Infrared Scanning is one of the most useful tools on the modern era in relation to safeguarding and implementing Energy Savings solutions in electrical installations. This is a device that will accurately indicate the temperature of any observable electrical installation or connection without ever touching the electrical equipment, cabling, buss bars, high voltages connections, etc.
This represents a quantum leap in this industry. The same applies to any other application in which an accurate heat indication is of paramount importance such as determining home heating losses, mechanical equipment performance such as the temperature readings of ball bearings, motors, or any type of rotating machinery.
There are basically two types of technologies available, the most common being Digital Infrared Thermometers with digitally displays the highest temperature reading within the view arc angle of the instrument. The other instrument is an Infrared Camera which can produce a real time Black and white (not in much use anymore) or color coded image (very popular) of the subject of interest. Since most are computer controlled, color photographs can be stored and the printed for reference information.
My personal preference is the hand held Long Range, laser Guided, Digital Infrared Thermometer. This one in particular has a narrow angle of view and which can accurately read the temperature of any object within a 3” diameter circle at a distance of 30 ft. It also has a coaxial red laser to help aim the device. This device can identify even the an overheated bolt in a high voltage connection from a very safe standoff distance with a one degree accuracy.
In the case of the Infrared Cameras with color coded images, you can’t get that precision. You get a colored image and a color coded bar on the side of the image which correlates to the temperature of the observed image. This may confuse some viewers when trying to locate a specific heat source rather than a general view of the area. However other high end cameras have powerful zooms which can generate a close-up view of an area of interest.
Any of these tools in the hands of a seasoned professional will provide him with valuable data which will be of paramount importance when it is analyzed by his trained eye.
It is customary to perform a complete IR Scan of the entire electrical installations of any Commercial or Industrial installation at least once a year. Many industries perform such scans much more frequently.
At household level the Infrared Camera is of great use, mostly at winter time in order to determine the sources of heat loss into the ambient. This will provide accurately indication of the culprits which are wasting energy and direct the professionals in this business to zero on the source of heat loss such as windows, doors, some wall penetration, etc.
Again, there is no substitute to performing an Infrared Scan on any electrical installation. The costs involved in the same are minimal when compared to the potential they have in saving energy, identifying possible equipment failure before they occur and the reality of preventing fires when such situations remain unnoticed!