Benefits Of Using Infrared Thermography For Commercial Electrical Maintenance

The Benefits of Infrared Scanning for Electrical Maintenance

Electrical and mechanical systems can run into problems without warning. However, equipment failure is frequently preceded by a considerable period of increased heat in the various components of the system. If the increasing heat is detected in good time, the condition can be corrected before the electrical equipment fails. Infrared thermography is a powerful maintenance tool that can identify areas that are abnormally hot or cool. There are some benefits of using the technology to inspect electrical problems.

The inspection can detect several conditions:

Infrared thermography can detect several conditions that may undermine the operational efficiency of your systems. Some of the conditions include overloads, loose connections, inductive heating, open circuits, harmonics, unbalanced loads and defective equipment.


With the high speed at which complex industrial processes run, sudden failure may create hazardous conditions. This could include flying debris that may hurt your workers. By detecting electrical problems in good time, the tool helps to avoid fires caused by overloaded circuits or faulty wiring.

Financial savings

Inspections using infrared thermography will help in detecting problems and allow for repairs. This will mean fewer downtimes, a factor that will, in turn, result in fewer interruptions. When equipment is fixed in good time, productivity will increase, and you will realize significant financial savings.


In most cases, quality is a result of processes that run reliably and consistently. When you can deal with electrical problems, all your systems will operate optimally. This will allow you to deliver quality products, a factor that will not only earn you trust but also boost your business.

Lower insurance premiums

When your business experiences fewer interruptions, you will reduce losses and improve your cash flow. In case you have commercial insurance that protects against interruptions, you will pay lower premiums for the coverage. Compared to manual inspections, infrared thermography will not require you to interrupt services during the inspection. The toll will inspect electrical problems while systems are running. This will help to improve your profits.

How infrared works

The test firm uses either black-and-white thermal scanners, which require liquid-nitrogen cooling, or a modern, multicomponent color thermal-camera system. The color camera in this system is self-cooled, eliminating the need to transport liquid nitrogen.

The principle of operation is that operating electrical equipment gives off heat. This heat can be detected by the thermal camera and viewed and interpreted by an operator. The temperature of the scanned object can be calibrated in black-and-white or in color. Immediate action can be taken to correct the problem, or a picture called a thermogram can be taken and recorded for future reference.

Basic components of the color system are the thermal-sensing camera and a portable, rechargeable battery pack. With just these two components, effective real-time detection of hot-spots can easily be done.

Northeast Testing, however, makes use of several additional components to obtain fast, reliable data. These items are a camcorder/monitor, 3 1/2-in. computer disk system built into the thermal camera, rolling camera support, personal computer, color printer, customized software, and sometimes a VCR.

The thermal camera with built-in disk drive, camcorder/monitor, and battery supply is mounted on a rolling table. This unit is used (the camera can be handheld when desired) in the field when thermal scanning equipment.

The thermal camera has multiple function controls but is easy to operate. Control buttons include freeze-frame, store to disc, temperature level set, and four buttons for sensitivity level adjust: rough and vernier, cross-hair adjust, manual focus, date, time, etc.

Switchgear Thermography

A great deal of investment is presently being made installation of thermal viewing ports for switchgear. These ports allow infrared inspections to carry out without removing switchgear covers, thus it would avoid worker arc-flash exposure. Installation of permanent infrared sensors and continuous infrared monitors are also reasonable methods for recognizing potential thermal failures of critical equipment. The principle of outdoor switchgear assemblies is often compromised by defective strip heaters. The strip heaters increase the switchgear temperature slightly above ambient to prevent condensation during daily or seasonal temperature changes. Functionality of these strips heaters and their effectiveness to carry out this duty can decide by carrying out thermal imaging of the switchgear enclosures. In other words, and once again, absence of heating identifies a potential problem.

Benefits of Thermography Survey

A major insurance carrier estimates that nearly 25 percent of all electrical failures attributed to faulty electrical connections. Therefore, many insurance firms are the driving force behind requiring facilities to conduct annual infrared surveys. Infrared technology has evolved into one of the most effective technologies for preventing failures and added benefit of not requiring an outage to carry out, as it can done on raw. Several further benefits of infrared technology listed below:

Hot spots such as loose connections and bad contacts.

  • Under-rated cables overheating under existing demand.
  • Unbalanced loads.
  • Stressed earth leakage units, circuit breakers, conductors and other electrical elements.

Infrared Electrical Inspection Services

Detect system overloads, loose defective components and damaged switchgear. Infrared electrical testing finds hot, dangerous problems quickly.

Infrared electrical inspections find hot spots caused by defects in connections and components. Infrared thermography is used to find areas of excess heat (caused by increased resistance) so that problems can be corrected before a component fails, causing damage to the component, creating safety hazards and productivity loss.

Because increased heating is a sign of failure, infrared is the best diagnostic tool available for finding these hot connections in the early stages of degeneration. This is why your insurance company may have asked for an electrical infrared inspection, to find and prevent problems before they cause damage to your personnel, equipment and facility.

Conditions Detectable by an Infrared Inspection

  • Loose/deteriorated connections
  • Overloads
  • Open circuits
  • Unbalanced loads
  • Inductive heating
  • Harmonics
  • Defective equipment

How Night Vision Works

Here’s how thermal imaging works:

  1. A special lens focuses the infrared light emitted by all of the objects in view.
  2. The focused light is scanned by a phased array of infrared-detector elements. The detector elements create a very detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirtieth of a second for the detector array to obtain the temperature information to make the thermogram. This information is obtained from several thousand points in the field of view of the detector array.
  3. The thermogram created by the detector elements is translated into electric impulses.
  4. The impulses are sent to a signal-processing unit, a circuit board with a dedicated chip that translates the information from the elements into data for the display.
  5. The signal-processing unit sends the information to the display, where it appears as various colors depending on the intensity of the infrared emission. The combination of all the impulses from all of the elements creates the image.