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The Three Types of Infrared Cameras




June 5, 2009 - Equipment Rental & Tools

This is Chris Matt, Associate Editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s tip is better understanding the different types of infrared cameras.

Among the most powerful tools technicians have for holding down energy costs and detecting potential problems – both large and small – are infrared cameras. Infrared cameras come in three basic types: short wavelength, mid-wavelength, and long wavelength.

Short-wavelength infrared cameras typically detect infrared wavelengths in the spectral range of 0.9 to 1.7 microns, which is very close to the visible light spectrum. This type of camera delivers very high resolution, relative to the visible light spectrum in its shadow contrast and detail.

Mid-wavelength cameras typically detect infrared wavelengths in the spectral range of 2 to 5 microns, and they deliver higher resolution with accurate readings. The images are not as detailed as those produced by long wavelength cameras, due to an increased amount of atmospheric absorption within this spectral range. Cameras in this range are used for extreme high-temperature readings, such as scanning boiler applications and ballasted, single-ply roofing systems.

Long-wavelength cameras — the most widely used infrared camera — typically detect infrared wavelengths in the range of 7 to 12 microns. Cameras operating in this spectral range provide a great deal of detail because atmospheric absorption is minimal. Both long- and mid-wavelength cameras provide accurate temperature measurements and can produce detailed differences across small or large temperature ranges.