"Owning a voltmeter doesn’t make you an electrician, same holds true for thermal cameras."

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“Owning a voltmeter doesn’t make you an electrician, same holds true for thermal cameras.”

December 28, 2017 | by Jay Bowen, President Bowen & Associates, LLC

Owning a voltmeter doesn’t make you an electrician, same holds true for thermal cameras.

Flashback
Since their inception, thermal cameras have been expected to become a leading energy efficiency resource. In the 1970s, many agencies studied and conducted the fundamental research for the applications and cameras we use today. Such is the story with many new technologies, the cost of equipment held back progress in the early years. Groups that could put a thermal camera to use in the field weren’t able to spend $100,000 on the equipment, much less the maintenance to keep it running at top performance.

Flashforward
Today, thermal cameras are prevalent during commercial and residential building inspections. The cost of ownership is no longer a significant barrier; however, with new models appearing on the market at an increased pace there is confusion surrounding the purchasing decision.

The truth is many cameras are quite simple to operate and low-cost and high-cost models perform similarly from a radiation standpoint; however, it’s the technician’s ability to transform those results into real-world building science that provides the value. Appropriate interpretation of thermal images can validate structural details, verify energy performance (conduction and air leakage) and locate moisture intrusion, identify structural deficiencies, and reveal roof and façade degradation.

What next?
Avoid buyer indecision, or even worse, buyer’s remorse. Talk with others in the industry at the Better Buildings: Better Business Conference to determine what model, make, vendor and price makes sense for you and get the proper education you need to provide the real benefit—proper interpretation of results.