Thermal Cameras Guide
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Uses For Infrared Cameras

Uses for an Infrared Video Camera

Thermal imaging is a useful science that has plenty of applications. While many people tend to associate thermal imaging with still images, many thermal imaging cameras are also capable of providing thermal video imaging as well. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Thermal imaging video is much more versatile than still images in numerous ways, and can often offer better insight into an issue when applied correctly. Below we’ll go over some of the most common uses for an infrared video camera, but first it’s best to explain how thermal imaging is possible.

How Thermal Imaging Cameras Work

Infrared video cameras rely on thermal sensors and circuitry to create a viewable image that can be displayed in a coherent manner on a screen. This can include the screen on the imager, or to a remote screen.

Using Thermal Camera On Hands

With thermal imaging, the camera’s lens is focused on an object or specific area. The camera’s lens focuses the infrared radiation (heat) being emitted by all of the objects within the camera lens’ field of view, and that “light” is then scanned by infrared-detectors inside the camera.

The detectors create a detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram in less than a second. The temperature information is then gathered from several thousand points in the thermal detector's field of view.

The thermogram created by the elements in the camera is then translated into electric impulses.The impulses are sent to a special circuit board with a chip that translates the information from the detector elements viewable data on either the camera’s display, or to a separate display usually connected by either wifi or Bluetooth.

This creates an image of various colors depending on the intensity (heat) of the infrared emission. The higher the heart, the brighter the colors.

This all results in an effective and real-time way to view the heat profiles of any number of objects compared to their surroundings. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few of the most common ones.


This is probably the first thing that enters one’s mind when they first hear “infrared video.” Thermal video provides vision where human eyes cannot, mainly in the darkness. These infrared cameras are capable of picking up on body heat from both humans and animals.

Security Thermal Camera

For law enforcement personnel, this can be extremely beneficial when tracking suspects that may be hiding under the cover of darkness. Thermal imaging does not apply solely to dark situations, however, as law enforcement can also use thermal imaging in the daytime, picking up on body heat in wooded areas or areas heavily covered in vegetation and brush.

Infrared video cameras are also a great choice for nighttime surveillance when standard video cameras can’t do the job. Many infrared video cameras can create an image using any available visible light, and then apply it to the infrared image to show greater detail.

If you are suspicious of any nighttime activity around your property, an infrared video camera can be set up to capture any video of intruders, or even animals that could be causing problems on your property when you are asleep.

Industrial Use

One of the most common applications of any thermal imaging revolves around use in industrial areas, whether it’s a production facility, or utility companies. Either way, there tends to be plenty of moving parts that need to be routinely monitored to help catch issues before they become even bigger problems.

Industrial Use Thermal Camera

This can include plumbing and piping, wiring, moisture leaks, electrical circuits, outlets, and much more. While thermal imaging cameras are commonly used to capture images to analyze later, many of these cameras possess detailed video capabilities as well that can give a better look into what's going on.

Infrared video imaging gives you a better look into how clogged pipes are operating, how certain electric impulses affect circuitry when items are turned on and off, and much more. Sometimes video paints a more telling picture than...a picture.

Perhaps more importantly, infrared video cameras are often able to relay the video signal to those who are either in a different location altogether, or at least further back than the one operating the video.

One example of this would be a supervisor viewing real-time infrared video from a separate location as it is being filmed, while still being able to talk another employee through the inspection, and providing insight into what is being shown.

Home Inspection

As is the case with industrial areas and jobsites, home inspections are something that should be conducted with regularity or preventative maintenance reasons, or to better identify courses of action for repairs.

Home Inspection Thermal Camera

Thermal images are definitely helpful, but videos can provide a better idea of what’s going on, especially when it comes to plumbing and HVAC issues.

Thermal video can show water flow when you are trying to unclog a drain or a pipe, and it can also give you detailed insight into air leaks when checking your home’s insulation around areas like windows and doors.

Professional home inspectors can record infrared video to show to their clients, giving them a much more effective visual when discussing any repairs or maintenance that may be suggested. Sometimes it’s one thing for a contractor to tell you what your home needs, but with video proof, they have a much more compelling case.


Whether you are hunting in the daytime or night, infrared imaging can come in very handy. Higher-end infrared video cameras can generate images and video from a great distance, giving you better tracking abilities when trying to locate more elusive animals such as deer.

Hunting With Thermal Camera

Curious about animal activity around your camp or trailer during a hunting trip? Simply set up an infrared video camera to get a much better idea of what is lurking around your habitat at night. You may even be able to record areas where you have feeders and bait set up if you have a camera with a high distance to spot ratio

About the Author Rob Carson

I work in commercial construction, in Dallas, TX.

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