Find out the answer to “what is thermal imaging” and find out how thermal imaging works here.


What Is Thermography?

Have you found yourself wondering what is thermal imaging? Well, wonder no more and read more to get the full rundown on thermography and how we use it. Thermal imaging and conducting thermal imaging surveys are fantastic and highly versatile way of assessment. It is the practice of measuring an object, subject or area to learn the levels of infrared radiation that are emitted.

Infrared radiation is heat energy and this can be found to naturally occur in certain circumstances. However, a thermal imaging camera will also identify and highlight any anomalies of heat having been created unnecessarily or incorrectly.

thermal imaging camera

How Does A Thermal Imaging Camera Work?

Despite being called a thermal imaging camera, and being able to record visual representations of a heat-driven landscape, don’t be fooled. A thermal imaging camera does not work in the same way as a conventional camera.

A camera is capable of capturing the light rays from the environment directly in front of the lens. It then uses the glass to redirect these rays to a central point. This process is the same as how a thermal imaging camera produces heat scan images. However, the sensor found in a FLIR camera is specifically configured to register infrared radiation and then display it.

Therefore, both devices execute a similar process and function, although the end result could not be more different. You can use a camera to get photographs and immortalise treasured memories and have wonderful decorations. Instead, a thermal imaging camera will provide useful information and insight into something you would never see normally otherwise.

thermal image

When Was Thermal Imaging Invented & Why Is That Important?

Thermography is a field of photography, taken from thermography: the study of infrared (IR) radiation. First discovered by Sir William Herschel, infrared is part of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths ranging between 9 and 14 micrometers (µm) or 9000 and 14000 nanometres. (1 centimetre is equivalent to 10 000 micrometers) Herschel’s original experiment was to find the temperatures of different colours within the visible light spectrum.

He used a prism to split white light into all its many colours and noticed that the red end was noticeably hotter than the violet end. He then measured the temperature below the red light and found that section to be significantly hotter than all the visible light. From this he made the breakthrough discovery that there were other types of radiation that we couldn’t see. He named this new, hot radiation infrared, where infra is derived from the Latin for “below”.

thermal imaging survey

What Is A Thermal Imaging Camera Used For & How Can This Help You?

An infrared camera has many uses and applications and a thermography survey can provide insightful answers. It can assist a range of industries, and be a great tool in your belt in a domestic setting.

Although when something is especially hot you may well be able to recognise this by some telltale signs. These are things such as steam emitting from the object/area, glowing components or skin burns from physical contact. These are all things that can happen, but once the heat reaches a point that it could be too late.

Thermography For Businesses

If this is something that occurs in a commercial or business setting then it could be highly inconvenient. It could be the catalyst for expensive and substantial damage to any equipment, nearby employees and the surrounding space itself. With a thermography camera, pinpoint any areas of concern and have it rectified before can become worse.

Some of the industries that benefit from thermal imaging are automotive, mechanical, medical and pest control. The list doesn’t end there though as there are  other industries that also have uses for infrared radiation screening. If you wish to learn about these industries these can all be found on our site alongside information showing exactly what is thermal imaging to these industries here.

Thermography For Homes

Similarly in domestic, residential environments, there are many aspects that a thermal imaging survey can be applied to. This can troubleshoot a problem you have been experiencing or simply help to gain a greater understanding of your surroundings. In a home the problems that can be solved by scanning with an infrared camera are far-reaching. When tackled early on before developing into a problematic situation they are little more than a minor inconvenience.

When scanning a property, temperature differences will be quickly discovered so they can be diagnosed and planned against to be rectified. These could be things that are not as urgent in requiring resolutions such as a heat loss survey or insulation inspection. Whereas something that has you hot under the collar and needing quick results can also be handled. This could be something like leak detection to stop a devastating tidal wave from ravaging your property requires immediate attention.

The reason why thermal imaging is such an applicable and useful service is due to how a thermal imaging camera operates. Having the ability to scan something without any physical contact being made, classifies thermography as non-destructive testing (NDT). This is highly useful and effective for commercial purposes. You can test something without damage or disassembly and while it is in operation to produce substantially more accurate results.

Who Makes The Best Thermal Imaging Cameras?

The best thermal imaging cameras arguably are made by FLIR. FLIR have a wealth of experience and innovation and have branched into many new and exciting industries. There are many other producers of thermal imaging cameras and general thermography equipment that are available on the market. As well as FLIR, RS Components also make very high-quality and reliable thermography cameras.

heat loss survey

How We Use Thermal Imaging

When we come round and service your equipment or tell you what’s wrong with your horse or even where those pesky mice are hiding, we are looking at thermograms. These are images of IR radiation, colour coded with visible light so that we can see the patterns. You may think to yourself that that sounds easy but you’d be surprised! As a thermographer we must deal with a lot of elements before we can even start telling you what the problem is. The most complicated element is emissivity.

Emissivity is the reciprocal reflectance of an object, which, put simply, means that the higher the emissivity, the less IR radiation that object reflects and so the truer the values presented on the thermal imaging camera. When there is a low emissivity the object appears hotter than it is as it not only shows the emission of IR radiation but the reflection too and so these objects appear to be much hotter than they really are. Therefore, it’s best to call out an expert like us!

Despite the examples given throughout this article, there really is no limit to the uses found for thermal imaging. There is a neverending stream of things that can be learnt and understood by assessing it from an infrared radiation perspective. Choose not to only believe the things that you can see.


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