5 Alternative Uses for Infrared Cameras


When we talk about thermal imaging here, it is primarily with regard to two applications: hunting scopes and security cameras. With thermal imaging in smartphones now, however, it is worthwhile to consider some additional ways in which the technology can be used. And the fact of the matter is, there are a number of interesting uses for infrared cameras that can come up in certain professions, or in everyday life.

Pest Detection

Maybe the most useful everyday activity one can perform with a decent infrared camera is a scan for pests! Among the pests that can damage your home — such as termites, carpenter ants, rats, mice, and even bees — many can be detected with thermal imaging where they might otherwise be as good as invisible. While it’s unpleasant to think about, it’s not uncommon for these types of pests to be living in walls or burrowing into attic or basement spaces. They can do significant damage before anything becomes particularly noticeable to the naked eye. It is therefore not a bad idea to use your own infrared camera to scan the walls and other wooden fixtures now and then. You may just detect some pests before they cause much harm.

Home Maintenance

Along with pest control, there are several other ways in which thermal imaging can be helpful in home maintenance. For instance, it can be used to check for malfunctions in HVAC equipment, either by showing a given component overheating or by confirming that heat is being properly generated where needed. Thermal imaging can also help to identify leaks, track down unseen wet spots in pipes or insulation, and even identify gas leaks (which are of course more urgent issues). In all of these ways, an infrared camera can help you to make sure your home is in good shape.

Monitoring Circuit Board Integrity

This may be more of a niche application, but then again there are a lot of people who dabble in electrical engineering, either professionally, as a hobby, or in an effort to DIY the occasional repair. And as it so happens, infrared cameras are actually used frequently in the maintenance of printed circuit boards. Because modern PCB layouts are so dense and complex compared to past circuits, it is not always easy to spot imperfections or identify underlying issues for apparent problems. With an infrared camera though, you can scan a small, complex PCB such that certain types of defects will show up clearly, and can then be addressed.

Medical Analysis

We should note that real medical analysis should be left to professionals. That is to say, you should never self-diagnose yourself without also checking in with a relevant medical professional. With that said, there are some instances in which a good infrared camera can be used to identify certain medical problems. For instance, thermal imaging can spot circulatory issues (including potential blood clots), and can even identify budding infections in some cases.

Just-for-Fun Uses

Finally, there are also plenty of just-for-fun uses for an infrared camera, which may be particularly useful with regard to the aforementioned smartphone applications. And really, they can be just about anything! Some like the idea of using infrared cameras outdoors at night, examining wildlife in a back yard or while camping. Others might design hide-and-seek-style games around thermal imaging. And some have gotten into taking thermal selfies (turning selfies into “hotties” as one publication put it). Really, the sky’s the limit in terms of fun, creative uses.

These aren’t all of the uses for personal infrared cameras, but they do cover a number of interesting possibilities. And as this technology becomes more widely available via smartphones and other personal devices, it’s likely people will only come up with more interesting uses moving forward.

About Patrick Hardi

Patrick Hardy is a graduate of the Inspection Certification Associates online home inspection course. He has gone on to start H & H Home Inspections, a multi-inspector home inspection company based in Central Florida that performs home inspections, commercial property inspections, WDO, wind mitigation inspections, and 4-point inspections. In addition to performing classroom training for ICA, Patrick also teaches continuing education classes for home inspectors.