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The applications of thermographic cameras or thermal cameras have not stopped growing in recent years.
However, it has not been until a few months ago that the general public has begun to be aware not only of their multiple uses, but also of their increasing presence in our closest environment.
They have been used for years in civil engineering, building, industry and video surveillance.
Moreover, in the current context, they are an interesting prevention tool in the field of public health.
Therefore, when buying one, it is important that you are clear about what use you need it for.
- 1 The most important
- 2 The best thermographic cameras: our recommendations
- 3 Shopping guide: What you should know about thermographic cameras
- 3.1 What exactly are thermographic cameras?
- 3.2 How do thermographic cameras work?
- 3.3 What applications do thermographic cameras have?
- 3.4 What are the advantages and disadvantages of thermographic cameras?
- 3.5 What types of thermographic cameras are there?
- 3.6 Where are thermographic cameras used to measure the temperature of people?
- 3.7 What is the difference between an infrared thermometer and a thermal camera?
- 4 Purchase criteria
- 5 Summary
The most important
- Thermographic cameras or thermal cameras show on the screen the images of the calorific radiations emitted by the bodies. They operate in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Thermal cameras have a multitude of applications, both civil and military. Among the former, those related to building, engineering and, lately, public health stand out.
- The first purchase criterion you have to follow when choosing a thermal camera is the use you are going to make of it. Then, you can take into account issues such as its resolution, accuracy and sensitivity.
The best thermographic cameras: our recommendations
Before we start with the buying guide, we would like to present you with a selection of some of the best thermographic cameras currently available on the online market.
We select them based on their value for money.
- The best thermographic camera for its power.
- The best thermographic camera for the cell phone.
- The best pocket thermographic camera.
- The best hand-held thermographic camera.
The best thermographic camera for its power
If you want a camera that effectively identifies more than simple heat problems, then give the FLIR TG165 a try.
It is a class II laser camera that has an output power of 1 MW (megawatt).
This means that it is strong enough to detect heat in electrical, automotive or construction facilities, for example.
We are aware that its price is not the cheapest, but it is worth it.
The device takes heat measurements over a temperature range of -13 to 716 degrees Fahrenheit.
Those who use it are quite surprised, as it often exceeds their expectations.
Where to buy
The best thermographic camera for the cell phone
Would you like to turn your iPhone into a thermographic camera?
FLIR ONE Pro is a powerful accessory for iPhone, which can help you find electrical and other heat-related problems.
It is capable of capturing temperatures between -14 and 302 degrees Fahrenheit.
Impressive for your cell phone, don’t you think?
It is a product that is tremendously useful for personal use, because the thermal images are good.
Plus, it’s easy to transport and store, so go check it out!
Where to buy
The best pocket thermographic camera
This thermographic camera stands out for its size. It only measures 3 x 3 inches and fits in your pocket, but what we like is that the LCD screen is bigger than the other models (2.4 inches).
So, if you require a good product that is not too bulky or complicated, consider Huepar’s HTi80P.
The device has a measurement range of 14 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, the measuring unit, emissivity and colors represented are configurable.
Where to buy
The best handheld thermographic camera
Do you need a thermographic camera to detect animals, people or objects outdoors?
Pay attention to the Leupold LTO-Tracker. It is a compact and lightweight hand-held thermographic camera.
With it you will be able to detect heat during the day and at night in a clear way.
In addition, it not only shows the heat signature, but also the blood traces.
It is a 100% waterproof, fogproof and shockproof model.
It detects heat over a range of up to 750 yards, displaying the results on its high-resolution screen.
Additionally, it features a digital zoom function (7x).
Where to buy
Shopping guide: What you should know about thermographic cameras
In general, technical cameras are intended for professional applications.
Therefore, before choosing which one to buy, it is convenient to know how they work and what functions they offer.
So that you can solve any doubt you may have about it, we have prepared this section.
What exactly are thermographic cameras?
Thermographic cameras or thermal cameras show on the screen the images of the calorific radiations emitted by the different bodies.
For this, they form images visible to the human eye generated from the electromagnetic emissions emitted by objects, animals or people.
They operate with wavelengths located in the thermal infrared.
How do thermographic cameras work?
All bodies and objects emit infrared radiation depending on the temperature they are at.
Thus, the higher their temperature, the more radiation they give off.
However, the human eye cannot perceive this radiation, since its range of vision is limited to the visible spectrum of light.
For this reason, to create thermal images of bodies from infrared radiation, thermographic cameras use sensors designed to detect the heat of the body.
These radiations are represented with images that show the lowest temperatures with blue, violet and green tones, and the highest with red, orange and yellow tones.
What applications do thermographic cameras have?
The applications of thermographic cameras are not only many and varied, but they are also constantly growing.
Their most important uses are as follows:
- Applications in the field of public security and private security for video surveillance tasks.
- In medicine and public health for the detection of cases of people who may have an elevated temperature.
- In industry they are used as a diagnostic tool to analyze the possible wear of mechanical parts or any other element of machinery (predictive maintenance).
- They are also used to analyze the operation of electrical and electronic circuits.
- They can be used as a fire detection and prevention system.
- Applications in civil engineering for soil studies and for the determination of possible failures in structures such as walls, facades and roofs.
- For night-time capture of wildlife images.
- For rescue tasks in case of natural disasters, such as earthquakes or accidental building collapses due to other causes.
- To carry out energy efficiency inspections of homes, detecting heat, water or humidity leaks.
- In agriculture, they can be used in drones to know the temperature of the ground.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of thermographic cameras?
Thermographic cameras offer more and more advantages.
It is therefore not surprising that although their scope of use was limited to certain professional fields until a few years ago, they now have more and more applications.
The most important of these are listed below.
What types of thermographic cameras are there?
Depending on the origin of the radiation, two types of thermographic cameras can be distinguished: active and passive.
- Active thermographic cameras: which have a reflector, generally located in the camera itself, which illuminates the object or body detected. In general, they work in the near infrared. They have a better calibration and allow obtaining better information about the temperature of the bodies.
- Passive thermographic cameras: they are characterized by capturing thermal radiation as it is emitted by the object or body detected. Normally, they work in the medium or far infrared. It is the most common type and the one usually used in environments with reduced visibility. They are also used to track humidity, for energy efficiency studies and to check industrial components.
Where are thermographic cameras used to measure the temperature of people?
In recent years, the use of thermographic cameras and infrared thermometers to measure the temperature of people has spread to more and more spaces, especially those where there is a large public flow.
In any case, the most common are:
- Railroad or bus stations.
- Shopping malls or other types of commercial buildings.
- Industrial Centers.
What is the difference between an infrared thermometer and a thermal camera?
The infrared thermometers allow the reading of the temperature at a single point.
They are reliable and useful.
However, to analyze large areas or large components are a bit limited, as they can miss some critical element or about to fail.
However, they are more economical.
Thermographic cameras allow the analysis of engines, large components and panels at the same time.
It’s like having thousands of infrared thermometers in a single device.
With them, it is much easier and faster to detect any possible element that is about to fail, no matter how small.
This is why they are used for a wide variety of applications.
We are aware of how difficult it can be to choose a thermographic camera.
To make it easier for you, we prepared the following list with the purchase criteria that can help you the most in your purchase process.
- Use what you are going to do with the camera.
- Infrared sensor resolution.
- Temperature measuring range.
- Sensitivity and precision.
- Weight, dimensions and battery.
Use what you are going to do with the camera
Depending on the use you are going to make of the thermographic camera, you will need to adjust it to some characteristics or others.
Thus, if you need it for field work in areas where you will not have access to the electricity grid, you should choose one with enough battery or one that uses batteries.
And, of course, one that is light and easy to handle.
If you are looking for a professional thermal camera for industrial applications that allows you to obtain high resolution images, a good bet is the FLIR TG165.
To check electrical components, you can get one with 160 x 120 resolution.
Infrared sensor resolution
The resolution of the infrared sensor will determine the image quality.
Thus, the higher it is, the sharper the image will be obtained and the greater the number of individual temperature measurement points (px).
In this way, it will be possible to measure smaller objects and at a greater distance.
In short, the measurements will be more accurate.
In the following table, you can see some of the most commercialized resolutions.
If you want the camera for professional use, you should at least choose a mid-range one.
Temperature measuring range
Depending on the application you need the thermal camera for, you will need it to have one temperature range or another.
Fortunately, today it is possible to find cameras with the ability to read temperatures even up to 1832º F (1000º C).
However, keep in mind that at higher temperatures there can be a significant loss of image quality.
Sensitivity and precision
The sensitivity of the thermal camera is determined by the smallest temperature difference it is capable of distinguishing.
Thus, the greater it is, the better it will differentiate two points that are at different temperatures and it will also better distinguish one object from another.
It is usually expressed in ºF or mK.
One degree Fahrenheit is equivalent to 1,000 mK.
The measurement precision, on the other hand, indicates the maximum measurement error of a thermal camera.
Normally, it varies according to the scale of the machine and is usually expressed in ºF.
Logically, the lower the maximum error, the more accurate the measurements will be.
It is usually considered a good accuracy of measurement values below ± 2 ºF.
When looking at the camera screen, you should not only consider its size, brightness, resolution and whether it is touch-sensitive.
It is also important to consider how it presents the images.
In general, they can show visible light images, full thermal images and combinations of both in different percentages.
It is equally important that you check what color palettes it allows.
Some applications can be better analyzed with monochromatic palettes, such as gray scales.
For others, richer color palettes are more suitable.
And also if it offers some kind of information on screen, such as indicating which is the coldest and which is the hottest point.
Weight, dimensions and battery
You may need a small, lightweight camera that you want to carry easily.
In that case, a good option, if you don’t need one that offers great features, is to choose a model of thermal camera for cell phones.
If you are looking for a device with a better resolution, you may be more interested in choosing one of the existing handheld devices.
They are not too heavy or too big.
Even the most powerful equipment is quite light.
On the other hand, you can find cameras with integrated batteries and/or that run on batteries.
In any case, the battery life should be at least two or three hours of use.
The use of thermographic in the civil industry has important applications in building and engineering.
It allows detecting failures in machinery, electrical installations, humidity in walls and facades, heating losses and air leaks.
In addition, lately, its use has extended considerably to the field of public health.
With thermographic cameras it is possible to carry out remote measurements, in a non-invasive way, and often to obtain the results instantly.
However, for certain applications it is necessary to have support software to analyze the data obtained.
The first question you should consider when buying one is what use you are going to make of it.
Finally, if this guide has been helpful to you in your choice process, you can write a comment or share it through the different social networks.
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