Thermal Imaging Camera: What To Look For When Buying

Thermal imaging cameras are useful tools for a wide variety of engineers because they allow for the non-invasive detection of temperature variations in buildings and mechanical systems. This can be useful for identifying issues such as insulation problems, overheating equipment, and leaks in heating and cooling systems.

thermal imaging camera features
Recording Radiator Heater and a window on a building using Infrared Thermal Camera

There are many different thermal imaging cameras on the market, but most of them have similar features and capabilities. Here is a review of some of the key features you should consider when choosing a thermal imaging camera for use as a heating engineer:

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Temperature range

The normal temperature range of a thermal imaging camera has temperatures ranging from -20°C to +120°C (-4°F to +248°F). Some cameras can go up to 2,192°F (1,200°C) or higher. The Bosch Professional camera below can work up to 400°C,

Bosch Professional 12V System Thermal Camera GTC 400 C

Resolution

The resolution of a thermal imaging camera is the number of pixels it has in the thermal image it produces. Higher resolution means more detail in the image, which can be useful for identifying small temperature variations or issues. This HTi camera has a resolution of 320 x 240

Hti HT-19,New Higher Resolution 320 x 240 IR Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera.

Field of view

The field of view of a thermal imaging camera is the area that it can see in a single image. Larger fields of view can be useful for quickly scanning a large area, but may sacrifice some detail in the image.

This HIKMICRO camera provides full screen image measurement.

HIKMICRO B10 256 x 192 IR Resolution Thermal Imaging Camera with 2MP Visual Camera, Full Screen Measurement, 25 Hz Refresh Rate with 3.2″ LCD Screen,

Focus

Some thermal imaging cameras have adjustable focus, which allows the user to focus on specific areas in the image for greater detail.

This imaging camera from Benkeg does not require any focusing adjustments.

Benkeg Professional Handheld IR Thermal Imager 120×90 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera Free Focus

Refresh rate

The refresh rate of a thermal imaging camera is the rate at which it updates the thermal image. Higher refresh rates can be useful for tracking fast-moving objects or identifying rapidly changing temperatures. A good refresh rate in current products would be 25Hz which this camera has.

HIKMICRO B1L 160 x 120 IR Resolution Thermal Imaging Camera With Wifi, 25Hz Refresh Rate

Emissivity

Emissivity is a measure of how efficiently an object absorbs and emits thermal energy. Some thermal imaging cameras allow the user to adjust the emissivity setting, which can be useful for accurately measuring the temperature of different materials.

Display

The display of a thermal imaging camera can be either a traditional LCD screen or an OLED screen. OLED displays tend to have higher contrast and better colour accuracy, but may be more expensive. This HTi-Xintai camera with an LCD has great reviews.

IR Resolution Infrared Thermal Imager, Handheld 35200 Pixels Thermal Imaging Camera, Infrared Thermometer with 3.2″ Color Display Screen

Durability

As a heating engineer, you may need to use your thermal imaging camera in challenging environments, so it is important to choose a model that is rugged and durable. Look for a camera with a sturdy housing and a good warranty. This FLIR camera can withstand a 2-metre drop.

FLIR TG267 Thermal Camera

Price

Thermal imaging cameras can range in price from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds, depending on the features and capabilities. Consider your budget and the needs of your business when choosing a thermal imaging camera.

Our pick of the best thermal imaging cameras

Taking all the above factors into consideration, here are our top three cameras:

Our Top Pick

The Best Thermal Camera

Bosch Professional 12V System Thermal Camera GTC 400 C

This Bosch camera is easy to use, has a wide temperature range and high image quality.

Runner Up

A Stronger, Rugged Camera

FLIR TG267 Thermal Camera

Can withstand a 2 metre drop and protect against dust and water, and gives high quality visual images.

Budget Pick

A Powerful and Reliable Camera

HIKMICRO B1L

Includes a wi-fi connectivity and comes with a 3 year warranty.

Overall, a good thermal imaging camera for a heating engineer should have a wide temperature range, good resolution, a large field of view, adjustable focus, a high refresh rate, and adjustable emissivity. It should also be durable and have a good display and a reasonable price. By considering these factors, you can choose the best thermal imaging camera for your needs as a heating engineer.

*The information in this article should be used for general guidance only and not as financial or health advice.  Full details are on the link in the footer to our disclaimer page.  Always discuss your requirements with a competent and suitably qualified professional before undertaking any work.