Thermography Explained

 In a Nut Shell

Infrared thermography is the technique that uses an infrared imaging and measurement camera to "measure" invisible infrared energy (heat) being emitted from an object. Infrared cameras are very sophisticated electronic devices that process the image (what it sees) and displays it on a video screen on the camera. The thermograher goes through a serious of measurements and steps before and after the capture of the image to ensure quality imaging and data collection. These images can be used for immediate diagnosed and is processed through specialized computer software for further evaluation, accuracy and report output (post production).

More Detailed Explanation

One of the most lasting misunderstandings (myths) concerning Infrared (IR) is not what it is but what itís not. IR is not a piece of x-ray equipment. You will see in the electromagnetic spectrum (below) that x-ray and infrared frequencies do not share the same part of the spectrum. Infrared (IR) equipment cannot see through wall but it certainly can tell you whatís happening on the inside of a wall, on the other side of a ceiling (attic) and a lot more in a structure. It can tell if there are hot spots in electrical equipment and much more for residential, commercial and industrial needs. The uses for IR are almost limitless and are dealt more specifically in the brochures that can be viewed and downloaded from this site. IR night imaging capabilities also get confused with those of night vision equipment. IR works on a different principle than night vision technology. IR can, and is, used for night time application. But night vision equipment needs light to operate. Night vision equipment amplifies very small amounts of light (thousands of times magnification) in the environment (example; the moon or star light) which allow a person to see at night. IR on the other hand needs no such sources of light and are unaffected by the light itself. The difference between night vision and IR is the same as night and day, and IR can work in both environments. IR works by detecting the heat energy radiating from an object. In other words it uses the energy of the object (heat) to get an image that then can be displayed on a screen (same as your digital camera) and recorded (saved in memory). As long as there is a heat or cold difference between an object under investigation and other objects in the environment, ATI will get the image. This image will give ATI a great deal of information about the object and its relationship with whatever is in the surrounding environment. What is happening in the environment around an object under investigation can be just as important, and in cases more so, than the information of the object itself (cause and effect). In most cases IR will be the only equipment that will be able to discover the problem (effect) and help determine the cause. Anyone can strap on a piece of night vision equipment and use it. The same cannot be said for IR equipment.

But how does it work?

Visible light is what we see around us every day and it is the only part of the spectrum that we can see. If we want to see whatís going on in other parts of the spectrum we need specialized equipments to perform the task. Visible light is a mixture of wavelengths and when we see an objects color (say red) it is only because that object has the ability to reflect more of the red part of the spectrum. So, different wavelengths are seen by the human eye as different colors. As a result we only see the colors of the rainbow (red to violet) within the visible light spectrum. Our eyes are very limited in what we see as far as the whole electromagnetic spectrum goes. We cannot see into the infrared spectrum no more than we can see all the radio waves that are bouncing all around us. Visible light only takes up a small area in the electromagnetic spectrum (frequencies of electromagnetic radiation) where IR represents a larger percentage. Below are all the frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. You will notice the area that represents visible light in relations to the infrared spectrum and the other spectrum.

Electromagnetic Spectrum


All objects absorb, reflect and, sometimes, transmit energy at different levels. Different material will give of heat or cold signatures (energy) at different rates, and itís this energy that can be detected by infrared equipment and displayed as images. These images (with the help of specialized equipment, software and training) are analyzed and a qualified (certified) thermographer will put these images into real world meaning and prospective. Infrared technologies is now being used everywhere in our sociality. Just about every day new application is being discovered for the uses of IR. As the technology progresses so will the uses for IR progress. IR is being used by deep space viewing equipment, satellites, heavy industry, medical research and applications, mechanical and electrical diagnostics, R&D, aerospace, petrochemical industry, generating application, building envelopes and structures, automotive, veterinary, quality control and processing, monitoring, environmental application, and much more. Donít be the last person to discover how IR can help you save money and live healthier.


Contact Advanced Thermal Imaging, Inc. today to find out how infrared thermal diagnostic services can help you save time, money and give you piece of mind. Donít settle for second best; get a certified thermographer for your structural diagnostics. Download our brochures for more information.

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