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Guide To Choosing The Best Thermal Imaging Cameras

From living to nonliving things, each object in your environment emits thermal energy at every point in time. Truth be told, things would be easier if you could just see thermal energy with your eyes, but it doesn’t work that way. And that is where thermal imaging cameras come in.

These devices can serve many purposes, whether for household use or as part of your professional toolbox. Their unique design ensures that they make thermal heat energy visible and can also help to point out technical mistakes. So, do you need a reliable infrared camera or thermal imager that won’t cost you an arm or a leg? Do you want a thermal camera that can assist you in home equipment inspection or troubleshooting home repairs?

We’ve written this product roundup to introduce you to some of the best thermal imaging cameras from renowned manufacturers. If you are new to this, you should know that there are certain factors to consider before picking any thermal imaging device. So, we encourage you to read through our buyer’s guide on the consideration points to note.

How To Choose The Best Thermal Imaging Camera

These heat sensory inventions, known as thermal imaging cameras, are very advanced, so we don’t expect you to know everything about the device. But for beginners, the task of getting an effective thermal camera isn’t always easy. We’ll help you bypass that challenge, however, by giving you important information to help you in this section.

Thermal cameras vs. Standard cameras?

The reason for buying a standard camera is usually to take snapshots of images, but thermal imaging cameras help in heat detection. Thermal cameras are very good at sensing and identifying heat emission differences, but standard cameras work differently. Standard cameras come with lenses that cannot notice temperature changes.

How thermal cameras work

Understanding that every object (living and nonliving) gives off thermal energy helps to understand how these cameras function. Did you know that thermal energy comes from ice? But the thermal energy emitted from an object relates to how hot that object is.

In the case of thermal imaging, heat levels are usually not visible to the human eye, but a unique mechanism can allow you to see that energy. And understanding what it takes to operate thermal imaging cameras is not as difficult as you think. Just point the camera in the direction of an object and click to capture the image if you want to.

Factors to consider before purchasing a thermal camera

One of the biggest mistakes you’ll make is to pick just any product you find on the market. You need to know the must-have features for your device and what you expect from it. So, check out these necessary features to look out for before spending your cash on a thermal imaging camera –

Camera vs. Imager

This is one of the foremost points of consideration. Are you just looking for a real-time thermal imager, or do you want a real thermal camera?

Should your interests lie only in viewing the temperature of objects on the go without saving the images, a thermal imager is what you need. That’s because it gives you live readings of the temperature of an object as you look through the unit. This is what makes them ideal if you want to identify technical areas on equipment and at construction sites while performing routine check-ups.

But a thermal imaging camera comes in handy if you do not only want to capture an image but also store them for later use. You might want to share the images with others, and an infrared camera best serves this purpose. Some thermal imaging cameras allow you to record videos along with image capturing features. They also come with some form of storage like a local SD card. You’ll also find thermal cameras that allow you to superimpose thermal images onto live digital pics of an object to point out any problems.

LCD screen size

A thermal camera is still a camera, no matter how you look at it. So, it makes sense for your preferred unit to have not less than a 3-inch LCD screen. You’ll find different thermal cameras on the market that come with 5 inches to 7 inches LCD screens but expect to spend more before getting them. Whatever the case, never settle for less than standard LCD screen thermal cameras because analyzing images could become very difficult.

Imaging modes

The basic purpose of thermal imaging cameras is for creating thermal pictures. These could be pictures of objects or areas. But you need to make sure that the camera you think is right for you has versatile imaging modes. More and more users continue to demand very advanced thermal cameras that give access to fusion image modes, the reason being that these modes allow you to click from thermal to normal images accompanied by radiometric info.

Pixel resolution

What’s the point in having a thermal image of low quality? Low-resolution thermal imaging cameras make the process of identifying errors accurately regarding objects or areas very difficult. You can only zoom in on an object without compromising quality when you go for a higher resolution camera. In general, we recommend thermal imaging cameras that offer up to 4,800 pixels in resolution.

Refresh rate

This is another important factor to consider before splashing your cash. Having a thermal camera with a very low refresh rate means you should expect trouble adjusting your camera’s focus. A thermal camera with a refresh rate of up to 60Hz can give you great results. So, don’t settle for less.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

5 Best Thermal Imaging Cameras To Buy In 2020

FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera

FLIR is one of the world’s leaders when it comes to manufacturing thermal imaging products. The company is well established, and you will find a wide range of offerings and innovations from the market leader. We bring you the all-new TG165 equipped with superb capabilities that make it a top-performing thermal imaging camera. An inside look tells you that this is a product worth considering, and here’s why:

To start with, this product seems like the midpoint between a single spot infrared thermometer and a traditional thermal imaging camera. That’s because you’ll find a digital thermometer and a thermal camera of high quality on this portable heat sensing device. If you are looking to get the best cold and warm area identification via thermal imaging, these two features help you achieve that. So, whatever issues there are, you should have no problem identifying them. Also, the TG165 comes with a world field of view of 50 degrees, as well as decent 80 x 60 pixels resolution provided by a Lepton IR Imagine Engine.

We also find the dual laser pointers satisfactory and the right fit for this sophisticated thermal imaging camera. You get wide temperature range measurements from the pointers between 13 to 760 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll admit that this temperature range is quite impressive, which should help you test heavy-duty equipment for extreme temperatures with ease. Storing photos on this device shouldn’t be a problem as you have an 8GB capacity memory card that can contain up to 75,000 images with no fear of running out of space. Even if you want more memory, you can get a 32GB memory card.

Yes, this thermal imaging camera provides a very okay image resolution, but we feel it could be better. The images aren’t of the very best quality when compared to some other premium devices.

PROS

  • Can support 32GB memory card
  • Comes with 8GB memory storage
  • Wide field of view
  • Wide temperature ranges

CONS

  • Not the best image quality
FLIR TG165 - Spot Thermal Camera - with 2-Meter Drop Durability for Your Toughest JobsBuy on Amazon

SEEK Thermal Reveal

As an expert in your field, you don’t only want a device that’s convenient, but you need something smart with long battery life too. That’s why we want to review the SEEK Thermal Reveal camera. This unit is among the best heat-sensing devices available, so we’ll take you through its core capabilities. That should help you decide whether or not to consider this product. When it comes to convenience, Reveal takes things to another level and comes with an angled head to improve targeting.

There’s more. This unit offers you as much as 10 hours of power, which we think is a considerably great powerful battery life. So, no need to worry about you getting the device charged now and then. This means you can work for long without the fear of losing battery power. Seek Thermal Reveal comes with intense LED lighting to improve your performance when you have to work in dark environments. Ranked as one of the best thermal imaging devices, this is one smart gadget that every professional leads in their toolbox.

Here’s another thing that should convince you about this thermal imaging camera. You get multiple user modes to make detection a piece of cake. When you find yourself in work environments where the heat emission metrics are similar, that’s when you’ll come to love the device even more. With its auto emission and auto-detection user modes, finding and identifying issues with high accuracy becomes easier.

But we feel this product checks all the boxes except when it comes to pricing. Yes, we know that it gives you access to various features that you may not find on similar brands, but lowering the price can propel Reveal ahead of other brands. Again, it’s quite disappointing that there is no video recording support on the gadget.

PROS

  • LED lighting
  • Extended SD card slot
  • Long battery life
  • We
  • Ergonomic design

CONS

  • Quite on the high side in terms of cost
  • No video support
Seek Thermal Reveal – Ruggedized, All-Purpose Thermal Imaging Camera , Blue - RW-AAABuy on Amazon

FLIR HTI-19 Compact Thermal Camera

Relatively new to the market, only established in 2009, Hti-Xintai has proven that they can produce some quality products in the thermal imaging camera sphere. Check out the all-new HTI-19 compact unit from Hti-Xintai that meets very high standards. The best part is that the price is quite affordable, which comes as a surprise, also making it a great product for budget buyers.

Some thermal imaging cameras are great for professional use, while others perform best when used in the home. But we find the HTI-19 thermal camera very impressive because you get the best of both worlds without having to spend so much money. Did you also know that this gadget was created in compliance with the RESNET standards? That’s to tell you how valuable, durable, and efficient the product is. What we have here is a very versatile compact unit with so many top-notch imaging capabilities. This device can save thermal, as well as visual images. Its design allows it to store MSX enhanced photos too. The images you get from this gadget are really sharp, with the 320 x 240-pixel resolution on the camera.

When you take a picture of an area, you can store its temperature information in JPEG format, which makes it easy to take that information and analyze it. That way, you can determine any problems with high accuracy. It also comes with extended memory storage that can hold as much as 500 images at a time, giving you a convenient way to examine issues. Let’s also walk you through its attractive features as the Hti-Xintai HTI-19 has multiple imaging modes ranging from center spot to area box and auto hot/cold modes. They help to enhance convenience because operating the camera becomes easier even if you are a rookie.

In a nutshell, beginners will find this thermal imaging camera decent enough to include in their personal or professional toolbox. But we also noticed two areas that we think the HTI-19 falls short. Despite its superb capabilities, it lacks an adjustable focus.

PROS

  • Ergonomic and portable
  • Multiple imaging modes
  • Stores MSX enhanced, thermal, and visual pictures
  • Meets and exceeds RESNET standards

CONS

  • Lacks an adjustable focus
New Higher Resolution 320 x 240 IR Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera. Model HTI-19 with Improved 300,000 Pixels, Sharp 3.2Buy on Amazon

Seek Thermal RevealPRO

Here’s another portable thermal imaging camera that offers you high flexibility and fantastic resolution. The Seek Thermal RevealPro can work in any environment, whether it is daytime or nighttime. Products in the FLIR C series rely on good light and MSX enhancement to supply good images, but this camera doesn’t need that to have a resolution boost. It also comes with a refresh rate of 15Hz, which is high enough when you consider that many brands only offer 9Hz. So, spotting people or animals in very dark areas shouldn’t be a problem even if you have to detect them through thick bush. Are you looking to identify and surprise? Then, rest assured that this 300lumens LED lighting device can handle that.

If you need distance temperature readings, don’t forget to use the 4x zoom, which could affect the resolution anyway. This fixed-focus thermal imaging gadget has a Gorilla Glass protecting its 2.4-inch screen. The device also works from 30-550 cm with a memory worth 4GB to allow you to take as many photos as you want. Just use the shutter to capture non-stop by holding it down. You also get other useful features as RevealPro comes with an easy-to-use menu system. Users can access emissivity adjustments and level and span adjustment, which work similarly to manual exposure.

PROS

  • Emissivity adjustment
  • Comes with a flashlight built-in
  • 15Hz refresh rate
  • High-resolution thermal sensor

CONS

  • Lacks visual light camera data
  • Doesn’t support video recording
Seek Thermal Revealpro – Ruggedized, High Resolution Thermal Imaging CameraBuy on Amazon

FLIR C3 Pocket Thermal Camera

As mentioned earlier, FLIR products are some of the very best in the professional-grade thermal-imaging sphere and won’t cost you so much. Here’s the FLIR C3, which is also new on the block in the C series and is as impressive as its predecessor, the C2 thermal imaging camera. This camera is currently a best seller and recommended for users who want value for their money.

Checking the features of the FLIR C3 was exciting, especially after nothing works the C2 could do. Let’s say that the C3 is a very competent thermal camera that comes with Wi-Fi connectivity. What you have here is a unit that is more compact when compared to the FLIR C3, and if “compact” is your thing, then go for this product by all means.

No doubt, the FLIR C2 is more pocket-friendly, which makes it very portable and allows you to carry it along wherever you go, but both the C3 and C2 have the same camera. If you are looking for a great thermal imaging camera for professional use, this may not be the best option. But the C3 does a good job of detecting electrical issues and minor leakages in the home that need fixing. With an 80 x 60 resolution, this camera allows you to save as much as 500 radiometric photos and is also equipped with a touch screen display of 3 inches. It features high-precision zooming capabilities as well.

You also get a thermal sensor of high-resolution along with the MSX enhancement to give you the sharpest images from every click. We like the picture-in-picture setting that we consider to be a bonus. While this is a great thermal imaging camera, we feel it isn’t the best when it comes to capturing long-range images. But you’ll get an effective performance when clicking close up pictures. We still find that the product does not have a separate SD card slot as well.

PROS

  • Great field of view
  • 302 degree Fahrenheit max temperature range
  • Compact design
  • Hot and cold spot feature

CONS

  • Not the best for long-range images
  • Lacks an SD card slot
Flir C3 – Compact Thermal Camera with Wi-FiBuy on Amazon

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What Is The Best Thermal Imaging Camera For You?

What kind of work do you do? Does it involve HVAC, firefighting, industrial maintenance, or something related? Then, it’s safe to conclude that you know a lot about how to apply thermal imaging cameras. But these gadgets are also necessary for homeowners who like to do things like fixing the ventilation, plumbing, wiring, and related household problems.

As earlier mentioned, we can detect thermal energy from anything that comes in contact with light. But since thermal imaging cameras are not regular devices, many people do not know how to find the best product for their needs. So, we hope that the information in this guide helps you make the right buying decision.

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