Your THERMOGRAPHY COMFORT LEVEL – How often should I have my IR camera calibrated?

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It’s just my opinion but I don’t really see a great need to send in my IR camera to be calibrated just to meet some kind of manufacturer’s schedule.  Remember, there are two kinds of investigations:  qualitative and quantitative.  If you, like me, are using your thermal imaging camera to look for moisture issues or missing insulation or air leaks then you are performing a qualitative analysis, right?  The customer is not paying you for an accurate temperature reading.  Take moisture issues for example.  The principle for locating moisture signatures on the interior of a building is most often “evaporative cooling”.  Evaporative cooling drops the temperature of the wet area approximately 3 degrees F (sometimes less, sometimes more).  The key word there is “cooling”.  If the dry area is 70F and the wet area is 67F the camera will show the 3 degree drop in temperature.  What if I use two thermal imaging cameras?  One says 70F on the dry area and 67F for the wet area.  The other camera says 67F for the dry and 64F for the wet.  It’s still a 3 degree drop.  Do I care about the accuracy of the reading?  Not really.  I’m performing a qualitative analysis which means temperature readings are not important to me.  I’m looking for color or shade variations. The anomaly is what I call an “area of investigation”.   The IR camera is basically telling me to go over to the cool area and use a moisture meter to verify the presence or absence of moisture.

On the other hand, what if your customer is paying you to give him/her an accurate temperature relative to some manufacturing process or motor, etc?  If the customer is paying you for an accurate temperature using thermal imaging then you will need to make sure that your IR camera is within proper manufacturer’s calibration specifications.  You are now involved in quantitative analysis.



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