When Hubby told me we needed an IR (Infrared Thermal Imaging) camera to use around the house, I wasn’t convinced. Then we got one on the fire department and I realized how cool they are! They’re actually really handy as a diagnostic and detection tool – but they’re also a lot of fun. The only downside is that the ones Hubby uses at work (in industrial maintenance) and the one we have in our municipality on the fire team, are too pricey for the average homeowner (I’m talking thousands). But we found a company, PerfectPrime, that offers IR cameras with great features and a price tag about a 10th of a light duty industrial unit. I reached out to PerfectPrime to review their IR0005 so I could show readers some practical – and fun ways! – to use it around the house. An IR camera can help save you money – and even help save your pets’ lives. Curious?
What is a Thermal Imaging Camera?
First let me explain what a thermal imaging camera is. In a nutshell: a thermal imaging camera lets you see the infrared heat sources of a location or object. Everything emits some kind of infrared energy, known as a heat signature. An IR camera works by sensing the infrared energies given off by a heat source and translating this data into a color coded image you can interpret. Basically, you can “see” what’s hot or not with an electronic image shown by the camera.
Let’s Dispel a Hollywood Myth About IR:
Let’s dispel a significant myth and clarify a couple things for those who are unfamiliar with IR cameras or IR in general. Most of the time we see thermal imaging portrayed incorrectly on TV and in movies. You cannot see through walls with it. Or windows for that matter. As mentioned above, what the camera basically does is detect the thermal or heat energy being given off from a surface and convert that into a visible image with numerical temperature data for us to see. So in order to “see” a person on the other side of the wall they would have to be close enough, and hot enough, to heat up the wall so the heat energy was being emitted from the other side. If that occurred the heat outline probably would not even look like a human anymore, perhaps just a large blob. But even if you can’t use this camera to see through walls, you can still do some pretty neat things with it!
How to Use an IR Camera Around the House:
The IR0005 is an excellent tool for around the home. We have used it to check levels on the propane tank (you can see liquid levels – like the water in the toilet tank – isn’t that cool?).
We have used it to make sure nothing is overheating, like an electrical panel or stereo equipment:
We have used it to check the brooder temperature for the chicks, we have checked and seen stud locations and insulation coverage within a wall, and checked the house for cold spots. The last use is actually something that could save you a lot of money in the long run, helping isolate the areas in your home that are losing heat. An IR camera can help you make your home as warm as possible by enabling you to conduct your own energy audit. To look for cold spots in the house you look at walls and areas that have a temperature differential. Take a look at the photo of our front door below, which will help demonstrate what I mean.
Basically an exterior wall when it is colder or warmer on each side of the wall, the heat will travel through the wall differently, depending on materials and insulation. That is why we could see where the wall studs were on the dining room wall. They do not insulate as well as the insulation around it, so the wall in those spots was slightly cooler as the heat went through to the outside at a higher rate. If you have an air leak the colder air (if it is entering the house) will cool the area around it and you can see that with your IR camera. You can also “see” things that you can’t normally – even something as small as a mouse hole causing a draft.
How to Use an IR Camera with Pets and Animals:
Speaking of mice, you can also use an IR camera to track down any animals that have been lurking in/around your house and shouldn’t be – like mice, squirrels, skunks, which could save money (no need to hire pest control). We have also used our IR0005 to spot the dogs when they’re out at night but out of sight. Infrared technology can let you “see” at night. That means we can spot the puppers easily with this IR camera! We also use it to stay vigilant and make sure there are no bears of foxes lurking before we let the dogs out for their evening pee.
And of course we’ve been playing with it to see where their hot spots are, haha (spoiler: crotch). But in all seriousness, examining the dogs with this IR camera could isolate injuries and detect disease because an unusual hot spot could indicate a health abnormality. So by examining the dogs for fun, we might one day spot a health concern to bring up with our vet – and we all know that with health issues the earlier a problem is caught, the better! Just keep in mind that this isn’t a true medical device and there are limitations to it.
How to Use an IR Camera on Your Vehicle:
The IR camera can be used for automotive diagnostics to troubleshoot lots of things, like a cooling system and heat exchanger performance, exhaust system leaks, faulty electrical connections (which can get very hot).
If you are a performance driver or racer (or like to pretend), you can use it to check tire temperatures and make pressure and suspension adjustments based on it as well.
How to Use an IR Camera for Safety:
So I’m definitely not advising you to be a hero, but I will say that if your house (or neighborhood) has filled with smoke, an IR camera can help you locate people and animals. It could also help you locate the source of the smoke, to safely move away from it.
See? It sounds like a fun toy – and it IS, Hubby is obsessed – but an IR camera can actually help you save money around the house and keep your family safe. And also you’ll love taking photos of your pets – our camera is full of them now, haha.
What We Like About the IR0005:
There are quite a few IR cameras on the market but PerfectPrime really offers something for everyone – and every price point. We would have preferred a better resolution, but this camera seemed like a more realistic purchase readers might make, given the price. And there’s a lot to like about the IR0005: we like that this unit is compact and can fit in a pocket. But for its compact size, it has a nice large display and pretty decent resolution for home use. The controls are very easy to pick up and you can change color palettes and emissivity settings quite rapidly. Uploading the images to a computer is just like transferring files from a flash drive or cell phone: just plug in the included USB cable and select the powered on camera as a drive. So overall, it’s very easy to use and easier on the wallet than the IR cameras with higher resolution. It’s been really effective for our home use!
Make sure to check out PerfectPrime and follow them on Facebook and Instagram! And, if you’d like to get an IR camera for home (or maybe as a cool gift!), PerfectPrime is offering 10% off to readers, just use the coupon code: Danslelakehouse