep your house warm enough, or if it seems the heating or cooling system never shuts off, than you probably have numerous small leaks. These small leaks, added up, can equal leaving a window open in your home all winter and summer. Other places of heating and cooling loss are vents, ducts and chimneys. We will look closely at all of these areas during our inspection of your home. If you have central air, or forced heat it is also possible that you are losing cooling and heating efficiency through leaks you may have in the ducts which run through your walls and attic. You could be heating or cooling these areas without ever knowing it. If there are leaks in your systems ductwork we can see them in wall cavities and the attic area.

Damaged areas
SPi Infrared cameras look for areas in your home that may be damaged. Water damage is one of the most common types of damage that can lead to severe problems. It is very possible that insulation in some areas of your home have at one time or another, had water damage of some type. This type of damage does not require a visible leak into the home, and it may only occur sporadically. An example of this may be, when there is a hard rain combined with a south wind of more than 10 mph. This may only happen several times a year, however the damage that can be done over time could be substantial, plus the added water weight pulling the insulation (insulation can absorb water like a sponge) down the inside of the wall, and extra moisture corroding the staples holding the insulation up often leads to large gaps between the insulation and the upper part of a wall. Wet insulation can take months to completely dry and can be a source of mold and mildew spores, which can cause respiratory problems. Wet insulation also has an insulating property of almost zero and can actually be pulling the heat out of your home like a sponge. This type of problem is easily seen with a thermal imager. Excess moisture in an attic is a common problem in many homes and can lead to premature shingle failure. Adequate attic ventilation is essential in the resolution of this problem.
With water damage and over time, mold forms. SPi infrared cameras have the capability of “seeing” mold behind structures that could never be seen with the human eye. This makes an effective tool for mold detection. Scanning with SPI infrared cameras can determine and pinpoint mold areas which can become a potential health issue.

Large, medium and small operations have an extensive inventory of equipment requiring an uninterrupted power source for operation; an unscheduled shutdown is a disaster. Because plants and facilities runs around the clock, 365 days a year, downtime is equivalent to lost revenue.

To prevent such losses, all electrical components in the plant can be scanned with a thermal infrared imaging camera for suspect hot spots.

Some areas that can be thermally scanned are circuit breakers, transformers, fuses, disconnects switches, bus, panels, etc.

Once the problem has been detected with an Infrared imager, proper measures can then be applied for correction.

Companies use infrared imagers and thermographers to detect hot spots in electrical equipment in plants. By scanning substations, distribution lighting panels, and electrical motors. Problems are easily and quickly eliminated before they cause system failure. The results: avoidance of costly operations downtime.

By taking a thermograph of site electrical panels, thermographers develop and read a “heat picture” which reveals components that are overloaded or may become faulty. Unlike normal component operating conditions, faulty components exhibit readily detectable temperature increases over the ambient temperature profile.

Thermography verifies that electrical connections are properly made and maintained.

Thermography also detects hot spots that might be overlooked by visual inspections. Recently, in a U.S factory, staff quickly interrupted the power supply to an above ground trailer when infrared test equipment detected a hot spot registering 123 degrees over the baseline ambient temperature. A fire could have started, resulting in the probable loss of valuable records and equipment, had the problem not been uncovered.

Most electrical problems within industrial facilities are manifested or are accompanied by temperature changes as an effect prior to failure. For this reason IR thermography has become an integral part of most predictive / preventative maintenance programs. Infrared cameras can pick up small changes in temperature not visible to the human eye. It is a non contact, non destructive, and fairly simple method of detecting impending electrical problems.

It is widely known that as temperature in a conductor rises, so does it’s resistance. Conversely, as resistance increases (in most conductors) temperature rises. The majority of thermal electrical problems involve improper torque specifications or improper installation at the junction points. A loosely torqued connector effectively reduces the surface area in which current can flow and consequently an increase in the contact resistance. Oxidation build up at the connection point can also cause a rise in resistance. The origin of most conductor, insulation, and component problems can be traced to a poor connection using an infra-red camera.

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