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Thermal Imager Dmitry Kalinovsky Dreamstime Xxl 149567630

Using Thermal Imaging for Troubleshooting

July 14, 2020
This tool can help companies avoid catastrophic equipment damage and unplanned outages.

Thermal imaging has long been a tool used for electrical preventive maintenance. Properly used, this tool has saved companies from catastrophic equipment damage and unplanned outages.

A decade ago, the cost of thermal imaging equipment was too costly and inaccessible to electricians. In many cases, a specialized electrical contractor was hired to perform the preventive maintenance scan evaluations, providing a repair report to the client. As with most technologies, the more time that elapses results in a lower cost of equipment. Now there is a wide range of manufacturers making thermal imaging equipment. It is possible to even purchase a small camera to attach to a smartphone. Today, most electricians — especially those working in maintenance — have used thermal imaging cameras on the job.

What are some other uses for thermal imaging equipment? One of the best ways to alternately use this equipment is in the troubleshooting process.

Power quality anomalies are often identified as a problem for sensitive electrical equipment. This is not always the case, however, and it is important to keep an open mind during the troubleshooting process. Environmental factors such as heat, airborne contaminants, and moisture are often the prime cause of equipment damage and misoperation. Heat-related issues can be challenging to pinpoint without thermal imaging equipment. It is the best tool for the task and can reveal the problem quickly.

When using thermal imaging equipment, you must operate it per the manufacturer's instructions to get the best results. Many manufacturers provide free basic training on how to use their tools properly. Generally, thermography has a common basic set of knowledge to operate most thermal imaging equipment. Be aware that the wrong settings and improper use will give false readings — completely missing the problem.
About the Author

Bryan Glenn | Power Quality Consultant

Bryan Glenn is a power quality consultant for EC&M magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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