Thermal imaging selection guide
Thermal Imaging is a method of measuring the temperatures of objects using wavelengths of light emitted in the infrared spectrum. We perceive this as heat and, for that reason, it is also known as Infrared Thermography.
The Many Advantages of Thermal Imaging
Thermal imaging is a non-contact technology that converts the infrared waves into an image that portrays temperature. The temperature range of objects in the image is differentiated using a spectrum of colours. As a non-contact technology, thermal imaging is efficient, safe and easy. Detecting temperature rises, instabilities or hot spots in just a few seconds can identify and pinpoint potential failures in equipment or systems before they cause expensive downtime, power loss or damage. It is invaluable in areas where equipment cannot be shut down, cannot be easily accessed, or where physical contact with the object would alter its temperature and skew the results. In addition, enhanced safety comes from being able to measure temperature from a distance – ideal for eliminating risk from applications that involve moving parts, high levels of heat or are in dangerous environments. Locating hot spots or cold spots is fast with thermal imaging. The technology helps to maintain productivity through rapid diagnosis and by its ability to measure without shutting down production equipment or processes. Training requirements on the latest generation of thermal imaging camera technologies are minimal. Use it as part of a scheduled maintenance regime to reduce downtime as well as a fast, safe and effective troubleshooting tool when problems arise.
Three Things to Know about Thermal Imaging Systems
Three key factors impact your choice of the camera technology for any given thermal measurement application.
The resolution of the thermal imaging sensor determines the quality of the image that will be portrayed. The higher the sensor resolution, the sharper and more accurate a single point will be on the image, allowing an operator to take more precise measurements and make better decisions. Higher resolutions permit smaller objects to be measured from a greater distance, and this fact alone can influence the purchasing decision based on the user’s expected operational environment. Detector resolution should not be confused with screen resolution. A high resolution screen can only be as good as the resolution of the detector. Also to consider is the available temperature range of an instrument. Not all applications will require a measurement range that extends to cover very high heat levels. Imaging devices offering a wider temperature range will use sensors that are more expensive, and this will reflect in the price of the instrument. Sensitivity is the third attribute to consider. It represents the smallest difference in temperature that the infrared sensor can distinguish. Devices with higher thermal sensitivities can detect smaller temperature differences to deliver an image with greater accuracy. Measured in milliKelvins (mK), the lower the mK number of a camera, the more sensitive it will be. This lower mK number means that the camera will detect a broader range of temperature differences and display more colours on its screen.