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Created in cooperation

with Fluke Corporation


and The Snell Group

AMERICAN TECHNICAL PUBLISHERS, INC.


ORLAND PARK, ILLINOIS 60467-5756
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction to infrared thermography


and thermal imagers 1
Infrared Thermography • History of Infrared Technology • Thermal Imager Operation

thermography and return on investment 9


Troubleshooting

training and safety 13


Thermographer Qualification and Certification • Safety in the Workplace •
Standards and Written Inspection Procedures

practical applied theory 19


Basic Thermodynamics • Methods of Heat Transfer •
Temperature Measurement Accuracy

color thermal images of applications 29

thermography applications 45
Electrical Applications • Electromechanical and Mechanical Applications •
Process Applications • Building Diagnostics

inspection methodologies 57
Comparative Thermography • Baseline Thermography • Thermal Trending

analysis, reporting, and documentation 61


Inspection Analysis • Reporting and Documentation

thermography resources 63
Resources

other related technologies 65


Visual and Auditory Inspection • Electrical Analysis • Airborne Ultrasound Detection •
Vibration Analysis • Lubricating Oil Analysis • Wear Particle Analysis

Index 67
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

INTRODUCTION

Introduction to Thermography Principles, created in cooperation with Fluke Corpora-


tion and The Snell Group, is designed to provide an introduction to thermal imager
operation principles and procedures. Thermal imagers have become essential trouble-
shooting and preventive maintenance discovery and diagnostic tools for electricians
and technicians in industrial, process, and commercial applications. They are also a
key tool for service providers to help build their businesses in the building diagnostic
and inspection industries. Introduction to Thermography Principles covers the funda-
mental theory, operation, and application of using thermal imagers.

Additional information related to test instruments, troubleshooting, maintenance, and


building application principles is available from Fluke Corporation at www.fluke.com/
thermography, The Snell Group at www.thesnellgroup.com, and American Technical
Publishers, Inc. at www.go2atp.com.

The Publisher
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

INTRODUCTION TO INFRARED
THERMOGRAPHY AND THERMAL IMAGERS

T hermal imagers operate based on infrared thermography principles. A


thermal imager is used as a cost-saving, and often money-making, test
tool for troubleshooting, maintenance and inspection of electrical systems,
mechanical systems, and building envelopes.

Infrared Thermography the standard for the thermal inspection


of countless applications.
Infrared thermography is the science of
using electronic optical devices to detect
and measure radiation and correlating that HISTORY OF INFRARED
to surface temperature. Radiation is the TECHNOLOGY
movement of heat that occurs as radiant
energy (electromagnetic waves) moves The derivation of “infrared” is “past red,”
without a direct medium of transfer. Mod- referring to the place this wavelength
ern infrared thermography is performed holds in the spectrum of electromagnetic
by using electronic optical devices to de- radiation. The term “thermography” is de-
tect and measure radiation and correlate it rived from root words meaning “tempera-
to the surface temperature of the structure ture picture.” The roots of thermography
or equipment being inspected. can be credited to the German astronomer
Humans have always been able to Sir William Herschel who, in 1800, per-
detect infrared radiation. The nerve formed experiments with sunlight.
endings in human skin can respond
to temperature differences as little as
±0.009°C (0.005°F). Although ex-
tremely sensitive, human nerve endings
are poorly designed for nondestructive
thermal evaluation.
For example, even if humans had the
thermal capabilities of animals that can
find warm-blooded prey in the dark, it
is probable that better heat detection
tools would still be needed. Because
humans have physical limitations in de- A thermal image of the residual heat
tecting heat, mechanical and electronic transferred from a hand to the surface of
devices that are hypersensitive to heat a painted wall can be easily detected with
have been developed. These devices are a thermal imager.

1
2  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Herschel discovered infrared ra- A thermal imager is a device that detects


diation by passing sunlight through a heat patterns in the infrared-wavelength
prism and holding a thermometer in spectrum without making direct contact
the various colors where he measured with equipment. See Figure 1-1. Early
the temperature of each color using a versions of thermal imagers were known
sensitive mercury thermometer. Her- as photo-conducting detectors. From
schel discovered that the temperature 1916 through 1918, the American inven-
increased when he moved out beyond red tor Theodore Case experimented with
light into an area he referred to as “dark photo-conducting detectors to produce
heat.” “Dark Heat” was the region of a signal through direct interaction with
the electromagnetic spectrum currently photons rather than through heating.
known as infrared heat and recognized The result was a faster, more sensitive
as electromagnetic radiation. photo-conducting detector. During the
Twenty years later, the German 1940s and 1950s, thermal imaging tech-
physicist Thomas Seebeck discovered nology was expanded to meet a growing
the thermoelectric effect. This led to number of military applications. German
the invention of the thermomultiplier, scientists discovered that by cooling the
an early version of a thermocouple, by photo-conducting detector, overall per-
the Italian physicist Leopoldo Nobili formance increased.
in 1829. This simple contact device is It was not until the 1960s that ther-
based on the premise that the voltage mal imaging was used for nonmilitary
difference between two dissimilar metals applications. Although early thermal
changes with temperature. Nobili’s part- imaging systems were cumbersome,
ner, Macedonio Melloni, soon refined slow to acquire data, and had poor
the thermomultiplier into a thermopile resolution, they were used for industrial
(an arrangement of thermomultipliers in applications such as the inspection of
series) and focused thermal radiation on large electrical transmission and dis-
it in such a way that he could detect body tribution systems. Continued advances
heat from a distance of 9.1 m (30′). in the 1970s for military applications
In 1880, the American astronomer produced the first portable systems that
Samuel Langley, used a bolometer to could be used for such applications as
detect body heat from a cow over 304 m building diagnostics and the nonde-
(1000′) away. Rather than measuring structive testing of materials.
voltage difference, a bolometer measures
the change in electrical resistance related
to the change in temperature. Sir Wil-
liam Herschel’s son, Sir John Herschel, TECH-TIP
using a device called an evaporograph,
Original versions of thermal imagers
produced the first infrared image in 1840.
displayed thermal images through the
The thermal image resulted from the use of black and white cathode ray tubes
differential evaporation of a thin film of (CRTs). Permanent records were possible
oil and was viewed by light reflecting with photographs or magnetic tape.
off the oil film.
Chapter 1 — Introduction to Infrared Thermography and Thermal Imagers  3

Thermal Imagers

138.2
THERMAL IMAGER

130

138.2

130
120
120

110

110
100

Ti25 90

IR FUSION
TECHNOLOGY 80
100
72.2

90

F2 F3
F1
80

72.2

HEAT PATTERN
DETECTED IN
OPEN SPACE EQUIPMENT
BETWEEN
EQUIPMENT THERMAL
IMAGER AND
EQUIPMENT

THERMAL IMAGER

Figure 1-1. A thermal imager is a device that detects heat patterns in the infrared-
wavelength spectrum without making direct contact with equipment.

Thermal imaging systems in the 1970s systems were lightweight, portable, and
were durable and reliable but the quality of operable without cooling.
the images was poor compared to modern In the late 1980s, a new device known
thermal imagers. By the beginning of the as a focal-plane array (FPA) was released
1980s, thermal imaging was being widely from the military into the commercial
used for medical purposes, in mainstream marketplace. A focal-plane array (FPA) is
industry, and for building inspections. an image-sensing device consisting of an
Thermal imaging systems were calibrated array (typically rectangular) of infrared-
to produce fully radiometric images, so that sensing detectors at the focal plane of a
radiometric temperatures could be mea- lens. See Figure 1-2.
sured anywhere in the image. A radiometric This was a significant improvement
image is a thermal image that contains over original scanned detectors and the
temperature measurement calculations for result was an increase in image quality
various points within the image. and spatial resolution. Typical arrays on
Reliable thermal imager coolers modern thermal imagers have pixels that
were refined to replace the compressed range from 16 × 16 to 640 × 480. A pixel,
or liquefied gas that had been used to in this sense, is the smallest independent
cool thermal imagers. Less expensive, element of an FPA that can detect infrared
tube-based, pyroelectric vidicon (PEV) energy. For specialized applications, ar-
thermal imaging systems were also de- rays are available with pixels in excess of
veloped and widely produced. Although 1000 × 1000. The first number represents
not radiometric, PEV thermal imaging the number of vertical columns while the
4  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

second number represents the number of by more than a factor of ten over the past
horizontal rows displayed on the screen. decade and quality has dramatically in-
For example, an array of 160 × 120 is creased. Furthermore, the use of computer
equal to 19,200 total pixels (160 pixels × software for image processing has grown
120 pixels = 19,200 total pixels). tremendously. Nearly all commercially
The development of FPA technology available, modern infrared systems utilize
software to facilitate analysis and report
Focal Plane Arrays writing. Reports can be quickly created
OPTIC and sent electronically over the Internet
PLASTIC FRAME LENS
or preserved in a common format, such as
SENSOR WIRE a PDF, and recorded on various types of
digital storage devices.
SENSOR

THERMAL IMAGER
Ti25
IR FUSION
TECHNOLOGY OPERATION
It is useful to have a general understanding
of how thermal imaging systems operate
SENSOR because it is extremely important for a ther-
WIRE mographer to work within the limitations
THERMAL IMAGER
of the equipment. This allows for the most
accurate detection and analysis of potential
problems. The purpose of a thermal imager
Figure 1-2. A focal-plane array (FPA) is is to detect the infrared radiation given off
an image-sensing device consisting of an
by the target. See Figure 1-3. A target is
array (typically rectangular) of light-sensing
pixels at the focal plane of a lens. an object to be inspected with a thermal
imager.
utilizing various detectors has increased Infrared radiation is focused by the ther-
since the year 2000. A long-wave thermal mal imager’s optics onto a detector resulting
imager is a thermal imager that detects in- in a response, usually a change in voltage or
frared energy in a wavelength band that is electrical resistance, that is read by the elec-
between 8 µm and 15 µm. A micron (µm) tronics in the thermal imaging system. The
is a unit of length measurement equal to signal produced by the thermal imager is
one-thousandth of a millimeter (0.001 m). converted into an electronic image (thermo-
A mid-wave thermal imager is a thermal gram) on a display screen. A thermogram is
imager that detects infrared energy in a an image of a target electronically processed
wavelength band that is between 2.5  µm onto a display screen where different color
and 6 µm. Both long- and mid-wave ther- tones correspond to the distribution of infra-
mal imaging systems are now available in red radiation over the surface of the target.
fully radiometric versions, often with image In this simple process, the thermographer
fusion and thermal sensitivities of 0.05°C is able to view the thermogram that cor-
(0.09°F) or less. responds to the radiant energy coming off
The cost of these systems has dropped the surface of the target.
Chapter 1 — Introduction to Infrared Thermography and Thermal Imagers  5

Targets
THERMAL TARGET
IMAGER

A thermogram is electronically processed


onto a display screen where different
color tones correspond to the distribution
of infrared radiation over the surface of
a target.

Lenses. Thermal imagers have at least


THERMAL IMAGER DETECTS one lens. An imager lens takes infrared
INFRARED RADIATION radiation and focuses it on an infrared de-
GIVEN OFF BY TARGET
tector. The detector responds and creates
Figure 1-3. A target is an object to be an electronic (thermal) image or thermo-
inspected with a thermal imager. The gram. The lens on a thermal imager is
purpose of a thermal imager is to detect used to collect and focus the incoming
the infrared radiation given off by the infrared radiation on the detector. The
target. lenses of most long-wave thermal imag-
ers are made of germanium (Ge). Thin
layers of antireflection coatings improve
transmission of the lenses.
Thermal Imager Components
Typical thermal imagers consist of sev- TECH-TIP
eral common components including the
Because of the ongoing need to conserve
lens, lens cover, display, detector and
energy, municipalities and government
processing electronics, controls, data agencies use infrared aerial scans made
storage devices and data processing from adaptations to military aerial ther-
and report generation software. These mal maps. The purpose of these scans is
to provide communities, residents, and
components can vary depending on the
businesses with information regarding
type and model of the thermal imaging the loss of heat in their buildings.
system. See Figure 1-4.
6  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Thermal Imagers
LENS COVER
DISPLAY

LENS
CONTROLS

TRIGGER
CONTROL

THERMAL IMAGER HANDLE WITH


HAND STRAP

Figure 1-4. Typical thermal imagers have several common components including the
lens, lens cover, display, controls, and handle with hand strap.

Displays. A thermal image is displayed


on a liquid crystal display (LCD) view
screen located on a thermal imager. The
LCD view screen must be large and bright
enough to be easily viewed under the di-
verse lighting conditions encountered in
various field locations. A display will also
often provide information such as battery
charge, date, time, target temperature (in
°F, °C, or °K), visible light image, and a
color spectrum key related to the tempera-
Thermal imagers typically have a car- ture. See Figure 1-5.
rying case to house the instrument, Detector and Processing Electronics.
software, and other relevant equipment Detector and processing electronics
for field usage. are used to process infrared energy into
Chapter 1 — Introduction to Infrared Thermography and Thermal Imagers  7

usable information. Thermal radiation Controls


from the target is focused on the detector,
which is typically an electronic semicon-
ductor material. The thermal radiation
produces a measurable response from the
detector. This response is processed elec-
tronically within the thermal imager to
produce a thermal image on the display
screen of the thermal imager.

Displays
THERMAL
IMAGER

THERMAL IMAGER

LIQUID CRYSTAL
DISPLAY (LCD)

CONTROLS USED TO
OPERATE IMAGER
AND ADJUST
F1 F2 F3

SETTINGS

THERMAL
IMAGE

Figure 1-5. A thermal image is displayed


on a liquid crystal display (LCD) located
Figure 1-6. With controls, adjustments
on the thermal imager.
can be made to important variables such
as temperature range, thermal span and
Controls. Various electronic adjustments level, and other settings.
can be made with controls to refine a
thermal image on the display. Electronic
adjustments can be made to variables such Data Storage Devices. Electronic digi-
as temperature range, thermal span and tal files containing thermal images and
level, color palettes, and image fusion. associated data are stored on different
Adjustments can often also be made to types of electronic memory cards or
the emissivity and reflected background storage and transfer devices. Many in-
temperature. See Figure 1-6. frared imaging systems also allow for
8  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

storage of supplementary voice or text into a personal computer where they can
data as well as a corresponding visual be displayed using various color palettes,
image acquired with an integrated vi- and where further adjustments can be
sual light camera. made to all radiometric parameters and
Data Processing and Report Genera- analysis functions. The processed images
tion Software. The software used with are then inserted into report templates,
most modern thermal imaging systems is and either sent to a printer, stored elec-
both powerful and user friendly. Digital tronically, or sent to customers via an
thermal and visual images are imported Internet connection.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

THERMOGRAPHY AND
RETURN ON INVESTMENT

T hermography, through the use of thermal imagers, can be used to perform


many critical functions for commercial and industrial environments
including the troubleshooting and maintenance of equipment and the inspections
of a building envelope. Thermal imagers have traditionally been considered
expensive. However, the costs associated with the maintenance and unplanned
downtime of a facility’s operations can be greatly reduced when thermal imagers
are used to perform preventive and predictive maintenance tasks.

Troubleshooting testing may be required. For example,


it is easy to perform a quick inspection
Infrared thermography has an important
of an electric motor and understand if
function when troubleshooting problems
there are irregularities with the bearings
in commercial and industrial operations.
and any coupling. A motor bearing that
Questions about equipment condition are
is significantly warmer than the motor
often raised by some abnormal condition
casing suggests the possibility of either a
or indication. On an obvious level, this
lubrication or an alignment problem. An
may be as simple as a noticeable vibration,
alignment problem can also be indicated
sound, or temperature reading. On a subtle
if one side of the coupling is warmer than
level, the root cause of the problem may be
the opposite side. See Figure 2-2.
difficult or impossible to discern.
A thermal signature is a false color pic-
ture of the infrared energy, or heat, being
emitted from an object. Comparing the ther-
mal signature of a normally operating piece
of equipment to the one being evaluated for
abnormal conditions, offers an excellent
means of troubleshooting. See Figure 2-1.
The primary benefits of infrared thermogra-
phy are that tests can be performed quickly
and without destruction to equipment. Also,
since thermal imagers do not require con-
tact, they can be used while the equipment
or component is in operation. A hot bearing cap is a sign of a poten-
Even if an abnormal thermal image is tial problem with either the alignment,
not fully interpreted by a thermographer, lubrication, or issues with the motor or
it can be used to determine if further equipment it is connected to.

9
10  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Thermal Signatures

ABNORMAL CONDITION

Figure 2-1. The thermal signatures of operating equipment can quickly indicate normal
and abnormal conditions.

Troubleshooting Motor Bearings The key to successful troubleshooting


using thermal imaging is having a good
MOTOR CASING understanding of the basic requirements
needed to detect potential problems or
abnormal conditions in any specific piece
of equipment when they are present. For
example, using a thermal imager to trouble-
shoot an electrical disconnect switch when
it is not energized has no value because
potential problems (hot spots) will not be
visible unless the electrical disconnect
switch is energized. Likewise, to success-
fully troubleshoot a steam trap, it must be
MOTOR BEARING
(WARMER THAN MOTOR observed as it goes through a complete
CASING) COULD BE operating cycle.
SIGN OF POTENTIAL Knowing exactly what conditions are
PROBLEM
needed for troubleshooting a particular
Figure 2-2. A motor bearing that is piece of equipment is not always simple.
significantly warmer than the motor Along with thermographer experience, a
casing suggests the possibility of either a solid understanding of variables such as heat
lubrication or alignment problem. transfer, radiometry, camera use, and equip-
Chapter 2 — Thermography and Return on Investment  11

ment function and failure are all required for than they solved. Furthermore, they did not
successful troubleshooting. Radiometry is always have a particularly good return on
the detection and measurement of radiant the investment.
electromagnetic energy, specifically in the
infrared part of the spectrum. Predictive Maintenance
Predictive maintenance (PdM) is the mon-
Preventive Maintenance itoring of wear conditions and equipment
Preventive maintenance (PM) is sched- characteristics against a predetermined
uled work required to maintain equip- tolerance to predict possible malfunctions
ment in peak operating condition. PM or failures. Equipment-operation data is
minimizes equipment malfunctions and gathered and analyzed to show trends in
failures while maintaining optimum pro- performance and component characteris-
duction efficiency and safety conditions in tics. Repairs are made as required.
the facility. This results in increased ser- PdM often requires a substantial invest-
vice life, reduced downtime, and greater ment in monitoring equipment and training
overall plant efficiency. PM tasks and for personnel. It is most commonly used on
their frequency for each piece of equip- expensive or critical operating equipment.
ment are determined by manufacturer’s Data collected from monitoring equipment
is analyzed on a regular basis to determine if
specifications, equipment manuals, trade
values are within acceptable tolerances. See
publications, and worker experience.
Figure 2-3. Maintenance procedures are
A strategy of providing a compre-
performed if values are outside acceptable
hensive understanding of the operating
tolerances. The equipment is then closely
condition of equipment through condi-
monitored after maintenance procedures are
tion-based assessment and monitoring is
performed. If the problem recurs, the equip-
considered critical to PM programs. PM
ment application and design are analyzed
programs that include condition-based and changes are made as required.
assessment and monitoring of equipment With a successful PdM program,
are performed more easily through the preventive maintenance can usually be
use of thermal imaging equipment. By reduced. Certain maintenance tasks, such
reviewing thermal images of equipment, as lubrication or cleaning, are performed
repair/replace decisions become more when they are actually needed rather than
effective, overall costs are reduced, and on a fixed schedule. Thermography and
equipment reliability is increased. When thermal imaging can be used to determine
production requires that a piece of equip- equipment health and, when the condition
ment be completely functional, produc- is in question, it is also used to monitor
tion management can be assured it will be equipment until a period for maintenance
ready to perform the job as intended. is available.
Maintenance is a sophisticated set of An acceptance inspection is an in-
activities driven by specific methods. In spection performed at the time of initial
recent years, it has been discovered that equipment installation, or replacement
many of the old methods, via preventive of a component, in order to establish a
maintenance, often caused more problems baseline condition of that equipment. The
12  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

baseline condition is used for verification allow, monitored until a repair period can
of manufacturer performance specifica- be scheduled.
tions or comparisons at later points in Regardless of the maintenance pro-
time. Acceptance inspections of new or grams used within a company, the use
rebuilt equipment are critical to cost- of thermography and thermal imagers
effective PdM programs. is beneficial. When used for trouble-
Whether installing a new motor-control shooting and maintenance, the advan-
center, roof, steam line, or building insula- tages are reduced equipment outages
tion, thermal imaging is used to document and increased operating time. Other
the actual equipment condition at the time major benefits include large returns on
of acceptance. A thermal image can be investments in reliability maintenance,
used to determine if the installation was cost savings through reduced hours,
properly performed. If a deficiency in the and the reduced overall frustration of
installation is discovered, it can be im- maintenance technicians.
mediately corrected or, as circumstances

Predictive Maintenance
ELLIPSE INDICATES
START BEGINNING OR END
PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE OF FLOW CHART
PROGRAM
ARROW INDICATES
DIRECTION

COLLECT DATA
YES

NO
DESIGN
CHANGE DESIGN
VALUES OK?
WITHIN YES
TOLERANCES?

NO ANALYZE DESIGN

ANALYZE DATA YES

PERFORM MAINTENANCE
PROCEDURES APPLICATION NO
CHANGE APPLICATION
OK?

RECTANGLE
NO PROBLEM YES CONTAINS SET
RECURS? ANALYZE APPLICATION OF INSTRUCTIONS
DIAMOND
CONTAINS
QUESTION

Figure 2-3. Predictive maintenance is most commonly used on the expensive or critical
equipment in a facility.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

TRAINING AND SAFETY

T hermal imagers can be used to perform a wide variety of tasks in commercial


and industrial environments. Many of these tasks can take place in areas
where exposure to hazards, such as energized electrical equipment and heights,
are common. Proper training in thermal imager use along with implementation
of safety rules is necessary to safely and efficiently perform the required tasks.
Various written standards and procedures are used for proper training.

THERMOGRAPHER consistent. Uncertified thermographers


Qualification are more likely to make costly and dan-
gerous mistakes. These mistakes often
and Certification
result in serious consequences, such as
Learning to use a modern thermal imager inaccurate recommendations regarding
is relatively easy. It can typically be mas- the criticality of the problems discovered
tered with basic training and hands-on or problems being completely missed
practice. However, properly interpreting altogether. While the appropriate quali-
a thermal image is often more difficult. fication is important, written inspection
It requires not only a background in the procedures are also important for attain-
application of thermography but also ing high-quality results.
additional, more extensive, training
and hands-on experience with thermal
Thermographer
imagers.
To gain full return on investment in
Certification Levels
Qualified to gather high-quality
thermography, it is important to qualify LEVEL
data and sort the data based on
and certify thermographers. Regardless 1
written pass/fail criteria.
of the specific use of the technology, Qualified to set up and calibrate
thermographer qualification is based LEVEL equipment, interpret data, create
on training, experience, and testing in 2 reports and supervise Level 1
personnel.
one of three categories of certification.
Qualified to develop inspection
See Figure 3-1. procedures, interpret relevant
LEVEL
While thermographer certification 3
codes, and manage a program
represents an investment, it is an invest- including overseeing or providing
training and testing.
ment that typically pays large returns.
Not only do certified personnel pro-
duce higher quality inspections, their Figure 3-1. There are three levels of
inspections are also more technically thermographer certification.

13
14  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

In the United States, certification is is- precautions often apply to a specific ap-
sued by the employer in compliance with plication. For example, thermographers
the standards of the American Society for who inspect electrical systems may have
Nondestructive Testing. The American a greater exposure to the potential of an
Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) arc blast.
is an organization that helps create a safer In many instances, they are inspecting
environment by serving the nondestruc- energized equipment which, immediately
tive testing professions and promoting after the enclosure has been opened, can
nondestructive testing technologies through trigger a phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground
publishing, certification, research, and arc. An arc flash is an extremely high-tem-
conferencing. In other parts of the world, perature discharge produced by an electri-
certification is provided by a central certify- cal fault in the air. Arc flash temperatures
ing body in each country that complies with can reach 35,000°F (19,427°C).
the standards of the International Organiza- An arc blast is an explosion that occurs
tion for Standardization. The International when air surrounding electrical equipment
Organization for Standardization (ISO) is becomes ionized and conductive. The threat
a nongovernmental, international organiza- of an arc blast is greatest for electrical sys-
tion that is comprised of national standards tems of 480 V and higher.
institutions from more than 90 countries. A flash protection boundary is the dis-
Under both models, qualification is tance at which personal protective equip-
based upon the appropriate training, as ment (PPE) is required for the prevention
outlined in the documents of the relevant of burns when an arc flash occurs. See
standards. A period of qualifying experi- Figure 3-2. While a circuit that is being
ence and some form of written and hands- repaired should always be de-energized,
on examination are also required. the possibility exists that nearby circuits
are still energized within the flash protec-
tion boundary. Therefore, barriers, such as
TECH-TIP insulation blankets, along with the proper
Prior to performing a thermal inspec- PPE must be used to protect against an arc
tion, the thermographer should perform flash. However, the consequences of an arc
a “walk-down” of the planned inspection blast are often deadly and extensive. Safety
route to ensure efficiency and to look for must always be practiced.
possible safety concerns. While the risk for an arc blast is mini-
mized by not opening the cover or door
to an enclosure this also eliminates most
Safety IN THE of the benefit of thermography, as we can-
WORKPLACE not see through the enclosure covers. See
A portion of any certification program is Figure 3-3. However, many enclosures
the awareness of the inherent dangers of are now installed with special infrared
thermography and the techniques and skills transparent windows or viewports. These
needed to ensure safety in the workplace. features can reduce the risk of arcing and
Common sense dictates much of what yield good results.
constitutes safe work practice but special When enclosures must be opened,
Chapter 3 — Training and Safety  15

Flash Protection Boundaries


Nominal System Limited Approach Boundary Restriced Approach Prohibited
(Voltage, Range, Phase Exposed Movable Exposed Boundary (Allowing for Approach
to Phase*) Conductor Fixed‑Circuit Part Accidental Movement) Boundary

0 to 50 N/A N/A N/A N/A


51 to 300 10′–0″ 3′–6″ Avoid Contact Avoid Contact
301 to 750 10′–0″ 3′–6″ 1′–0″ 0′–1″
751 to 15,000 10′–0″ 5′–0″ 2′–2″ 0′–7″
* in V

Figure 3-2. A flash protection boundary is the suggested distance at which PPE is
required for the prevention of burns when an arc flash occurs.

Electrical Enclosures much safer and more effective when con-


ducted by a team. The team could consist
ELECTRIC of two people such as the thermographer
FUSES
and the qualified person who opens enclo-
sures, measures loads, and safely closes the
enclosure once work has been completed. A
qualified person is a person who has knowl-
edge and skills related to the construction
and operation of electrical equipment and
has received appropriate safety training.
Work for building inspections is typi-
cally less risky. However, risks do exist
such as when accessing crawlspaces and
attics. Care must also be taken when be-
ing exposed to construction work that is
in progress.
ELECTRIC Thermographers working in any indus-
ENCLOSURE
DOORS OPENED trial environment must always be aware of
other hazards including the potential for
Figure 3-3. When electrical enclosures must trips and falls and enclosed-space entry
be opened, procedures should be carefully hazards. Bright clothing may also be re-
developed, implemented, and followed that quired in many environments. On roofs,
will minimize the risk of an arc flash. precaution must be taken for fall hazards,
not only at the roof edge but also for simple
procedures should be carefully developed, changes in elevation or over a structurally
implemented, and followed that will mini- weakened roof deck. Work performed on
mize the risk of an arc flash. National Fire roofs should never be performed alone.
Protection Agency (NFPA) 70E, is one of Furthermore, special precautions must
several standards that can be useful when be taken at night. A thermographer can be-
developing such procedures. come night blind when viewing a thermal
Routine electrical inspection can be image in the bright display of an imaging
16  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

system. Night blindness is a condition Standards and written


that occurs when a thermographer’s eyes inspection procedures
adjust to view a brightly lit display screen
and, as a result, are not adjusted to see a Written inspection procedures are essen-
dark object. tial to produce high-quality results. For
Accidents typically occur when work example, trying to bake a cake without
is not planned or when the nature of the a recipe would be much more difficult
planned work changes but the plan does than having a recipe to follow. Written
not. A safe-work plan should always be inspection procedures can be referred to
developed and followed. When circum- as “recipes for success.”
stances change, the plan must be reevalu- Creating these “recipes for success,”
ated for any necessary changes. while an investment, does not need to be
The Occupational Safety and Health difficult. Typically, it is useful to involve
Administration (OSHA) is a United States a small group of individuals who have rel-
government agency established under the evant experience in the inspection process
in order to represent different viewpoints,
Occupational Safety and Health Act of
areas of expertise, and responsibilities.
1970 that requires employers to provide a
Once a written inspection procedure
safe environment for their employees. For
has been developed, it should be tested
example, OSHA requires that work areas
thoroughly and periodically reviewed by
must be free from hazards that are likely
certified personnel to ensure that it con-
to cause serious harm. OSHA provisions
tinues to represent best practices.
are enforced by the U.S. government and
Many inspection standards exist that
safe-work plans can be developed within
can provide a foundation for simple writ-
OSHA guidelines.
ten inspection procedures. For example,
committees of professionals have worked
with both the ISO and American Society
of Testing Materials (ASTM) Interna-
tional to develop a number of relevant
standards. American Society of Testing
Materials (ASTM) International is a
technical society and primary developer
of voluntary standards, related technical
information, and services that promote
public health and safety. ASTM Interna-
tional also contributes to the reliability of
products, materials, and services.
These standards help to determine the
performance of infrared systems. They
also describe the best practice for inspec-
tions of building insulation, air leakage,
Thermal inspections of high-power elec- electrical and mechanical systems, roofs,
trical equipment must be performed at a and highway bridge decks. Other standards
safe distance from the equipment. organizations in individual countries may
Chapter 3 — Training and Safety  17

have additional standards that can be used. become very easy to access. However,
For example, many have standards govern- organizations that invest in the develop-
ing electrical safety that will apply directly ment of solid thermal imaging programs
to the work of thermographers inspecting with inspection procedures and qualified
electrical systems. personnel have a distinct advantage. Typi-
Due to the large variety of thermal cally, they will have long-term benefits
imagers available today and the wide that other organizations may not receive.
range of prices, infrared technology has See Figure 3-4.

Thermal Imagers

FOR SPECIALIZED, COMPLEX,


FOR GENERAL MAINTENANCE, OR INTENSIVE APPLICATIONS
TROUBLESHOOTING, AND REQUIRING ENHANCED DETECTION
BASIC INSPECTIONS AND ANALYSIS CAPABILITIES

Figure 3-4. There are different thermal imagers available for different types of
applications and inspections.
18  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

PRACTICAL APPLIED THEORY

T hermodynamic theory and science is based on the variations of heat transfer


between different materials. Thermal imagers take readings based on the
principles of basic thermodynamics. Technicians must be able to understand
the limitations of thermography and thermal imagers when taking readings of
various structures, equipment, and materials.

Basic Thermodynamics advantage for thermographers is the fact that


a byproduct of nearly all energy conversions
Thermodynamics is the science of how
is heat, or thermal energy. Energy cannot be
thermal energy (heat) moves, transforms,
created or destroyed, only altered.
and affects all matter. To use modern
Temperature is a measure of the rela-
infrared equipment, it is essential to un-
tive hotness or coldness of a body when
derstand the basics of both heat transfer
compared to another. We unconsciously
and radiation physics. As powerful as
make comparisons to our body tempera-
modern equipment is, it still cannot think
ture or ambient air temperature and to the
for itself. The value of modern equipment
boiling and freezing points of water.
is defined by a thermographer’s ability to
The second law of thermodynamics
interpret data, which requires a practical
states when a temperature difference ex-
understanding of the basics of heat trans-
ists between two objects, thermal energy
fer and radiation physics.
transfers from the warmer areas (higher
Energy is the capacity to do work. Energy
energy) to the cooler areas (lower energy)
can take various forms. For example, a coal-
until thermal equilibrium is reached. A
fired electrical generation plant converts the
transfer of heat results in either electron
chemical energy from fossil fuel to thermal
energy through combustion. That, in turn, transfer or increased atomic or molecular
produces mechanical energy or motion in a vibration. This is important because these
turbine generator that is then converted to effects are measured when temperature is
electrical energy. During these conversions, measured.
although the energy does become more dif-
ficult to harness, none of it is lost.
Methods of Heat
The first law of thermodynamics is a
scientific law that states when mechanical Transfer
work is transformed into heat, or when heat Heat energy can be transferred by any of
is transformed into work, the amount of three methods: conduction, convection,
work and heat are always equivalent. An or radiation. Each method is described

19
20  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

as either steady state or transient. During pool. Thermal capacitance describes how
a steady state transfer, the transfer rate is much energy is added or removed for a
constant and in the same direction over material to change temperature. How
time. For example, a fully warmed up quickly or slowly that change happens
machine under constant load transfers heat also depends on how the heat moves.
at a steady state rate to its surroundings. While thermal capacitance, which is
In reality, there is no such thing as perfect what we call the relationships between
steady-state heat flow. There are always heat and temperature, can be confusing, it
small transient fluctuations but for practi- can also be beneficial to a thermographer.
cal purposes, they are typically ignored. For example, finding the liquid level in a
Conduction is the transfer of thermal tank is possible because of the difference
energy from one object to an­other through between the thermal capacitance of the
direct contact. Convection is the transfer air and the liquid. When the tank is in
of heat that occurs when molecules move transition, the two materials often exist
and/or currents circulate between the at different temperatures.
warm and cool regions of air, gas, or fluid.
Radiation is the movement of heat that
Conduction
occurs as radiant energy (electromagnetic
waves) moves without a direct medium Conduction is the transfer of thermal en-
of transfer. When a machine warms up ergy from one object to an­other through
or cools down, heat is transferred in a direct contact. Heat transfer by conduction
transient manner. Understanding these occurs primarily in solids, and to some
relationships is important to thermogra- extent in fluids, as warmer molecules
phers because the movement of heat is transfer their energy directly to cooler,
often closely related to the temperature adjacent ones. For example, conduction is
of an object. experienced when touching a warm mug of
coffee or a cold can of soft drink.
The rate at which heat transfer oc-
Concept of Thermal curs depends on the conductivity of the
Capacitance materials and the temperature difference
Thermal capacitance is the ability of a (∆T or delta-temperature) between the
material to absorb and store heat. When objects. These simple relationships are
heat is transferred at varying rates and/ described more formally by Fourier’s
or in different directions, it is said to law. For example, when picking up a
be transient. hot coffee cup while wearing gloves,
Additionally, as various materials are very little heat is exchanged compared
in transition, differing amounts of energy to doing so with a bare hand. A warm
are exchanged as they change tempera- cup of coffee does not transfer as much
ture. For example, very little energy is energy as does a hot one because the
required to change the temperature of temperature difference is not as great.
the air in a room compared to the amount Similarly, when energy is transferred at
needed to change the temperature of an the same rate but over a larger area, more
equal volume of water in a swimming energy is transferred.
Chapter 4 — Practical Applied Theory  21

A conductor is a material that readily a large scale because as masses of warm


transfers heat. Metals are typically very air rise, cool air sinks. On a smaller scale
conductive of heat. However, even the convection occurs as the cold cream,
conductivity of metals can vary depend- poured into a cup of hot coffee, sinks to
ing on the type of metal. For example, the bottom of the cup.
iron is much less conductive than alu- Convective heat transfer is also
minum. An insulator is a material that is determined in part by area and tempera-
inefficient at transferring heat. Materials ture difference. For example, an engine
that are inefficient conductors are known radiator with a large engine transfers
as insulators. Often these are simply more heat than a small engine because of
materials, such as foam insulation or its larger area. Other factors also affect
layered clothing, that trap small pockets convective heat transfer including the
of air and slow the transfer of energy. See velocity of a fluid, direction of fluid flow,
Figure 4-1.
and surface condition of an object. An
engine radiator that is blocked by dust
Convection does not transfer heat as efficiently as a
Convection is the transfer of heat that clean one. As with conduction, most of
occurs when currents circulate between us have a good practical sense of these
warm and cool regions of fluids. Convec- relationships, which are more formally
tion occurs in both liquids and gases, and described by Newton’s law of cooling.
involves the mass movement of molecules Natural convection occurs when warmer
at different temperatures. For example, a fluids rise and cooler fluids sink, such as
thundercloud is convection that occurs on in the cooling tubes of oil-filled trans-

Insulators

WALL

DARK-COLORED AREAS
INDICATE WHERE HEAT
TRANSFER IS GREATER

LIGHT-COLORED AREAS
INDICATE WHERE HEAT
TRANSFER IS REDUCED
(INSULATION)

Figure 4-1. Insulators are installed in walls to control the transfer of heat. Poorly installed
insulation does not control heat transfer adequately.
22  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Natural Convection

COOLING TUBES

OIL-FILLED TRANSFORMER
(COOLED BY NATURAL
CONVECTION AS WARM OIL
CIRCULATES INTO COOLING
TUBES)
NORMAL CIRCULATION
PATTERNS SHOW WARM OIL
(LIGHTER) AT THE TOP AND
COOLER OIL (DARKER) AT
THE BOTTOM OF THE TUBES
DARK-COLORED TUBES
INDICATE WHERE
THERE IS LITTLE OR
NO CIRCULATION OF OIL

Figure 4-2. Natural convection occurs when warm oil rises and cool oil sinks, such as
in the cooling tubes of an oil-filled transformer.

formers. See Figure 4-2. netic properties. Electromagnetic energy


When convection is forced, such as can take on several forms including light,
with a pump or a fan, the natural relation- radio waves, and infrared radiation. The
ships are generally overwhelmed because primary difference among all of these forms
forced convection can be quite powerful. is their wavelength. While normal eyesight
When the wind blows, we feel colder, detects wavelengths known as visible light,
which is evidence that we are losing heat thermal imagers detect wavelengths known
at a faster rate than when the wind is not as radiated heat (or infrared radiation). Each
blowing. The wind also strongly influenc- wavelength is on a different part of the
es the temperature of the objects inspected electromagnetic spectrum.
with thermal imaging systems. The Stefan-Boltzmann equation de-
scribes the relationships for how heat
Radiation moves as radiation. All objects radiate
Radiation is the transfer of energy, includ- heat. As with conduction and convection,
ing heat, that occurs at the speed of light the net amount of energy radiated depends
between objects by electromagnetic energy. on area and temperature differences. The
Because no transfer medium is required, warmer an object, the more energy it ra-
radiation can even take place in a vacuum. diates. For example, when a stove burner
An example of electromagnetic energy is gets hotter, it radiates more energy than
feeling the heat of the sun on a cool day. when it is cool.
Electromagnetic energy is radiation in Thermal radiation is the transmission
the form of waves with electric and mag- of heat by means of electromagnetic
Chapter 4 — Practical Applied Theory  23

waves. The primary difference among See Figure 4-3.


the waves is their wavelength. While
electromagnetic radiation (light) is vis-
Concept of Conservation of
ible to the human eye, radiated heat is
visible only through thermal imaging Energy
systems. The electromagnetic spectrum Light and infrared radiation behave
is the range of all types of electromag- similarly when they interact with vari-
netic radiation, based on wavelength. ous materials. Infrared radiation is re-
flected by some types of surfaces, such
Electromagnetic Spectrum as the metal liner under a stove burner.
Reflections of both warm and cool ob-
jects can be seen with infrared imagers
in some surfaces, such as bright metals,
10-12m GAMMA RAY
RADIATION which we call “thermal mirrors.” In a
few cases, infrared radiation is transmit-
ted through a surface, such as through
X-RAY
RADIATION the lens of an infrared imaging system.
Infrared radiation can also be absorbed
ULTRAVIOLET by a surface, such as a hand near a hot
LIGHT stove burner. In this case a temperature
RADIATION
VISIBLE LIGHT change results, causing the surface to
RADIATION emit more energy.
INFRARED
Transmission is the passage of
RADIATION radiant energy through a material or
structure. Infrared radiation can also
be absorbed in a surface, causing the
MICROWAVE temperature to change and an emission
RADIATION
of more energy from the surface of the
object. Absorption is the interception
of radiant energy. Emission is the dis-
charge of radiant energy. Although an
infrared thermal imaging system can
RADIO WAVE read reflected, transmitted, absorbed,
RADIATION and emitted radiation, only energy that

106m
TECH-TIP
The roughness of a surface determines the
type and direction of radiation reflection.
A smooth surface is known as a specular
Figure 4-3. The electromagnetic spectrum reflector while a rough or patterned sur-
is the range of all types of electromagnetic face is known as a diffuse reflector.
radiation, based on wavelength.
24  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Reflection, Transmission, of emission). Emissivity is characterized


Absorption, and Emission as a value between 0.0 and 1.0. A surface
with a value of 0.10, typical for shiny cop-
ABSORPTION per, emits little energy compared to human
skin with an emissivity of 0.98.
One of the challenges of using a thermal
imager is that these instruments display
EMISSION energy that is normally invisible to human
eyes. Sometimes this can be confusing. Not
only do low-emissivity surfaces, such as
metals, emit energy inefficiently, they are
TRANSMISSION
Ti25
IR FUSION
TECHNOLOGY
also reflective of their thermal surround-
ings. When a surface is read with a thermal
imaging system, it shows a combination of
emitted and reflected infrared radiation in
REFLECTION
the image. In order to make sense of what
is displayed, the thermographer must un-
THERMAL
IMAGER derstand what energy is being emitted and
what energy is being reflected.
Several other factors can affect material
Figure 4-4. Radiation can be reflected, emissivity. Besides material type, emissivity
transmitted, absorbed, or emitted.
can also vary with surface condition, tem-
perature, and wavelength. The effective
is absorbed or emitted affects the sur-
emissivity of an object can also vary with
face temperature. See Figure 4-4.
the angle of view. See Figure 4-5.
In addition, the quantity of heat radi-
It is not difficult to characterize the
ated by a surface is determined by how
emissivity of most materials that are not
efficiently the surface emits energy. Most shiny metals. Many materials have already
nonmetallic materials, such as painted been characterized and their emissivity
surfaces or human skin, efficiently emit en- values can be found in emissivity tables.
ergy. This means that as their temperature Emissivity values should be used only
increases, they radiate a great deal more as a guide. Since the exact emissivity of
energy, such as with a stove burner. a material may vary from these values,
Other materials, mostly metals that skilled thermographers also need to under-
are unpainted or not heavily oxidized, are stand how to measure the actual value. See
less efficient at radiating energy. When Figure 4-6.
a bare metal surface is heated, there is Cavities, gaps, and holes emit thermal
comparatively little increase in the radiant energy at a higher rate than the surfaces
heat transfer, and it is difficult to see the around them. The same is true for visible
difference between a cool metal surface light. The pupil of the human eye is black
and a warm one either with our eyes or a because it is a cavity, and the light that enters
thermal imaging system. Bare metals typi- it is absorbed. When all light is absorbed by
cally have a low emissivity (low efficiency a surface we say it is “black.” The emissivity
Chapter 4 — Practical Applied Theory  25

Emissivity

INSULATED CONDUCTOR
HAS HIGH EMISSIVITY
(EMITTED HEAT)

EMISSIVITY AFFECTED BY
MATERIAL TYPE, SURFACE
CONDITION, TEMPERATURE,
AND WAVELENGTH

BACK OF PANEL HAS


LOW EMISSIVITY
(REFLECTED HEAT)

Figure 4-5. Emissivity can be affected by material type, surface condition, temperature,
and wavelength.
of a cavity will approach 0.98 when it is
Emissivity Values
of Common Materials seven times deeper than it is wide.
Material Emissivity*
Aluminum, polished 0.05 Surface Temperature
Brick, common 0.85 Typically, because only the surface-
Brick, refractory, rough 0.94
temperature patterns of most objects are
Cast iron, rough casting 0.81
Concrete 0.54 seen (as they are opaque) thermographers
Copper, polished 0.01 must interpret and analyze these patterns
Copper, oxidized to black 0.88 and relate them to the object’s internal
Electrical tape, black plastic 0.95 temperatures and structures. For example,
Glass 0.92
the exterior wall of a house will display
Lacquer, Bakelite 0.93
Paint, average oil-based 0.94 patterns of various temperatures, but the
Paper, black, dull 0.94 task of a thermographer is to relate them
Porcelain, glazed 0.92 to the structure and thermal performance
Rubber 0.93 of the house. To accurately do this, there
Steel, galvanized 0.28
must be a basic understanding of how heat
Steel, oxidized strongly 0.88
Tar paper 0.92
travels through different components and
Water 0.98 materials in the wall.
* Emissivities of almost all materials are measured at 0°C During cold weather, heat from inside
(32°F) but do not differ significantly at room temperature.
the house travels through the structure of
Figure 4-6. The emissivity values of the wall to the exterior surface, and then
many common materials can be found in the surface comes into thermal equilibrium
emissivity tables. with its surroundings. It is at this point that
26  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

thermographers view that surface with a imager model). Also, since infrared test
thermal imager and must interpret what is instruments do not require contact with
shown. These relationships can often be the objects being tested, infrared technol-
quite complex, but are best understood in ogy has tremendous value because of the
many cases by simply using common sense increased accuracy of measurements.
and paying attention to basic science. Because temperature measurements
are based on the detection of infrared
Emissivity radiation, the following factors can be
expected to reduce temperature measure-
Metals that are unpainted or not heavily
ment accuracy:
oxidized are difficult to read in a thermal
image because they emit little and reflect • Emissivity values below 0.6
a great deal. Whether we are just looking • Temperature variations of ±30°C
at the thermal patterns or actually making (54°F)
a radiometric temperature measurement, • Making measurements beyond the
we need to take these factors into account. resolution of the system (target too
In many thermal imagers, corrections small or far away)
can be made for both the emissivity and
• Field of view
reflected thermal background. Emissivity
correction tables have been developed for
many materials. Field of View (FOV)
While emissivity correction tables A field of view (FOV) is a specification
can be useful for understanding how a that defines the size of what is seen in the
material will behave, the reality of mak- thermal image. The lens has the greatest
ing a correction for most low-emissivity influence on what the FOV will be, regard-
surfaces is that errors can be unacceptably less of the size of the array. Large arrays,
large. Low-emissivity surfaces should be however, provide greater detail, regardless
altered by some means, such as covering of the lens used, compared to narrow ar-
it with electrical tape or paint, in order to
rays. For some applications, such as work
increase the emissivity. This makes both
in outdoor substations or inside a building,
interpretation and measurement accurate
a large FOV is useful. While smaller arrays
and practical.
may provide sufficient detail in a build-
ing, more detail is important in substation
Temperature work. See Figure 4-7.
Measurement AccuRacy
The accuracy of modern infrared test Instantaneous Field of View
instruments is quite high. When viewing (IFOV)
high-emissivity, moderately warm sur- An instantaneous field of view (IFOV) is a
faces within the measurement resolution specification used to describe the capability
of a system, test accuracy is typically of a thermal imager to resolve spatial detail
±2°C (3.6°F) or 2% of the measurement (spatial resolution). The IFOV is typically
(but can vary according to the thermal specified as an angle in milliradians (mRad).
Chapter 4 — Practical Applied Theory  27

Field of View (FOV)

WIDE FOV — WIDE ANGLE LENS

STANDARD FOV — STANDARD LENS

NARROW FOV — TELEPHOTO LENS

Figure 4-7. The field of view (FOV) is a specification that defines the area that is seen
in the thermal image when using a specific lens.

When projected from the detector through about the radiation of a target to measure
the lens, the IFOV gives the size of an object it than it does to detect it. It is vital to un-
that can be seen at a given distance. derstand and work within the spatial and
An IFOV measurement is the measure- measurement resolution specific to each
ment resolution of a thermal imager that TECH-TIP
describes the smallest size object that
can be measured at a given distance. See All thermal imager targets radiate energy
Figure 4-8. It is specified as an angle (in measurable on the infrared spectrum.
As the target heats up, it radiates more
mRad) but is typically larger by a factor of
energy. Very hot targets radiate enough
three than the IFOV. This is due to the fact energy to be seen by the human eye.
that the imager requires more information
28  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

system. Failure to do so can lead to inac- often have a large gradient, even over a
curate data or overlooked findings. small physical distance. Therefore, care
should always be taken when interpret-
Environmental Effects ing a thermal image to understand what
The value of a surface measurement, internal conditions may be like.
even if accurate, may decrease sig- A similar decrease in value occurs
nificantly when the thermal gradient when external influences on surface tem-
between the surface being viewed and perature are significant or unknown. For
the internal heat source is great, such as example, this can occur when viewing the
for internal fault connections in oil-filled low-slope roof of a building for moisture
electrical equipment. A thermographer intrusion in strong wind. Evidence of
simply will not see much of a change moisture cannot be seen. The characteris-
on the surface as the internal connec- tic thermal signature often disappears. Wet
tion changes. Surprisingly, even objects surfaces can also be confusing when either
such as bolted electrical connections evaporation or freezing is occurring.

Spatial and Measurement Resolution

INSTANTANEOUS FIELD OF VIEW IFOV MEASUREMENT


(SPATIAL RESOLUTION) (MEASUREMENT
RESOLUTION)

Figure 4-8. An IFOV measurement is the measurement resolution of a thermal imager


that describes the smallest size object that can be measured at a given distance. IFOV
is similar to seeing a sign in the distance while IFOV measurement is similar to reading
the sign, either because it is closer or larger.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

COLOR THERMAL IMAGES


OF APPLICATIONS

Figure 5-1. The “hot spot” on the thermal image Figure 5-2. Under the proper conditions, liquid
does not always indicate the primary problem. level in a storage tank can be easily detected.
The top fuse may be blown, and the center fuse
may have a possible problem as well.

Figure 5-3. A blue (or dark) spot on the thermal Figure 5-4. The lighter-colored, wispy thermal
image shows an area of unexpected moisture patterns in this picture-in-picture (PIP) thermal
in a ceiling. image of an HVAC register indicate excessive
air leakage in the ductwork connections.

29
30  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-5. Unexpected thermal patterns on Figure 5-6. The circulation fan motor on the
an annealing furnace can be an indication of right side of this annealing furnace may have
possible refractory insulation breakdown. a potential problem, as it is operating hotter
than the others.

Figure 5-7. A high-resistance connection or component malfunction within a residential circuit


breaker is easily seen in the thermal image, but not in the visible light image.

Figure 5-8. While the thermal image of a motor and coupling shows thermal patterns on both
sides that are indicative of a coupling alignment problem, the visible light image indicates no
evidence of a problem.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  31

Figure 5-9. Thermography can be used to Figure 5-10. Thermography can be used to
monitor refractory performance over time and view hidden building construction and other
detect problem areas in cement kilns and other features, such as an earthen berm on the
process equipment. exterior of this gymnasium.

Figure 5-11. A misfire in a cylinder of a diesel-electric power plant shows different, cooler thermal
patterns than normally operating cylinders.

Figure 5-12. Thermal imagers can be used Figure 5-13. The thermal image of a normally
to scan large buildings and facilities to locate operating motor on an air-handling system
unexpected thermal variations that could shows heat dissipating from the vents.
indicate potential problems.
32  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-14. The light-colored area of the Figure 5-15. A hot bushing and tap on an
fuse bank indicates the possibility of a high- elevated transformer is a clear sign of a
resistance issue or an internal problem with problem.
the center phase.

Figure 5-16. A high-resistance connection on Figure 5-17. By using a thermal imager, a


a jumper (possibly due to corrosion) can have problem with an internal component in a motor
significant consequences if the load were to control center (MCC) can be easily detected.
increase further.

Figure 5-18. A possible load imbalance on the Figure 5-19. With the proper knowledge of
far right fuse can be overlooked unless level and mechanical equipment, a technician can
span of the image is adjusted. often perform many troubleshooting and
maintenance activities.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  33

Figure 5-20. A potential internal problem is Figure 5-21. Thermal imagers can be used to
visible when comparing similar components detect wet insulation associated with a water
under similar load conditions. leak on a low-sloped roof. If conditions are
right and the metal roof deck is painted, it may
be possible to detect such signatures from
the interior.

Figure 5-22. The use of saturation colors and Figure 5-23. Although two different motor and
color alarms in a grayscale palette can be useful pump sets show different thermal patterns, both
for determining the hot water and steam valves patterns may indicate acceptable operation.
that are open and operating properly.

Figure 5-24. Thermal patterns in block wall Figure 5-25. The dark-colored areas show
construction show the intrusion of moisture coolant traveling through the coils of a
at the connection of two walls, as well as commercial window-unit air conditioner.
unexpected construction irregularities.
34  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-26. The effects of low-emissivity Figure 5-27. Thermal imaging can be used
materials on thermal imaging are apparent to determine when equipment is not properly
in the image of a metal-clad tanker truck. The operating. The thermal image of the motor
metal reflects the coolness of the clear sky and pump set in the back indicates that it is
and the heat radiated from the ground on a unexpectedly not running.
sunny day.

Figure 5-28. The right-side bearing cap of this Figure 5-29. Thermography can even be used
air-handling unit is significantly warmer than for applications such as troubleshooting a
the other indicating a potential lubrication, heating wire on an outdoor water line, which
alignment, or belt problem. cannot be allowed to freeze in cold weather.

Figure 5-30. All things on ear th emit Figure 5-31. A nighttime thermal image of a
infrared energy including cold glaciers on container ship shows that the exhaust stack
mountaintops. and engine room can be detected even from
long distances.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  35

Figure 5-32. In the visible light photo, it is difficult to clearly see the details of the city skyline, or
the sky, on a hazy, late-summer day. However, with thermal imaging, the details, as well as the
different types of clouds in the sky, can be easily seen.

Figure 5-33. Even minor detected surface Figure 5-34. Locating problems, such as a
temperatures can indicate serious problems hot latch and hinge ends of a high-voltage
such as a shared neutral line or improper disconnect, can be simple in conditions such
neutral-ground on a lighting system. This can as adequate load and little or no wind.
cause the metal conduit inside the wall to heat
up to the point where a fire hazard may exist.

Figure 5-35. Certain problems can be detected even at a great distance (left) by using a thermal
imager. More detailed analysis often requires working with a telephoto lens or by simply moving
closer (right) to the equipment.
36  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-36. Abnormally high-resistance Figure 5-37. Because parallel current-flow


heating in a disconnect switch often represents pathways exist in many disconnect switches,
a serious and costly problem because even the “hot spot” may be the signature of a normal
relatively low temperatures can cause connection while the cooler side may indicate
damage. the actual problem area.

Figure 5-38. A small section of fiberglass Figure 5-39. Because of poor air sealing, warm
insulation missing in a building can cause air can bypass the fiberglass insulation as it has
abnormal air leakage along the edges of other in many sections of this commercial building.
areas.

Figure 5-40. A transformer that appears to be Figure 5-41. Conditioned air can leak through
operating warmer than others on an elevated the joints of the HVAC ductwork into the wall
rack can be the sign of a potential problem. behind a diffuser.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  37

Figure 5-42. The warm areas on a surface of a Figure 5-43. A red-colored “saturation palette”
boiler can be caused by refractory breakdown, clearly shows the poor fit of fiberglass insulation
air leakage, or a combination of both. in a slant ceiling.

Figure 5-44. The connection to the fuse clip Figure 5-45. The temperature of a motor casing
in a motor control center (MCC) is abnormally can quickly be checked to determine if it is
warm. operating normally.

G. McIntosh Figure 5-47. Thermography can be used to


Figure 5-46. This multi-stage air compressor is document if a heater inside a control cabinet
working well as can be seen by the temperature is functioning normally to minimize problems
increase at each stage. with condensation.
38  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-48. A thermal image of the exterior Figure 5-49. Areas of missing insulation show
view of a building can clearly show problem up as warm spots from the exterior of a building
areas such as the lighter sections where during cold weather.
insulation is missing.

Figure 5-50. Warm spots in the center of Figure 5-51. Thermal imaging can be used
double-glazed windows can indicate a loss of to document problems such as missing or
the insulating argon gas that normally fills the damaged insulation.
space between the windowpanes.

Figure 5-52. An abnormally warm bearing in an Figure 5-53. An area of wet roof insulation
overhead trolley can lead to excessive power shows up as a warm spot on the roof in the
consumption and a stretched chain over time. early evening when the conditions are optimal
for taking thermal images.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  39

Figure 5-54. A cast iron cooking pan displays a Figure 5-55. The light-colored area in an oil-
unique thermal signature as it is heated. filled circuit breaker shows that the internal
connection from the bushing cap to the bushing
rod is abnormally hot.

Figure 5-56. A light-colored area indicates the Figure 5-57. When using a thermal imager, the
water level in a municipal water-storage tank. level of liquid propane in a storage tank can
easily be seen.

Figure 5-58. The thermal signature of a three- Figure 5-59. Two of the six bushing caps on an
phase dry transformer indicates that the primary oil-filled circuit breaker are abnormally hot and
lead to the left phase is abnormally warm. represent a condition that would have proved
costly had it not been detected and repaired.
40  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-60. A properly working steam trap Figure 5-61. Liquid levels in storage tanks
should be warmer on the steam side and are easily seen with a thermal imager when
cooler on the condensate side as is the case conditions are optimal.
in this image.

Figure 5-62. Although a stove burner appears Figure 5-63. The many warm areas on the
warm, the flame is barely visible in a long-wave exterior front wall of a commercial building
thermal image. are associated with poorly installed fiberglass
insulation.

Figure 5-64. In addition to wet insulation, many Figure 5-65. Thermal signatures on single-ply
objects on a roof can have warm signatures roofs with foam insulation can be more subtle
such as the vent hood on the HVAC system. than signatures on built-up roofs.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  41

Figure 5-66. A thermal signature can be used to determine the operation of each stage in a
two-stage pump.

Figure 5-67. A belt rubbing against an overhead Figure 5-68. Excessive heat loss can be
conveyor system tray creates a hot spot in the caused by warm air bypassing insulation and
thermal signature. The belt became misaligned can be a significant and costly problem in many
due to a nearby worn roller bearing. As a result, buildings even when they are insulated.
increased friction contributed to the overheating
of a driver motor.

Figure 5-69. Poorly installed loose-fill insulation Figure 5-70. The nose of a person’s face is
in an existing wall cavity can settle and not often colder than other parts of the body due to
perform as well as it should. less blood flow and more convective cooling.
42  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-71. Both liquid and sludge levels in Figure 5-72. Cold water streaming into a sink
a tank are often detectable when a tank is in full of warm water results in convective heat
thermal transition. transfer.

Figure 5-73. The gold-plated dome of a government building reflects the relatively cold sky.

Figure 5-74. The light-colored areas on the Figure 5-75. The red-colored areas of the
thermal image of a belt and pulleys probably image indicate several conveyor roller bearings
indicates an out of alignment condition. that are abnormally heated.
Chapter 5 — Color Thermal Images of Applications  43

Figure 5-76. Moisture can penetrate the stone Figure 5-77. This thermal image shows a
façade of a commercial structure, leaving it normally operating, open hydraulic valve.
vulnerable to damage.

Figure 5-78. The heating pattern on a normally Figure 5-79. Light-colored areas indicate where
operating pump motor has a uniform thermal heat escapes from uninsulated sections of a
signature. steam system near the valves.

Figure 5-80. Cool air that escapes from Figure 5-81. The right-hand electrical plug for
underneath an entry door leaves a wispy, finger- a bank of computer servers shows a thermal
like pattern on the hallway floor. pattern that indicates either a high-resistance
connection or an internal wiring problem.
44  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Figure 5-82. The bright-colored area indicates Figure 5-83. The differing color on both sides
a possible high-resistance connection or of this in-line condenser unit and bypass value
component failure in a lighting control panel. indicates expected operation.

Figure 5-84. This thermal image indicates Figure 5-85. A thermal image of a normally
that the transformer on the right may have an functioning HVAC compressor can show a
internal fault. wide temperature difference between different
sections and components.

Figure 5-86. Thermal imaging can be useful in Figure 5-87. Moisture from an inadequately
heat tracing for high-resistance connections in drained roof can leak into the concrete block
low-voltage control systems. and façade of a building.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

THERMOGRAPHY APPLICATIONS

T hermography and thermal imaging can be used for applications such as


inspecting electrical and process equipment and for building diagnostics.
Electrical equipment includes motors, distribution equipment, and substations.
Process equipment includes automated manufacturing and assembly equipment.
Building diagnostics include checking for roof moisture, building insulation
inspections for air leakage and moisture detection. Insulation includes material
located in walls, ceilings, and floors of the thermal building envelope.

Electrical Applications electrical resistance typically precedes


electrical failures.
Thermal imagers are most commonly
When one or more phases or compo-
used for inspecting the integrity of elec-
nents have a different temperature, due to
trical systems because test procedures are
issues unrelated to normal load balance, a
noncontact and can be performed quickly.
thermal exception may be present. For ex-
Most electrical thermography work is
qualitative, that is, it simply compares ample, abnormally high resistance results
the thermal signatures of similar compo- in heating at a connection point. However,
nents. A thermal signature is a snapshot in a failed state, and thus not energized,
at a single point in time of the heat being components may appear cooler.
given off, or emitted, from an object. An open electrical enclosure can expose
It is straightforward with three-phase a thermographer to various hazards. Elec-
electrical systems because under normal trocution is typically not an issue because
conditions the phases almost always have thermography does not require contact.
easily understood thermal signatures. However, the potential of an arc blast is
Thermography is particularly effective higher, especially at 480 V and above.
because equipment failures often have For example, opening a door can trigger
clear, recognizable thermal signatures. an arc flash if the latch is defective or ob-
Furthermore, thermal exceptions appear jects, such as pests or dust and debris, inside
even where visible inspection shows very the enclosure are disturbed. This can result
little, if anything. A thermal exception is in a phase-to-ground arc being established.
an abnormal or suspect condition that is Once started, an arc can reach temperatures
present in equipment. Although thermal in excess of 16,650°C (30,000°F) in less
exceptions may not always be detectable, than half a second. Only authorized and
or the root cause well understood, there is trained personnel should open enclosures
no doubt that the heat produced from high containing energized electrical equipment.

45
46  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Thermographers should make every ef- Occasionally, inspections must also


fort to understand and minimize the risk of be performed from an indirect view such
an arc blast. International governing bodies as an enclosed motor terminal box or an
can provide detailed requirements neces- enclosed overhead busway. While this
sary to minimize arc-flash hazards. These may be a necessary alternative in some
requirements include education about risks, situations, such as for an overhead bus-
procedures for conducting inspections, and way, it is not recommended for regular
discussion of necessary personal protec- procedure. If an enclosure cannot be
tive equipment (PPE). PPE is designed to opened, data from the thermal inspection
mitigate the potential damage caused by may not provide the necessary details on
the intense heat of an arc flash and typically its own.
includes protection for the eyes, head, skin, Some equipment may be so difficult
and hands. See Figure 6-1. and/or dangerous to access that other
Techniques for inspecting electrical inspection measures are required. Ad-
systems are based on common sense, ditional inspection methods may include
technology, and good maintenance prac- the use of a viewport or an infrared trans-
tices. Whenever possible, components parent window to provide a view of the
and equipment should be energized and enclosure interior. Other technologies,
viewed directly with a thermal imager. such as an airborne ultrasound, can also
be used.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

HEAD PROTECTION
(HARD HAT)

EYE PROTECTION
(GLASSES AND
FACE SHIELD)

SKIN PROTECTION
(FLAME-RESISTANT
CLOTHING)

HAND PROTECTION
(GLOVES)

Figure 6-1. PPE typically includes eye, head, skin, and hand protection designed to mitigate
the potential damage caused by the intense heat and other hazards of an arc flash.
Chapter 6 — Thermography Applications  47

The careful placement of an infrared airborne-ultrasound signature through a


transparent window is required to ensure crack or small hole in the enclosure.
that all components and devices can be seen. During an inspection, particular atten-
An infrared transparent window is a device tion is given to any electrical connection
installed in electrical enclosures to provide or point of electrical contact. Electrical
for the transmission of infrared energy to be connections and points of contact are
viewed by a thermal imager. Infrared trans- susceptible to heat caused by abnormally
parent windows can often allow thermal high resistance and is the primary source
imaging without the need to open enclosure of system failures.
doors or panels. See Figure 6-2. Electrical current imbalances among
phases can also be detected. Often these
Infrared are considered normal such as in a light-
Transparent Windows ing circuit. However, they can result in
very costly failures in other parts of an
ELECTRICAL ENCLOSURE electrical system such as an electric motor
EQUIPMENT DOOR
that has lost a phase or for any circuit that
is overloaded.
Although thermal imagers are widely
used for electrical applications, they are too
often used ineffectively and improperly. Po-
tential problems can be overlooked or, when
located, misunderstood by the thermogra-
pher. Many factors, other than the severity
of the problem, can influence the surface
temperature seen through a thermal imag-
ing system. Furthermore, the relationship
INFRARED TRANSPARENT WINDOW between heat and failure, especially over
MAY ALLOW THERMAL INSPECTIONS
WITHOUT OPENING ENCLOSURE time, is not always well understood.
DOOR It is well known that the temperature of
an electrical connection varies as the load
Figure 6-2. An infrared transparent window changes. Heat output from a high-resistance
is used to provide for the transmission
connection is predictable (I2R) but the
of infrared energy to a thermal imager
without the need to open enclosure doors temperature it can achieve is much less
or panels. predictable. For this reason some standards
recommend that inspections be performed
with a 40% minimum load or at the highest
It may also be possible to use equipment normal load when possible. Special concern
that detects airborne ultrasound. Airborne should be given to any irregularities found
ultrasound is sound produced by a failing on lightly loaded equipment where the load
electrical connection. It is out of the natural is likely to increase with future use.
hearing range but can be detected with spe- When enclosures cannot be opened
cial listening devices. Even micro arcing in easily and heating components viewed
a connection typically produces a detectable directly, such as an overhead, enclosed
48  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

busway, the thermal gradient between Viewing an image on a display screen


the problem and the viewed surface will while outdoors can often be challenging
typically be very large. A thermal gradi- as well. Lighting conditions may produce
ent is the difference between the actual unwanted glare, reducing the ability to
temperature at the source of a problem effectively see every detail and nuance
and the temperature that is being detected being captured. Outdoor-equipment
or measured on the viewed surface of inspections do not necessarily need to
the thermal imager. A surface thermal be conducted at night but bright, sunny
signature as small as 2.8°C (5°F) on an weather can also result in confusing imag-
enclosed busway may indicate an internal es due to solar heating. This is especially
failure. Oil-filled devices, such as trans- true for dark-colored components such as
formers, exhibit similar or even greater ceramic power line insulators.
thermal gradients. The task of acquiring reliable thermal
Care must be taken for outdoor in- data about an electrical system is not
always as simple as it seems. Even with
good thermal data, many thermographers
use it incorrectly when prioritizing the se-
riousness of the test results. For example,
temperature is often not a reliable indica-
tor of the severity of a problem because
many factors can cause it to change. This
fact does not prevent many thermogra-
phers from incorrectly believing that the
warmer a problem component is, the more
To reduce unwanted glare on the display, serious the problem compared to other,
detachable sun visors are available for cooler components.
use with thermal imagers. Similarily, there can be a mistaken
belief that a problem does not exist
spections when wind speed is greater when a component or piece of equip-
than 8 kph (5 mph). For example, ment is not particularly hot. Care must
hotspots on equipment should be com- be taken in gathering and interpreting
pared with how they might appear if the thermal data to achieve the full benefit
wind is calm. Some irregularities can of thermography.
cool below the threshold of detection Rather than determining priorities
until wind speed drops. Similar influ- strictly on temperature, a more useful
ences can occur inside a facility when approach is to consider how all param-
enclosures are left open for a period of eters interact with and affect the problem
time prior to conducting the inspection. component. This can be done simply
Good inspection procedures require that with test instruments or more formally
by root-cause failure analysis using en-
the inspection be conducted as quickly
gineering analysis tools. The benefits of
and safely as possible after opening an
properly conducting thermal electrical
enclosure.
inspections are great and companies
Chapter 6 — Thermography Applications  49

that are successful are able to virtually operating normally should exhibit thermal
eliminate unscheduled downtime due to signatures that are very close to the ambi-
electrical failures. ent air temperature. See Figure 6-3. It is
useful to employ other types of testing,
such as vibration or motor circuit analysis,
Electromechanical in conjunction with thermography.
and Mechanical Thermography has proven particularly
Applications
Electromechanical and mechanical inspec- Thermal Signatures
tions cover a diverse variety of equipment.
Thermal imaging has proven invaluable for NORMAL SIGNATURE
inspecting equipment such as motors, ro- (BEARING NEAR AMBIENT
TEMPERATURE)
tating equipment, and steam traps. Most of
these applications are qualitative. The cur-
rent thermal image is typically compared to
a previous one. Any differences resulting
from a change in equipment condition are
then noted. A thermographer must have a
solid knowledge of heat transfer in order
to understand how equipment functions
and fails.
Motors are thermally inspected because ABNORMAL SIGNATURE
(BEARING WARMER
they are very susceptible to heat-related THAN AMBIENT
failure. For example, motor misalignment TEMPERATURE)
or imbalance typically results in overheat-
ing. While it is useful to look at the surface Figure 6-3. Motor couplings and shaft
temperature of a motor housing, changes bearings operating normally should exhibit
to the internal temperatures of a motor are a thermal signature that is very close to
not always immediately obvious. It can be ambient air temperature.
valuable to take thermal images of the mo-
tor either over time or in comparison with valuable for inspecting low-speed rotating
similar operating motors. For example, this equipment, such as conveyors, where other
can help to reveal a motor that has become inspection methods may not be useful or
clogged with dust or that is single-phased reliable. More complex types of equip-
and overheating. ment, such as turbines, gearboxes, and
The thermal signature of motor bear- heat exchangers, can also be inspected
ings can also be used for inspections. with a thermal imager. However, they often
For example, if motor bearings are much require a more significant investment in
warmer than the motor, it is an indica- creating a baseline of test data before the
tion of a possible problem that should be results from subsequent inspections pay
investigated in greater detail. Similarly, any returns.
motor couplings and shaft bearings that are
50  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Process Applications thermography. Thermal signatures are


not readily evident on unpainted metal
Thermal inspections are commonly used
cladding due to its low emissivity and
to monitor equipment capable of endur- high reflectance.
ing high-temperatures, that is, refractory One of the most common applications
equipment. For example, maintenance for thermography is locating or confirm-
technicians are able to use the thermal ing the levels of solids, liquids, or gases
data to validate the condition of insula- in vessels such as storage tanks and silos.
tion or calculate surface temperatures that See Figure 6-4. Although most vessels
could cause a failure. typically have instrumentation to indicate
A baseline inspection is an inspection the level of material inside them, the data is
intended to establish a reference point often inaccurate because the instrumenta-
of equipment operating under normal tion does not function properly or at other
operating conditions and good work- times, the data is accurate but must be
ing order. A trending inspection is an independently confirmed.
inspection performed after a baseline
inspection to provide images for com- TECH-TIP
parison. Monitoring trends over time
often provides diagnostic and predictive Steam traps and most valves will exhibit
information. This allows the thermog- temperature differences across the de-
rapher to compare any differences or vices when working properly. There are,
of course, numerous types of steam traps
similarities that may be indicative of
and valves and each may have subtly dif-
equipment performance. ferent thermal signatures. Therefore, it is
Baseline inspections should be con- important to study them carefully over a
ducted first, followed by ongoing trend- period of time and understand how they
ing inspections. These inspections should normally function.
be scheduled on a frequency determined
by consequence of failure and the con- The rate at which these materials
dition of the equipment. As a result of change temperatures during a transient
monitoring trends, proactive maintenance heat flow cycle is determined by the
capabilities are greatly enhanced and the mode by which heat is transferred and
occurrences of unplanned downtime and the differing thermal capacities of the
expensive failures are reduced. solids, liquids, and gases in the tank.
All types of thermal insulation can be Gases change most quickly. For ex-
inspected by looking for variations in the ample, the sun can provide a detectable
surface thermal signature. These insula- thermal change in the gas-filled portion
tion types include what is used on steam of a large outdoor tank in a matter of
lines, product lines, and piping systems, minutes. Solids, liquids, and floating
and heat tracing on process lines (both materials all change at different rates
steam and electric). Unfortunately, many when pushed through a temperature
types of insulation systems are often cycle. Even an indoor tank can have
covered with unpainted metal cladding some thermal fluctuation that can reveal
that can decrease much of the value of a variety of levels.
Chapter 6 — Thermography Applications  51

Liquid Levels in Tanks

TANK THERMAL IMAGER DISPLAYS


THE LEVEL OF WATER IN TANK
BASED ON DIFFERENCES IN WATER
WATER
TEMPERATURE BETWEEN AIR STORAGE
LEVEL
AND WATER INSIDE TANK

Figure 6-4. One of the most common applications for thermography is locating or
confirming levels of material in vessels such as storage tanks and silos.

A skilled thermographer can often Building Diagnostics


find levels in an uninsulated tank. Where
insulation is present, it may take longer Thermal imaging has long been used
for thermal signatures to appear or some for various applications related to
enhancement may be required. Material residential and commercial building
levels in a vessel can be enhanced by using diagnostics. Building diagnostic appli-
simple active techniques such as applying cations include roof moisture inspec-
heat or inducing cooling with evaporation. tions, building insulation inspections
For example, simply spraying water briefly for energy and air leakage, and moisture
on a tank and waiting a few minutes for detection. As with other thermogra-
the exterior surface of the tank to change phy applications, knowledge of heat
temperature is often enough to reveal sev- transfer theory and how buildings are
eral levels. Applying vertical stripe paint constructed is required for success. In-
or a tape where levels can be read easily spections for commercial buildings can
can modify the low emissivity of shiny be more complicated than for residential
metal-insulation coverings. structures.
52  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Roof Moisture Inspections The exact thermal signature that


For a number of reasons related to can be seen on a thermal imager and
design, installation, and maintenance, when it can be viewed depends on the
most low-slope roofs develop signifi- condition and type of roof insulation.
cant problems within a year or two of Absorbent insulations typically used
installation. A low-slope roof is a flat in low-slope roofs, such as fiberglass,
commercial roof with a slight pitch to wood fiber, and expanded perlite, yield
drain precipitation. It is composed of a clear thermal signatures. Nonabsorbent
structural deck on which some type of foam-board insulations, which are often
rigid insulation and waterproof mem- used in single-ply roof systems, are more
brane is placed. difficult to inspect. This is because little
While the damage caused by an ac- water is absorbed. Many single-ply roofs
tual leak may be significant, the hidden are also ballasted with a heavy layer of
long term damage caused by the trapped stone that can render a thermal signature
moisture is usually far more costly. Once of limited value.
it enters a roofing system, moisture be- Thermal signatures are also influenced
comes trapped and causes degradation by many conditions other than subsurface
and premature failure of the roof system. moisture. The roof surface must be dry
By locating and replacing wet insulation, or evaporation will reduce solar heating.
subsurface moisture is eliminated and A heavy covering of evening clouds can
the life of a roof can be greatly extended reduce cooling while excess wind can erase
beyond the expected average. all thermal signatures.
A roof moisture inspection performed Roof construction and physical condi-
with a thermal imager is nondestructive. tions also shape thermal signatures. For
See Figure 6-5. Wet insulation has a example, a parapet wall facing west can re-
higher thermal capacitance than dry in- radiate heat to the roof long into the night.
sulation. For example, after a warm and Extra roofing gravel will stay warmer and
sunny day during an evening that is clear previously repaired sections of the roof
and free of wind, a roof can cool quickly. may appear to be different than other sec-
The rapid cooling of the roof leaves wet tions. Understanding these influences and
insulation warmer when compared to the result they have on thermal signatures
dry insulation. is essential for successful inspections.
Once these patterns are seen, large Ideally, roofs are inspected shortly
areas of the roof can be inspected quite after they are installed to establish a
quickly, noting any patterns indicating baseline thermal signature. Another in-
wet insulation. If necessary, the actual spection would be warranted after any
presence of moisture in a wet area can potentially damaging incident such as a
be confirmed with more traditional heavy hailstorm, tornado, or hurricane.
inspection methods, although these When inevitable leaks occur, a quick
methods are often slow or destructive. follow-up infrared inspection may help
The “inspection window” can remain determine their exact location and provide
open long into the night if conditions an indication of the extent of the insula-
are good. tion damage.
Chapter 6 — Thermography Applications  53

Roof Moisture Inspections

TECHNICIAN MARKING THERMOGRAPHER WITH


ROOF WITH PAINT THERMAL IMAGER

PATTERNS DETECTED WITH THERMAL


IMAGER CAN BE USED TO DETERMINE
PRESENCE OF MOISTURE

Figure 6-5. Roof moisture inspections are nondestructive and easily performed with
a thermal imager.

Great care must be taken to conduct Building Insulation


a roof inspection safely. Work on a roof Inspections
should never be conducted alone. Ther- Thermography is ideal for determining
mographers are particularly vulnerable insulation presence and performance. It is
to hazards because the brightness of the being widely used by energy consultants,
display prevents their eyes from adjust- general contractors, and home inspectors.
ing to the low-light levels found on most Insulation is mainly used within a build-
roofs. This is a condition referred to as ing to control heat transfer, either gains
night blindness. A preliminary daylight or losses. When insulation is missing,
visual inspection of the roof is essential damaged, or does not perform as intended,
for highlighting potential hazards as well both energy use and the cost of condition-
as noting roof conditions.
54  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

ing increase while comfort levels in the Air Leakage Detection


building typically decrease. Excessive air leakage into and out of
While reducing excessive energy buildings accounts for nearly half the
consumption is important, a well planned cost of heating, ventilation, and cool-
thermal inspection can also increase oc- ing. Air leakage is typically caused by
cupant comfort and lead to lower energy pressure differences across the building.
use. Other issues that can often be located Pressure differences can be the result
through the use of thermal inspections of wind but may also be caused by the
include unwanted water leaks or moisture convective stack forces inherent in any
condensation, the buildup of ice on a roof, building and the pressure imbalances
and the freezing of plumbing lines. Ther- associated with an HVAC system.
mography also helps to check air circula-
tion in conditioned spaces and verify the
placement of acoustical insulation.
When a temperature difference of
at least 10°C (18°F) is present from the
inside to outside of a building, insulation
problems can typically be detected. For ex-
ample, during the heating season, the ther-
mal signature for missing insulation will
show as cooler on the interior and warmer
on the exterior. During the cooling season,
the thermal signature is the opposite. It is
useful to know what type of insulation is
Thermal imaging can be used to check
present as each can have a unique thermal for heat loss within a building around
signature and time constant. areas such as windows, eaves, or poorly-
Most thermal inspections require work- insulated walls.
ing on both the interior and exterior of the
building. However, both significant winds
and direct sun may render exterior work The pressure differences force air
difficult or impossible. These conditions through the many penetrations within
result in effects that show up inside as the building. Penetrations to the ther-
well but often in more confusing ways mal envelope, such as a wiring or
because they are indirect. Inspections dur- plumbing chase, are often small and
ing the cooling season may be limited to not readily evident. A thermal envelope
the interior or to the evening for any work is the boundary of the space that is to
to be performed on the exterior. Under be heated, ventilated, or cooled within a
optimum conditions, missing, damaged, or building.
ineffective insulation, as well as the loca- Typically, only a small temperature
tion of framing, are often easily located by difference of 3°C (5°F) from inside to out-
a trained, skilled thermographer properly side is required for detecting air leakage.
using a thermal imager. The air itself cannot be seen but its tem-
Chapter 6 — Thermography Applications  55

perature patterns on building surfaces of- Moisture Detection


ten have a characteristic “wispy” thermal Moisture frequently finds its way into
signature. See Figure 6-6. During the buildings to cause degradation of build-
heating season, thermal signatures will ing materials. The point of penetration
typically be seen as cold streaks along
is typically a structural joint or seam,
the interior building surfaces or warm
such as a failed flashing or seal. Mois-
“blooms” on the outside where heated
ture can also result from condensation.
air is escaping. Air movement may also
Condensation is typically caused by
be evident inside building cavities,
warm, moist air leaking from the build-
even interior or insulated exterior walls.
ing to the cooler building cavities. Other
sources of moisture include flooding,
groundwater, and leaks from plumbing
Building Surface and sprinkler systems.
Temperature Patterns In all these examples, the thermal
signature of the moisture that is present
is often clear and obvious, especially if
conditions are right for the wet surface
to evaporate. In this case, the surface
will appear cool. Wet building materials,
however, are also more conductive and,
during a thermal transition, have a large
thermal capacitance compared to dry ones.
In this situation, the thermal signatures
may not always be clear or obvious. Care
should be taken to verify that conditions
allow moisture to be seen if present.
For example, supplemental testing with
a moisture meter is recommended to
confirm what is shown on the thermal
image when a suspect area is detected.

Figure 6-6. Temperature patterns related Commercial Building


to air leakage often have a characteristic Inspections
“wispy” thermal signature. While the inspection of residential
buildings is quite straightforward, that
of large, commercial buildings is often
By artificially inducing a pressure more complicated. However, returns on
difference on the building, air leakage investment from understanding large
patterns can be enhanced, directed, and buildings are often significant and can
quantified. This can be accomplished usually justify a thorough inspection and
through the use of an HVAC system or analysis. It is essential that the building
a blower-door fan. construction details are understood and
56  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

made completely available to the ther-


mographer in order to fully understand
the complex interactions among the dif-
ferent building components.
Air leakage, water penetration, and
condensation are the most common
problems encountered in commercial
buildings. A thermal imager is a pow-
erful troubleshooting tool for the many
problems encountered in a large struc-
ture. When possible, large buildings
should be inspected during construction
as each floor is enclosed, insulated,
and relevant finishes are installed.
This allows for design or construction
problems to be identified and corrected
before the entire building is completed
and occupied.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

INSPECTION METHODOLOGIES

T hermographers use three main methods to perform inspections with thermal


imagers. These are the comparative, baseline, and trending methods. The
method of choice depends on the type of equipment being inspected and the
type of data that is required. Each method can be successful if used for the
appropriate application.

COMPARATIVE those boundaries. Basic, practical training


THERMOGRAPHY in heat transfer and advanced skills using
a thermal imager are essential for under-
Thermographers have developed a num- standing quantitative thermography. Much
ber of methods for expanding the use of of thermography is comparative work. By
the technology. The basic method used in comparing the object of interest to a similar
many thermal applications is comparative object, it is often easy to detect a problem.
thermography. Comparative thermogra- Training and experience are fundamental to
phy is a process used by thermographers the process since there can be many other
to compare similar components under variables that must be taken into account.
similar conditions to assess the condition
of the equipment being tested.
When comparative thermography is
used appropriately and correctly, the dif-
ferences between the equipment being
assessed will often be indicative of the
condition. Quantitative thermography,
as compared to qualitative thermography,
requires a more complete understanding
of the variables and limitations affecting
the radiometric measurement. Quanti-
tative thermography is thermography
that includes radiometric temperatures.
Qualitative thermography is thermog-
raphy that does not include radiometric
temperatures. Qualitative thermography does not usu-
It is vital to determine what margin of ally include radiometric temperatures.
error is acceptable before beginning an in- It compares and contrasts the thermal
spection and to work carefully to stay within signatures of similar components.

57
58  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

For comparative thermography to The thermal imager itself cannot “read”


be effective, the thermographer must an image. It is a combination of the skill,
eliminate all but one variable from the experience, and persistence of a thermog-
comparison. Too often this simple but rapher to use the system correctly, often
essential requirement is not achieved along with other data, to achieve the cor-
due to the complex circumstances of an rect interpretation. Of course, the misdiag-
inspection or the poor work habits of the nosis of an exception can result in damage
thermographer. As a result, data can be to or loss of valuable equipment.
inconclusive or misleading. Care must be When using comparative thermogra-
taken to understand the influences that re- phy, it is useful to have as much knowl-
sult in the thermal signatures observed. edge as possible about the object being
For example, a thermal image of a viewed. Such knowledge includes the
three-phase electrical breaker can show construction, basic operation, known
one phase as being warmer than the others. failure mechanism, direction of heat flow,
See Figure 7-1. If the loads across the three or operating history of an object. Because
phases are balanced, uneven heating is this knowledge is often not readily avail-
probably associated with a high-resistance able, the thermographer must be able to
connection. However, if a load reading is ask the equipment owner or maintenance
taken with a digital multi-meter and shows technician clear, simple questions.
loading of 30/70/30 A, for example, the More importantly than asking ques-
pattern is most likely related to an electrical tions, the thermographer must listen
phase imbalance. carefully to the answers. Many ther-
mographers fail at either one or both of
Comparative Thermography
these tasks and their work suffers as a
BLUE-GREEN COLORED consequence. Communication skills for a
AREAS REPRESENT
NORMAL CONDITIONS thermographer are as important as techni-
cal skills, especially when working with
unfamiliar equipment or materials.

BASELINE THERMOGRAPHY
A baseline inspection is intended to estab-
lish a reference point of equipment oper-
ating under normal operating conditions
THREE PHASE and in good working order. It is critical to
ELECTRICAL
BREAKER determine what is the normal or desired
RED AND YELLOW COLORED AREAS equipment condition and use this as a
REPRESENT POSSIBLE PROBLEM baseline signature to which later images
(HIGH-RESISTANCE CONNECTION)
are compared. Often the baseline signature
Figure 7-1. Comparative thermography is uniform or related in some manner to
can be used on a three-phase electrical the inherent structure of the object being
breaker and show one of the phases being viewed. For example, after a motor is in-
warmer compared to the others. stalled and brought into normal operation,
Chapter 7 — Inspection Methodologies  59

any differences in the thermal signature railroad car over time to determine
will probably show up in subsequent optimum maintenance downtime sched-
thermal images. See Figure 7-2. uling. See Figure 7-3.
It is important for a thermographer
to understand all variables present
Baseline Thermography with the equipment that is inspected.
Thermographers must understand the
operating principles of various systems
and develop troubleshooting skills. If
data is carefully gathered and changes
are understood, these methods can re-
veal a very accurate and useful trend of
performance. However, it is important
to remember that trending only implies,
rather than predicts, the future.

Figure 7-2. Many differences in the


thermal signature of the motor will show Thermal Trending
up in subsequent thermal inspections.

THERMAL TRENDING
Another method of thermal inspection
is known as thermal trending. Thermal
trending is a process used by ther-
mographers to compare temperature
distributions in the same component
over time. Thermal trending is used
extensively especially for inspecting
mechanical equipment where normal
thermal signatures may be complex. It
is also useful when the thermal signa-
Figure 7-3. Thermal trending is used for
tures that detect failure often develop inspecting high-temperature equipment
slowly over time. For example, thermal where normal thermal signatures, such as
trending can be used when monitoring this torpedo car (filled with molten metal),
the performance of a refractory (high- can be complex, and may only indicate
temperature) insulation in a specialty insulation failure over time.
60  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

Palettes
Palettes
A palette is a color scheme used to display the thermal variations and patterns in a
thermal image. Whether inspecting or analyzing, the objective is to select the palette
that best identifies and communicates the problem. Ideally, a thermal imager that
allows the user to select or change the desired palette both in the camera and in the
software should be chosen. For example, certain applications may be better viewed
and analyzed in a monochromatic palette such as grayscale or amber. Other situations
may be easier to analyze and explain in a color palette such as ironbow, blue-red,
or one with a high contrast. A wide selection of available color palettes allows the
thermographer greater flexibility in thermal inspection, analysis, and reporting.

AMBER HOT METAL

BLUE-RED IRONBOW

GRAYSCALE HIGH-CONTRAST
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

ANALYSIS, REPORTING,
AND DOCUMENTATION
I n addition to being able to properly handle and use a thermal imager, a
thermographer’s job is to analyze, report, and document the results of the
equipment they inspect. Special analysis tools are available to properly complete
these tasks.
INSPECTION ANALYSIS communicated in the form of a written
report. Part of the reporting process may
Thermography is highly dependent on
require educating the customer about the
the ability of a thermographer to conduct
inherent limitations of thermal imaging
an inspection correctly, understand the
technology and the value of thermal
limitations of the work, record all relevant
inspections. In the end, the report often
data, and properly interpret the results. The
results in prescribed actions to correct
variables encountered by a thermographer
all problems revealed during the thermal
can be varied and numerous. As a result,
inspection.
thermographers must be properly trained and
A thermographer typically also
qualified to perform thermal inspections.
provides additional information including
Thermographers can be certified as
the location of the problem, diagnosis,
Level I, Level II, or Level III with Level I
and suggested corrective actions. A
being the lowest level of certification and
thermographer provides key information
Level III the highest level. Under the
from a thermal inspection that must be
implementation of a formal thermography
merged with additional information from
program, a certified Level I thermographer
other inspections or tests, maintenance or
is qualified to collect data but must work
repair scheduling, and cost analysis before
under the supervision of a certified Level
a successful conclusion is achieved.
II thermographer. Level II thermographers
Therefore, good communication skills are
are qualified to interpret data and write
as essential as good technical skills.
reports. A formal thermography program
Reports can come in many styles and
must have written inspection procedures,
include a variety of data. However, a report
typically based on industry standards and
should include the following information:
developed with the support of a certified
Level III thermographer. • Name of thermographer
• Make, model, and serial number of
thermal imager
REPORTING AND
• Relevant ambient environmental
DOCUMENTATION conditions, such as wind speed, wind
After thermal data is correctly evaluated, direction, precipitation, humidity, and
the results may be required to be clearly ambient air temperature

61
62  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

• System conditions, such as load and keeping track of individual problems in


duty cycle a more categorized and specific manner.
• Identification and location of equipment For example, information related to issues
and components inspected or tested with a specific brand of equipment or
• List of critical equipment not inspected a certain process can be identified and
or tested along with explanations for stored. Later it can be retrieved and the
the omission issues identified as common to certain
equipment to aid future users.
• Instrument parameter settings, such as
emissivity and background settings In addition to properly handling and
using a thermal imager, a successful
• Thermal images and matching thermographer must be able to analyze
visual images of all equipment and
and document the results through proper
components inspected or tested
reporting. This ability is necessary in
• A section that requests a follow-up order to develop and maintain a good
infrared image to document equipment reputation of high-quality, consistent
repair work. Reporting provides the best possible
Documentation must also be displayed post-inspection recommendations.
in a manner that does not clutter the report
but rather supports the presentation of
essential information in a clear and efficient Thermal Reporting
manner. The best thermal inspection and Documentation
reports have a natural flow of data to
support the thermal and visual images.
See Figure 8-1.
Having access to a collection of several
different report templates can be useful.
For example, a simple report template can
be used for documentation of successful
repairs on equipment that was thermally
inspected or tested. Specialized report VISUAL IMAGE
templates can be used for particular
categories of thermal inspection.
Whenever a thermography report
is processed, additional copies of each
report should be given to key personnel as
required. Copies can be either a hard copy
format or in electronic form. Electronic
reports should be saved and locked (such
as a PDF format) before sending them out THERMAL IMAGE
to prevent tampering with the inspection Figure 8-1. Thermal inspection reports
and test analysis. typically include thermal images and
Additional value from thermal tests matching visual images for reference
and inspections can often be gained by purposes.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

THERMOGRAPHY RESOURCES

R esources can be used to gain additional information on thermography and


thermal imagers such as equipment updates, safety concerns, training
seminars, educational tools, and standards and professional organizations. These
resources are available in electronic or printed formats.

RESOURCES Because of the development of new


information, the application of thermogra-
A considerable amount of relevant
phy has increased rapidly in the past few
information concerning thermography
years. Please be aware that some informa-
and thermal imagers is available to most
tion related to thermography, especially
prospective users through various types
that being published on the worldwide
of resources. In industrial-commercial
web, may not be accurate or factual. It is
and building diagnostics applications, the
strongly suggested to learn the basics from
technology has been available for more
sources such as this publication and those
than 40 years. However, many profes-
listed below. It is also recommended to
sionals, such as maintenance technicians
read critically to learn more from unknown
and electricians, are in the early stages of
sources. Resources include standards, on-
learning about the technology and benefits
line resources, books and printed materials,
of thermography and thermal imagers.
and professional organizations.
Standards
A standard is an accepted reference or
practice developed by industry profession-
als. Standards provide a set of acceptable
criteria to which work can be performed.
While compliance with an industry stan-
dard can be voluntary, it is good practice
to comply with approved, recognized
standards. Standards are created from the
input of various industry experts and are
available through various organizations.
See Figure 9-1. They can be a valuable
resource in providing specific, detailed
Resources include written material from information on various aspects of ther-
various standards organizations. mography.

63
64  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

On-line Resources organization provides new opportuni-


An on-line resource is a resource that is ties and aids in gaining knowledge
available to users only through an Inter- about thermography processes and the
latest equipment and testing/inspection
net connection. These resources provide
techniques.
a variety of instructional resources for
students, thermographers, and techni- Standards Organizations
cians. Supplemental information is
American Society for Nondestructive
typically available from equipment Testing (ASNT)
manufacturers, standards organizations, 1711 Arlingate Lane www.asnt.org
learning materials, and professional PO Box 28518
Columbus, OH 43228
organizations. For example, an on- 614-274-6003
line resource can include a live forum
ASTM International (ASTM)
where experienced representatives from
100 Barr Harbor Drive www.astm.org
equipment manufacturers can “chat” PO Box C700
with equipment users for the purpose of West Conshohocken, PA 19428
troubleshooting or providing equipment 610-832-9598

recommendations. Canadian Standards Association (CSA)


5060 Spectrum Way www.csa.ca
Suite 100
Books and Printed Materials Mississauga, ON L4W 5N6

Books and printed materials are sources Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE)
on hard copy that can be used as techni-
1828 L Street NW www.ieee.org
cal references. They serve to increase the Suite 1202
knowledge of any individual who uses Washington, DC 20036
thermography and infrared technology 202-785-0017
for testing and inspection purposes. International Electrotechnical
Commission (IEC)
There are several books and printed
materials available. 3, rue de Varembe′ www.iec.ch
PO Box 131
CH-121 Geneva 20
Switzerland
Professional Organizations
International Organization for
A professional organization is an or- Standardization (ISO)
ganization that provides information 1, ch. de la Voie-Creuse www.iso.org
and education regarding thermography Case postale 56
CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
through publications, training events, +41 22 749 01 11
and participation in local chapters. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Thermographers and technicians are
1 Batterymarch Park www.nfpa.org
encouraged to join and participate in Quincy, MA 02169
various professional organizations. 617-770-3000
Such membership helps individuals to Figure 9-1. Standards are accepted
maintain an awareness of the latest in references or practices developed by
technology, trends, and changes in the industry professionals and are available
industry. Participation in a professional through various organizations.
Introduction to
Thermography Principles

OTHER RELATED TECHNOLOGIES

I n addition to thermography, other related technology and methods for analysis


are used to inspect and troubleshoot commercial and industrial equipment and
components. These methods include visual and auditory inspection, electrical
analysis, ultrasonic analysis, vibration analysis, lubricating oil analysis, and wear
particle analysis. They can be used alone to troubleshoot equipment or following
the use of thermal imagers to verify the test results obtained.

Visual and Auditory Visual And Auditory Inspection


Inspection
Visual and auditory inspection is the
analysis of the appearance of problems
and sounds of operating equipment to
determine components that may need
maintenance procedures or repair work
performed. See Figure 10-1. Visual
and auditory inspection is the simplest
PdM procedure performed in a facility
and requires no tools or equipment. It is Figure 10-1. Maintenance technicians
most effective where a potential problem routinely check the appearance and sounds
is obvious to the trained maintenance of operating equipment by conducting
technician. Extraordinary operating char- visual and auditory inspections.
acteristics are noted and the equipment is
scheduled for the required maintenance. Electrical Analysis
Visual inspection can be supple- Electrical analysis is a method of analysis
mented with processes such as dye- that uses electrical monitoring equipment
penetrant testing to locate fine, surface to evaluate the quality of electrical power
metal fractures. The metal is com- delivered to equipment and the performance
pletely cleaned and sprayed with dye of electrical equipment. See Figure 10-
that collects in small fractures or pits on 2. Electrical monitoring equipment can
the surface of the metal. Excess dye is be installed to measure minimum and
removed to reveal small cracks or pits maximum voltages, phase-to-phase voltage
below the surface. variation, loss of voltage, and current levels.

65
66  INTRODUCTION TO THERMOGRAPHY PRINCIPLES

It can also assess the quality of power tems, and friction in bearings, as well as
being supplied to sensitive electronic many other equipment problems.
equipment.
Vibration Analysis
Electrical Analysis Vibration analysis is the monitoring of
individual component vibration charac-
teristics to determine the condition of the
equipment. Worn parts frequently cause
equipment failure. They also produce
increased vibration or noise that can be
isolated. Vibration analysis is the most
common form of monitoring technique
that is used on rotating equipment.

Figure 10-2. Electrical analysis uses


Lubricating Oil Analysis
electrical monitoring equipment to Lubricating oil analysis is a predictive
evaluate the quality of power delivered maintenance technique that detects the
to equipment. presence of acid, dirt, fuel, or wear parti-
cles in lubricating oil and examines those
One of the most common applications substances to predict equipment failure.
of electrical analysis is used for electric Lubricating oil analysis is performed on a
motors and circuits. Motor circuit analysis scheduled basis. A sample of oil is taken
(MCA) is a type of electrical analysis for from a machine to determine the condi-
motors and circuits that can be conducted tion of the lubricant and moving parts.
either on-line (energized) or off-line (de- Samples are usually sent to a company
energized). Both testing methods provide specializing in lubricating oil analysis.
early detection of defects or faults in the
electrical distribution of motors, motor WEAR PARTICLE ANALYSIS
circuits, and motor drive trains.
Wear particle analysis is the examination
of wear particles present in lubricating oil.
AIRBORNE ULTRASOUND
While lubricating oil analysis focuses on
DETECTION the condition of the lubricating oil, wear
Airborne ultrasound detection is a method particle analysis concentrates on the size,
of equipment analysis that amplifies frequency, shape, and composition of
high-frequency sound to identify possible the particles produced from worn parts.
equipment problems. A sensitive listening The equipment condition is assessed by
device converts these sounds, which are monitoring wear particles. Normal wear
normally out of the range of hearing, to occurs as equipment parts are routinely
signals that can be perceived by humans. in contact with each other. An increase in
These signals can indicate, among other the frequency and size of wear particles
things, the abnormal heating of electrical in the lubricating oil indicates a worn part
connections, leaks in air and steam sys- or predicts possible failure.
fold line
Thermography Contacts Professional Organizations
Fluke Thermography InterNational Electrical Testing
Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI) Association (NETA)
33 Church Street www.affordablecomfort.org 3050 Old Centre Avenue www.netaworld.org
Suite 204 Suite 102
Waynesburg, PA 15370 Portage, MI 49024
724-627-5200 269-488-6382
6920 Seaway Blvd Tel: +1-800-760-4523 Email: thermography@fluke.com International Union of Operating Engineers
American Institute of Architects (AIA) (IUOE)
PO Box 9090 (toll-free in the US http://www.fluke.com/thermography
Everett, WA 98203 and Canada) 1735 New York Avenue, NW www.aia.org 1125 17th Street, NW www.iuoe.org
Other regions: +1-425-446-4620 Washington, DC 20006 Washington, DC 20036
202-626-7300 202-429-9100
Fluke Corporation, established in 1948, is the world leader and innovator in the design,
manufacture, distribution, and service of thermal imagers and other electronic test and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, The Society of Maintenance & Reliability
measurement tools and software. and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Professionals (SMRP)
(ASHRAE)
The Snell Group 1791 Tullie Circle, NE www.ashrae.org 8400 Westpark Drive, 2nd Floor www.smrp.org
Atlanta, GA 30329 McLean, VA 22102
404-636-8400 703-245-8011

Association of Facilities Engineering (AFE) National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

P.O. Box 6 Tel: +1-802-229-9820 Email: fluketraining@thesnellgroup.com 12100 Sunset Hills Road www.afe.org 1 Batterymarch Park www.nfpa.org
Suite 130 Quincy, MA 02169
Montpelier, VT 05601 Fax: +1-802-223-0460 http://www.thesnellgroup.com Reston, VA 20190 617-770-3000
+1-800-636-9820 (toll-free 703-234-4066
in the US and Canada)
The Snell Group is the world’s leading expert on using infrared thermography (IR) and motor
circuit analysis (MCA). The Snell Group offers training, certification, inspection, and consulting Thermography Publications
services for IR and MCA professionals and their programs worldwide.
Title: Nondestructive Testing Handbook, Third Edition, Vol. 3, Infrared and Thermal Testing
American Technical Publishers, Inc. Author: Xavier Maldague and Patrick Moore
Publisher: ASNT, © 2001
Softcover, 732 pages
Title: Proceedings of Thermal Solutions ® Conference, Volumes 1998–2008
10100 Orland Parkway Tel: +1-800-323-3471 Email: service@americantech.net Author: Various Industry Experts
Suite 200 (toll-free in the US http://www.go2atp.com
Orland Park, IL 60467 and Canada) Publisher: The Snell Group © 2008
Softcover or CD-ROM
Since 1898, ATP has been the leader in quality training materials for career and technical
education and industrial and apprenticeship programs. We are vitally interested in quality training
materials for today's students and workers. The primary purpose of our learning materials is to On-Line Resources
provide trade information to help build the skills required for employment and advancement in
a trade. www.IRTalk.com
Created by the Snell Group to serve the needs of practicing thermographers who are interested
in learning more about infrared technology. Includes four separate forums (Applications,
IR Classroom, Equipment Talk, and Classifieds) to address those needs. Registration is required
to post messages.
www.flukecommunity.com
Sponsored by the Fluke Corporation, allows test- and measurement-tool users and professionals
from all over the world to interact and share knowledge. Topics include thermography,
maintenance and troubleshooting, predictive maintenance, power quality and harmonics,
motors and drives, safety, power distribution systems, and a wide range of other information
about specific applications and test tools. Registration is required to post messages.
www.ATPeResources.com
Created by American Technical Publishers, the web site provides a variety of instructional
resources on topics such as boilers, building and electrical trades, drafting, and math. Registration
is required to post messages.
www.thesnellgroup.com
The Snell Group provides training and consulting services for infrared thermography. The
web site lists their courses and distance learning opportunities as well as a number of other
resources including newsletters, white papers, and information about their annual conference.
fold line
fold line
Thermography Contacts Professional Organizations
Fluke Thermography InterNational Electrical Testing
Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI) Association (NETA)
33 Church Street www.affordablecomfort.org 3050 Old Centre Avenue www.netaworld.org
Suite 204 Suite 102
Waynesburg, PA 15370 Portage, MI 49024
724-627-5200 269-488-6382
6920 Seaway Blvd Tel: +1-800-760-4523 Email: thermography@fluke.com International Union of Operating Engineers
American Institute of Architects (AIA) (IUOE)
PO Box 9090 (toll-free in the US http://www.fluke.com/thermography
Everett, WA 98203 and Canada) 1735 New York Avenue, NW www.aia.org 1125 17th Street, NW www.iuoe.org
Other regions: +1-425-446-4620 Washington, DC 20006 Washington, DC 20036
202-626-7300 202-429-9100
Fluke Corporation, established in 1948, is the world leader and innovator in the design,
manufacture, distribution, and service of thermal imagers and other electronic test and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, The Society of Maintenance & Reliability
measurement tools and software. and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Professionals (SMRP)
(ASHRAE)
The Snell Group 1791 Tullie Circle, NE www.ashrae.org 8400 Westpark Drive, 2nd Floor www.smrp.org
Atlanta, GA 30329 McLean, VA 22102
404-636-8400 703-245-8011

Association of Facilities Engineering (AFE) National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

P.O. Box 6 Tel: +1-802-229-9820 Email: fluketraining@thesnellgroup.com 12100 Sunset Hills Road www.afe.org 1 Batterymarch Park www.nfpa.org
Suite 130 Quincy, MA 02169
Montpelier, VT 05601 Fax: +1-802-223-0460 http://www.thesnellgroup.com Reston, VA 20190 617-770-3000
+1-800-636-9820 (toll-free 703-234-4066
in the US and Canada)
The Snell Group is the world’s leading expert on using infrared thermography (IR) and motor
circuit analysis (MCA). The Snell Group offers training, certification, inspection, and consulting Thermography Publications
services for IR and MCA professionals and their programs worldwide.
Title: Nondestructive Testing Handbook, Third Edition, Vol. 3, Infrared and Thermal Testing
American Technical Publishers, Inc. Author: Xavier Maldague and Patrick Moore
Publisher: ASNT, © 2001
Softcover, 732 pages
Title: Proceedings of Thermal Solutions ® Conference, Volumes 1998–2008
10100 Orland Parkway Tel: +1-800-323-3471 Email: service@americantech.net Author: Various Industry Experts
Suite 200 (toll-free in the US http://www.go2atp.com
Orland Park, IL 60467 and Canada) Publisher: The Snell Group © 2008
Softcover or CD-ROM
Since 1898, ATP has been the leader in quality training materials for career and technical
education and industrial and apprenticeship programs. We are vitally interested in quality training
materials for today's students and workers. The primary purpose of our learning materials is to On-Line Resources
provide trade information to help build the skills required for employment and advancement in
a trade. www.IRTalk.com
Created by the Snell Group to serve the needs of practicing thermographers who are interested
in learning more about infrared technology. Includes four separate forums (Applications,
IR Classroom, Equipment Talk, and Classifieds) to address those needs. Registration is required
to post messages.
www.flukecommunity.com
Sponsored by the Fluke Corporation, allows test- and measurement-tool users and professionals
from all over the world to interact and share knowledge. Topics include thermography,
maintenance and troubleshooting, predictive maintenance, power quality and harmonics,
motors and drives, safety, power distribution systems, and a wide range of other information
about specific applications and test tools. Registration is required to post messages.
www.ATPeResources.com
Created by American Technical Publishers, the web site provides a variety of instructional
resources on topics such as boilers, building and electrical trades, drafting, and math. Registration
is required to post messages.
www.thesnellgroup.com
The Snell Group provides training and consulting services for infrared thermography. The
web site lists their courses and distance learning opportunities as well as a number of other
resources including newsletters, white papers, and information about their annual conference.
fold line
This content is excerpted from the publication, Introduction to Thermography Principles.

© 2009 by American Technical Publishers, Inc., Fluke Corporation, and The Snell Group