Infrared Cameras FAQ

Q. Can I see through walls?

  • No. While hi-resolution and hi-sensitivity cameras can create the appearance of seeing through walls, what you are actually seeing is transmitted thermal energy. For example, if you look at the interior walls of a home when it is cold outside, you will likely see the studs in the wall. What is showing on the surface is cold transmitted from the outside, through the studs, to the surface of the drywall. It appears that you can see into the wall and you are actually only seeing the different temperatures on the surface.

Q. Can I detect plumbing leaks?

  • Yes. Thermal cameras are a useful plumbing leak locator. Most cameras have a temperature difference sensitivity of .10 degree Centigrade or better. It doesn’t take a lot of temperature difference for the camera to see the leak. The issue is allowing that thermal energy difference enough time to transfer through the flooring to the surface.

Q. Can I detect air leaks?

  • Yes. Similar to plumbing applications, this ties directly to the camera sensitivity. Because the temperature change required is so slight, you can detect draft areas around doors, windows, and attic access points.

Q. Will this work for moisture?

  • Yes. Moist materials will retain thermal energy differently allowing the camera to pick up the differences. You should always double check a potential spot of moisture with a moisture meter since there are several things that can create the thermal anomaly you are seeing.

Q. What is the biggest difference between a $3,000 and $10,000 camera?

  • The biggest difference is typically resolution. The higher the resolution, the better picture clarity. This translates to a better picture at a greater distance as well—similar to the megapixels of a regular digital camera.

Q. What is PIP?

  • Picture in Picture (PIP) technology in thermal cameras allows you to overlay a thermal image on top of a regular digital image. Depending on the camera, you may be able to resize the thermal image box. Some cameras also allow for fusion or blending, which allows you to fade the thermal image out over the digital image, increasing visibility of what is below the thermal image. This capability can permit reading of machine labels to identify the specific device being checked or can be used to add detail to exactly where an image was taken.

Q. What is emissivity and why is it important to thermal cameras?

  • Emissivity is the amount of thermal energy an object either emits or absorbs. This is relevant to thermal cameras because highly reflective materials absorb thermal energy, thus the camera can not get an accurate reading of temperature. For example, if you heat a black, PTFE resin-lined frying pan that has a chrome exterior, the black side will read a temperature value closer to the actual temperature, whereas the chrome side will give you values that are far from actual. Most materials fall close to the common preset emissivity value in the camera, but this setting can be changed to accommodate different materials.

Q. How to pick an Infrared Camera? What are important criteria to look for in a camera?

  • Price is a common consideration, but there are few key features to look for: Resolution. Are you viewing small parts and motors or is the camera for home energy inspection or moisture detection? Motor inspection might require a higher resolution where home energy and moisture can be detected with a slightly rougher image. Another consideration may be whether the unit has a field changeable battery or a car charger. Depending on the application, you may be running the camera for significant periods of time.Obviously, there are many things to consider, but the last one we will cover here is temperature range. Some cameras are ideally suited for industrial applications and will have a higher temperature range for reading electrical panels, motors, heat processes, etc. a range (-4 to 248 degrees Fahrenheit, for example) that is better suited for home inspections. Moisture and residential energy loss detection can typically be accomplished with a lower temperature range camera.

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For over 33 years Monroe Technology has been there for the professional thermographer. Monroe Infrared helps clients understand, select and train to maximize the value achieved with the right infrared camera.  Contact us to discuss and review your applications, expectations and budget constraints. 

The i-Series is a great tool for those who are in the trenches. Put the i-Series in your tool box today and use the power of infrared to visually detect problems before they detect you. Please contact us to discuss and review all of these as necessary to ensure you make the best decision for your business!

Infrared Technology Knowledgebase