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The Beginner’s Guide to Using a Thermal Video Camera in Construction

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    Did you know that thermal imaging has several uses other than detecting people? It’s a way to look for different issues like plumbing blockages and leaks. It’s a huge advancement in technology that’s helping in the field of construction now more than ever.

    With affordable options like pocket and phone attachments, it can potentially save workers tons of time and money. Also having one on hand prevents horrible failure later on down the road because it makes it easy to detect them beforehand.

    If you still aren’t sure how a thermal video camera can help your company, here are just a few things that they can detect and other benefits to having them around.

    1. What is Thermal Imaging

    Thermal imaging uses heat to look at surroundings rather than light. It does this by processing the temperature of objects. Objects that are hotter than absolute zero give off a certain amount of radiation.

    Once it processes the temperature, it displays them in grey scale the shade of the grey depends on how warm or cool the object is. Some use color instead of greyscale.

    For these cameras, you will see intense red for warm objects and yellow and blue for cooler ones. Now that you know what objects will look like when they are detected, we’re going to go into a little more detail about how it works.

    2. How Does Thermal Imaging Work

    The camera can detect common issues like water leakages. When the sun starts to go down a little, wet places in a roof will give off heat more so than the dry places. These will show up as differences in temperature so you’ll be able to see the water that has leaked through.

    Due to the sun when you’re using the camera outdoors that might skew your readings a little bit. Not only do you have to take in the factors of the sun, but wind speeds as well. Don’t misunderstand this, you won’t have X-ray vision with the thermal energy camera, just some energy readings.

    3. Uses For Thermal Imaging

    Finding water leaks is just one way for you to use thermal energy cameras. There are many jobs that can be done more effectively by providing employees with one.

    Detecting Air Leakage

    Thermal imaging can actually pick up air leaks around windows, doors, and other openings you could find in a construction area.

    It will show different temperatures depending on the air slipping out of a system. You can see this if you use an HVAC system to map it.

    Detecting Electrical Issues

    If you use thermal imaging on electrical systems you will be able to check for overloaded circuits, motor bearing failure, issues with electrical distributions, and loose connections.

    Dirt that builds on connections will cause the system to overheat. If you ignore this it can cause permanent damage or cause a fire. This extra heat will show up on a thermal camera so you can fix it before this happens.

    Detecting Roof Leaks

    Roof leaks can be hard to find without a thermal camera. We went over this a little bit above. Water holds heat, so you can see leaking water that’s being held.

    You’ll get to see the source of the problem and stop the leak before it causes too much damage like mold and wood rot.

    Seeing Through Plumbing Blockages

    Plumbing issues can be an expensive fix if not handled in a timely manner. Plumbing is a great way to get rid of trash but it causes problems over time because it can cause a serious blockage.

    A thermal camera can show you exactly where the blockage is so you can get rid of it. All you have to do is run hot water through it, and then scan your pipes for the warm trash.

    It’s that simple.

    Other Uses for Thermal Cameras

    Animals are crafty little things, and thermal cameras can help you see any nests that they may have built. Pests can cause problems in houses and at your construction site so you want to get rid of them as soon as you notice them.

    You’ll be able to look for energy loss and which means your company will save plenty of money on the utility bill. It can also let you see where your money is being spent on leakages. In short, you can fix these issues before too much money is sunk on it.

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    4. Features of Thermal Imaging

    On top of helping you see common issues like leaks and plumbing blockages, it also comes with different features for you to use to do these things. These are just a few features that will be available to you.

    No Need for Illumination

    In terms of most cameras, you have to have a light source to be able to see things. Again, thermal imaging cameras use radiation to detect heat. This means that you can use a thermal camera no matter what lighting you’re faced with.

    That also means that it doesn’t matter what time a day you decide to use the camera. You can tackle jobs day or night without limitation.

    Detecting Threats at a Long Range

    Thermal cameras are obviously good at detecting threats. The temperature of humans and animals are a lot higher than say air or water. Most thermal cameras show a wide range and therefore pick up these things.

    You’ll know about potential intruders before they even think about showing themselves.

    Day/Night Coverage

    It doesn’t matter what time a day you need the thermal camera it works wonders day or night. Most other camera’s coverage completely depends on the quality of light that they are faced with.

    This is inefficient because it causes you to put a time stamp on your working hours. Thermal cameras don’t read light at all so they’re way better for those who like to work nights.

    Seeing Through Smoke and Fog

    Thermal cameras are also great for looking through obstacles like smoke and fog. For example, if there is a fire, a thermal camera will be able to see through the smoke.

    While a thermal camera obviously won’t let you see directly through an object and get a clear picture, you can also use it to see objects that are obscured by clothing. or things that are behind walls.

    Again, don’t confuse this with having x-ray vision. You won’t quite have that. Just temperature readings of the hidden objects.

    Looking at Temperatures

    Having a thermal camera to look at potential issues not only work for seeing problems in a building but issues with your equipment as well.

    You can read the temperature of possible wiring and other things that may go wrong with it. This will help ensure that your working environment stays safe for all workers.

    5. What to Look For in a Thermal Camera

    If you’re looking into getting a thermal camera to help your company run more efficiently, there are a few factors that you should take into consideration first. The two main things are resolution and thermal sensitivity.


    The most common resolutions that you’ll run into are 160×120, 320×240, and 640×480. They create an image based on pixels. Each pixel has a temperature point associated with it. This means you get a higher resolution depending on these temperature points.

    The higher the resolution, the better the picture that you’ll receive in the end.


    You want to make sure that your camera can detect even the slightest change in temperature. To this end, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and get a camera with a high sensitivity.

    You also want to look for one that’s got a long temperature range. If you have both of these things, there aren’t many images that you won’t pick up.


    Thermal cameras are powerful but they aren’t without their limitations. It can’t reflect off shiny surfaces. You won’t be able to see through any form of glass.

    You won’t be able to see through a wall, just detect if any issues are occurring. You shouldn’t just use the thermal camera to make a final decision on a problem. Do other tests after using the camera.

    Using a Thermal Video Camera

    Using a thermal video camera can help you detect common plumbing, electrical and leakage issues before they get too bad. They can also alert you of any common intruders such as large animals or people.

    They aren’t without their limitations but they can help your employees work more efficiently and save you money in the long run.

    Cameras can actually deter crime away from your construction business to find out how it works, visit our blog or contact us today.


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