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Teaser Infrared Image - The Answer

Any idea what kind of show we were talking about for this week’s image?

Infrared Image

Visible Light Image

Infrared Image - Rice

Visible Light Image - Rice

Answer: This is an infrared image of rice being cooked on a teppan grill… Teppanyaki-style, of course. There is nothing quite like flying utensils and hot food prepared right in front of you to make the evening interesting!

Upcoming Webinar on 6/01: Mastering Infrared Thermography

Please join us TOMORROW for Efficiency First’s Webinar!

Mastering Infrared Thermography: Tools & Techniques
Wednesday, June 1st @ 12:30 pm EST

This webinar presents infrared imaging features important for assessing residential buildings and will show you:

  • The important features of imaging equipment
  • How to use the technology throughout the year
  • How to identify the conditions required for successful thermal imaging of residential buildings
  • How the technology is used to locate problems with insulation and air leakage in residential buildings
Michael Stuart: Fluke, Senior Product Marketing Manager
John Snell: The Snell Group
Tom O‘Toole: FLIR, Business Development Manager

To register:
For more details or to register for this event, please click here.

Teaser Infrared Image - What is it?

It’s all part of the show!

Infrared Image

Infrared Image

Any idea what this week’s image is?  If so, leave your guess in the comment section, and check back on Thursday for the answer!

Teaser Infrared Image - The Answer

The answer for this week’s image wasn’t in plain sight.  See how thermal imaging is used to give drivers a clear view.

Infrared Image

Infrared Image

Visible Light Image

Visible Light Image

The Answer: This is an infrared image of an electrically-powered rear window defroster in an automobile.  Many manufacturers actually utilize thermal imaging to ensure that all of the lines are properly, and evenly heating the glass.

Three Causes for IR Skepticism

In my nearly 30 years in this industry, I’ve seen lots of fads and gimmicks come and go.

All too often these fads seem to be the creations of over-zealous marketing departments who don’t have the practical scientific understanding to know how the technology is really used.

For example, the recent introduction of an imaging system (by a company that competes with Fluke, just to be transparent!) that “talks to” the Apple iPad may be in this category. Or is it just the forward march of technological progress that actually makes life easier?  Ultimately, only time and us practicing thermographers will be able to tell!

While most aerial infrared has little value for understanding the energy use of a building, streetscape thermography can have value. Still, understanding the root cause of a variation in temperature requires more than a gimmick or a “drive by.”

However, there are 3 “bone-headed” ideas that I find much more disturbing.  Here are the top 3 gimmicks to watch out for:

Aerial Infrared
There is a resurgence of aerial infrared being used for home energy auditing. These techniques did not work in the 1970s and 80s and they still don’t work today.  But that has not stopped us from spending millions on these kinds of projects, Boston being the most notable of late (read full Boston aerial infrared article here). Interestingly enough, this project may get derailed by more bad science as some citizens are worried it could result in “seeing into their homes”!

Thermal Images from Street Level
Back into vogue are thermal images of buildings done from street level. This is made even more popular by Google’s visual version. While street thermography is still of limited value, it can at least provide some useful data about the front of the home or building.

Truthfully, both aerial and street thermography might be useful tools to market energy efficiency, but the risk of charlatans is great. In the end, thermographers must get inside the home to really understand what is going on. Anything less than that will not yield information that can produce significant energy savings.

Image Subtraction
Lastly, another monster back from the thermal graveyard is “image subtraction,” this time to find air leakage. The technique involves subtracting each data point of the current image from each data point of a previous one. If alignment is perfect, this is a brilliant way to see changes in the data. It has been used extensively in materials evaluation as well as machine analysis.

You don’t need image subtraction or other gimmicks to locate air leakage. There is not quick fix or shortcut! What is needed are good techniques, an understanding of building dynamics, a blower door and an infrared imaging system.

Recently, I heard it was being heavily promoted as “the only way to see air leakage in buildings”. Not only is this NOT true—air leakage is often very easy to see and understand with depressurization—but the technique limits us significantly by necessitating the use of a tripod. I’ve looked at thousands of buildings and, when I really need one, I will certainly pack a tripod. Unlike the academics who are promoting this silliness, however, I have to be practical and thus use a tripod only when really necessary.  Using frame averaging for long telephoto shots or when taking images over a period of time are good examples. Using image subtraction for locating air leakage is just crazy!


In the end I have to always ask myself “what really works?” It is clearly not marketing fluff! The real answer remains unchanged:

  • A good quality imager appropriate to the task
  • Basic training and experience, and
  • An inquisitive mind

I hope these odds and ends have helped develop your inquisitive (and hopefully slightly skeptical) mind—the best tool any of us can have!

Thinking Thermally,
John Snell—The Snell Group, a
Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

Teaser Infrared Image - What is it?

“A clear view of why you can get a clear view.”

Infrared Image

Leave your answer in the comment section, and check back on Thursday for the answer!

The Fluke CashPAK Rebate Offer is BACK - Offer Extended Until May 31, 2011

**Fluke has extended their CashPAK promotion until May 31, 2011 – Get Up to $1,500 Cash Back with your Thermal Imaging Purchase!**

The offer is simple.  If you have been thinking about buying a new Ti32 or TiR32 thermal imager, all you have to do is fill out the Fluke CashPAK Rebate Form with your purchase to take advantage of this incredible offer.  And the good news is, the form takes less than 2 minutes (seriously – we timed ourselves).

So what can you do with the extra $1,500 dollars?

Well, the choice is yours. The Fluke CashPAK promo gives you a choice between cash rebates and/or gift opportunities worth up to thousands of dollars, on purchases of a Ti32 or TiR32 thermal imager.  But hurry, because this deal is only valid between now and May 31, 2011.

We’re excited to offer more than just our thermal imager in your purchase, so don’t let this offer pass you by! Learn more about the terms and conditions for this limited-time offer by visiting the Fluke CashPAK Offer site—or if you’re ready to roll, see below for direct access to the rebate form and offer overview in PDF format.

Fluke CashPAK Offers Overview

Fluke CashPAK Rebate Form

Teaser Infrared Image - The Answer

This week’s image didn’t have you searching up and down for the answer, but take note of what specific area we were focusing on below:

Infrared Image

Visible Light Image

Answer: This is an infrared image of the moving rubber railing on a modern escalator. A second escalator can be seen in the background.

IR Odds & Ends

I seem to have accumulated a short list of items each of which is too small to be a week’s posting by themselves, but all of which I wanted to share with you—thus the title of this week’s posting!

First: A follow-up to let you know that the ice on Joe’s Pond here in Vermont finally did melt!  The ice actually went out on April 27 at 10:17 pm. The earliest it has ever gone out was last year, 2010, when it went out on April 5, and the latest it has ever gone out was in 1992 on May 6. The record snowfall we had this winter (snow reflects the heat of full spectrum sunshine) along with a cold spring proved the difference for the slow melting. Now the question is, when can I jump in the pond—an issue mainly of capacitance but also bravery!

Second: Below are two books I’d like to recommend to you for your summer reading, both remarkably well-written to provide excellent ways to round out your thermal education:

Matter of Degrees: What Temperature Reveals about the Past and Future of Our Species, Planet, and Universe, by Gino Segre (out of print but still available used)

Summer World: A Season of Bounty, by Bernd Heinrich

Many creatures have the ability to regulate their body temperature. Ravens do this by controlling blood flow to their feet and heat. I took this image, part of a project I did with noted author and scientist, Bernd Heinrich, which shows the bird ridding itself of heat after a period of intense flight. After a few minutes, the feet cooled to the point where they blended in with the ambient surroundings!

Both books deal extensively with various, mostly applied, aspects of temperature in ways that include the human experience rather than just physics. The real bonus, however, is that both books are so finely written that they are a pleasure to read. While your friends and family are reading the latest pulp on the Times Bestseller List, you’ll be reading something that will really entertain—and inform! Although I’ve highlighted these two books, I’d also recommend any of the other books written by either author.

Third: Here is a collection of thermal thoughts from the garden.

Thought #1: We joke that Vermont has two seasons, 9 months of winter and 3 months of damned poor sleddin’. We’ve reached that point in the year where we trade the sleds in for our garden forks. A garden to be proud of depends both on sunlight and soil that has warmed up to an optimum temperature. Obviously this changes from season to season and, yes, conditions can get too warm as summer progresses. The sun’s radiation warms only the surface of the soil, but it is conductive heat transfer to the sub-surface soil temperature that is really important both for seed germination and plant growth. Many websites now update changes in average soil temperatures, but in the end, we have to pay attention to local conditions or even the microclimate of our particular “pea patch.”

Thought #2: As the sun lifts higher in the sky and stays up longer (here in the Northern Hemisphere), we see the affects of solar warming in many ways. No sooner do plants leaf out, the bugs arrive. Along with the bugs, the insect eating birds and bats creep out. Bees, too, are thermal creatures, needing to warm up their flight muscles before foraging for nectar—and the hive is a carefully managed thermal environment. When it is cold,  the bees cluster together to reduce heat loss and, when it is hot, they set up an elaborate forced convection system to move air through the hive using the power of the wings of hundreds or thousands of worker bees!

The warmer area on this bee box correlates with the location of the hive inside. Staying together in cooler weather helps the bees reduce heat transfer and maintain a temperature required for survival.

Thought #3: If you want to be a thermal pioneer, there is a great deal to be done looking at plants using thermal imagery. We know that a healthy plant, compared to one that is stressed, will be cooler because evapotranspiration is directly associated with plant health. Some work has been done to document “pre-wilt” conditions in crops such as grapes and citrus. But before we can visibly see a plant wilt and know we should provide water to it, there is often a subtle change in temperature. By the time many plants actually wilt, a great deal of damage has already been done.

The beads of water this Lady’s Mantle leaf have exuded, a process called guttation, can easily be seen due to the cooling affect of the evaporation of the water.

Thought #4: Another interesting phenomenon in plants is “guttation”—or, the exuding of water from cells along the edge of the leaf during the night. If you look, it is common to see this on the leaves of various species, such as strawberries, tomatoes, Lady’s Mantle or Hostas, especially early in the morning after a clear night.

Thought #5: Like many gardeners, I have a compost pile. Unlike many gardeners who

The interior temperature of a well-built compost pile often exceeds 160oF (80oC) even if the outside of the pile is much cooler.

just toss their “kitchen wastes” onto a frozen pile, however, I collect mine in sheetrock buckets all winter and store them in an unheated garage. Layered with soil and kept cool, they don’t decay much and certainly don’t smell. Why do this? Because in the spring, I can use the buckets (12 this year) to build a “hot pile” that breaks down quickly into wonderful “black gold.” A well-built compost pile can reach internal temperatures of 160oF (80oC) or greater in less than a week.

Thought #6: Along similar lines, many kinds of organic materials that are piled (coal, hops, hay, etc.) generate heat, often to the point of spontaneously igniting. Thermal imaging is widely used to monitor these situations. Like my compost pile, however, the surface we see in the thermal image will be much cooler than the interior temperature.

Wherever you are this week (north of the equator at least), I hope you are enjoying Spring. It is a wonderful time to Think Thermally!

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

Teaser Infrared Image - What is it?

This week’s Teaser Infrared Image is a marvel in vertical transportation engineering!

Infrared Image

Leave your guess in the comment section, and check back on Thursday for the answer!