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The thermal imaging technology was initially used in the Korean War and later available only to the U.S Military.
After army force, thermal imaging cameras are widely used in firefighting to find the hotspots of the fire to rescue people, in law enforcement surveillance and other fields where heat detection is needed.
Now, thermal imaging cameras started their new beginning at home and building inspections.
Yes, thermal imaging cameras are effective and non-invasive devices for home and building inspections as they are able to detect the emitted heat energy from an object.
Using the thermal camera, one can inspect the home or building from a distance away. So you can measure the heat energy in the unsafe areas without any concern.
These thermal imaging cameras can spot the trapped moisture, water leaks, air flow, insulation, unsafe electrical boards and mainly heat loss/gain.
All the above issues will cause damage of hundreds or thousands of dollars, so doing thermal imaging home inspection regularly or before you invest in a new home will cut off these unwanted expenses.
Table: Best Thermal Imaging Cameras for Home Inspection
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Best Thermal Imaging Cameras for Home Inspection: 10 Cameras Reviewed
1. FLIR E8: Compact Thermal Imaging Camera
FLIR E8 is our first choice of thermal camera for a home inspection. This handheld thermal imaging camera has two built-in cameras and high sensor resolution.
It also has a wide temperature detection range when compared to other handheld thermal cameras for home. The rugged and industrial design makes it durable and applicable for a long-range home inspection. As it has durable construction and high-end features, it is possible to use this thermal camera for electrical inspections in your home or property.
FLIR E8 thermal camera has a thermal sensor with a high resolution of 320 x 240 (76,800 pixels). So you can also use this thermal camera for hunting in complete darkness. It has the 3 inches wide LCD color display of 320 x 240 to show the structural issues, temperature details, heat loss and even help you decide whether replacement or repair is needed or not.
Two Built-in Camera
This wide infrared thermal camera has two built-in cameras:
» A Digital Camera
The 3.1 MP visible light digital camera captures the digital images.
» An IR Camera
The usual IR camera of the thermal device captures the heat signature of the objects.
This high sensitive thermal camera uses MSX imaging technology which allows overlaying of a digital image with a normal image to get the detailed thermal photo.
FLIR E8 has Low-temperature detection range compared to other FLIR handheld models.
2. FLIR TG167-NIST Spot Thermal Camera
FLIR TG167-NIST Spot Thermal Camera has come with the portable protective case so you can sore this device and take it anywhere you go. FLIR TG167 has the second place in our list as it has a high-temperature detection range. So this device can be used by the professional home inspectors.
As it has the temperature detection range from –25 to +380°c or –13 to +716°f, this device is employed in most of the home inspecting companies and agencies. With the high-temperature range, you can use this thermal camera for inspecting large industries and factories too. You can measure the thermal signatures of huge building from a safe distance and still receive the accurate readings.
The resolution of this FLIR TG167 thermal sensor is 80 x 60 so getting the clear and clarity background image is a little tough. It is a spot thermal imager technically so if you are limited on your budget, this device is the ideal choice.
The captured thermal images can be stored on the SD in the thermal imager. As it isn’t Wi-fi enabled, you can transfer these data using SD or USB to your computer system. You can retrieve the stored images anytime you need.
FLIR TG167 does not have Wi-fi sharing and transfer options and a digital camera.
3. Extech I5 Thermal Imaging Camera
Extech i5 Thermal Imaging Camera is the first thermal imaging camera used for home inspection which is developed by the popular thermal device manufacturer FLIR who is known for their durable and affordable industrial power tools.
Simple to Use
Extech i5 Thermal Imaging Camera is a specific model from FLIR which has small size about 12 ounces making it comfortable to the beginners. If you are first time buyer of the thermal camera, then this device is the best options as it easy to use and hold. This thermal imaging camera has the focus-free lens and it automatically focuses the area or objects from 2 feet away.
This compact thermal imaging camera has a thermal resolution of 100 x 100 (10000 pixels). The thermal sensitivity range of this spot camera is < 0.1-degree Celsius. It has a large 2.8 inches color LCD display to show the heat map of the detected objects.
The 512 MB MicroSD™ card available in this thermal spot camera can store Radiometric JPEG format of up to 5000 images.
It has a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. The double molded rugged industrial design with grip handle certified by IP43 dust/splash proof standards.
This Extech i5 Thermal Camera is not capable of work with other smart devices.
4. FLIR C3 Pocket Thermal Camera
FLIR C3 is palm thermal camera which has a touch screen and Wi-fi with ease of use. As it doesn’t have a nifty handle, these do not come under ergonomic camera models but with this compact design, you will not need of extra case as it can be stored on almost any pocket. FLIR C3 thermal camera can store the thermal images with 4800 pixels maximum.
The FLIR C3 thermal camera can save 500 radiometric images. It has the uncooled microbolometer with a large 320 x 240 detector. With this device, you can focus the targets even far from 60 feet away without compromising the accuracy. The temperature detection range of this device is from 14 to 302 degree F.
The IR sensor resolution of this thermal camera is 80 x 60. The Digital camera installed on the device has resolution 640 x 480 pixels. This thermal camera is Wi-fi enabled, so you can easily transfer the images to your system.
FLIR C3 uses MSX image enhancement technology which provides detailed images by overlaying the visible light digital camera photo with the infrared thermal photo in real time. The thermal imaging and photography are combined in this device so streaming or viewing the image on the LCD screen will provide the critical temperature details.
FLIR C3 does not have the ergonomic handle and temperature range is also not high.
5. FLIR C2 Compact Thermal Imaging Camera
FLIR C2 is the jackpot for both professionals and DIYers who need thermal imaging camera for personal use or work.
Not only since it has an affordable price that fit the most buyer’s budget, but also because this FLIR C2 thermal system has a full-featured and pocket-sized design that can help to find the heat maps of hidden objects.
FLIR C2 on the go device that doesn’t need the training to use it so anyone from any age can operate this user-friendly device.
Built-in Cameras and MSX
C2 has two built-in cameras such as an 80 x 60 IR thermal sensor and the visible light digital camera. With the combination of the thermal and digital camera, one can receive a detailed thermal image using MSX image enhancement, so we can sure about what we are looking at.
This FLIR C2 thermal camera occupies a spotlight, emissivity measuring options, and a spotmeter. You can store the 500 radiometric images to the internal memory of this camera. It has a 3-inch color LCD display with resolution 320 x 240 pixels. The touch screen display and auto-rotation feature help to conveniently view the images.
Sensitivity and Power
The temperature detection of the range offered by this thermal camera is between 14°F and 302°F. The operating time of this thermal camera for continuous use is 2 hours and the device can be charged using a USB cable. The charging of the battery in this camera is approximately 1.5 hours. It has an automatic shut off after a few minutes of not being used.
FLIR C2 Thermal Imaging System only offers image and there is no video recording option.
6. FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera
FLIR TG165 is technically an “Imaging IR Thermometer” which works as both thermal imaging device and temperature measurement tool.
The thermal imager in this Tg165 thermal device provide the heat features of the objects focused by the sensor, on the other hand, the thermometer in the device provides the temperature details of the objects.
The thermal sensor in FLIR Tg165 has IR resolution of 80 x 60 (4800 pixels). The temperature measuring range possible in this thermal camera is from -25 to 380°C (–13 to +716°F) and it has the accuracy of ±1.5°C.
When you trigger the device, laser spot the center of the screen is focusing and the temperature measurement of that fixed point.
When you release the trigger, the camera captures the image which you can save it on the internal memory or delete it.
This thermal device has a 2 inch LCD display to show the detected and focused areas or surfaces. There are three color palates available in this camera: hot iron, rainbow, and grayscale. The temperature details shown on the display is either in Celsius or Fahrenheit scales. User can choose the comfortable unit in the menu options.
It has a rugged outer construction that can withstand fall up to 2 meters. This spot thermal imager is available with 8 GB Micro SD card, USB cable, and wrist strap lanyard.
The 8 GB memory can store the thermal images up to 75000 still, you can expand the memory.
This thermal imager for a home inspection can be continuously operated for 5 hours. The rechargeable battery with automatic turn-off in this device offers long term use.
The thermal sensor resolution of this popular FLIR TG165 is less.
7. Fluke TIS20 9HZ Thermal Infrared Camera
The IR Fusion technology of Fluke is unique which combines both visible light digital camera photo and infrared thermal image of the object you are focusing to offer better clarity.
Fluke perform this at different preset levels and add picture-in-picture to attain the pixel-for-pixel order of both digital and infrared images.
This thermal imaging avoids expensive repairs and replacements by identifying the defects before they become complex.
The thermal sensor resolution of this Fluke TIS20 is 120 x 90 (10800 pixels). This is comparatively more affordable thermal sensor for building inspectors and home inspection companies.
Fluke TIS20 has a 3.5 inch LCD display of resolution 320 x 240. The rugged design allows the user to detect heat signatures in any bad weather conditions; it has the temperature detection range from -4°F to 482°F.
Fluke Connect SmartView Software
This Fluke thermal camera can be connected to any smartphone using the Wi-Fi and using the Fluke Connect SmartView software one can share the temperature details and thermal images taken in real time with the friends or coworkers, this speed up the identification of issues detected in the thermal inspection.
Power and Memory
Fluke TIS20 is powered by the Lithium-Ion battery which has the special LED light display with three color pallets to show the level of the battery to avoid the unexpected power off.
The 4 GB internal storage of this thermal camera can store thousands of images, you additional micro SD card with 4 GB memory.
The image clarity level of this Fluke TIS20 is less than the basic FLIR MSX image enhancement.
8. FLIR E4 Compact Thermal Imaging Camera
FLIR E4 is one of the most recommended handheld thermal imaging camera with all the basic features of thermal imaging technology, durable design, and affordable price.
This handy thermal camera saves the captured thermal images in JPG so radiometric information is not available but still, they make it provide the clear images.
FLIR E4 thermal sensor has a resolution of 80 x 60 (4800 pixels). The thermal resolution of this camera does not meet the RESNET standards but detect the heat signatures clearly and provide critical temperature data in home inspections for insulation gaps, air flow in a window, and door leaks.
FLIR E4 has a fixed focus point. To get better thermal images, the user should adjust the device based on the distance between them and their target. The camera lens in this device designed to focus even from a large distance.
FLIR E4 has two temperature measurement modes such as area box and center spot. This device can be operated with one hand using the intuitive access controls. E4 has basic FLIR’s thermal imaging technology and features at an affordable price. The drop resistance of this camera is up to 6.6 feet.
FLIR E4 thermal imaging camera is not compatible with external lenses.
9. BLACK+DECKER TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector
BLACK + DECKER is the best industrial and commercial power tools manufacturer most of the people aware of. TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector from Black + Decker is included in this list of best thermal imaging camera for home inspections is only because of its affordable price. If you are a beginner who wants to explore the basic thermal imaging for building and home, then this device would be a good choice for you.
It has an LCD display with the unit measure in both Celcius and Fahrenheit. You can select any one of the measuring units from the settings.
The temperature detection range offered by this thermal camera is between -22 to 302 degree Fahrenheit.
Easy to Use
As the name says, it is the best thermal imaging camera for leak detection. The installation and use of Black + Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector are easy and quick.
You just turn on the device, focus the detector, and set the reference temperature by lighting on the wall. Then drive the light around the home or building. When you change temperature value like 1, 5 or 10 degrees Celsius (adjustable), the light color changed to red or blue to notify the cold or hot spots.
Black + Decker products always praised for their durable and affordable products. This Black + Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector has the rugged and drop resistant outer shell to work even in any hard surfaces and areas.
Black + Decker thermal detector is best to find the temperature differences but for finding leaks or gaps it is difficult.
10. Seek Thermal Compact Thermal Imaging Camera
Seek Thermal Imagers are used as the mounting device that can be attached to smartphones (Android and iOS) to convert it to use as the thermal imaging camera. This Seek thermal imager for smartphone price is one-third of the usual thermal imaging camera. If you are looking for the best budget thermal camera for simple home inspections, this Seek thermal imager will be the best fit.
Seek have three different versions of thermal imager for both Android and iOS: Compact, CompactPro, and CompactXR.
The thermal sensor resolution of Seek compact thermal imager is 206 x 156 (32,136 pixels) and it has a large temperature range from -40F° to 626°F.
Unlike the other thermal imaging camera models with the usual detection range of up to 1000 feet away, these Seek compact thermal imagers detect the objects that are away from 1800 feet.
For iOs and Android
All the three compact versions of Seek thermal imager for smartphone are compatible with Android and iOS devices. The device has the operating time up to 1 hour and shares the battery with the attached phone.
Seek does not officially specify the temperature measurement accuracy of Seek Thermal Compact Imager.
Applications of Thermal Imaging Camera for Home Inspections
Most of the issues and potential building problems are associated with heat loss or gain. Below are some of the applications of a thermal camera in home inspection.
A thermal camera can detect the mold growing in the corner as it emits heat.
Thermal cameras let you know the energy waste. For example, by looking at the temperature, the thermal camera can tell you which part of the area in a room is not affected by air conditioning.
Trapped moisture takes a long time than other surfaces of the roof to cool down. With a thermal camera you can ‘see’ these ‘hotspots’ to find out the leaks at night.
It can locate the faults in the wall and roofs of the building. The thermal camera can detect,
• Air Leaks
• Roof insulation
• Overheating circuits, unplugged wires, and sockets.
The problems in hidden pipes or pipes behind walls can be detected without affecting the overall plumbing system.
How to Choose the Best Thermal Imaging Camera for Home Inspections
Are you looking for the thermal camera for home inspections of your own use? Let us help you pick the right one.
Thermal Sensor Resolution
Thermal Sensor Resolution is the reason for the clarity and critical details of a thermal image. If you choose the thermal camera with high resolution, output thermal image has a large number of pixels/unit area so more pixel areas will be clear and provide better image quality even for small objects and vice versa.
But do you know whether you need a high resolution or low resolution?
The low-resolution cameras are adequate to general inspections and maintenance around the home or garden.
If you are a professional thermal imaging inspector or one looking for a camera for your work, a high-resolution thermal camera is a must to ensure the strength of the property.
Basic or Advanced
Are you looking for the on the go thermal imager or the advanced one?
The on the go thermal imaging cameras show the temperature details while you are moving or walking around the places.
But if it is for property inspections of new or used buildings, you will need a thermal camera that has Wi-fi connectivity and intuitive software to take thermal pictures and share it with your customers and alert them.
At the end of the thermal home inspection, any professional should hand over the report which has details about the problematic areas identified in the thermal inspections and rectified images.
We have to appreciate the manufacturers like FLIR who developed thermal cameras with Wi-fi and expanded the internal memory.
As we know everyone has their own needs and budgets, so you have to compare the price of the product with your requirements.
If you are a pro-DIYer who can do a home inspection, you may not need to spend thousands of dollars on high-resolution thermal imaging camera.
It is based on the usage and where you will use the thermal camera. For the frequent use of the thermal camera, go for the one which has high operating time and rechargeable battery.
It is not surprising that the above list has more FLIR products as it is one of the undeniable thermal imaging device manufacturers.
FLIR has developed various types of thermal imaging camera to satisfy its customers. It has thermal imaging cameras as compact, pocket-sized, handheld, palm-sized, and an add-on device for the phone.
A $1000 dollar worth thermal imaging camera for home inspections can save billions of damage cost due to unaddressed heat and water leaks in the home. Thermal inspection for home ensures the health of the building as well as the safety of the residents.