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Thread: Thermal imaging camera

  1. #1
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    Thermal imaging camera

    Thinking about getting one.

    Who here has one and how do you use it on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. And how is it helping you get sales?
    "Life, Liberty, and Levin!"

  2. #2
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    This caused me to remember an "All In The Family" show.
    Archy Bunker had a guy trying to sell aluminum siding for Archy's brick house. He was
    using a photographic light meter to tell if the house was loosing heat so when ever he
    got close to a window the meter would see more light. He told Archy "See how much heat you're loosing."

    I can't say if the meter would be useful. I've never had one. It does get close to energy audits.
    I once had training for energy audits but not very thoroughly. At the time audits were free from the Utilities
    so I didn't see a lot of $$$ there. If it were to come up I might steer a customer to who ever of the utilities
    are free or cheap. Reason being they are more believable than a contractor. Also a hvac guy usually doesn't fix houses.
    Now if an hvac contractor owned another company that did fix houses there might be some money there.
    Give me a relay with big enough contacts, and I'll run the world!

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    If a person wants to create a machine that will be more likely to fail...Make it complicated.

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  3. #3
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    I don't get to use it much but I was able to find a failing motor overload for an air compressor I picked up off the street.

    It also was a key player in discovering a flex duct riser that came loose in a mobile home.

    I was able to identify 1st floor bathroom exhaust fan terminations in a 2nd floor soffit from the ground (probably 40 feet in the air) just by watching the temperature differential when they ran.

    I can easily locate attic trusses from the living space.

    I can see air infiltration leaks around doors and windows "at a glance" (depending on air pressure of the room, of course).

    They really open up a whole new world of possibilities in diagnostics and can help save you a ton of time if you're by yourself.

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by shellkamp View Post
    I don't get to use it much but I was able to find a failing motor overload for an air compressor I picked up off the street.

    It also was a key player in discovering a flex duct riser that came loose in a mobile home.

    I was able to identify 1st floor bathroom exhaust fan terminations in a 2nd floor soffit from the ground (probably 40 feet in the air) just by watching the temperature differential when they ran.

    I can easily locate attic trusses from the living space.

    I can see air infiltration leaks around doors and windows "at a glance" (depending on air pressure of the room, of course).

    They really open up a whole new world of possibilities in diagnostics and can help save you a ton of time if you're by yourself.

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
    Thats the kind of answer I wanted. I am going to start offering insulation upgrades as well with some of my full systems. Local utilities are offering some pretty awesome incentives.

  5. #5
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    I picked up the Klein T1250 for $250 a couple weeks ago. I'm sure it's not as clear as the FLIRs but for the price it seems like a solid unit. To begin with I'm mostly using it to go around our house and find any areas I need to seal up. So far I like it. We have a cathedral type ceiling in the living room and I can see where there's gaps in the insulation in the attic just from standing on the floor. I've also identified a few outlets that aren't insulated behind and leaking cold air like crazy.
    Part of our laundry room overhangs into the garage with a cantilevered floor, and it wasn't insulated. They had stuffed folded over bats between the floor and foundation and that was their idea of sealing it. I could clearly see where the bats were just by standing in the laundry room and pointing it down towards the floor.

    I haven't even used it at work yet, but it will be well worth the money. If you're going beyond HVAC and doing energy or efficiency upgrades, it will pay for itself.

  6. #6
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    Use mine almost everyday. Still have my $600 FLIR I purchased about 5 years ago from Johnstone

    Just this morning they called me to figure out why a process was getting too cold. Looking at a chiller 3-way valve I quickly could determine that the valve was not seating properly had 35° entering and 42° leaving the valve itself, that meant a 7° leak through, which was more than enough to throw off the process. Reseated the valve and had 35° entering and 35° leaving.

    Saturday, large blast door not opening. Out in the utility in the MCC found that the center leg (phase B) fuse was blown. Quick tested everything from obvious shorts. Replace the fuse. Powered up the FLIR and activated the door. Could see that the OPEN motor start center contacts were obviously hotter than the rest. Replaced the contactors. Operated the door again and even temps across all three contacts as the door drove open, checked the DOWN starter and it was good.

    Friday last week, sent out to a cold warehouse. An arctic wind was blowing like crazy. The air-handler was running, steam pressure at 15psi, actuator open. FLIR out and looking at the steam coils and could instantly see that they were hot as hell at the inlet but cold as hell on the outlet. Had a clogged steam trap, blew that out and with the FLIR able to watch the coil come back to life.

    Friday, again, called out on a process where the air-temp was getting too cold. We maintain the evap face temp which pretty much is the leaving air temp, by use of hot gas. I had power to drive the hot gas by-pass solenoid. Pulled FLIR out and though the solenoid had power to it, it was cold as hell in the screen and also temperature difference across the hot gas valve was obvious no flow. Replaced solenoid and back in action.

    Wednesday last week, air compressor kept tripping the breaker. Ohmed out the motor and leads from the motor starter to the motor and all looked good. Reset tripped breaker and started up the compressor. Amp clamp showed 5A, 5A and then 9A? Pulled out the FLIR and the higher amp leg was obviously hotter, followed the source back into the peckerhead of the motor where a wire nut was glowing red. Cut back the wiring, restriped, and installed a new wire nut with a bit of Ox-Guard and we were back in business.

    Other things I use it for

    Compressor valves, easy to see the condition of a semi-hermetic compressor whether it is a mechanical issue, electrical issue, if it is unloaded or loaded. Look at any contactor, heated contacts are a sign of problems, easy upsell. Wiring, any hot wire can be investigated. If three phase wiring, all three legs should be about the same temperature. Evap coils, looking at the distribution tubing, easy to see if one is warmer than the rest, thus restricted. Those accu-trol Trane and Carrier units, easy to tell when that evap face is not evenly cooling.

    Cold and hot spots, look at a thermostat on the wall, pull the face off exposing just the base plate and using a FLIR look at the hole the thermostat wires are coming through. Just look at any wall, ceiling, floor, etc. Can see where there is missing insulation, air leakage whether through can lights, windows, doors, duct, etc.

    Boiler and hydronics, a FLIR is priceless for tracking loop temps, circulator pumps, find piping leaks in the poured floor. Used it a few weeks ago to find where in one of our bridges a snow melt line was leaking. Use it to find steam leaks, etc.

    It has become one of the most valuable tools I have ever owned. No need to go super crazy expensive. Mine is similar to the FLIR 165. I would avoid stupid ones that plug into your phone or are handheld camera type, their resolution sucks. The 165 is not perfect but the resolution between two similar temperatures is very decent.

  7. Likes Cagey57, captube, heatingman liked this post.
  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slctech View Post
    Use mine almost everyday. Still have my $600 FLIR I purchased about 5 years ago from Johnstone

    Just this morning they called me to figure out why a process was getting too cold. Looking at a chiller 3-way valve I quickly could determine that the valve was not seating properly had 35° entering and 42° leaving the valve itself, that meant a 7° leak through, which was more than enough to throw off the process. Reseated the valve and had 35° entering and 35° leaving.

    Saturday, large blast door not opening. Out in the utility in the MCC found that the center leg (phase B) fuse was blown. Quick tested everything from obvious shorts. Replace the fuse. Powered up the FLIR and activated the door. Could see that the OPEN motor start center contacts were obviously hotter than the rest. Replaced the contactors. Operated the door again and even temps across all three contacts as the door drove open, checked the DOWN starter and it was good.

    Friday last week, sent out to a cold warehouse. An arctic wind was blowing like crazy. The air-handler was running, steam pressure at 15psi, actuator open. FLIR out and looking at the steam coils and could instantly see that they were hot as hell at the inlet but cold as hell on the outlet. Had a clogged steam trap, blew that out and with the FLIR able to watch the coil come back to life.

    Friday, again, called out on a process where the air-temp was getting too cold. We maintain the evap face temp which pretty much is the leaving air temp, by use of hot gas. I had power to drive the hot gas by-pass solenoid. Pulled FLIR out and though the solenoid had power to it, it was cold as hell in the screen and also temperature difference across the hot gas valve was obvious no flow. Replaced solenoid and back in action.

    Wednesday last week, air compressor kept tripping the breaker. Ohmed out the motor and leads from the motor starter to the motor and all looked good. Reset tripped breaker and started up the compressor. Amp clamp showed 5A, 5A and then 9A? Pulled out the FLIR and the higher amp leg was obviously hotter, followed the source back into the peckerhead of the motor where a wire nut was glowing red. Cut back the wiring, restriped, and installed a new wire nut with a bit of Ox-Guard and we were back in business.

    Other things I use it for

    Compressor valves, easy to see the condition of a semi-hermetic compressor whether it is a mechanical issue, electrical issue, if it is unloaded or loaded. Look at any contactor, heated contacts are a sign of problems, easy upsell. Wiring, any hot wire can be investigated. If three phase wiring, all three legs should be about the same temperature. Evap coils, looking at the distribution tubing, easy to see if one is warmer than the rest, thus restricted. Those accu-trol Trane and Carrier units, easy to tell when that evap face is not evenly cooling.

    Cold and hot spots, look at a thermostat on the wall, pull the face off exposing just the base plate and using a FLIR look at the hole the thermostat wires are coming through. Just look at any wall, ceiling, floor, etc. Can see where there is missing insulation, air leakage whether through can lights, windows, doors, duct, etc.

    Boiler and hydronics, a FLIR is priceless for tracking loop temps, circulator pumps, find piping leaks in the poured floor. Used it a few weeks ago to find where in one of our bridges a snow melt line was leaking. Use it to find steam leaks, etc.

    It has become one of the most valuable tools I have ever owned. No need to go super crazy expensive. Mine is similar to the FLIR 165. I would avoid stupid ones that plug into your phone or are handheld camera type, their resolution sucks. The 165 is not perfect but the resolution between two similar temperatures is very decent.
    I just so happen to have a "stupid handheld camera type" And I am actually very impressed with it. It goes head to head with the FLIR of similar style and neither one were cheap.

    https://www.tequipment.net/Seek-Ther...YaAkAkEALw_wcB



    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shellkamp View Post
    I just so happen to have a "stupid handheld camera type" And I am actually very impressed with it. It goes head to head with the FLIR of similar style and neither one were cheap.

    https://www.tequipment.net/Seek-Ther...YaAkAkEALw_wcB



    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
    I am talking about the little FLIR branded compact cameras I think they are called the C5 now. They bought us a bunch of those for us to use here and they suck. Something not right with them.

  10. #9
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    I’ve got the Flir C3 for. It’s pretty good, works well, but the battery life is absolutely garbage.

    Unless I leave it plugged in, any time I want to use it, the battery is dead.

    At the office, we have a few of the E5’s and they are very nice. Unclear if they have the same battery issues as my C3 or not. I suspect they might.

    If I had one that did not have a total crap battery I would use it a lot more, on the first trip.

    Unless I think I’m gonna need it, like in floor leak, etc I don’t have it which is a bummer.

    I’ve never used one of the plug in the phone types, but if it runs via phone battery, it would likely be an improvement over the C3 for that reason alone.

    One big advantage I would think of having one that uses the phone would be the instant storage to the phone capabilities, and subsequent ease of documents to the customer.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #10
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    I honestly do not have any issues with battery life with the one I have been using. Uses a mini-USB and just plugs into a computer and it has been in my truck now with the cold weather and the last charge was three weeks ago. I was a bit worried this morning when I fired it up, but it was showing a full battery? Dunno if I am blessed and your cursed, battery consumption never crosses my mind with my mine.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by slctech View Post
    I am talking about the little FLIR branded compact cameras I think they are called the C5 now. They bought us a bunch of those for us to use here and they suck. Something not right with them.
    Interesting. Mine is the "equivalent" to the c5. Awesome battery life and excellent resolution. Even overlays the real image.



    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk

  13. #12
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    I recently purchased a C5. Seems to work fine and battery life seems ok and also seems to retain the charge while off. However I have observed some odd behavior including freezing up on startup and had to turn off and back on again to resolve.

    Hopefully it is a s/w issue that can be fixed by a future firmware update.

    As far the op's question - I use it to look for issues within walls, attic insulation etc. and advise customers on things they can resolve to help reduce the size of their HVAC system and help improve heat loss/gain out of the structure. I usually do this when doing site survey to perform a manual J for a new install. I see it as added value that many others don't offer. In fact many around here don't even do sizing calcs for customers.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by shellkamp View Post
    Interesting. Mine is the "equivalent" to the c5. Awesome battery life and excellent resolution. Even overlays the real image.



    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
    Yeah, I dunno what to tell you. Not arguing, I was just not impressed with the C5 ones that we have.

    I guess the gist of this thread is to impress upon, The Protégé of Adelbert to at least get one. Now I do not know what I would do without mine...kind of like that day I was first introduced to a manometer, sadly I was two years into the industry, once I used one I could not believe I ever made it those two years without one.

  15. #14
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    If a gadget can help you diagnose a problem, give the customer visual evidence to make them a better informed consumer, and build more confidence with the customer, it's a small investment that'll pay for itself many times over.

    Shortly after the ipad came out, jumped on board and used an app to flatrate resi repairs. Customers were amazed that a caveman in a mundane industry could adopt a technology like that. Instead of looking at the ceiling for a price to quote for a repair, I already had the number to show them. I had no more push back on prices and soon raised my prices. That ipad paid for itself in less than a week.

  16. #15
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    I have a C5 but I don't use it for long periods of time. It seems to work well and have good battery life.

  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adlerberts-Protege View Post
    Thats the kind of answer I wanted. I am going to start offering insulation upgrades as well with some of my full systems. Local utilities are offering some pretty awesome incentives.
    I suggest caution when making promises of savings or comfort improvement from insulation alone. I’ve been astonished by how many air leaks I found in my own house by using a blower door. Insulation alone will not seal a leak. Insulation is good but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
    *********
    https://www.hvac20.com/ High efficiency equipment alone does not provide home comfort and efficiency. HVAC2.0 is a process for finding the real needs of the house and the occupants. Offer the customer a menu of work to address their problems and give them a probability of success.

    Find contractors with specialized training in combustion analysis, residential system performance, air flow, and duct optimization https://www.myhomecomfort.org/


    Site member map HERE!

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