HIKMICRO: Saving energy with thermal imaging cameras

April 12, 2023

Energy prices went through the roof across Europe last year – and Germany was particularly hard hit due to its special dependence on Russian gas. Compared to 2021, import prices for natural gas quadrupled last year, data from the Federal Statistical Office show. And following an unfortunate logic, electricity prices have unfortunately immediately followed this dangerous development.

For both small and large businesses, flat owners, landlords and tenants, this exponential price development is currently a major problem. And even though politicians are trying to remedy the situation with various measures, it is unfortunately clear that electricity and gas will remain expensive for the foreseeable future – the time of cheap energy is definitely over. This makes the conscious, sustainable use of our energy resources all the more important. And this is where thermography with thermal imaging cameras can help, especially in the building sector, because it mercilessly reveals weak points in insulation, air leakages and leaks and shows exactly where heat is being lost. This article shows which thermal imaging camera is suitable for which application, and how each individual can now optimise their energy demand with thermography.

That it makes sense to minimise the energy demand of buildings and optimise their efficiency is now undisputed. But detecting missing or damaged insulation, leaking building envelopes, air leaks or penetrating moisture requires some know-how and, of course, the right tools – and these are, first and foremost, thermal imaging cameras.

Thermography in the building sector

The most important applications of thermography in the building sector are:

  • – Checking the efficiency of insulation, making energy losses visible
  • – Finding air leaks in windows and doors
  • – Finding thermal bridges (also called cold bridges)
  • – Checking the energy efficiency of buildings, building energy consulting
  • – Making hidden moisture in walls, ceilings and floors visible (leakage detection)
  • – Checking electrical installations, looking for “hot” connections and old, overheating fuses (important as fire prevention)
  • – Making the course of underfloor heating visible
  • – find leaks in water pipes and HVAC ducts
  • – Identify defective photovoltaic panels

Avoid heat loss, check insulation

If a building cannot retain heat efficiently in winter, it often causes huge heating costs. Conversely, energy losses can occur in summer when leaky buildings are inefficiently cooled down with air conditioning. Leaky windows, doors and faulty insulation can significantly increase energy demand. A thermal imaging camera helps to find the weak points and reduce costs. For examinations of the building’s outer shell, a thermal imaging camera should have the highest possible thermal imaging resolution. The G-series and SP-series models from HIKMICRO are very suitable for this. They also offer different interchangeable lenses for special tasks, e.g. a telephoto lens for objects further away or a wide-angle lens when only a short distance can be maintained to a larger object (such as a house) (e.g. in densely built-up inner city areas).

Thermal bridges or cold bridges?

A thermal bridge (often colloquially referred to as a cold bridge) is an area in components of a building that conducts heat better and thus transports it to the outside faster than it passes through the adjacent components. As a result, the corresponding component (e.g. a corner of a room) cools down more quickly and thus experiences a lower temperature than the surroundings. When the temperature falls below the dew point, the moisture contained in the room air condenses on the building component. Due to the increased material moisture this causes, mould, which is a health hazard, tends to form on thermal bridges, which is why it is so important to reliably identify such places with a thermal imaging camera.

Detect moisture, prevent mould growth

When the moisture level inside buildings is high, mould can develop, which can be extremely dangerous to health. In the autumn of 2022, the tragic death of a toddler near Manchester from black mould made the news. The walls of his family’s flat were mouldy – and instead of renovating, the flat owner merely had the mould painted over.

The reasons for mould can be manifold; a common cause is the condensation of humidity in places that are significantly colder than their surroundings. In such places, the temperature can fall below the so-called dew point. By “dew point” we mean the temperature at which the moisture bound in the room air condenses and settles on the surface of objects (like dew on a meadow in the morning). It is often poorly insulated, cold corners of buildings where such condensation effects occur – and mould then develops there, which is not only unsightly but can actually be life-threatening. A thermal imaging camera reveals these cold spots, especially if it has a dew point function. Depending on various variables (such as air temperature and humidity), the camera calculates at which threshold temperature unwanted condensation occurs – and uses a special optical alarm on the thermal image to show exactly where this is the case. HIKMICRO thermal imaging cameras for indoor inspections such as the B-Series, the Pocket-Series or the M-Series are suitable for such examinations.

Check electrical installation, eliminate fire hazards

The electrical installation in buildings should also be checked regularly with thermal imaging cameras in order to detect and eliminate fire hazards at an early stage. Hotspots in the electrical installation indicate problems. When cables corrode, heat is generated at the connection point under tension. A suitable thermal imaging camera such as the HIKMICRO E and B series, the Pocket series or the M series detects this – and thus helps to identify and eliminate fire hazards at an early stage.

New applications for thermal imaging cameras

The possible applications of building thermography are vast and are constantly growing with the degree of building automation. Whereas a few years ago thermal imaging cameras were mainly used to detect weaknesses in the insulation, thermal bridges, hidden moisture in the building fabric, mould hazards and problems in the electrical installation, today additional tasks are being added, such as the identification of inefficient photovoltaic modules or in the detection of the course of underfloor heating. For some areas of application, additional equipment and the use of a specialist company is necessary. For example, in the blower door test or differential pressure measurement procedure, the air pressure inside the building is changed, causing air to penetrate or escape through cracks and leaks. These spots are then made visible in the thermal image. And while a professional building energy consultation by a certified thermographer is of course always a good choice, today even a well-informed end consumer can find the first indications of problems with relatively simple means and noticeably optimise his energy consumption with intelligent countermeasures.

Conclusion

In times of expensive energy, thermography is the tool of choice to ensure energy efficiency and save money. For this, of course, you need the right thermal imaging camera and the know-how on how to fully exploit its potential. HIKMICRO offers the ideal cameras for this purpose: With their high resolutions and interchangeable lenses, the thermal imaging cameras of the G and SP series are suitable for examinations of the building’s outer shell, while the comparatively inexpensive models of the B series, the Pocket2 and the M series can be used for interior inspections. https://www.hikmicrotech.com/en/industrial.html

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