Thermal Camera Technology Applications
Applications for this thermal technology extends from traditional security through to camera medical, industrial, geological and any application where temperature represents something meaningful.
The following are examples of where the application of thermal camera technology can have an impact:
Safety & Law Enforcement
Surveillance- see hiding burglars or track someone fleeing a crime scene
Thermal camera vision from a Police helicopter finds suspect's heat signature as he lay in a tarp-covered boat.
Firefighting- quickly identify if a spot fire or camp fire is actually out, or just about to reignite.
Search & rescue- find out where people are in darkened or smoke-filled rooms.
Aged Care- ability to monitor patients without invading their privacy by using thermal cameras that can detect whether they have fallen or are suffering from fevers and any other thermally detectable conditions
Maritime navigation- clearly see other vessels or people in the water at night-time.
Automotive Industry- see people or animals beyond the reach of vehicle headlights or streetlights.
Air quality- monitor which industrial smoke-stacks or household chimneys are in use.
Gas leak detection- specially calibrated thermal cameras can be used to detect the presence of specific gases at industrial sites or around pipelines.
Preventative maintenance- all kinds of safety checks to reduce the risk of fire or product failure (see electrical and mechanical sections below for specific examples).
Disease control- quickly scan all incoming passengers at airports and other locations for elevated temperature (as seen during the SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola and other recent outbreaks).
Military & defense applications- thermal imaging is of course also used in a wide range of military hardware, including aerial drones. Although now just one use of thermal imaging, military applications are what originally drove much of the initial R&D.
Counter-surveillance- covert surveillance equipment such as listening devices or hidden cameras all consume some energy which gives off waste heat that is clearly visible on a thermal camera (even if hidden inside or behind an object).
Thermal image of a listening device (or other energy consuming device) hidden in roof space
Livestock and Pests
Unwanted pests- find out exactly where possums, rats or other animals are camping out in a roof space (without having to crawl through the roof).
Animal rescue- find stranded wildlife (such as birds or pets) in hard-to-access areas.
Termite detection- detect areas of potential termite activity in buildings.
Wildlife surveys- conduct night-time wildlife surveys and other animal research without the use of trapping or more invasive methods.
Hunting- similar to military applications, thermal imaging can also be used for hunting (infrared camera rifle scopes, monoculars, etc).
Healthcare & Veterinary
Skin temperature- a non-invasive way to detect variations in skin temperature (which can be symptomatic of other underlying issues).
Musculoskeletal problems- thermal imaging cameras can be used to diagnose a variety of disorders associated with neck, back and limbs.
Circulation problems- may help to detect the presence of deep vein thromboses and other circulatory disorders.
Infection- quickly locate potential areas of infection (indicated by abnormal temperature profile).
Horse treatment- for diagnosis of tendon, hoof and saddle problems.
Electrical and Power
PCB defects- check for electrical defects on printed circuit boards (PCB's).
Power usage- quickly see which circuits on a switchboard are consuming the most power.
Hot or loose connectors- find defective connections or 'hot joints' before they cause long term irreversible damage to equipment or stock.
Electricity Supply & Distribution- check for unbalanced loads, overheating or defective equipment.
Underfloor heating- find out if electric underfloor heating is working properly and/or where a defect has occurred.
Overheated components- find overheated substations, transformers and other electrical components. Higher-end thermal cameras with adjustable lenses such as thermal cameras are often used by electricity utilities and others to quickly check overhead power lines and transformers for issues.
Solar panels- check for electrical defects, micro-fractures or 'hot spots' in solar PV panels.
Aerial drone thermal image of a solar farm showing a defective panel (left) and a similar test done close-up on an individual solar module showing a problematic solar cell (right).
Low cost drone Thermal Cameras, 47 x 25 x 15 mm, 25 grams starting at A$499
Mechanical & Maintenance
HVAC maintenance- check issues with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment such us the coils and compressors on refrigeration and air conditioning systems.
HVAC performance- check how much heat is being generated by equipment inside a building and how the air conditioning ducting cold be improved to deal with this, for example, in server rooms and around comms racks.
Pumps and motors- overheated motors can be spotted before they burn-out.
Bearings- bearings and conveyor belts in factories can be easily monitored with a thermal camera to identify potential issues.
Welding- welding requires the metal to be heated uniformly to melting temperature. By looking at the thermal image of a weld, it is possible to see how the temperature varies across and along the weld.
Motor vehicles- demonstrate specific vehicle mechanical issues such as overheated bearings, engine parts with uneven temperatures, and exhaust leaks.
Hydraulic systems- identify potential failure points within hydraulic systems.
Aircraft maintenance- conduct fuselage inspection for de-bonding, cracks or loose components.
Pipes & ducts- identify blockages in ventilation systems and pipe work.
Non-destructive testing- infrared non-destructive testing (IR NDT) is a valuable process for detecting voids, delaminations, and water inclusion in composite materials.
Hydronic heating- check the performance of in-slab or wall-panel hydronic heating systems.
Greenhouses- review issues in commercial greenhouses (eg. plant and flower nurseries)
Leak detection- it is not always obvious where the sources of a leak is located, or it may be expensive and/or destructive to find out. For this reason many plumbers have purchased our cameras to make their job a whole lot easier.
Thermal image showing a water leak (likely from neighbour above) in an apartment kitchen.
Moisture, mold & rising damp- infrared cameras can be used to find the extent and source of damage caused to a property by moisture related issues (including rising and lateral damp, and mold).
Restoration & rectification- related to the above moisture detection issues is one of restoration: to determine if restoration works have effectively solved the initial problem.
Insurance claims- thermal camera inspections are often used as an evidence base for insurance claims (including the various mechanical, electrical and safety issues outlined above).
Low cost Thermal Cameras for mobile phones to capture and record leakage, water ingress, building defects, structural issues, hot spots, pests and many other insurance issues.
Insulation defects- review the effectiveness of and find gaps in ceiling and wall insulation.
Air leakage- check for air leakage in air conditioning and heater ducting as well as around window and door frames and other building elements.
Hot water- see how much energy hot water pipes and tanks are losing to their surroundings.
Refrigeration- use an infrared camera to find defects in refrigeration and cool room insulation.
Heater performance- analyses the performance of heating systems including boilers, wood fires, and electric heaters.
Glazing- evaluate the relative performance of window films and double glazing.
Heat loss- see which areas of a particular room or building are loosing the most heat.
Heat transfer- review the effectiveness of heat transfer, such as in solar hot water systems.
Waste heat- find out which appliances are generating the most heat and therefore wasting the most energy.