Thermographic Scanning Tips

Thermographic scanning, also referred to as Infrared scanning, is a tool used across multiple trades. The equipment can be pricey, but it is a great tool to use as part of your arsenal. I typically use it in the electrical industry, but I will provide examples of other uses.

  1. Law Enforcement Surveillance – Using infrared to track fleeing criminals or hiding criminals is a pretty useful tool. Locating people in the darkness of night or in wooded areas can be a challenge at times.
  2. Fire Fighting – Using infrared can help firemen locate personnel trapped in buildings or see if there are any hot spots in walls, ceilings or floors.
  3. Search & Rescue – This falls on the same principal as Fire Fighting. You can use your imagination on how you can use this to find a person.
  4. Medical – Airports may use it to scan passengers exiting a flight to check for SARS, bird flu, or other medical outbreaks. It can be used to identify problems with pets. A pet has an injury but as a human, we don’t know “where it hurts”. This technology can help locate it. It can help diagnose blood circulation issues, cancer, infections.
  5. Energy Efficiency – Insulation defects, air leakage, heat loss, etc.
  6. Electrical Performance – Loose terminations, overheating, phase balancing.

This is a very quick overview of some of the types of uses for infrared technology. There can be many more uses. The tips that I have to offer pertain to the electrical industry.

Tip #1 – Pay attention to your temperature scale at ALL times. Whether you are in Manual mode, or Auto Gain Control (AGC). Know what your temperature scale is!

Infrared Camera Temperature Range

Temperature Range – Blue is cooler than White. White is off of the color range

Tip #2 – Know what you are scanning! And make sure to use the manual/auto focus. Understanding that a small transformer generates more heat than a control relay is pretty important. Being able to assess actual issues can be hard when you are looking at a section with various heat signatures.

Infrared Camera Operating Tips

Scanning items with a wide variety of components can be tricky! But understanding what each of the components are, can make your job easier.

Tip #3 – Heat reflects! Shiny metals and shiny bus reflect heat signatures. Sometimes infrared scanning involves different body contortions in order to get a proper look at components.

Infrared Emissivity

In this picture, you can see my head at the top, a section of non reflective material in the middle, then my body and both elbows. I was holding the camera.
For more detailed information on Infrared scanning of distribution equipment, check out this Infrared Testing Guide by TestGuy.net

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