The manufacture of the thermal imaging cameras is awash with numerous players and brands today. Some of the top brands are Fluke, Flir, Milwaukee, and Seek. If you are just a homeowner who is just attempting to rationalize the spending of another $300, there are best budget thermal imaging camera for home inspection or even building which may fit your needs.
What Should I Be Looking For When Choosing A Thermal Camera?
The following are some of the factors to look up to when finding a suitable thermal camera:
Generally speaking, you ought to settle for the highest resolution you can possibly afford. You may consider the 60 by 60 and well to the 640 by 480.
A good device should have a built-in camera which is used to capture the normal images. These serve as the references as well as the thermal images. At the same time, these cameras should also be able to convert any image into the JPEG besides e-mailing the same to the clients.
Needless to say, the best camera ought to be able to detect the accuracy within the minimum range of +/- 2%.
It is necessary that the right thermal imaging camera possess as wide temperature range as possible.
For the sake of easier navigation, find a camera that has a laser point.
The camera of choice has to ideally be capable of combining visible light images and thermal images. To guarantee this, the camera ought to ideally possess the Image Fusion and the FLIR’s MSX Technology, typically present in the high-end cameras.
If possible, the camera should have an app that is compatible with the tablet or smartphone you have in mind. This app will often help you in generating appropriate reports.
It goes without saying that the right camera should be backed by a generous manufacturer’s warranty. This is to shield you from unnecessary risks and dangers that ordinarily arise in the time of use.
If you are still not sorted out with the information we have furnished above, or maybe you are looking to get to know more about these cameras as well as the most significant features, stay on. Listed below are some of the most common features which buyers often look out for in these cameras and further explanations concerning them.
It is our hope that you will find this information worthwhile and helpful in enabling you to select the most perfect thermal imaging camera for your needs.
#1: FLIR E4 Thermal Camera
The FLIR E4 thermal camera is a rugged device which is hand-held, sleek in design and rugged rubberized finish. It has the ability to withstand falls from 6 feet. The 80 by 60-pixel resolution gives off detailed outcomes while viewing images.
It brings together the thermal sensor and the 3.1 mega-pixel visible light camera. The latter captures high-resolution images which possess greater details. The MSX image enhancement extracts finer details from the camera and embeds the same to the thermal image.
In all, the camera has a pretty wide (45°) field of view. Its fixed focus means you will have to adjust your distance accordingly to obtain the best images. The camera is super easy to navigate courtesy of the one-button controls.
This feature allows you to transfer your files wirelessly. By use of the smartphones and tablets, you can also edit those files and send the same to your clients wherever you are. The feature allows for timely responses which save you some bit of time.
Accessories and Battery Life
It draws its power from the Lithium-ion batteries. This provides hours of uninterrupted services which is sufficient to analyze structures and perceive the alterations in the heat, plumbing cogs, and other pertinent details. It is encased in a transport case which shields it from damages. This is not to point out that it has a USB cable for manual file transfers.
Lastly, the camera comes with comprehensive warranty coverage. It is governed by the 2-5-10 warranty scheme which is valid for 10 years on the thermal detector, 5 years on the battery, and 2 years on parts and labor. To qualify for this warranty, you have to register it on the customer care website.
- Wide temperature range (-4°F to +482°F)
- 9Hz refresh rate
- Four color pallets i.e. black, rainbow, iron, and white
- Focus-free lens
- MSX imaging provides further details in the images
- One-button navigation
- Four measurement modes i.e. auto cold spots, auto hot, center spot, and area box
- Great warranty provided that you register
- A budget camera which can nevertheless serve commercial purposes
- Limited resolution to cater for the heavy applications of thermal imagery in building inspections
- Low refresh rate
You have this camera for your thermal imaging details, comes at a lower price, and great for key building inspections. Its compact size and a user-friendly design combine to provide optimal functionality. It MSX technology, on the other hand, helps to generate realistic images which bring about conclusive reports.
#2: Fluke VT04A Infrared Imager
On the whole, this camera is 40% smaller than most competitors. It is hence suitable for industrial and home applications. The device is mainly optimized for fragile objects and those that are remotely located.
Thermal Imaging Features
With this camera’s PyroBlend plus Optics, you are certain to obtain high-resolution objects. The sensor is the 31 x 31 which aligns with the thermal image to give you awesome visual pictures. Other than this, the camera has an awesome field of view that measures 28° by 28° too.
It also you to vary the temperature ratings and sets off the thermometer when the selected temperature is exceeded. You are spared of the need to put in too much attention. This is not to mention that it blends images automatically courtesy of the one-touch button.
Though small, this camera is quite remarkable. It has a wide temperature detection range of around 140°F to 4820°F. You will find it applicable for heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems, mechanical industries, and electrical inspections.
Given that its thermal sensor is uncooled, it takes measurements from afar off. This is not to mention that it maintains higher accuracy levels due to its ability to align visible lights in near and far operational modes.The camera stores up to 10,000 images due to its possession of 4GB SD card storage device. This combined with its SmartView software simplifies the process of accessing and editing images.
Battery Life, Warranty and Accessories
The camera requires four AA batteries to operate, unlike the VT04. You will thus enjoy a longer running time of around 8 hours. It is accompanied by a soft case and 2-year warranty.
- Contains quick hot and cold spot markers
- Possesses a center measurement box
- Has six color pallets
- Battery-saver modes
- Auto-monitor alarm
- Occasionally generates inaccurate readings some by as much as 5° variation
Fluke VT02 vs. Fluke VT04
The former is cheaper than the latter. Over and above that, it comes in a pocket design which makes use of uncooled pyroelectric ceramic sensors to capture the visual and thermal images. It also contains three-blended modes rather than five. They are however similar in all regards.
By its design, it greatly simplifies the troubleshooting activities. At the same time, it brings about professional quality readings and images without asking for any training. It is your best bet if you are on a budget as well.
#3: FLIR C2 Compact Thermal Imager
The FLIR C2 is a highly sensitive detector camera which reveals heat changes from -140°F to 3020°F. You are hence capable of picking up the minutest changes in temperature. This allows you to identify the hidden insulation leaks with ease.
Generally speaking, this camera incorporates the detector and the thermal camera to produce detailed images. It boats of possessing the VGA 640 x 480 pixels resolution camera. It further has an 80 x 60-pixel thermal sensor. These two jointly generate images with resolution measuring 320 x 240.
Lastly, it has space for around 500 radiometric images which are stored in the JPEG format. Each image has a capacity of 4,800 individual temperature measurements.
Battery Life and Accessories
With a full battery, the camera can operate continuously for around two hours. It does have a charger which is easier to plug. Moreover, it also comes along with the useful pieces of hardware which make work easier in the field. To transfer data, you will make use of a USB cable.
The camera allows you to add relevant information and analyzing the images courtesy of the FLIR Tools Professional Reporting Software. This suite is top-performing by virtue of possessing all the tools requisite for showing minimum, maximum, and average temperature information. Other than these, it contains change color palettes and adds spot meters.
To spare you unnecessary losses, you have some 2-10 year warranty with this camera. The thermal detector is backed by a 10-year warranty whereas other parts get 2 years. You have to register with the customer care to be eligible though.
FLIR C2 vs. FLIR C3
These two cameras are the same in many regards. The C3 has Wi-Fi connectivity though. As such, you can stream contents to and from the device wirelessly. The camera can capture more details than most others also.
- Contains plastic and rubber shells which enhance durability
- Packed with the MXS image enhancement
- Operable by buttons and touchscreen
- Supported by the FLIR tools software for the analysis of images
- Generates high-resolution images
- Handles a wide temperature range comfortably
- Has an optional LED lighting
- Cannot transfer files wirelessly
All factors considered, this is not an entry-level model as it possesses features which exist only in the high-end models. These notwithstanding, it does not cost too much. Get hold of it to save yourself some money.
With so many different thermal imaging cameras out there it can be difficult to find the right camera however at the end of the day keeping these three factors in mind can help you narrow down the cameras to choose from.
- What is your budget?
- What are you going to use the camera for?
- How often are you going to use the camera?
Knowing how much you can and want to spend is the most important step. Once you are realistic about what you can afford it’s time to narrow down the camera’s in that price range.
Next, you want to think about what are you going to use the camera for: if you are only going to use the camera to look for unsealed windows or HVAC issues in your house you probably do not need a very expensive camera with lots of advanced features. Here is it important to be realistic and truthful with yourself and what you will use the camera for.
Finally, how often are you going to use the camera? If you are only going to use the camera a few times a year in a nonprofessional setting it probably doesn’t not make sense to buy an expensive thermal camera like the FLIR E75. On the other hand, if you have your own business doing building inspections and will be using the camera every day for earning your living then it makes sense to spend more money and buy a top of the line thermal camera like the E75 or E85.