James Penlington-Kershaw, from HT Instruments, considers how a thermal camera can be an invaluable asset when approaching a heating installation.
These days, heating often plays a big part in the undertaking of anew installation design, and similarly if an upgrade is required. Not only does it need to be energy efficient, but it must also be able to heat the area in which the heat is required.
You would need to assess several areas within the premises in order to make an informed decision about the installation. Areas of concern would be areas which could suffer heat loss due to bad insulation, incorrectly ﬁtted doors or windows, possible damp and also any issues within the building’s structure.
What can be done to identify these problems?
Thermal cameras are incredibly handy little instruments that have all kinds of surveying applications. They produce a thermal image by measuring the heat in the infra-red light that is emitted from all objects. With powerful, inbuilt analysis, these thermal cameras will allow you to detect problems that are often not visible to the naked eye, allowing you to correct otherwise hidden issues.
When looking at the issues above it is best to survey the premises on a cool day with some form of heating on inside. This way you will be able to observe the following:
- Heat escaping from the property due to air leakage from doors with badly ﬁtted draught excluders and windows that were not sealed properly.
- Poorly insulated roofs and walls caused by missing insulation or insulation that has settled over time. In situations like this a different thermal pattern is often visible compared to the rest of the wall. These areas can often be a source of conductive heat loss or gain, and if severe enough can lead to signiﬁcantly higher energy usage.
- Potential leaking on ﬂat roofs; moisture in rooﬁng materials often leads to direct water leaks into the structure but it can also reduce the insulating properties of the roof itself. This is due to the difference in thermal capacitance between wet and dry building materials, moisture problems in ﬂat or low-sloping roofs can often be easily detected with the use of a thermal imager.
- Unwanted moisture trapped in walls and ﬂoors from plumbing leaks, leaks originating from outside and condensation. Damp areas change temperature more gradually than dry areas, and are subject to evaporative cooling which makes them visible to a thermal camera.
The above survey can be carried out without gaining access to the property. In cases where you are gaining access to a property, an infra-red camera can come to your aid to:
- Check the radiators to ensure no air or sludge build-up has occurred, and to check for any draughts around doors and windows.
- Detect any damp patches on the walls before they damage the fabric of the building.
- Detect problems with underﬂoor heating installations; both electrical and water in-ﬂoor heating systems are subject to installation issues and failures over time. Thermal imaging can be used to locate ﬂoor heating pipes or cables, to identify leaks or short-circuits (depending on the type of system), to troubleshoot uneven heating issues, and to verify installations and repairs.
So we have established they are useful at gauging temperatures in buildings and assessing objects which generate heat; they also prove useful when looking at electrical installations too, when looking for high resistance joints on electrical fuse boards and electrical panels – a very cost effective preventative maintenance tool!
“With powerful, inbuilt analysis, these thermal cameras will allow you to detect problems that are often not visible to the naked eye, allowing you to correct otherwise hidden issues.”
HT Instruments is a leading European brand in thermal imaging cameras, offering products ranging from the THT40 which captures a basic thermal image, all the way up to the THT70 which not only captures a thermal image but also takes a digital image too; with picture in picture technology (PiP) it combines the thermal and digital pictures into one.
A full range
THT45 is a professional ultralight compact camera 80×80 pxl, equipped with a visual camera for PiP technology, a laser pointer, and an LED illuminator. It is an ideal camera for identifying electrical problems within air conditioning units.
All of the instruments come with HT Topview software for creating reports.