How Do Thermal Imaging Cameras Work?

Thermal Imaging CameraThermal imaging cameras are used to detect areas or surfaces with extreme heat energy.

They are electronic, handheld gadgets that are designed with visual displays to help identify heat energy. These devices have heat sensors fixed to a special kind of lens.

They are mostly used by firefighters to detect areas with fire even through the darkest areas or areas with a lot of smoke. They are handheld, but users can also mount on helmets. Thermal imaging cameras mostly have water and heat resistant casing.

What Are The Uses Of Thermal Imaging Cameras?

Though they were initially developed for military use, thermal imaging cameras have found their way through other applications. Listed below are some of the various uses of a thermal imaging camera.

  • For instance, as we have discussed above, this technology is now being used by firefighters. Firefighters use the technology to see through dense smoke or dark areas to see people and identify and spot areas with fire. This has assisted them effectively in detecting regions with extreme heat and efficiently deal with such areas.
  • Law enforcers are also currently using these devices. They use this technology to conduct surveillance activities. With this technology, they can be able to locate crime areas and investigate crime scenes.
  • The power management services have also benefited from this technology. They use this technology to detect areas where electrical joints have overheated and minimize the risk of further damage.
  • Thermal imaging cameras are sometimes used to view wildlife. Sometimes in the wild one may not be able to view animals, especially in very dusty areas. The technology can be used in wildlife to detect warm-blooded animals for filming.
  • in our industry thermal imaging cameras are used to view warm and cold patches caused by a water leak, they are extremely effective during the central heating leak detection process.

How does a thermal imaging camera work?

These are pretty complicated devices but very efficient in their ability to detect infrared radiation from surfaces and objects. They work by detecting the IR of objects and surfaces where the thermal camera is directed at. The infrared radiation is then passed through an array of elements of detection. The detector elements then are able to create a very detailed temperature pattern known as a thermogram.

The thermogram is then converted to electric impulses. The impulses are then passed into a signal processing unit whereby the signal processing unit converts the information collected into data for display. This combination of these impulses then creates the images displayed on the screen. The images appear in different colours on the screen of the thermal imaging camera.

Do the thermal imaging camera only work at night?

No. Though the technology works perfectly at night, it can also be used in the daylight. In daylight, the thermal camera can be used to view in areas where there is no clear vision. For example, if you are viewing wildlife where the weather is foggy or very dusty, the camera will be able to outline warm-blooded animals clearly.

The thermal imaging camera works better at night since its thermal imaging sensors can outline warm objects more clearly with clear contrast. For instance, if you are to use this device in the day, you will find that humans and other warm-blooded animals will be more clear.

Can the thermal imaging camera see-through glass?

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You may be surprised, but these devices do not work through glass. A full and more detailed explanation would need a more in-depth knowledge of some physics standpoint. The principle is pretty straightforward in that glass only allo

ws visible light through them but acts as a mirror for infrared wavelengths. You will find that the lenses of these devices are never built using glass. Instead, they are made from materials like zinc selenide or germanium.

This, however, is not a hard rule since some infrared frequencies may pass through a sheet of glass. Likewise, some types and also configurations of glass can allow some varying degrees of infrared to pass through them. In summary, you cannot expect reliable information if you are using a thermal imaging camera to read through glass.

Do the thermal imaging cameras work in water?

These devices do not work well in water. The reason why, is part of what has been outlined above about the technology working through the glass. Water tends to block a lot of infrared the same way an opaque barrier might block any visible light. In the same way that we as humans cannot see through paint is the same way; these devices cannot work through water. In short the wavelengths, it detects, are easily blocked by water.

Water also poses another limitation to these cameras in that the IR cameras when submerged will require even more energy to lower or even raise the temperature by one degree. This is in relation to the fact that water has a higher temperature compared to air. This can be summarized that it will be harder for these devices to differentiate objects when submerged, unlike when they are on the air.

Types of thermal imaging cameras

Thermal Imaging To Locate heating leakThere are two main types of these cameras. Below is an outline of the two types of these thermal cameras and some details about each of the cameras.

  1. Un-cooled – these are the most common types of thermal imaging camera. Its infrared detector elements are in one single unit where they operate under room temperature.
  2. Cryogenically cooled – this is a more expensive version of the camera but very susceptible to damage. Its elements are safely sealed inside a specific container which cools them to up to 32F. The cooling of these elements allows the camera to be very sharp, unlike the un-cooled one. The device is very sensitive and has a very high resolution such that it can spot a difference of objects of as small as 0.2F from a distance of 300m or 1000 feet away. With such an attribute, this device can be able to tell whether a person is holding an object like a gun or not.

We’re a leading leak detection company in the UK, we’re pioneers and experts in the use of thermal imagining to detect hidden leaks. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, our thermal imaging cameras can pinpoint a hidden leak with clockwork precision. Talk to us now for a free no obligation quote, you won’t regret it.