Understanding thermal imagers

Thermal Imaging Camera

Thermal imaging cameras were first developed and used in the 1950s. Back then, it was mainly used in law enforcement and military primarily to provide better visibility in places that are dark or places where air conditions are affected by various environmental factors. With the advancing technology, newer features have been developed and thermal imaging cameras are currently being used in many different fields.


How are they used?

Thermal imaging cameras are composed of five different parts: amplifier, detector, optic system, display and signal processing. Thermal energy is light that is invisible to the naked eye. These five components come together to create a special sensor that allows us to see the thermal energy emitted by an object or person. The images produced by the radiation is through a process called thermography which is the study of heat distributions. In short, thermal imaging cameras can translate thermal energy (heat) into visible light (color).


Who uses them?

As mentioned earlier, thermal imaging cameras are used in many different fields. The industries that use thermal imaging camera most are safety & law enforcement and machinery & maintenance while other industries include wildlife and health care. Firefighting is one industry where thermal imaging cameras are used very often. By translating infrared radiation into visible light, thermal imaging cameras allow firefighters to see more clearly in difficult situations and have helped save many lives. Other than being used professionally in work related projects, thermal imaging cameras can also be used for leisure activities such as camping, barbecuing and even ghost hunting.


Thermal Imaging Cameras FAQ:

Q: Can Thermal imaging cameras see through objects?

A: No, thermal imaging cameras can only see the heat coming off an object. For example, when a thermal imaging camera is pointed at a wall, it will detect and show the heat of the wall but would not be able to see through it.


Q: Can thermal imaging cameras detect leaks?

A: Yes, thermal imaging cameras are able to detect heating leaks, gas leak etc.


Q: Are thermal imaging and night vision the same thing?

A: While thermal imaging and night vision share the purpose of increasing visibility in low light conditions, the technology in which these two methods use is different. Thermal imaging captures the longer wavelength of infrared radiation which requires more accurate sensors. Night vision, on the other hand, collects and amplifies all light which focuses on shorter wavelength of infrared radiation. The large difference in prices for thermal imaging camera and night vision is mainly because of the technological differences where thermal imaging camera requires more advanced technology.


Q: Thermal imaging cameras can range from hundred of dollars (USD) to thousands of dollars (USD). What main features separate the cheaper ones from the more expensive ones?

A: The feature that usually defines the pricing would be the resolution. The higher resolution cameras can show a much clearer picture and can capture pictures from a long distance too, which is what makes it more expensive.


Why are people using thermal imaging cameras?

With the aforementioned functions, thermal imaging cameras have the ability to detect leaks, help save money or even save lives. They can be very useful tools that could be beneficial in many areas of life whether it be professionally or personally.