The essence of thermal imaging is that it can identify problems and issues by detecting the heat which is at their source. They are designed for use by both trades people and private individuals and do not require special training, their features and functions being essentially self-explanatory. High resolution, radiometric imagery, a wide field of view and real-time image enhancement are accepted features of these devices when they are purchased from market-leading manufacturers. Many versions have additional features such as wireless connectivity, allowing results to be analysed more or less instantaneously. Sundry enhancements, such as a twin (still) camera or Bluetooth or USB connectivity are available with certain models, enhancing usability and providing more options.
Features of Thermal Imaging Cameras
Whether you are a leading building industry expert or a small private contractor, thermal imaging technology allows you to isolate and identify hidden heat patterns which betray energy wastage, plumbing problems, structural defects and much more besides. With small, portable, easy-to-use hand-held units it is possible to locate issues which can then be acted upon expeditiously and with total accuracy. The affordability of the modern thermal imaging camera combined with its much improved resolution makes this a must-have tool for anybody who is in the trade.
Best Thermal Imaging Cameras
FLIR C2 Compact
The FLIR C2 is a pocket-sized, high-resolution device which features real-time MSX (Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging) enhancement and is designed to be used by both novice and expert. It will identify hidden heat issues allowing you to promptly flush out any problems at their source. Its wide field of view and fully radiometric imagery make it easy to accurately locate problems and to verify that repairs have been undertaken satisfactorily. Incorporating a built-in LED spotlight and flashlight with an additional mechanism for highlighting photographic images, it offers all the capability that could reasonably be demanded of a device of this kind within the price range in which it lies.
Although lightweight and portable, the C2 is certainly durable and can be transported around a construction site alongside and among other tools and equipment with some confidence. Unlike mobile telephones, which sometimes offer some aspects of the same technology if usually to a lower standard, it does not have to be wrapped in proverbial cotton wool and handled as though it were an ornament, although some sensible caution is naturally advised.
This model is offered in its standard form or, for a modest additional cost, with Wi-Fi enabled, providing additional options for the potential customer depending upon whether the priority is affordability or maximum functionality.
- MSX-enhanced thermal imaging system makes for great detail to deliver prompt and successful identification
- Built-in LED spotlight which doubles as a flashlight and an illumination mechanism for photographs
- Professional reporting software included in package
- Operating temperature -10 to 50 degrees Celsius (14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Lightweight and easily portable, allowing for convenient carriage
- Radiometric image stores 4800 pixels, capable of taking thermal measurements within a wide temperature range
- Wi-Fi enabled option at a small additional cost
- Lithium ion battery included
- Strong and sturdy, difficult to break
Reviews by verified purchasers of this product are overwhelmingly favourable, with 95% of respondents awarding either four or five stars and the large majority of those opting for the highest rating. Bearing in mind that the urge to complain is most often greater than that to pay a compliment, this provides no mean endorsement of its popularity and of the esteem in which the FLIR C2 is held by its users.
Recurring themes are its affordability and its compact and sturdy design, which seem to be popular with most buyers. Reference is made to its shape, which is compared favourably to the more traditional radar gun design type.
Of course, reviewers are seldom unanimous in their positivity, and there are criticisms made of the C2 and of aspects of its overall performance. Battery life would appear to be an issue with a minority of critics, and it is inevitably pointed out that, whilst good, the resolution and image quality remain inferior to those of more sophisticated, and expensive models which exist within the same product range. These inevitably offer increased thermal sensitivity and a wider scope of vision.
Nevertheless the opinion overwhelmingly most expressed is that this device provides excellent value for the performance that it offers, and this point is made repeatedly. It is clear from the various comments made that economy does not in the case of this product mean poor quality or under-performance.
Another quality of the C2 which is made by those who have reviewed its performance is its hardiness and durability. Whilst not indestructible, this piece of equipment is designed to endure a significant amount of trauma and this fact has not been lost on commentators. Those in the industry often find themselves working on busy sites and within environments which can be challenging. Not having to be constantly mindful of the fragility of a vital piece of equipment is a source of some reassurance in such circumstances.
Overall the FLIR C2 receives a massive vote of confidence from those who have tried it and used it, which should provide some comfort to those who are seeking to invest in such a useful piece of equipment. It is part of a portfolio of cameras and scanners which has proved to be a favourite amongst users of this technology in both the commercial and residential communities.
Seek Thermal is a specialist company which engineers, designs and makes high quality yet affordable thermal imaging products for both commercial and private consumer use. The interestingly-named Reveal is a rugged and dependable piece of kit which unites an advanced thermal imaging camera with a high-performance LED light. Tough and durable, it embraces simple touch-button functionality to ensure the accurate detection of heat and heat loss from a distance of up to five hundred feet. Packed into a convenient and highly portable handset, it boasts a wide range of view and enjoys a surprisingly generous battery life between charges, answering some of the critics of other models within the range. Its intuitive control array allows for easy single-handed operation, whilst its shape and form make it a physically attractive appliance as well as a functional and technologically astute piece of apparatus. The Seek Reveal quickly delivers the knowledge and the information you require to find and to fix, for your safety, and it looks good too!
- 36-degree wide field of view
- Ergonomic grip
- Able to see and record through the darkness
- Up to ten hours’ battery life
- Thermal images saved directly to SD card (included)
- Tough and rugged
- One-handed operation
- 300-lumen LED lighting
- USB cable and SD card for storage and transfer
- Seven different colour palettes
- One-year warranty
Client reviews of the Seek Reveal, all of them verified, are around 90% positive. Customers gratefully acknowledge the product’s affordability as well as its range, resolution and durability. Its rubberised casing actually makes this a very difficult product to damage or to break, for which users caught in the bustle of activity which is often a feature of life within the construction industry will understandably be appreciative. One other very popular feature of this device is that its well-designed intuitive push-button array allows for single-handed operation, which can be very useful when busy and laden with other equipment.
Reviewers appear to like the flashlight function, as well as the fact that the battery is long-lasting – unlike as is so often the case with some, indeed several, rival products. This model appears to compare favourably in the eyes of most users with the mobile ‘phone version of the same piece of equipment. The Reveal is clearly a versatile and well-designed unit with much thought and effort having gone into maximising its inherent user-friendliness. Endorsements appear more than once about the size of the sensor and the quality of the large colour display, which are all-important facets of a good thermal imaging application.
One other interesting feature of this product is its powerful 300-lumen LED light, which enables you to see all about you wherever you are and in whatever situation you might happen to be. In any event its advanced technology enables the user to view thermal images at any time of the day or night, irrespective of the quality of the surrounding light. Dark recesses and crawl-in corners offer no challenge, thanks to the Reveal’s built-in intelligence and capability.
Some critics dispute whether the difference in quality between the imaging camera and the mobile ‘phone version justifies the price – or in one or two cases whether there is in fact a difference at all, although this criticism would appear to be disputed in a majority of reviews. Its ergonomics are questioned by one purchaser, whilst another lone critic claims the device does not hold its charge whilst switched off. It is pointed out elsewhere that it offers no video feature but only pictures, and that taking a picture actually involves a wait of a whole two seconds rather than being strictly speaking instantaneous.
Generally however the consensus would appear to be one of a viable, appealing and successful product, offered at an affordable price. The Seek Reveal can certainly claim to have pleased most of its users most of the time, and its good value and efficient performance would appear to be things that are overwhelmingly agreed upon. All in all it is an aesthetically smart and functionally creative piece of equipment.
Fluke’s building diagnostic thermal imaging scanner enjoys the accolade of being the top-performing thermal imager within its price class. It is designed for rapid, simple and accurate image identification and troubleshooting and has been created specifically with the building professional firmly in mind. It is the perfect tool to help you locate moisture intrusion, missing insulation, energy loss, hidden construction issues and electrical connection and load flaws.
Amongst its peers this device tops the bill on so many other counts too. Its 3.7-inch display screen is a whole thirty per cent larger than with comparable imagers, it boasts the highest resolution (120 x 120 pixels) in its class and unlike its rivals it has versatile, manual focus. It meets the RESNET inspection standards for infrared technology which are more typically applied to devices within a much higher price range.
Portability is important in building and construction and this appliance comes with a hand strap for secure handling as well as a plastic case to keep it safe during transportation. Indeed it is sufficiently durable to alleviate any worries about breakage or damage during normal conveyance or use.
- Largest display size in its price class – 30% larger than comparable models
- Unique versatile, manual focus
- High-clarity 120 x 120 pixel resolution
- Meets Residential Energy Services Network infrared inspection standards
- Includes 2Gb memory card
- Sturdy design and with hard storage case
- Supporting software included
- Two-year warranty
All available reviews for this product award it at least three stars, with 80% giving it either four or five stars. Commentators are impressed both by the convenience of handling of this piece of kit as well as its sturdiness. References are made to its ease of use as well as to its efficiency in locating problems and issues, even those which are comparatively small and minor. One reviewer remarks that the tool worked “surprisingly well”.
One of the only negative comments is in respect of the 2Gb SD card which is provided, pointing out that this is the maximum size this piece of equipment will allow without malfunctioning – useful to know, but there is consensus that the card provided will work perfectly and is entirely adequate for most people’s needs. A solitary user remarks that it offers limited area coverage, meaning that the item has to be held back a tad in order to obtain an adequate picture.
Overall though the Fluke TiS Thermal Imager would appear to be a popular and much-loved product, with a capability significantly beyond any expectations created by the price. The hard protection afforded to the appliance receives favourable reportage, as does the provision of software and the handy strap for handling.
Infrared devices for thermal imaging have become increasingly popular as technology has developed, allowing them to move down through the price range from once having been an exclusive tool of an occupational elite. Nowadays they are in common and frequent usage by small contractors and even private individuals as well as by large building companies.
There is a large range of providers with an even larger range of models to meet this increased demand. They compete with one another in terms of resolution, portability, user-friendliness, simplicity of operation, clarity of image and the provision of optional and often helpful extras, but each of them offers something different to its competitors which will be a factor when deciding which device, and from which provider, to plump for.
Whichever model is used, the imaging scanner or camera will identify heat or heat loss issues, leaks, blockages and problems at source, making the repair process so much quicker and easier than it would otherwise have been. It has become an essential tool within the building industry, and one which most of those who work within in will be readily equipped.
Whilst resolution and image quality are of course of paramount importance, the need for robustness in the appliance used should never be understated. In the environment that is a construction site a product given to shattering or being caused to malfunction by a knock, or being stored in an electrical kit bag alongside other items, would be of little use. Most if not all of the thermal imaging equipment which is on the market and in common usage has been purposely built in such a way as to minimise its propensity for sustaining damage. Mobile telephones, which can themselves sometimes include imaging technology, do not presently compete in this department.
Prices these days begin at a few hundred dollars, but as with most other things you generally get what you pay for and handsets which include a more complex array of features tend to be priced a little higher – more into the thousands – although they have still come down sufficiently in price to be within the reach of most small to medium-sized operations.
Whilst hand-held infrared units are most often put to work within the building trade, there are of course many strictly domestic applications to which they could also be turned – identifying living animals in enclosed spaces, for example. Whatever purpose they are being used for, the range of devices on offer in today’s market offers the buyer choices which historically have been without parallel.