Infrared Thermal Imaging (ITI) – Seeing Beyond the Visual™
Once only the domain of military, science and space programs, Infrared Thermal Imaging (ITI) has made its way into the residential and commercial sectors. Founded on the exact same technologies as used by advanced military aircraft, weather satellites and even the space shuttle, ITI technology provides our Inspectors with a view of your property like no other. With ITI technology, we can see beyond the spectrum of “natural light” (which is the light that bounces off all objects we can see under the sun or under a light bulb), and see the thermal patterns associated with temperature variances of any surface to determine where heat, cold, and moisture can be occurring in undesirable places.
Infrared Thermal Imaging (ITI) is the technique that uses an infrared imaging radiometer to “see” and “measure” invisible infrared energy being emitted from an object. Thermal, or infrared energy is energy not visible because its wavelength is too long for the sensors in our eyes to detect. It is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light, in the infrared spectrum, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits infrared electromagnetic energy. Even cold objects such as ice cubes, emit infrared radiation. The higher the temperature of the object, the greater the infrared radiation emitted. An infrared camera allows us to see what our eyes cannot!
All objects, cold or hot, radiate heat in the form of infrared energy. As an object increases in temperature, it radiates more energy, and the wavelength gets shorter. Infrared radiation, visible light and ultraviolet light are all forms of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum. The only difference is their wavelength or frequency.
The human eye can only see a narrow range of wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. These wavelengths range in length from 0.4 to 0.7 microns; a micron is one millionth of a meter. Most of what the eye sees is reflections from objects that high energy from the sun or an incandescent light bulb is striking. If the temperature of an object gets hot enough however, above 525°C, the energy from that object will radiate energy in the visible spectrum and we will see it. This is when we see an object like the burner on an electric stove “glowing” red. In fact, any time an object will emit or reflect energy in the same frequency of our eyes we will see it. Mostly, however we see reflections!
Infrared Surveys Are Simple, Right?
Taking thermal images and gathering thermal information is quite easy, just push the auto button on an infrared camera and there’s an image! However, this may seem simple on the surface, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. The real work – and value – is what the Thermographer understands about the object of interest, how it operates, the heat transfer within and to the surface of the object, how to adjust the camera to enhance the thermal details necessary to evaluate the image once it is stored and downloaded onto a computer. Then prepare a report that is accurate, clearly presented and is easy to read by the customer, who generally does not know anything about Infrared Thermal Imaging.
Why Use Infrared?
A picture says a thousand words; Infrared Thermal Imaging (ITI) is the only diagnostic technology that lets you instantly visualize and verify thermal performance. Our infrared camera can show you thermal problems, quantify them with precise non-contact temperature measurement, and document them automatically in seconds with professional easy-to-create Inspection Reports. Nearly everything that uses or transmits power gets hot before it fails. Cost effective power management is critical to maintaining the reliability of your electrical and mechanical systems. And today, no one would argue that infrared Thermography is the most effective proven predictive maintenance (PM) technology available to quickly, accurately and safely locate problems prior to failure.
In June 2005, Maintenance Technology magazine reported a $4 return on investment in for every $1 spent on infrared inspections. Finding and fixing a poor electrical connection before a component fails can save you the much greater costs associated with manufacturing downtime, production losses, power outages, fires and catastrophic failures.
But using infrared images to find a problem is sometimes not enough. In fact, an infrared image without an accurate measurement says very little about the condition of an electrical connection or worn mechanical part. And, an ITI Survey without a simple, fast way to report and analyze inspection results provides no ability to make timely repair decisions or locate and separate those ‘hot spots’ that can cause problems from those associated with equipment operating normally. Our infrared camera not only quickly locates problems, but coupled with Reporter software, its non-contact precision temperature measurement and analysis capabilities instantly deliver the answers you need to understand what repair action to take, and when.