Energy Loss in Buildings
What is thermal imaging (Infrared or IR) cameras
Temperature is very important in our everyday lives and is used for many applications such as to see if you are sick, if food is cooked thoroughly or if your car is overheating. Thermal imaging cameras take measuring temperature to the next level where instead of only getting a single number for temperature, you get a comprehensive visual image or picture showing the temperature differences of a surface. Thermal imaging, also known as thermography, is the technique for producing an image of invisible (to our eyes) infrared light emitted by objects with the use of a thermal imaging camera. Thermal imaging cameras provide rapid scanning of a surface that is non-destructive and environmentally friendly, which allows for quick detection of potential problems or defects that will reduce troubleshooting time and preventative maintenance.
Are there any limitations to thermal imaging (IR) cameras?
Yes! Thermal energy can be reflected off shiny surfaces such as polished metal and glass. Thermal imaging cameras cannot see through glass which is an immediate indicator of a low-tech device claiming to offer ‘infrared imaging’ to the end user. Some tablets and smart phones today tout IR technology yet are presenting a visual image that has been digitally manipulated to look like a thermogram. If you stand in front of a window while looking at a thermal imaging camera, you will see yourself in the window because of the thermal energy reflecting off the glass. Regardless of what Hollywood movies may show, infrared cameras cannot see through walls. It is also important to know that thermal imaging cameras should not be used as the deciding factor that a problem exists. Using other instruments such as a borescope, moisture meter, multimeter or blueprint drawing of the building should always be used to confirm what and if a problem exists.
How Does an Infrared Camera Work?
An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image on a video monitor and perform temperature calculations. Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be very precisely quantified, or measured, allowing you to not only monitor thermal performance, but also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems.
Recent Infrared Innovations
Recent infrared innovations, particularly detector technology, such as the incorporation of built-in visual imaging, automatic functionality, and infrared software development deliver more cost-effective thermal analysis solutions than ever before. Picture-in-Picture (PIP) technology in thermal cameras allows you to overlay a thermal image on top or beside a regular digital image. Depending upon your infrared camera you may be able to resize the thermal image, or it may be fixed in the center of your display image and saved images. Some IR cameras also allow for the fusion or blending of infrared and digital images. This is when the thermal image is faded over the digital image, increasing visibility of what is below the thermal image. The capability can permit reading of machine labels, electrical panels, production line controls, etc. to identify the specific device imaged and the specific location where the image was taken. Infrared cameras work to show a thermal world not visible to the unaided eye.
Flat Roof Infrared Moisture Inspections
We can detect moisture and identify where it has become entrained (drawn into and transportable within a roof system) long before water breaks through the roof system and drips down onto a ceiling, a wall or the floor below.
IR Roof Inspections allow for non-destructive identification of specific areas on flat roofs where moisture has infiltrated the substrate and is deteriorating the insulation (R) value of the material, reducing the strength of the overall roof system and negatively impacting the energy costs required to maintain the internal working environment. The IR Inspection can save building owners thousands of dollars by pin-pointing problem areas for resolution instead of tearing off part or all the roof for total replacement.
Moisture within walls, insulation or other building material may indicate leaking pipes, condensation issues or other problems leading to corrosion, mold, and mildew. Proactive annual or semi-annual Infrared Roofing Inspections are a tremendous Predictive, Cost-Savings tool for building owners and operators.