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Buying a Thermal Camera isn’t as simple as buying a digital camera. (You can’t simply buy one on Shopee)
We know it can be quite overwhelming to buy a Thermal Camera today because of the vast specifications and capabilities.
A Thermal Camera is a wonderful tool for maintenance.
But what do we have to know before buying the most suitable model for our application?
This is why the easiest way to make an informed buying decision is to understand the 5 Most Important Features below.
With the knowledge of these 5 essential features, you will find out how shockingly easy it is to select the right Thermal Camera for your needs.
Let’s take a look at the 5 essential features to consider when choosing your ideal Thermal Camera.
1. Size of Screen
“The more you see, the more you know.”
The biggest (5.6 inches) screen size on a Thermal Camera – Fluke TiX1000 Thermal Camera
The bigger the screen, the more real-time detail you can see.
Thermal Cameras with larger screens often have user-friendly touchscreen capabilities as well.
- Thermal Cameras with HUGE screen size typically come with a touchscreen display that helps you instantly zoom into the images for higher precision analysis.
- Anything less than a 3-inches LCD screen may be challenging for you to interpret the thermal image.
- Some Thermal Cameras have the technology to overlay regular photos with a thermal image. This creates a detailed, clearer and more meaningful image. Now you know what you are looking at!
“See the big picture. And all the details in your thermogram.”
2. Image Resolution
We know it can get extremely frustrating to analyse poor quality thermograms.
This is why you should always select a Thermal Camera with an optimal resolution for your specific needs.
Think of a Thermal Camera like a DSLR camera. The goal is to capture a crisp and clear image – EVERY TIME.
- The resolution of a thermal image depends on the number of pixels on the Thermal Camera. The higher the number of pixels, the higher the resolution – producing a sharper and powerful image for you.
- The resolution you need is primarily determined by your application. The most widely used resolutions in the industry are 80×60, 160×120, 320×240 and 640×480
- It is recommended that you should look out for at least 160×120 (19,600 pixels). This resolution is proven to greatly reduce the margin of error when conducting Infrared Inspections – more than enough for you to identify major faults.
- If your budget permits, you should always consider investing in a Thermal Camera with a higher resolution to easily detect anomalies in your facilities.
- With higher resolution thermograms, you get better interpretation, readability and accuracy in your Infrared analysis – erasing the confusion in your reports.
Higher-resolution Thermal Imaging provides you with more accurate quantitative results that can effectively show findings to your clients, supervisors, maintenance team, and insurance companies.
This helps with a more efficient decision-making process for improvements or repairs.
A superior IR image quality is also fantastic for producing detailed reports for the marketing of your services.
A clear and meaningful Infrared Report eliminates doubt or questioning in your conclusions – guaranteed to give your management or clients the confidence in your Infrared Analysis.
3. Temperature Range
Do you need to measure the temperature of the HOTTEST equipment in your facility?
You’re going to want an incredible Thermal Camera with a High-Temperature Range.
The Temperature Range of your Thermal Camera determines the minimum and maximum temperatures it can reliably measure.
Every Thermal Camera has a different Temperature Range to suit your specific needs.
Here are some important factors you should know about:
- For Industrial settings, a higher temperature range is extremely important because it can reveal every and any hot spot in your facilities.
- For general Infrared Inspections during Preventive Maintenance, you should always lookout for a temperature range between -50 °C to 650 °C.
- Always be aware of the lowest and highest possible temperatures that you would expect during your Infrared Inspection.
Using a Thermal Camera with the correct temperature range will get you accurate readings in your Infrared Inspections – so you don’t have to worry about producing unreliable Infrared findings again.
4. Temperature Sensitivity
A Thermal Camera’s Temperature Sensitivity, or Noise-Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD), refers to the ACCURACY (the smallest temperature difference) that can differentiate between two objects.
- The temperature sensitivity you’ll need is entirely dependent on the job you’re doing and the climate you’re working in.
- Thermal Cameras with lower Temperature Sensitivity can only detect temperature changes of 1 °C or 2 °C, which may affect your recommended actions taken towards a potential fault.
- For best results, look for a thermal camera that offers you <40 mK or <60 mK. The more sensitive it is (lower NETD), the better the temperature details that the thermal camera can display.
A Thermal Camera with higher Temperature Sensitivity will make a world of a difference if you’re a mechanical inspector who needs to monitor friction in rotating equipment.
A higher Temperature Sensitivity can make the difference between replacing a worn bearing and replacing a whole pump – offering you substantial savings in the long run.
5. Built-in Laser Pointers and LED Lights
Bullseye laser pointer to aid electrical inspections.
Built-in laser pointers are very useful, especially when you are out in the field.
To save you the hassle of carrying another tool, some cameras have it built-in to help pinpoint specific problem areas to another person, like a client or a colleague taking notes.
This comes in handy when the point-of-interest is among similar looking parts or if it is beyond reach. This is especially important when the problem issue is too dangerous to approach – such as malfunction breakers, or high-voltage live electrical equipment where you need to keep a safe distance.
The laser markers also show up clearly on photos, providing you with a reliable reference – so you’ll NEVER mistake another wrong equipment in your thermal scans again.
Built-in LED lamp lights dark areas for better thermal images and safety.
Some Thermal Cameras have built-in LED lights, which is the perfect solution for you if you are conducting inspections in dark environments. While light does not affect the Thermal Image, it WILL affect your work and maintenance effectiveness.
Being able to see well greatly improves safety and allows you to be more detailed in your inspection. There could be details which are picked up by the Thermal Image, but if YOU are unable to see it, you would not be able to SEE the problem or it’s source.
Set your eyes on Thermal Cameras with a 300 lumen LED light that can effortlessly run for hours on a single charge.
You won’t have to fumble a separate torchlight ever again.
READY TO LEVEL UP YOUR INFRARED GAME?
By now, you have already learnt a good deal about what to consider before buying your Thermal Camera.
Like most things in life, the best decision is made when you’ve done your homework and research.
This is just the start. Are you ready to take your Infrared experience to the NEXT LEVEL?
To do so, gather a list of questions that you have about thermal cameras and their performance.
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our specialists at the Institute of Infrared Thermography (IIRT) will provide you with the best tips on purchasing your very own Thermal Camera.
P.S. We don’t sell Thermal Cameras ourselves, so be sure to expect only honest and unbiased feedback from us. Reach out to IIRT and we’d be happy to guide you on selecting your perfect Thermal Camera today!