I work for a county govt and tried to buy an IR camera. Boss balked at the cost said it would be over budget. So I got an IR thermometer for about 250 bucks.
It works better than I thought it would, I use it to check panels that I suspect have a problem. I have no idea how accurate it is but if you have a connection showing 200 degrees theres a problem.
I would not use it to check panels for PM as it takes to much time and its to easy to miss something. One situation I had was I walked into the pump room and smelled burning insulation. The IR helped me find the exact bad connection that was the problem.
It is also great for quick AC/Heat checks by shooting the registers. Not accurate but if it is cooler or hotter than the surrounding air that tells you something. I once found a heat pump cooling in heat mode this way.
All in all its a useful tool but I am going to put another proposal forward for a real IR camera.
30 feet is to far for a $200 one. The thermometer does not measure at the laser dot but rather a circle around it that depends on how its built. The more expensive ones have a smaller circle.
I have one witout the laser sight. They are less expensive but work in there range. It is a useful tool but is limited. it speeds up troubleshooting but any problem needs to be verified by other means such as voltage and amp checks. Taken together the trouble shootin means help you find problems and then you can fix them if the customer wants. Since I do not rely on it exclusively, have not run into liability problems.
NonLinearLoad, I do IR work as part of my job. I use a FLIR IR Camera for this work. ($$$$) Without an extra expensive lens I can not get an accurate temp at 30'. You will not get an accurate reading with an IR Thermometer at 30'. That range is out of its designed capabilities. It is a very useful tool for trouble shooting like drillman & nesparky have posted. Also what liability issues are you concerned about from using this piece of test equipment? Al
Well the scenario I was looking for a 30' range was an industrial MH wiring system that was starting to have bad connectors. I figured if I could just shoot the connectors and any junctions with the IR from the ground I could save renting a lift to scurry around all day physically opening all locations. Figured if I could hit the hot spots it would lessen the looking around.
As you guys are saying, I'm looking for a tool to help pinpoint areas. Of course the have to be investigated, and physically ntested the old fashioned way to verify any concrete problems.
As far as liability, if you used the IR and for some reason came to a conclusion that no further investigation was warranted and then later down the road the problem was back, or say even worst case scenario a fire happened.
I was just wondering if anyone had ever run into any issues arising from the use of an IR.
I feel it could be a very useful tool in many applications, panelboards, devices going bad, loose connections, dimmers that are being ovrloaded.
I think it would take some time to get used to the readings so it could be as accurate a diagnostic tool as possible.
I would like to purchase one, yet the owner of the company feels it has too much liability attached. Yet, he has not defined it to me, he has talked to other electricians who feel the same way.
He said he would consider a waiver form if I did get one, but that has not been decided on yet. So, do I buy the tool to put it in my garage in a week and out of the van permanently???
I can't understand the liability issue unless it was a "We took a reading with the IR thermometer and therefore have come to the conclusion that" situation. It's only one of many testing tools, and no more prone to liability than a pair of eyeglasses. Determinations are made by people, not tools.
I've got an inexpensive on and it comes in quite handy at times, but spends lots of time idle.
Great eyeglasses comment! I don't think the owner would want me to show up without my glasses to work, would'nt make it there alive actually.
I don't think I need a very expensive one. Looking for 10:1-15:1 spot to distance, with adjustable emissivity. Laser is a bonus. Figured this would be enough for me to get the biggest bang for the buck.
Company is trying to become mostly service oriented. Hoping to get some kind of edge to aid in diagnostics. And as always, you hope you remember where the tool is, and keep using it to find its place and best potential.
Nonlinear, like capt al my job also affords me the opertunity to use a high end FLIR P-60 IR camera. I mostly use it to inspect high voltage electrical switch gear, transformers, pump motors, 480vac starters, lighting panels, etc. Works very well. But I have been challanged by other crafts based on there findings with an IR thermometer. yes you can get accurate temp at 30' with the IR camera, but several factors need to be worked into your figure. Such as wind speed, humidity, imissivity, etc. Your IR thermometer can give you some close readings but one very important word of caustion to remember when using your IR thermometer is that it averages the S.S.R. (spot size ratio). Very simply put if your S.S.R. is 250 to 1 you can be 250' away from a 1' target. But here is the tricky part, your 1' target, say it's a junction box with a 3-phase motor termination and on phase is hotter then the other two. The IR thermometer will average everything within that 1' area. So @ 30' your probaly wasting $200.00 bucks. Within the 3' to 5' range, yea it's a neat tool to have for referancing hot breakers in a lighting panel.