Neil's News

Thermal Imaging

6 January 2017

It's been a rather chilly winter here in California and our heating system doesn't seem to be particularly effective at bringing the house to a comfortable temperature. We're leaking heat somewhere. The first step to solving a problem is to get data. So we rented a FLIR E6 camera from Home Depot. They cost around $2,500 to buy, but a one-day rental was only $75.

This gadget was a ton of fun to play with. All temperatures below are in Celsius. Mouse over or tap any of the images below to see the picture in visible light.

Obviously I started with a selfie. Glasses are opaque to infrared so they show up dark.

And my surprised looking wife when I arrived home with the camera.

Our daughter Beverly apparently likes to be spoon-fed lava.

Mirrors partially reflect infrared.

Beverly leaves a trail of warmth behind her as she crawls.

My hand print is clearly visible on a wood table long after I've removed my hand.

Can you guess which of these parked cars was recently driven?

Due to thermal capacitance, underground is warmer in winter and cooler in summer (when compared with the outside temperature).

A partially cloudy sky is dramatic in infrared. The emptiness of outer space registers as off-scale low, -40°.

A badge reader at Google glows warm from the RFID induction coil.

Ok, enough fun. Let's take a look at some issues in our house. The first surprise was that sockets with a ground fault interrupter glowed warm. Not an issue in winter, but in summer those are unwanted heat sources. Nothing we can really do about them though.

A more serious issue is that the metal studs in all the outside walls are plainly visible. Although the walls are insulated, the studs conduct heat efficiently. That's not good, but again, I don't think there's much we can do here.

The one known issue was a draft around the bottom of the front door. This will be easy to fix with new weather stripping.

But the most interesting finding was that although our double-paned windows insulate well, the aluminum frames are the worst offenders in the house. How do we solve this without replacing all our windows? I'm currently looking at adhesive foam tape.

If you want to see more thermal imaging, I recommend the Thermal Guys over on YouTube. They have cats.

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