Home/News & Blog/The Importance of Infrared Thermometry


The Importance of Infrared Thermometry

Fall is  weeks away and in Michigan that means winter is just around the corner. During the cold winter months, it is especially important to keep your business operating efficiently. Maintaining electrical panels and equipment is often overlooked because these areas have no moving parts. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t fail. When failures occur, it can be very costly and disruptive to your business. Infrared Thermometry testing is an excellent diagnostic and predictive tool that can detect potential electrical problems. These problems could result in serious damage, major electrical outages and even a fire if not corrected promptly.

What is Infrared Thermometry?

Infrared radiation is thermal, or heat radiation. Infrared radiation is invisible to the eye and is produced by any object warmer than its surroundings. Infrared Thermometry is the process of using a specially designed thermometer to read and convert the intensity of this radiation into a temperature.

What types of systems and equipment should be surveyed?

Any equipment or systems that produce heat or would produce heat if not operating within the proper parameters should be surveyed. Examples include:

  • Electrical switchgear, breakers, bus connections and contacts
  • Transformer connections
  • Mechanical couplings on rotating equipment
  • Process piping and heat exchangers
  • Compressor heads
  • Motor and generator connections, windings, feeders and excitors
  • Bearings
  • Friction in drive gears and belts
  • Boilers, kilns and ovens
  • Air handling systems for heat and cooling


Why should I survey my equipment with an Infrared Thermometer?

Surveying your equipment with an infrared thermometer will help protect your building/asset and its occupants. In addition, many insurance companies require that you have annual infrared inspections on all major electrical equipment, such as large electric panels, transformers, compressors, refrigeration equipment, large motors, etc. Your inspection and maintenance requirements may vary based on your specific needs.

The purpose of using Infrared Thermometry is to detect an overheated component when a fault or problem initially manifests. Detection of an initial problem provides an opportunity to make a minor repair, adjustment or correction prior to a complete component failure and a costly repair or outage. During an inspection, it is common to find a loose wire or connection that can be inexpensively repaired. However, if left undetected, that same loose wire or connection can result in a costly outage or fire. To obtain the most accurate results, the Infrared Thermometry survey should be conducted while the equipment is in operation and preferably near full-load capacity.


How can Infrared Thermometry Surveys impact my bottom line?

Infrared Thermometry Surveys identify potential problems during the initial phases of breakdown or failure so that repairs can be made inexpensively, prior to component failure or operational outage. Early identification of needed repairs can also extend the life of components thereby reducing future maintenance and repair costs.

Electrical-related accidents cost $2 billion each year in property damage making them the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, thirty percent of all fires and explosions are attributed to electrical failure resulting in an average loss of more than $700,000 per incident. Faulty electrical components (wiring, switches, cords, plugs, fuses, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures and lamps) are the third leading cause of home fires and the second leading cause of fire-related deaths in the U.S.


When should I have an Infrared Thermometry Survey?

An Infrared Thermometry Survey should be conducted on all electrical systems discussed above on a regularly scheduled basis. The frequency will vary depending on the type of equipment and its location. Special attention should be paid to processing equipment, high voltage electrical equipment, equipment with moving parts, equipment located in caustic environments, equipment located near combustible materials or equipment that produces vibration or is located in an area of vibration. Ideally, Infrared Thermometry Surveys should be part of a regular Preventative Maintenance and Inspection Program. The best time for an infrared scan is in the middle of the winter when all systems are working their hardest, trying to keep the building warm.

Please contact Continuum Services at 248.286.5200 or info@continuumservices.com to perform an Infrared Thermometry Survey at your building today!