Thermal imaging cameras allow you to detect small electrical issues before they grow and become huge problems that can cost you or your company thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. The more common uses are checking breaker boxes to ensure that there are no lose connections, detecting wire and fuse overloading, monitoring of turbines, compressors and other vital equipment that operates around the clock. Thermal camera's can also be used in home inspections and for leak detection.
Equipment that builds up heat can be an indication that it was not installed correctly or that its cooling system is not functioning properly. Without a thermal camera you will not be able to detect the higher potentially dangerous temperatures just by looking at it. This could result in the equipment breaking down potentially incurring expensive repairs and loss of revenue.
Electrical inspections demand a higher end thermal imaging camera that is capable of detecting small changes in temperature as well as the higher temperatures that these machines operate at. You also need built in reporting tools that will speed up the process and will save you time when communicating your findings. An interchangeable lens can further improve performance and accuracy of thermal camera. This also saves you money as you will only need one thermal camera and can swap lenses as needed.
Having a quality thermal imaging camera with the needed features is essential to helping you complete your job as quickly and accurately as possible.
Using thermal cameras in your electrical inspections allows you to quickly spot the telltale early signs of failure that you are not able to see with your eyes alone. Your thermal camera will also have many onboard options for analyzing the potential issue and guide you to the root cause allowing you to quickly resolve the problem. Finally, you can use your thermal camera to provide proof that the repairs have been made and that the equipment is operating at the correct temperature with the detailed report generation found in almost all thermal cameras.
What You Should Look For In A Thermal Imaging Camera For Electrical Inspections:
you will need to make sure to get a thermal imaging camera that is capable of detecting small change in temperature fluctuations.
For electrical inspections you will want to make sure that your camera has a wide temperature range so that you will easily be able to tell the differences in temperature between many different surfaces.
If you are doing electrical inspections especially as part of your business or work your thermal imaging camera needs to have the highest resolution possible. This will ensure that your reports post inspection are clear and the issues are easily discernible.
If you are using your thermal camera for commercial electrical inspections, then you will benefit from using a NIST certified thermal camera. NIST is a US Government Agency that works to advance measurement science. A NIST certified thermal camera will cost more however you will know that is returns the most accurate data possible and will allow you to do higher end commercial work and potentially charge more for your services. FLIR has NIST certified versions of many of their higher end thermal cameras such as the E75, E8 and E6.
1. FLIR E75
BEST OVERALL THERMAL CAMERA
If you are looking for the best thermal camera for electrical inspections and are willing to invest the money the FLIR E75 is the perfect choice. The E75 comes from FLIR - the industry leader in thermal cameras along with their 2-5-10 warranty. Additionally, the E75 has a temperature sensitivity of 32°F to 1200°F, 76,000 points of temperature measurement, and a 320x240 thermal imaging sensor to ensure crystal clear images. You can also purchase the E75 NIST certified for even more accurate results and reports.
The E75 has FLIR’s award winning MSX technology which uses a combination of visual images imposed over the thermal images to provide clearer and more detailed pictures enabling you to quickly spot areas of concern. The E75 also comes with FLIR’s report generation tools allowing you to easily generate custom reports on the spot with the ability to annotate the reports with audio clips using the built in microphone.
The included laser range finder allows you to quickly and accurately measure distances speeding up the auto focusing and temperature readings. The intuitive IPS touchscreen display is viewable at angles up to 160 degrees allowing co-workers to easily see your findings even in bright light.
While the FLIR E75 is an expensive thermal camera, if you need a professional grade camera that will be used on a regular basis you cannot go wrong with the E75.
2. FLIR E6
BEST VALUE THERMAL CAMERA
The FLIR E6 is our best value thermal imaging camera for electrical inspections. If the E75 is out of your price range, you do not need a higher resolution thermal sensor and you do not need to be able to change lenses the E6 is a great choice. The E6 has a 160x120 thermal resolution camera with 19,200 temperature measurement points and a temperature sensitivity of -4°F to 482°F allowing you to detect a wide variety of electrical issues during inspection. The E6 has shock protected body able to withstand daily use.
While the 9Hz refresh rate makes images flicker slightly due to the lower refresh rate the E6 does have MSX which is FLIR’s patented technology that overlays a visual picture on the thermal image pic providing greater image clarity.
The FLIR E6 is a great choice for a professional grade thermal imaging camera with plenty of features for everyday use and an inexpensive price tag.
3. FLIR DM284 W/Flex Clamp Probe
BEST BUDGET THERMAL CAMERA
If you are looking for a professional all-in-one device that allows you to quickly spot electrical issues without contact, the FLIR DM284 might be your best choice.
This is a fully featured digital multi-meter that includes a 160x120 thermal imaging camera powered by IGM (infrared guided measurement) helping you to pinpoint issues and then use the multi-meter to test and troubleshot on the spot. This DM284 comes with a flex clamp probe and rechargeable lithium battery pack.
While the FLIR DM284 does not have the highest thermal resolution and it cannot generate reports or save images, it’s true purpose is to safely spot electrical issues by noticing overheating components. The added thermal capabilities make it a great choice for electricians and contractors who can’t or don’t want to have two separate devices - a thermal camera and a multi-meter.
Like all FLIR products the DM284 has their signature 10-year warranty. The 3-meter drop resistance will be well received by professionals for daily use. The temperature detection range is 14F – 302F making it suitable for a variety of inspections. The FLIR DM284 includes 3 color pallet options for the display and a laser pointer. The multi-meter has all the features you would expect of a high-quality digital multi-meter and you can overlay the multi-meter information on the thermal image to show clients and coworkers the exact spot where the issues are.
What you get for the price is a well put together package, making this our choice for the best budget thermal camera for electrical inspections. The only real two downsides to the DM284 are that you cannot generate reports from your findings like you can with the other thermal cameras listed here and you also cannot save images. However, for the price you get so many other features that the FLIR DM284 might be your best choice if you are on a budget.