Thermal Scanning Electrical
electrical thermal imaging, Infared, Thermal, thermal imaging, thermal scanning, thermography,
April 29 , 2021
Thermal Scanning is the use of a thermal imager to detect heat energy, which can then be converted into a visible image (for more detail see What Is Thermal Scanning). One of the major applications for thermal imaging is to verify the health of electrical systems, leading to early detection of faults, even before the human eye can see them.
Why can thermal scanning be used on electrical systems?
Thermal scanning can be utilised on any electrical system as it creates heat energy as a waste byproduct, or sometimes even as the main purpose such as a heater! Both heat and electrical energy are measured in the same way; joules of energy or watts if we account for time. The amount of energy is directly proportional to the amount of voltage and current being used.
Thus, when we examine a 20 Amp fuse operating at more than 20 Amps of current with a thermal camera, we can see the elevated temperature when compared to other similar components. In this case the amount of current was verified by attaching a clamp meter and measured at 30 amps; indicating that either the fuse needs to be resized or the load rebalanced to ensure an optimal electrical configuration.
What benefits are there of getting thermal scanning completed on my electrical infrastructure?
As mentioned, thermal scanning is able to pick up issues before they become apparent to the naked eye. Some of these benefits include:
Thermal imaging can detect a range of different problems with electrical infrastructure which can range from the obvious overheating components to something as simple as loose and poorly terminated connections. Some of the major ones we encounter on a daily base include:
To help put into perspective how bad some of these faults can be even before failure, we have provided an image of one of the worst thermal faults we have ever found with a peak temperature above 500°C!
Even in the above photo (without feeling the heat), it would be extremely difficult to detect this fault without the use of thermal imaging, even though this component is about to fail and potentially catch fire!