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Thermal Imaging


What kinds of problems can be detected?

During an inspection, electrical equipment, such as distribution panelboards, switch boards, contacts, transformers, receptacles, and service and control panels, can be examined through an IR camera.  By viewing apparent temperature differences, inspectors can identify and document problems, such as loose connections and overloaded circuits, which are the most common causes of electrical fires.  Other issues, such as transformer cooling problems, induced currents, arcing, and motor-winding faults, also become readily apparent.

Thermal imaging can detect electrical issues that include:

  • excessively hot or loose connections;
  • overloaded wiring;
  • overloaded circuits;
  • overloaded transformers;
  • overloaded motors;
  • arcing; and
  • excessive harmonics.

Advantages of Using an IR Camera for Electrical Inspections

Because viewing apparent temperature differences through an IR camera requires no physical contact and can cover a lot of space in one sweep, no other technology allows electrical faults to be found as safely and as quickly as thermal imaging.  Another important benefit is that it allows problem areas and components to be located before damage from any serious failure or electrical fire occurs.  This helps ensure safety.  It can also save money that might otherwise need to spent on extensive repairs.

Here’s a list of advantages of using an IR camera for electrical inspections:

  • It’s non-contact, which helps ensure a safe inspection.
  • It’s fast and accurate.
  • It helps identify problems before they cause serious failure or an electrical fire.
  • It’s non-intrusive, so there is no interruption of power during the inspection.
  • It can be used as part of inspections that are conducted as preventative maintenance.
  • IR equipment is light and portable.
  • It provides documentation of problems.


Using an infrared camera provides certain advantages in locating moisture problems.  Thermal patterns created by latent moisture become readily apparent when viewed through an IR camera, even when they are not visible to the naked eye.  This is because the IR camera sees the apparent temperature difference between wet spots and building materials.  Water intrusion and excessive moisture within walls, under floors, and above ceilings will show up in the thermal image.  Water intrusion implies that the house has been compromised somewhere, perhaps through the roof, in the basement, or as the result of a mechanical or plumbing leak. 
Thermal imaging can help inspectors locate the sources and extent of moisture intrusion.  Here’s a list of its advantages.
  • It's time-saving.
  • It's easy to set up.
  • It allows examination of areas that are not visible to the naked eye.
  • It allows examination of areas that are difficult to access, such as tall ceilings.
  • It allows for larger areas to be examined quickly.
  • It helps locate sources of moisture intrusion.
  • It helps determine the extent of moisture intrusion.
  • It allows the user to trace the moisture intrusion through other affected areas.
  • It provides visual documentation of moisture intrusion.
  • It identifies moisture without the need for direct contact in potentially unsanitary areas, such as behind toilets.


Once a solid difference in temperature has been established between the interior and exterior of the house, insulation defects can be viewed by the camera.  By looking at the difference in apparent temperatures, hot and cold spots can be identified as areas that may have missing or inadequate insulation.  If a potential problem area is pinpointed using the infrared camera, the insulation in that spot should be examined to verify that it is an issue and to gather more details on the exact nature of the insulation problem.  Was insulation moved during a fixture installation and not properly replaced?  Is the thickness of the insulation inadequate for the application? 

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