Thermal scanners or Thermal imaging cameras are instruments that convert thermal energy (heat) into visible light for the analysis of an object or scene in question. The image created is known as a thermogram, and is analyzed via a thermography process. Thermal imaging cameras are sophisticated machines, which process and view the captured image on a screen.
Such images may be used for the immediate diagnosis or processed for further assessment, accuracy, and reporting performance by specialized software. Thermal imaging cameras take temperature measurement to the next level; instead of having a number for the temperature, you get an image showing the surface temperature differences.
What do Thermal Scanners see?
Visible light is what we see every day around us. It is the only part that we can see of the electromagnetic spectrum. Normal light makes up only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and a greater proportion of infrared radiation (IR). If we want to see what happens elsewhere in the spectrum we need specialized equipment.
All objects absorb, reflect, and relay energy at different levels, often. Different materials give off different levels of heat or cold energy. It is this energy which can be sensed and viewed as images by the infrared equipment.
Thermal Scanner Uses and Applications
Thermal scanners, which were initially designed for military use during the Korean War, spread into other fields and found many applications. They are used by firefighters to see through smoke, find people, and localize fire hotspots. Law enforcement uses the technology to monitor monitoring operations, identify and arrest suspects, investigate crime scenes, and perform search and rescue operations.
Power line maintenance technicians locate the joints and parts overheating to eliminate potential failures. Where thermal insulation is faulty, building technicians can see heat leakage to boost the cooling or heating efficiencies. Physiological activities for example fever in warm-blooded animals including human beings can also be monitored and scanned through Thermal Scanning. That is one of its great uses.
Thermal Scanner Features
Thermal scanners can be purchased with the bare minimum of features that read only the temperature of the fixed center crosshairs on the monitor or with multiple features that allow the user to pick multiple mobile crosshairs and draw contrasts between them to show the display’s high, low and average temperature.
Thermal imaging cameras/scanners have multiple color palettes that can be selected by the user, such as black/white, iron, or rainbow. The iron palette is used most commonly by home inspectors.
The black/white palette helps identify details on an image, and the rainbow palette has the best temperature sensitivity to display the temperature differences.
One major advantage over Infrared Thermometer or regular Digital Thermometer is the results of fever screening are very fast as we could screen multiple people for a fever even in a crowd.
Even the Non-Contact IR thermometer is of not much help as you cannot maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet mandated by WHO to stop spread as this needs to be operated within 2 inches of a person being tested for accurate measurement.
What to Look for in a Thermal Scanner
There are a number of components that contribute to both a thermal scanner/thermal imaging camera’s quality and cost. The Detector Resolution and Thermal Sensitivity are the two most significant factors.
The resolution of the detector sets out the number of pixels. The most popular resolutions are the pixels 160 x 120, 320 x 240, and 640 x 480. A 320 x 240 detector produces a 76,800-pixel image. Since each pixel has associated temperature which is 76,800 data points of temperature. Higher resolutions also produce images that are visibly clearer.
The smallest temperature difference the camera can detect is thermal sensitivity. A sensitivity of 0.05 ° means that the scanner can distinguish between two surfaces, with a temperature difference of only five hundredths.
A further critical aspect to consider is the temperature range of the thermal imaging camera/thermal scanner. The range says whether the camera will calculate the minimum and maximum temperatures (typical -4 ° F to 2200 ° F).
There are four modifications that can be made to most scanners to obtain the best thermal image to analyze: concentration, changes in emissivity environment, changes in reflective temperature setting, and thermal tuning. When choosing a thermal imaging camera/thermal scanner, each of those modifications must be considered.
Just like a standard camera, the lens of the thermal imaging camera needs to be focused to enhance the clarity of the image. Most cameras can be focused by twisting the lens. More sophisticated cameras have a push-button focus.
Thermal Scanner limitations
Thermal imaging cameras/thermal scanners cannot see-through glass because thermal energy can be reflected off shiny surfaces. Thermal imaging cameras can be used to collect details about a wall’s inside but they can’t see through walls. It is also important to realize that the only determining factor of whether an issue exists is not to use thermal scanners. The question can always be verified with the use of other instruments.
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