Thermal Imaging Explained

Q.) What can Thermal Imaging be used for?

A.) Since Infra-red Energy is emitted by all objects above what’s know as Absolute Zero (-273.15*C) according to the Black Body Radiation law, Thermography makes it possible to study an objects surface Temperature over a period of time and compare any variances.

As the amount of radiation emitted by an object increases with temperature, Thermography allows us to see tiny variations in temperature, which is very useful when trying to locate unusual patterns.

When viewed through a thermal imaging camera, warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds; humans and other warm-blooded animals become easily visible against the environment, day or night.

As a result, Thermography is particularly useful in Building Investigations, Non Destructive Testing, Electrical & Mechanical maintenance, tracing leaks or sediment build-ups in pipes and heating systems, as well as Medical & Scientific research.

Q.) What can I expect from commissioning a Thermographic Survey?

A.) Generally a Thermal Imaging Survey aides in the detection and identification of unseen defects. Using a combination of high-end Thermal Imaging equipment and expert surveying techniques it is possible to pinpoint many common problems such as poor building detail, overheating electrical circuits and excess friction in mechanical components.

ECO Surveys – Advanced Thermal Imaging provide a comprehensive inspection report at the end of each project, which contains Visual & Thermal Images of any defects which we have identified, as well as an explanation of each image and recommendation on how to remedy any problems.

We can detect various, unseen, problems during a routine inspection as detailed on our services section of our website.

As an additional part of our service, we always take the time to discuss the report findings in detail and answer any questions which our clients may have regarding the results.

Levels of customer service vary greatly from company to company, so be sure to choose wisely and engage the services of a Thermography Expert!

Q.) I’ve heard Thermal Imaging has to be done at night, is this true?

A.) Yes and No. As a general rule of thumb, any internal surveying can be done any time of the day or night, however any external imaging must be carried out after dark. The Instruments which we use detect Infra-red Radiation, if we were to carry out an external inspection during the daytime, the imaging system would pick up a large amount of “artificial” radiation or energy from sunlight. This phenomenon is known as Solar Gain and leads to wildly inaccurate results and false data.

Q.) Can a Thermal Imaging Camera see through things – i.e walls, clothes, etc?

A.) No – This is a common misconception perpetuated by Hollywood. Although Thermal Imaging Cameras can give you an idea of what is behind / underneath the surface of a material, the energy which is detected by the camera is surface radiation – therefore we can only see the surface of an object.

Q.) Is Thermal Imaging Dangerous – i.e does the camera “beam” anything out?

A.) No – A Thermal Imaging Camera can only detect incoming radiation or energy and therefore is not harmful in any way.

Q.) How can I trust the information from a Thermographic Report?

A.) We advise engaging a reputable Thermography company, with a good level of expertise and knowledge, to carry out a professional inspection on your behalf. The rise in popularity in this service, coupled with the ever decreasing cost of camera equipment means that there are a lot of novices with cheap, low quality cameras, posing as experts.

We recommend that you choose your Thermography company carefully and always ask to see their credentials before engaging them and ask again to see their ID badge upon arrival to your job.

Another good way to check a company’s competence is to look for customer reviews on sites such as Google+ etc.

At a minimum, a trained Thermographer should have a Level 1 Qualification and carry an Identification Card with them at all times. You should always ask to see this – you have been warned!

Q.) Can anyone become a Thermographer?

A.) Thermography is a highly specialised field, however there are several companies throughout the UK which offer formal training. Once an accredited training course has been completed, it is advisable to build up a portfolio of inspections to hone the skills gained whilst training. An experienced Thermographer would look to build around 200 hours’ worth of inspections and report writing prior to attending Advanced Thermal Imaging courses.

Q.) Can I rent a Thermal Imaging Camera and do it myself?

A.) Although there are companies who offer camera rental, Thermography is a highly specialised field which requires a thorough understanding of Physics and extensive experience in analysing and interpreting Thermographic Data. Whilst the idea of renting a camera and “having a go” may seem exciting, we would always advise engaging the services of a specialist Thermography consultancy. We have seen many instances of people renting cameras, or even worse buying a cheap camera or mobile phone attachment and badly misinterpreting what they “think” they see, often resulting in very costly mistakes.

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