Thermal Cameras Guide
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What Are the Best Thermal Cameras on the Market?

​Do you need a thermal camera to troubleshoot home repairs or to inspect equipment in your home?

Are you looking for an affordable, reliable thermal imager or infrared camera to use at work?

Then you've come to the right place!

In this buying guide, we review the best-selling, highest-rated thermal cameras and thermal imagers from leading brands including FLIR, Fluke, Seek and more.​

We cover the best thermal cameras for a wide range of uses, from the most popular consumer smartphone cameras to high-end handheld thermal cameras designed for construction, industrial and scientific applications.

In this guide, we also explain the features that matter when selecting the right infrared camera or thermal imager for your needs.

And we do it all in plain, clear English


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Best Thermal Cameras & Imagers Compared

The table below lists & compares the top 8 thermal cameras and thermal imaging devices sold today.

Reading this on a smartphone? Use your thumb to see more products. 

CameraTypeImage QualityPriceUses 
FLIR ONESmartphoneOK<$300Consumer,
Construction
LEARN MORE
Seek CompactSmartphoneOK<$300Consumer,
Construction
LEARN MORE
FLIR TG SeriesHandheldOK$200-$500Construction,
Electrical,
Mechanical,
Utilities
LEARN MORE
FLIR Ex SeriesHandheldGood$1,000-$5,000Construction,
Electrical,
Mechanical,
Utilities
LEARN MORE
Fluke TIS SeriesHandheldGood$1,000-$2,000Construction,
Electrical,
Mechanical,
Utilities
LEARN MORE
FLIR Exx SeriesHandheldVery Good$3,000-$8,000Construction,
Electrical,
Mechanical,
Utilities
LEARN MORE
FLIR T SeriesHandheldHigh Res$8,000-$20,000Construction,
Electrical,
Mechanical,
Utilities
LEARN MORE
Fluke TIX SeriesHandheldHigh Res$10,000-$20,000Construction,
Electrical,
Mechanical,
Utilities
LEARN MORE
FLIR K SeriesHandheldVery Good$4,000-$8,000Law Enforcement,
Fire Fighting
LEARN MORE
FLIR Aerial KitsDrone/UASVery Good$10,000-$20,000Law Enforcement,
Fire Fighting
LEARN MORE

Features to Consider

It can be overwhelming to buy a thermal camera or a thermal imager, today.

This is because the specifications and capabilities of thermal imaging devices vary greatly, and there are a lot of models to choose from.

Prices vary widely, too. You can pay anywhere from $200 to $20,000+ for one.

The best way to make a smart selection is to take 3 minutes to understand the most common features available in thermal imaging devices today, before making your selection.

Once you understand what these key features actually mean to you, it'll be easy to find the right one for your needs. 

Camera or Imager?

The first thing to consider is whether you need a real thermal camera, or just a real-time thermal imager.

If all you need to do is view the temperature of something in real time - and you don't need to store the image for later - then you will be happy with a thermal imager.

A thermal imager provides live temperature readings of the object you are viewing through the unit, but it does not store images. Thermal imagers are perfect for checking for hot spots on equipment & construction sites, during routine maintenance visits.

On the other hand, if you need to capture and store images to share with others or process later on, then you want to buy a thermal camera, also called an IR camera, an infrared camera or a thermal imaging camera.

Thermal cameras store images and/or video on a local SD card or other onboard storage. In addition, some thermal cameras offer the option of superimposing a thermal image onto a live digital photograph of the same object, to help with identifying issues.

NOTE: Whether you buy a thermal imager or a camera, pay special attention to whether the device is equipped with Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity. Network connectivity makes it possible to transfer images to another device in real time, thus eliminating or minimizing the need for native onboard storage. 

Smartphone or Handheld? 

Today, there are two basic formats of infrared thermal cameras.

You can purchase a smartphone thermal camera attachment like the popular FLIR One, or choose from more proven, higher-end handheld thermal camera made by leading manufacturers, FLIR and Fluke.

Smartphone thermal cameras like the FLIR One and Seek Compact XR offer incredible value and convenience, but the temperature range and image resolution of these units can be limiting.

For most professional applications, you'll want to purchase a handheld thermal imaging camera due to the increased sensitivity, broader temperature range, and the features and options available. ​ Handheld thermal cameras and thermal imagers come in a number of model ranges suited for different applications.

In this buying guide, we review the top-selling, best rated thermal imaging products in all of these categories.

Image Resolution

Just like a regular camera, the whole point of a thermal imaging camera is to capture a thermal image of the area or subject you are viewing, so make sure the camera resolution is precise enough for your particular need.

Apartment Building Thermal Imaging

Some cheaper models have very low resolution that makes it difficult to discern temperature differences in detail, leading to somewhat blurred images.

Buy a higher-resolution thermal camera if you need to detect hotspots in complex spaces like wiring harnesses/junction boxes or in small spaces such as electrical boxes, small motors and electronic devices.

Screen Size

The larger the screen, the more detail you can see in real-time.

Imagers and cameras with larger screens often have touchscreen capabilities, as well.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of an IR camera can be an important factor if you use it frequently or have to carry it for long periods of time. Size also matters if you prefer to carry your thermal camera in a toolbox or on a tool belt.

The latest smartphone thermal cameras like the FLIR One and Seek Compact XR are incredibly popular right now, for this very reason. Both are small, lightweight and snap onto your smartphone - which makes it easy to text/transfer/store images using a device you already use, all day long. 

Temperature Range & Sensitivity

A thermal camera’s temperature range and sensitivity are also critical for many applications.

Temperature Range

The camera’s temperature range tells you the minimum and maximum temperatures the camera can accurately measure.  

The IR camera/imager you buy needs to cover a temperature range wide enough to accurately capture all of the objects or scenes you expect to monitor on a regular basis.

For many household inspections, a range of -4 to +220 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 to +110 degrees Celsius) is usually sufficient.

For industrial and scientific uses, and for firefighters and other emergency personnel, the required temperature range is often far wider and/or skewed into a colder or warmer range.

Temperature Range of Thermal Image Camera

Temperature Sensitivity

A camera’s temperature sensitivity, or thermal resolution, refers to the smallest temperature difference that a thermal camera can discern between two objects.  

The temperature sensitivity you need depends completely on the job you need it for and on the environment in which you're working.

For example, mechanical inspectors who need to monitor friction in rotating equipment know that a higher thermal resolution (temperature sensitivity) can make the difference between replacing a worn bearing every 5 years and replacing an entire pump, or worse. 

Firefighters need to detect warm bodies within a warm environment, so they also need a higher temperature sensitivity than most.

Thermal sensitivity is measured in degrees Celsius. Inexpensive thermal sensors can detect temperature variations of one or two degrees Celsius.  Higher-end units like the FLIR T420 can discern within +/- 0.045 degrees Celsius.

Image Overlay

Features such as picture-in-picture and image fusion let you overlay a visible light image onto a thermal image.

This creates a clearer and more meaningful image which is helpful in detecting heat issues in a complex space like a wiring box.

Image overlays also help to convey important information when showing thermal images to clients, customers and to your boss.

Other Features

Thermal imagers and cameras come in many different designs and offer a wide range of optional features.

Listed below are other features that may matter to you.  No camera has all of the following, so make sure you note the features that are important to your particular job or application.

Bluetooth and wireless connectivity let you send images to other devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, and they allow for real-time streaming - all without the need for wifi or cellular coverage. This can be really helpful in situations where multiple people need to see the images at one time, or if you lack the time or ability to upload the images in a timely manner (in the field, etc). If you work in a large team environment or use thermal imaging remotely, you will definitely want WiFi connectivity. WiFi is also required for cloud-based storage devices.

File types used to store your images matter, too. The best thermal imager cameras store images in common picture formats such as JPEG and MPEG4 video.

Lenses: many higher-end models offer wide-angle view, manual adjustable focus or autofocus lenses.

Adjustments: Reflective Temperature, Emissivity, Temperature Range, etc.

Measurement Modes:  Many options here. More expensive thermal cameras can detect hot spots, let you create area boxes, display isotherm lines, identify hot/cold spots, display Delta temps, display mechanical or electrical data on screen, find the center of a hot spot and more.

Thermal Palettes: most professional thermal cameras let you select different color palettes to work within the standards of your team.  For example, the FLIR T420 offers 12 palettes: Arctic, Gray, Iron, Lava, Rainbow, and Rainbow High Contrast (plus all inverted)

Picture-In-Picture: the ability to display a thermal image inside a larger visible image; or, vice-versa.

Image & Video Storage: there are several storage options, and very few thermal cameras support them all. Make sure you select the right kind for your application. The most popular storage options include: 

  • No Storage (live imaging only)
  • Device Storage (smartphone or other)
  • Micro SD
  • Cloud Storage: streamed to and stored on remote servers

Image Format(s): JPEG, PNG, Radiometric JPG, GIF, RAW are the most popular.

MPEG 4 Video Recording

Video Camera w/Lamp & Laser: to assist with pointing your camera in dark environments.

Video frame rate:  less expensive thermal video cameras will record video at 15Hz; live HD streaming of thermal video requires a rate of 60Hz.

Viewable Distance: how far away from your target can you take thermal readings accurately?

Field of View (FOV): how tall and wide a viewing window can be captured on film; typically measured in degrees vertical x degrees horizontal. A narrow FOV is 10-20 degrees. A wide FOV is anything over 25 degrees.

Digital Zoom: some thermal cameras offer digital zoom of 2X to 4X

Display: the size of your live on-device display; most thermal cameras make do with 2" - 5" diagonal screens.

Image annotation: ability to write notes onto a thermal image, for use later. Some cameras also offer the option of automatically adding temperature, hot spots, isothermal lines, etc. 

Moveable Spot: the ability to identify hot spot(s) and track them automatically, as the camera moves.

Area Box: the ability to draw an area on-screen and measure the temperature within that area. Some cameras offer up to three simultaneous area boxes.

Image Blending: ability to merge visible and thermal images together, to create a composite image. Useful for presenting data to customers and teams.

Weatherproofing: some cameras are IP5 or IP7 compliant, suitable for outdoor use. 

Battery Life: most thermal cameras can run on their batteries from as little as 2 hours up to several days.

Warranty: smartphone IR cameras are typically warrantied for one year; industrial/professional thermal cameras and thermal imagers typically carry a 2-year or 2-5-10 limited warranty. 


Best Thermal Cameras for Your Smartphone

Thermal cameras are no longer limited to expensive, dedicated handheld models. They are now available as attachments for your smartphone.

The two best-selling and highest-rated smartphone thermal cameras on the market are the FLIR One for iOS and Android smartphones, and the Seek Compact for Android smartphones.

NOTE: For a deeper dive into a particular model, click on the "Review" button at the end of its review. If you want to view the latest price, click "See Latest Price".

FLIR One

Perhaps the most well-known smartphone thermal camera, the FLIR One gives beginners and hobbyists the convenience of basic thermal imaging for a really low price.

While the FLIR One lacks the temperature range and sensitivity of a conventional handheld IR unit, it’s still a highly-capable and super-convenient thermal imager that can be used for a wide variety of tasks around the home and at work.  

If the specs work for your application, then by all means buy the FLIR One - it will save you a ton of money.

Smartphone Thermal Camera by Flir

Key Features

FLIR has packed lots of impressive features into a small, incredibly portable package.

  • The FLIR One has a decent thermal image resolution of 80x60 pixels, which can be fused with the visible camera resolution of 640x480 to create a single image that accurately displays physical details and temperature variances.
  • The temperature range of the FLIR One is -4°F to 248°F (-20°C to 120°C) which is perfect for household use, construction and some industrial applications.
  • Temperature sensitivity of 0.18°F (0.1°C.), more than adequate for most applications.
  • ​Weighing in at just 2.75 ounces and measuring 2.8 x 1 x 0.7 inches, the FLIR One is truly tiny, making it easy to transport anywhere you bring your smartphone.
  • Available for Android and iOS smartphones.
  • The FLIR One has plenty of storage, image and connectivity features that make sharing files and creating your own image styles very easy.
  • Seven different thermal color palettes are available.
  • The FLIR ONE App includes features like thermal panoramas and thermal time-lapse video.

Overall

The FLIRONE is simple enough for anyone to use, and supports countless uses at home and work. Nothing is as convenient as using your smartphone to search for hotspots around plumbing, circuitry, and appliances, as well as locating escaped heat around windows and doors. Then, just text the images and notes to your contractor or yourself. 

Flir One Example Image

The FLIR One has plenty of work-related uses as well, allowing you to take a screenshot of an object and send it through a text message, or share larger files and videos instantly as well.

While the FLIR One may not be as powerful and detailed as its larger, more expensive cousins, it has enough resolution and image clarity to fill many needs.

The small size and smartphone connectivity make it an easy choice for anyone looking for an easy and affordable entry into thermal imaging.


Seek Compact Thermal Camera

Seek’s Compact thermal camera was one of the first smartphone thermal cameras on the scene, and they continue to improve their model with each new release.

Seek’s current model is a powerful device that offers clarity and resolution well beyond what you’d expect for one this size.

Key Features

The Seek Compact mixes in a capable and precise thermal sensor with plenty of added features that are perfect for smartphones.

Compact Camera as Add on to Your Smartphone
  • The Compact has an impressive image resolution of 206 x 156, far better than FLIR One's resolution.
  • The Seek Compact's field of view is a wide 36° (the Seek Compact XR has a narrow 20° FOV)
  • The temperature range is -40°F to 626°F, quite a bit more than the FLIR One.
  • Very small and lightweight, weighing just 7.8 ounces and measuring 1.6 inches long.
  • A waterproof case is included that you can be attached to a keychain when not in use.
  • Super-durable construction
  • The extended-range Seek Compact XR can view objects from up to 1800 feet away
  • The included Seek Compact phone app lets you change the thermal image color palette, set temperature thresholds and adjust the location of the temperature display in the image.

Overall

The Seek Compact is an incredibly capable thermal imaging solution, given how small and inexpensive it is. It also handily beats its closest competitor, the FLIR One, on temperature range, image resolution and viewing distance.

DIY types, homeowners and others who need basic thermal imaging will appreciate how easy this unit is to use with Android and iOS devices. They may also be amazed at how precise the images are.

The super-durable construction and waterproof keychain case makes it a great choice for outdoor use, too.

Seek Thermal Camera Image

The Seek Compact does have a few limitations. For example, it takes fairly poor quality thermal images if you move the camera. You'll need to keep your phone as still as possible.

Even with the blurring issue, the Seek Compact is an easy and affordable way to get started with thermal imaging, or simply use as a preventative maintenance tool to keep around the house.


Best Handheld Thermal Imaging Cameras

Handheld thermal imagers are the most common way to measure infrared radiation and the most powerful.

Most handheld thermal imagers are designed with a particular use in mind. As such, they vary quite a bit in terms of image resolution, temperature range, sensitivity and features. With these units, you want to start with the job you're trying to do, then match the unit to that job. 

Once you pick the right camera, the hard work is over. All of the handheld imagers and cameras reviewed here are easy to operate.

NOTE: For a deeper dive into a particular model, click the "Review" button at the end of its review. If you want to view the latest price, click "See Latest Price".

FLIR C2 Compact Thermal Imaging System

FLIR’s C2 compact IR camera is the first of its size on the market, and it packs a lot of capability for professionals and homeowners into a small, compact package.

Handheld Camera by Flir

Key Features

The FLIR C2 makes use of a simple interface and adequate resolution, and offers numerous uses and settings while still being easily carried around.

  • The C2’s size and shape is one of its biggest advantages. Not much bigger than the average smartphone, the C2 easily fits into both pants and shirt pockets
  • The C2 provides a built-in 3-inch touchscreen with onboard controls.
  • The C2’s thermal image resolution is 80 x 60, with up to 4,800 pixels in each image.
  • FLIR's MSX image fusion technology lets you easily inlay a visible light image onto the thermal image, to highlight details.
  • ​With a temperature range of -14°F to 300°F, the C2 is best suited for construction and building-related inspections - or anywhere you need to inspect electrical, water and air systems in walls, pipes, and elsewhere.
  • Temperature sensitivity of 0.10˚C
  • Images are stored in JPEG format, which can then be transferred to a computer via a USB cord and further enhanced with FLIR's image processing software. The radiometric image can be analyzed with an accurate temperature reading on any of the pixels.

Overall

The FLIR C2 doesn’t posses the same image resolution of many of its peers, but the resolution is suitable for basic plumbing surveying, electrical work, and searching for drafts and excess moisture in structures.

Example of Flir C2 Thermal Imaging Camera

The C2 interface is easy to use, and the device is powered on and ready for imaging after about 10 seconds.

Both amateurs and experts will appreciate the C2’s size and operation, which is very similar to a touchscreen smartphone.

For those that lack the budget to buy a higher resolution IR camera, don't want to risk their smartphone at work, or simply need a modest tool for small inspection tasks, the FLIR C2 is a great choice.


FLIR TG Series (TG 130, TG165, TG 167)

FLIR's TG series of handheld thermal imagers bridges the gap between a handheld visual thermometer and a true thermal imager, all in one lightweight, ergonomic body.

TG 130

The TG 130 is an inexpensive thermal imager that is intended for professionals and homeowners who need a dirt-simple thermal imager for construction and building related inspection tasks, without any special bells and whistles.

Handheld Flir TG 130

The TG 130 is not technically a camera, but rather a thermal imager that displays a still thermal image onto its 1.8 inch LCD screen. It does not offer image storage.

Using it couldn't be simpler. Just point the TG130 at your target, squeeze the trigger, and receive a thermal image with a temperature reading.

With an image resolution of 80 x 60, the TG 130 accurately provides a precise thermal image for temperatures ranging from 14°F to 302°F, making it ideal for building-related tasks like locating missing insulation, finding leaky wall studs, tracing wind drafts, finding moisture spots, and for ensuring food safety - measuring the temperature of food and beverage containers.

TG165 and TG167

The TG165 and TG167 add SD image storage, a wider temperature range and a few other features to the TG130. These thermal imaging cameras are well-suited for high-heat and industrial settings.

The TG165 and TG167 thermal imagers make use of a 80 x 60 resolution sensor and display results on a slightly larger LCD screen.

Both models provide a far wider temperature range of -13°F to 726°F and a temperature sensitivity of 0.15˚C, making them suitable for industrial, scientific high heat applications.

A grey scale setting is also included for those that want a different way to view temperature readings.

Detecting Heat with TG165

The TG165 and TG167 also include a laser pointer for precise locating, when aiming.

Both of these thermal imagers are capable of storing the images you take onto an an 8 GB SD card, which can be uploaded later on to a computer for further analyzing.

Now for the differences between these two.

The TG165 has a wider 50° field of view, making it suitable for shooting walls, ceilings and floors. The TG165 is the best choice for general inspection and "behind the wall" analysis.

The TG167 has a tighter 25° field of view, which makes it better suited for shooting smaller and more complex items like fuse boxes and electrical cabinets. In general, this thermal imager is better for electrical inspection.

Overall

FLIR's TG therma imager series provides inexpensive thermal imaging at a professional level for those who have basic thermal imaging needs.

While the TG series lacks many of the features and far better image resolution of higher-end models, the size, light weight and durability of the TG130, TG165, and TG167 make them great, affordable choices for construction and industrial professionals who simply need to detect hot spots in electrical panels, walls and HVAC systems. And nothing more.


FLIR Ex Series Compact Thermal Imaging Cameras (E4, E5, E6, E8)

The Ex Series from FLIR represents a significant step up from the TG series, when it comes to image quality, connectivity, storage and annotation options.

These units are designed for a wide range of professional uses, but are mostly used in construction, mechanical, electrical and utility applications.​

Common Specs and Features

Although each Ex Series thermal imaging camera varies to some degree, they all share a few common traits.

Close Look of Flir Ex Series
  • Ex Series imagers are all the same size and weight (1.27 lbs), making them comfortable to use and to carry for long periods of time.
  • Each unit displays live thermal images on a 3.0 inch, 320 x 240 LCD screen, at a frame rate of 9 Hz.
  • All Ex cameras can take IR and visual images, simultaneously.
  • Images are stored on the device and accessible via a browsable thumbnail gallery.
  • All Ex series imagers come equipped with FLIR's excellent MSX visual image processing, which enhances contrast and details.
  • Ex Series imagers all have a 45° x 34° field of view, and are capable of showing temperature gradients in iron, grey, and rainbow color palettes.
  • Up to 500 JPEG images can be stored and easily transferred to a computer, where they can be further enhanced and analyzed with FLIR's free software.
  • Each Ex Series imager has a temperature range of -4°F to 482°F, making them suitable for the vast majority of mechanical, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and industrial inspection tasks. 
  • Ex thermal cameras are extremely durable. They can survive a drop of over 6.6 feet (2 meters) to a hard surface.
  • Excellent 2-5-10 year warranty (most models are 1 yr).

Differences

The differences in each model mainly center on image resolution, distance, measurement modes, and thermal sensitivity of each image.

The higher the model number, the better the image, thermal detail, and distance from your target.

Detecting Temperature with Flir Ex Series

The E8 is the highest-end model in the Ex Series, offering exceptional image quality and accuracy from a long distance. It also features picture-in-picture capabilities, allowing you to obtain an incredibly detailed image.

Overall

FLIR's Ex Series is perfect for budget-minded professional inspectors who rely on accurate and sensitive thermal imaging and who need to store a lot of images between visits to the office.

The Series' light weight, excellent image quality, built-in visual image overlays, simple interface, and rock-solid durability make them well-suited to a wide variety of job sites.

Drawbacks include a somewhat limited temperature range that makes it ill-suited for high-heat industrial and scientific use, and a lack of video​/motion capture. Also, the E4 model does not accept optional lenses.


FLIR Exx Series Thermal Imaging Camera (E40, E50, E60)

The Exx Series from FLIR provides the same image quality and target the same end-users as their Ex series, but offer a wider temperature range and more connectivity and imaging storage options that make the Exx units a better choice for the connected inspection professional.

High Resolution Imaging Camera by Flir

Common Specs and Features

Like the Ex Series, the Exx series models share many of the same specs and features.

  • Exx Series cameras include a vibrant 3.5 inch LCD touchscreen along with a complimentary set of manual buttons.
  • Focusing is manual. 
  • Interchangeable telephoto and wide-angle lenses are available to improve on the 25° standard lens, included.
  • Each model is compact and weighs 1.82 lbs
  • All Exx cameras offer a wide temperature range of -4°F to 1,202°F, making them suitable for almost any industrial or commercial use.
  • Picture-in-picture is included on each model.
  • Exx series thermal cameras capture video in 3.1 MP format.
  • Camera Zoom is included on the E50 and E60.
  • Image files can be saved on the included SD card in JPEG or MPEG 4 format.
  • Additional features include wi-fi connectivity to for real-time streaming to remote devices, MeterLinking that can read real-time electrical data from other devices, and FLIR Tools software.

Differences

Just as the case is with Ex Series, each Exx Series model provides a different level of image quality and thermal sensitivity, which is reflected in the pricing.

The E50 and E60 both have scalable picture-in-picture technology, as opposed to the fixed-size capability in the E40.

The E50 and E60 also come with an included dual-bay charger and a spare battery.

Flir E60 Image

Overall

The Exx Series thermal imaging cameras are high-end (not cheap) handheld devices for the serious, connected professional.

They are rugged, flexible tools designed for everyday use, and they offer a large number of features that make them especially useful in wifi connected work spaces.

FLIR Exx thermal cameras are designed with teamwork and immediacy in mind. Using their native real-time streaming capability, FLIR Exx thermal cameras are well-suited for inspection professionals who need to get quick answers back to their office or engineers.


Fluke FLK-TIS Series 9 Hz Thermal Imagers (TIS10, TIS20)

Fluke’s FLK-TIS Series of thermal imagers are designed primarily for property & equipment inspectors that need a reliable, durable thermal imager that provides immediate and accurate thermal readings from a distance and lets you share the data immediately with the rest of your team.

The TIS series can take live readings of live circuits and operating equipment from a safe distance.

The included Fluke Connect software system also lets you view different measurements—thermal, mechanical and electrical—from the same piece of equipment, at the same time.​

Shared Specs and Features

The FLK-TIS Series imagers share some of the same core specs, as well as many of the same features, including a 9 Hz frame rate.

Fluke Thermography Camera
  • Each FLK-TIS thermal imager is rugged and can survive drops from over 6 feet.
  • They are ergonomically designed for one-handed use, and include an adjustable hand strap for more security when holding.
  • FLK-TIS imagers utilize SmartView IR Analysis Reporting software, as well as Fluke Connect, which let other Fluke devices sync files and stream to each other. 
  • FLK-TIS imagers can also stream directly to smartphones and tablets in real-time.
  • Each imager uses a vibrant, 3.5 inch LCD screen with thumbnail gallery browsing
  • A wide range of file formats is supported, and all can be uploaded or stored locally.
  • Both devices include a 5 MP video camera option, which provides a much higher resolution than FLIR's Exx Series (3 MP).

Differences

The main differences between the TIS10 and TIS20 include image resolution, temperature range, thermal sensitivity and viewing distance.

The TIS10 captures thermal images at a 80 x 60 resolution, while the TIS20 provides a bigger, clearer 120 x 90image.

The TIS20 also senses a wider temperature range, spanning -4°F to 662°F, as opposed to the -4°F to 482°F range of the TIS10.

Finally, the thermal sensitivity of the TIS20 is slightly less, at 150 mK, than the TIS10's 100 mK​.

Fluke Tis10 Example Image

The TIS20 has a 193:1 distance to spot (DTS) ratio, which means it can capture an accurate thermal image from a further distance than the TIS10, which has a DTS ratio of 128:1.

Overall

The FLK-TIS Series is a no-frills thermal imager that is perfectly suited for the rigors of daily use in a variety of professional and technical situations.

Both models come with large display and connectivity that make them even better when used with other Fluke devices, or compatible phones and tablets.

Users will appreciate these units' light weight, ergonomic design, and the detailed and clear images captured and instantly sent and uploaded to whereever they need to be.

The included Fluke software also makes generating detailed inspection reports easy.


Fluke FLK-TIX500 60 Hz Thermal Imager for Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Fluke’s Tix500 is a heavy-duty handheld thermal imager that can capture high resolution, real time (60Hz) thermal & radiometric video.  

Real-time thermal imaging is critical in many industrial and manufacturing settings, because radiometric video recording and streaming video can capture intermittent problems on rotating equipment and processing units, over time. Regular static images and spot inspections cannot. 

The TIX500 combines superior image resolution and distance with an innovative design, topped off with plenty of features that only help to increase its overall functionality.

Key Features

The Tix500 has everything you need to capture and send perfect, real time thermal images and video from even the longest distances. This imager is not cheap, but it pays off in numerous ways.

Handheld Fluke Tix500 Thermal Imaging Camera
  • The Tix500’s massive 5.7 inch touchscreen display shows high resolution images from the device’s 320 x 240 infrared camera sensor.
  • The Tix500’s lens can rotate 180°, making it easier to capture tough shots at varied angles and around corners. 
  • With a temperature range of -4°F to 650°F, the TIX500 is perfect for all building inspection and most industrial uses.
  • Outstanding thermal sensitivity: ≤ 0.045 °C at 30 °C
  • IR Fusion image blending gives you a superior level of in-field analysis, which is made easier with the large screen.
  • The Tix500’s laser distance meter actually calculates the distance to each object you are capturing, displaying distance on the screen.
  • Built-in 2X continuous zoom
  • Comes with two lenses: 2x, 4x telephoto
  • Like every other Fluke device, the TIX500 comes with Fluke Connect, which means you can easily share, upload and stream your images live to any wifi connected device.
  • Cloud storage is also available.

Overall

The TIX500 thermal imaging camera is designed for industrial professionals that require pinpoint accuracy each and every time, while still being able to capture images from a safe distance in case of arcing and heavy machinery.

The high price of this unit reflects the outstanding image quality it provides, along with all the added features that make this one of the best, most versatile thermal cameras sold today.

Example of Fluke Tix500 Usage

At almost 14 pounds, the Fluke TIX500 is bulkier and heavier than many other handheld imagers, but the images you can capture are spectacular, and mounted it can capture real time thermal video over long periods of time.

If you are serious about high-quality thermal imaging, the TIX500 should be near the top of your list.


FLIR T420

FLIR's T-Series Thermal Imaging Cameras are known for their innovative features and high-quality thermal and blended imaging.

The T420 is a powerful, professional thermal imaging camera that makes your job easier in several ways.

This is the IR camera of choice for utility inspectors and inspecting large facilities with multiple areas to cover for repairs and preventative maintenance.

Thermal Camera by Flir

Key Features

The T420 shoots incredibly accurate imagery that is stored and shared with ease, thanks to a combination of unique features.

  • The 320x240 thermal image resolution of the T420 is stunning.
  • Weighs only 2 lbs - far less than many competitors.
  • The temperature range is equally impressive, spanning -4°F to 1,202°F, with an optional extended maximum range of 2,192°F.
  • Thermal sensitivity is best in class, at <0.045°C
  • Threshold settings let you to adjust the temperature range as needed, for example, if you want to exclude certain temperature bands.
  • ​Comes with a 25˚ FOV lense with manual & auto focus and 4X Continuous Zoom
  • Six lens options are available, including  6°; 15° Telephoto; 45° Wide; 90° Wide; Close up: 100, 50 μm
  • The T420 includes a built-in 3.1 MP digital camera to capture high-resolution visible light images to blend with thermal images.
  • FLIR's MSX and UltraMax enhancement software creates images that highlight extremely fine details, even when zoomed up to 4X. It's a great long-distance shooter for dangerous or high-heat environments.
  • Voice and text annotations make note taking easier. A touchscreen sketch option is also available on the 3.5 inch LCD display.
  • Unique data capture capability: GPS and compass settings, MeterLink connectivity.
  • Equipped with 5 measurement modes, 5 Spotmeters, 5 Area Boxes, Isotherm lines, Auto hot/cold spot, and Delta T.
  • FLIR Tools Mobile Wi-Fi app lets you remotely control major camera functions and monitor live video from a more convenient distance
  • Comes with a hard carrying case, two batteries, battery charging station, SD card, cables, an operator's manual on CD, quick start guide, and FLIR Tools software.

Overall

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another thermal imager that offers the image quality and broad feature set of the T420.

Is it expensive? Yes, but well worth it.

The T420 is the most advanced thermal imaging camera sold today. It's ideal for professional applications where you need to keep your distance and is one of the only cameras suitable for extremely high-heat environments.

Flir T420 Image

Although the T420 is heavier than other imagers, the ergonomic design and strap system makes holding it as comfortable and secure as it can be.

If you are looking for the very best imager for your job that is capable of taking detailed images at a distance and sharing them within seconds, then the FLIR T420 thermal imaging camera is for you.


Consumer Uses of Thermal Imagers

While many associate thermal imaging with commercial and industrial settings, the truth is that they can be one of the most versatile tools you can have at home.

Thermal imagers are well-suited for inspecting your home for energy audits, to locate where heat is escaping through leaky windows and doors.

Thermal cameras can also be used for locating wall studs, areas with missing insulation, wet spots in walls and cool spots on a failing stove or oven.

Thermal Image of Green House Insulation

Electrical and fire hazards can be identified using thermal cameras, too, whether it’s an overheated outlet, a short in your wall, or overloaded circuits in your breaker box. 

There are many less serious uses for thermal imagers in your home, too. You can use them to check the temperature of almost anything, or anyone, for any use.  Check your baby's bottle, the temperature of your beer, the difference in temperature between rooms, and more. The uses are endless. 

Thermal imagers with distance capability can also be used for home security or locating a missing animal in the yard, at night.

Industrial Uses of Thermal Imagers

Thermal imagers are a valuable tool utilized in many industries to inspect equipment, to improve efficiency and to ensure safety.

Utility and industrial plants are common places you'll find thermal imaging cameras, due to the amount of electrical work, piping, and machinery that need constant monitoring.

Thermal imagers are like a second set of eyes for many industrial professionals. They can spot bearings going bad, motors about to fail, pumps that need maintenance and issues with circuitry and piping before they fail. Identifying problems like these before they get out of hand averts dangerous and costly incidents.

Thermal Image of Building Detecting Flaws in Construction

First responders use thermal imaging to locate victims in low light situations, and policemen use thermal imagers to spot dangerous subjects that may be in hiding and to assess a potential threat beyond a door or wall.

Of all industrial uses, however, thermal imaging is most helpful to contractors, building inspectors and home builders. HVAC issues are easy to spot and analyze, while water leaks and damage to a roof can be detected, avoiding more costly repairs or inspection failures, later on down the line.


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About the Author Rob Carson

I work in commercial construction, in Dallas, TX.

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