During my time working on the General Contractor sided of the table as a Warranty Manager one of the more difficult task to accomplish was looking for leaks on completed Construction project sites. Conducting exterior envelope inspection and HVAC leak test has never been a easy or inexpensive tasks. In the past, these workflows required the use of very large and expensive equipment. Whether it was a window assembly, a roof area or a HVAC system it was never easy to determine where the source of the problem was coming from. At that time most Construction companies hired out the investigation process. The early thermal imaging cameras were big, bulky and very expensive. I remember thinking at that time, there had to be a better way!

Over the past few years the advances in thermal image cameras has been fascinating to watch. There has always been a need for a small, easy to use, and affordable thermal cameras. One new option available to Construction professionals is the Compact PRO camera from Seek Thermal, a thermal image camera designed to plug into a smartphone such as the iPhone or a Android model. This amazing little add on camera unit allows users to view a work area and then take photos or videos to document inspections of items such as exterior windows, HVAC system components, roof areas and more. There are two main workflow use cases for thermal images: during construction for quality assurance and post construction for risk mitigation.

The Use Cases

I have used the Compact Pro to inspect the storm windows on my house looking for air leaks from the inside, check the air temperature at my air vents, and even determine which beverage in a cooler was ready to consume at a party!  When used during the construction process users can inspect items such as duct work, electrical panels, window insulation and more. Users can take screen shots of the App screen or use the Seek Thermal App to take native photos and videos.

On a recent trip out west, I wondered around the hotel looking for air vents to check. In the series of photos below you can see what a standard versus thermal image show a field technician. The first photo show was the human can can see, i.e. slotted register vents blowing out cold air. The second photo shows what the CompactPro sees, i.e. hot and cold temperature spectrums ( or 61 F degree air blowing out of the vent).

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The camera features a 320 x 240 thermal sensor, 32 degree field of view, 76,800 thermal pixels and adjustable thermal span. The Compact Pro is powered by the embedded chip and software algorithm combine to create the amazing thermal images! The Compact units are powered by the smartphone or tablet that you are plugging it into, so it is always ready to go! Another great feature is that CompactPro works any any light condition, therefore you do not need a extra source of light to inspect items. This is because it does not need visual light to work, rather it measures infrared waves emitted by objects, people and animals and turns the waves into visual images. It is these infrared images (or IR) that can be used in measuring the variations in temperatures in objects around the user. The Seek Thermal units can detect temperatures from -40 degrees to 626 degrees Fahrenheit.

The App

The accompanying app offers the following features:

Thermal Level and Span – Easily set and lock a temperature range to display the maximum thermal information of any object or scene with a set point and range.

Emissivity Control – Calibrate for emissivity through easy, pre-defined settings. Compensate for various surface materials, ensuring accurate readings and reporting.

New Image Color Palettes – Enhanced palette options provide the visual capabilities necessary to help users easily examine and understand thermal imagery.

Full Frame Thermography – Choose from 4:3 or 16:9 formats displaying all temperature data for the maximum clarity and options responsive to your device format and size.

Complete with 7 User Modes including: Spot temperature, High / Low temperature, Level and Span, Above Threshold, Below Threshold, Equal Threshold, and Thermal+ Visible.

*Information available on the Seek Thermal website (www.thermal.com).

The Field Case

Seek Thermal has partnered with Otterbox on the uniVERSE series of cases. The new uniVERS series provides a slide on option for all kinds of items such as a battery, tripod and even a camera mount for the CompactPro! To learn more the how Seek Thermal is working with Otterbox (CLICK HERE).

See It In Action!

Last week I used the IOS version of the Compact Pro to check the temperature of the oil as I fried my Thanksgiving Turkey. It was very interesting to see how close the digital read was the physical read with a traditional thermometer. Take a look at these amazing videos of the field testing of the Compact Pro (CLICK HERE).

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The ConTechTrio recently interview Marc Okicich from the Seek Thermal team about there unique line of thermal image cameras. Mr. Okicich provide some great background about the development of thermal image cameras, the use cases in Construction, and a few alternate uses for the CompactPro.

To listen to the interview (CLICK HERE).