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Blog #044 – Your THERMOGRAPHY COMFORT LEVEL – Heat verses temperature – know the difference!

To be comfortable as a thermographer while using  a thermal imaging camera  one really needs to understand the principles of thermodynamics.   The word thermodynamics can be broken down into two words: “heat” (thermo) and “movement” (dynamics).  Throughout this series of blogs on our MoistureView website I’ll comment from time-to-time on some of these principles.  It’s the understanding of the principles that really raises a person’s comfort level as a thermographer.  One of the important things to know is the difference in “heat” and “temperature”.  Your IR camera, if it is a radiometric thermal imaging system (meaning it has temperature readouts), will give you a “temperature” reading, not a “heat” reading.  The reading is the “average temperature” of a certain area of the target equal to the spot size of your particular camera.   Heat, on the other hand, is the movement of energy between atoms and/or molecules.  Energy causes matter to be in motion.  The atoms/molecules bump into each other or vibrate in place.  That “movement” of energy is called heat.  Your IR camera does not give you the measurement of heat.  However, heat can be measured.  We measure heat in “units”.  For example, we can measure heat in BTU’s (British Thermal Units).  It can also be measured in metric calories.  One BTU is approximately the amount of energy found in one kitchen match.  Temperature, on the other hand, is a property of matter. It is a measurement of the molecular vibration in a substance.  Higher temperatures are the result of faster moving molecules or faster vibrating molecules.  Slower vibrations equal lower temperatures.   Temperature is measured by the use of scales: Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin and Rankin.  When energy moves from one place to another the temperature of the source will change (due to a loss of heat) and the temperature of the destination will change (due to a gain in heat).  So, remember, your radiometric infrared camera measures surface temperature, not surface heat.

How’s your comfort level in thermography?
(The above comments represent my opinion).

Rod Hoff / Restoration Consultants Inc
Thermography Instructor / IR camera sales
3284 Ramos Circle, Sacramento CA 95827
toll free 888-617-3266 ext 301
fax 916-736-1134

Provider of Fluke TiS, TiR, TiR1, Ti, Ti25, TiR27, Ti27, TiR29, Ti29, TiR32, Ti32, TiR3, and TiR4 infrared cameras.


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About infrarod

Rod Hoff is a Thermographer and instructor with Restoration Consultants, Inc. He teaches a two-day IR class in moisture and building envelope investigations. A graduate from Florida State University, with a degree in education, he received his formal training in Thermography from Snell Infrared and Restoration Consultants, Inc.

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