All You Need To Know About Thermal Cameras

March 28, 2019

IR0019 thermal camera with hand and text

Everything About Thermal Cameras

Thermal cameras are changing the world as we speak. Now, you need not to drive blind - even in dark alleys or through foggy roads. Indeed. You can drive with ease and confidence - free of the fear of hitting a frightened deer or missing a wayward vehicle. As you know all too well, a small turn of the wheel could have life-changing consequences. For the ones in your car, most importantly.

 

For a firefighter, a thermal camera is a life-saver. First and foremost. Had there been more of these cameras available, there would have been lesser casualties in fires all over the nation in the past years. Or for that matter, during the 9/11 attacks. And lesser firefighters and first responders dying on the job. Truly, safety is everybody’s concern. As it should be. Read on.

 Normal visible image with thermal image side by side

  1. What is a thermal camera?

 

A thermal camera is a special camera equipped with sensors that can detect thermal energy and turn it into visible light. Meaning, you would see the different energy emissions of objects when you look into one. The more heat energy an object emits, the lighter it is on the picture. And conversely, the lesser heat energy, the darker.

 

  1. Can a thermal camera see through walls?

 

No, a thermal camera cannot see through walls but it can see thermal images through walls. It can also go through fog, heavy smoke or even total darkness. This means it can give you an accurate heat reading even when there is little to no light available.

 

This is the reason why these cameras have saved countless lives in disaster zones - especially in fires.  These devices allow firefighters to see the seat of the fire to be able to extinguish an incident faster. Most importantly, trapped individuals can be identified via a thermal camera. Had there been more thermal cameras available in America, there would be a lot lesser number of casualties during past disasters - Sept 11, 2001, including.

 

Also, this is the reason why an IR camera can protect your precious abode from possible dangers - such as fire.

 

  1. Do I need one? How can thermal cameras ease my everyday?

 

Yes, your life would be a lot safer with a thermal camera at your beck and call. Every year, for instance, over 31,385 fog-related crashes happen in American soil. That’s 511 deaths on average year in year out.. With a thermal camera on your vehicle, you’d be a lot safer even when driving through foggy weather.  Indeed. Better safe than sorry.

 

Plus, thermal imaging cameras can protect you from the prospects of a fire. Faulty home wiring is a leading cause of electrical fires - and unnecessary deaths. With a thermal camera, you can detect overheating electrical wiring as easy as A, B, and C.

 

And that should include your HVAC and water system. So you are kept away from furnace-ignited fires and overheating ACs. Or for that matter water leaks.  For now, you can check all these things, without having to open pipes or physically eyeball every nook and cranny.

 

  1. Can thermal cameras detect disease?

 

Definitely not. Thermal cameras are not designed for medical purposes. However, thermal imaging has been instrumental in preventing the spread of disease  - H1N1 and Ebola virus globally for instance. As thermal cameras detect rise in body temperature, people affected by these viruses who are marked by high fever can be prevented in the airport from entering the country. This without personnel even touching them directly.

 

Farmers can also benefit greatly from thermal cameras. Hot hooves, for instance, is a surefire sign of a sick cow. Detecting such a condition early can save the livestock.

 

  1. Thermal Camera vs Standard Camera?

 

Right from the get-go, know that thermal cameras work differently from the traditional camera we know. They are not actual cameras in the strict sense of the word. They are more like sensors - sensing heat.

 

A camera sees visible light but can’t detect heat. Conversely, a thermal camera detects heat but won’t see visible light in the traditional sense. Thus, it would be easy to understand why the pictures produced by a thermal camera is totally different from those taken from a smartphone. Or via a standard cam.

 

The good news is technology is getting better. For instance, these days you can grab a thermal camera that can give you a lot closer to a photo finish. PerfectPrime’s hot-seller IR0018 in one perfect example.

 

For a thermal camera, the greater the thermal emission (the hotter the source), the closer the image displayed will be to white. On the other end of the scale, the lower the thermal emission (the colder the source), the closer the image displayed will be to blue.

 

Moreover, you can easily see clearly the differences in distance in a standard picture. But not on a thermal camera. Instead,  you see the thermal. The colors produced depend on the level of “hotness” of the objects being observed.

 

Note: Thermal cameras are also known as IR (Infra-red) cameras. That’s because these detect infrared waves, waves that are below visible red light in the electromagnetic spectrum. Infra is the Latin word for below. Also, another term for a thermal camera is thermal imaging camera.

 

 how a thermal camera works

  1. How do thermal cameras work?

 

Thermal cameras have a special lens added to them so that they can view the thermal emission from all the different sources within its view. The lens will use thermal detectors to produce a temperature image better known as a thermogram. The process is pretty quick - lasting for a fraction of second. In such a short span of time, as much information as thousands of detailed points is collected and processed. The thermogram is then turned into electrical impulses which will finally be shown - directed to the display screen in the infrared spectrum.

 

  1. How accurate are thermal cameras?

 

This will often depend on the specification of the thermal camera and the design. The most significant factor to this is the frame rate and whether it’s an un-cooled or cooled thermal camera. However, most, including all of the PerfectPrime thermal cameras, will have a slight variation of 0.4F (0.2C).

 

  1. What are the main types of thermal camera?

 

The two most common types of thermal cameras are un-cooled and cooled.

 

The un-cooled versions are the ones seen all over the market. The system inside un-cooled devices operate at room temperature, are often completely quiet and can start immediately.

 

The cooled version is cryogenically cooled below 32 F within a sealed container. The process of cooling the system enables a much higher thermal sensitivity and much clearer thermal resolution. In comparison, the accuracy for a cooled thermal camera is 0.2 F (0.1C) from over 1000ft away. However, with such an advanced design, the price also climbs steeply.

 

  1. What is thermal resolution?

 

Thermal resolution determines how clear the thermal image is on your camera. The higher this number the clearer the details are. Typically, a resolution is measured in pixels - given in the form of number x number (e.g., 32 x 32). The first number represents horizontal clarity and the second number, vertical clarity.

 

To give a rough idea about resolution:

 

  • thermal resolution up to 10,000 pixels is usually considered the low resolution;
  • 10,000 - 100,000 pixels medium resolution;
  • and beyond 100,000, of high resolution.

 

It’s essential then that you choose the right gadget for your needs. Input from experts could be timely in this regard.

 

 

ULTRA RESOLUTION IMAGES - 320 x 240 Thermal resolution totaling 76,800 pixels. This thermal camera captures every little thermal detail that’s essential for many applications.

 

PROFESSIONAL TOOL - Home inspectors, site or maintenance operators get great value from this thermal camera in diagnosing heat issues and generating detailed reports.

 

COMPACT DESIGN - Carry this thermal camera with you anywhere you go as it will conveniently and neatly fit into your shirt pocket, back pocket and free your hands to carry other equipment.

 

3GB INTERNAL MEMORY - Integrated SD card that will store your captured images as JPG files and operate as a USB drive once connected to any computer.

 

EXTRA FEATURES - Realign thermal overlays with image registration or switch up the color palettes which best display the thermal signature in your application for accurate and reliable results.

 

  1. How much do thermal cameras cost?

 

They can range from as little as several tens of dollars to over several thousand dollars, depending on the applications and the features as well as the thermal resolution. The best way to get started is to have your needs assessed by a thermal-imaging professional. That way, you get to know your best options before you hit the buy button.

 

On the other end, getting products from trusted manufacturers is wise. For instance, PerfectPrime products come with an unheard-of 60 days warranty. A perfect way to get the best thermal cameras without the hassle.