Shopping for Thermal Imaging Camera for Termite Inspection?
Are you afraid termites may be making their way into your home or workplace? Could it be a full-blown infestation?
Put your worries aside because you have come to the right place. Termite inspections no longer remain a hit or miss operation, owing to the advent of thermal imaging cameras. Not only that but with the use of thermal cameras, you can even spare your walls the unsightly drilling and digging.
These devices require no holes to be cut into walls and no floors to be taken apart, and they can just as easily be used by professionals and non-professionals alike. All you need is some basic knowledge of the working of the tool, which is where this guide can come in handy.
What's in This Buying Guide
This quick yet comprehensive buying guide begins by explaining thermal imaging technology in layman terms and then moves on to describing how it is used for a termite inspection.
After laying down the basics, we proceed to share detailed reviews of some of the best thermal imaging cameras available on the market at present.
Once you have read through that, you will find an exhaustive guide on the different types, features, and advantages, and limitations of thermal imaging cameras to help you purchase exactly the right device for your specific needs.
How Do Thermal Cameras Help with Termite Detection?
The accuracy of termite detection that eluded home inspectors for ages has now been made attainable by the use of thermal imaging. Although thermal cameras are new to the pest control industry, they have proven extremely useful when it comes to inspecting what you cannot see without pulling walls apart.
Thermal cameras, as the name suggests, detect heat patterns. To put it more simply, these devices have sensors to detect changes in temperature over a given range of temperatures. When a large enough colony of termites is present in a building, the heat patterns in the walls, floors, and ceilings change.
Thermal cameras work by detecting these differences in temperature and depicting these differences as “heat maps” in the form of images. Low temperature, cold spots, i.e., termite-free areas, show up on the thermal camera’s screen as blue or purple spreads. On the other hand, hot spots are shown in bright orange or red hues.
Despite being an indirect method of locating termites that will still ultimately require a pest inspector to create a physical hole and directly inspect for pests' presence, it is markedly less destructive and more accurate than all other methods of termite detection. Suffice to say, thermal imaging continues to increase in popularity in the pest control industry.
Best Thermal Imaging Cameras for Termite Inspection
160 x 120 pixels
-13°F to 716°F
FLIR ONE PRO
Best Smartphone Thermal Camera Attachment
80 x 60 pixels
-4°F to 248°F
320 x 240 pixels
-40°F to 626°F
Yes (+ streaming)
Best Value for Money
220 x 160 pixels
-4°F to 572°F
Best Overall: FLIR TG267
The FLIR TG267 has a wide range of features to help with your home inspections. Its thermal probe ensures that every nook and cranny is looked into, and the laser guide directs you into all the right places.
What we loved most about the FLIR TG267 is its thermocouple probe. This permits you to extend the thermal sensor behind walls or deep into ventilation ducts, thereby truly performing a thorough inspection.
Adding to this is another great feature: A built-in laser pointer. This displays a red circle on the area you are inspecting to clearly show where exactly you are looking inside the wall.
This handheld camera has an accuracy reading of 4°F, a thermal resolution of 160x120 pixels, and a temperature range of -13°F to 716°F. These specifications make for detailed, clear images that can be easily understood and interpreted.
To store these images, the device has a massive storage of up to 50,000 images, and also allows for instant Bluetooth sharing of images, thanks to its Bluetooth-compatible technology.
You can use this thermal camera for termite inspections and save your pictures directly to the device with its built-in 3 GB storage.
You can also connect your device to a phone, laptop, or television over Wi-Fi and share your images with others. Since it is Wi-Fi enabled, it can even automatically backup your images on the cloud and really ease your job for you.
Issues and Limitations
If hauling bulky cameras is your trigger area, this camera's weight might be a problem for you. Weighing 1.64 pounds, the FLIR TG267 is almost twice as heavy as its counterparts.
The FLIR TG267 is versatile and powerful. Its advanced resolution allows you ample opportunity to detect small details like termites and allows you to instantly edit and share your images. Coupled with its reasonable price, this makes it the overall best thermal camera.
Best Smartphone Thermal Camera Attachment: FLIR ONE PRO
The FLIR One Pro is small but it packs a huge punch. It is perhaps among the leanest devices of the thermal imaging world, yet it possesses all the vital features required of a thermal camera. This is also the only smartphone attachment that made it to our list of the best thermal imaging devices.
The FLIR ONE PRO is designed specifically to be used in pairing with smartphones. The compact device plugs into the base of your smartphone and uses your smartphone’s screen to display the thermal images being generated.
You can easily save, edit, and stream your images directly from your phone; making this a great method of assessment.
The best part of this device is that it saves you from investing in expensive handheld cameras only to use them once in a couple of years.
Homeowners who like to stay on top of things can simply invest in this small, affordable thermal camera attachment and do precursory termite inspections themselves instead of having to call professionals every time they have to rule out an infestation.
This camera has a thermal resolution of 80x60 pixels and provides 19,000 pixels at every shot, producing crystal clear images. It also has a wide range of operating temperatures and outputs sufficiently detailed images for pest detection.
Issues and Limitations
Since this is an attachment camera and not a standalone device, naturally, you cannot compare its power to the latter. It does not have the same image editing and processing tools that handheld cameras have.
The images are not as detailed, and it does not generate analytical reports. However, where it lacks in power, it makes up for in ease of use and transportation.
It is hard to believe that such a small tool can do so much. The FLIR ONE PRO is a great smartphone attachment for thermal imaging and does a thorough job of screening your house for termites if a preliminary check is what you are doing.
Best Resolution: Seek ShotPro
If high resolution is what you are after, trust the Seek ShotPro to give you exactly that. This powerful device has one of the highest resolutions of its counterparts in the thermal camera world and guarantees defined, sharp images. This makes it a great choice for observing small details, and what really is smaller than termites residing in your walls?
The very first round of observations using the Seek ShotPro convinced us of its technological prowess. This device gave us some of the sharpest and most easily interpreted thermal images of all time, thanks to its SeekFusion functions.
The camera boasts cutthroat imaging technology, which combines the pinpointing power of a thermal image with the detailing of a standard image, and synthesizes a crisp, full picture.
This enables viewers to see all the highlighted areas at one glance. With a thermal resolution of 320x240 pixels and a temperature range of -40°F to 626°F, we are happy to confirm that this camera will satisfy even the most challenging home inspection requirements.
This device also has built-in diagnostic tools to make your life so much easier. At just the touch of the screen, you can change colors and adjust the contrast of your thermal images to improve visibility and accuracy.
Similarly, you can also zoom in and highlight problem areas that need to be further looked at, thereby “bookmarking” them. This is a great feature that offers you the flexibility to switch from editing overall images to revisiting certain spots for a deeper investigation.
With a touchscreen for easy navigation, this device is covered in shock-resistant, lightweight, and durable rubber. The camera is also one of the lightest on our list, weighing a mere 0.45 pounds. This makes it extremely convenient to carry and use.
In fact, manufacturers call it a “pocket-sized” thermal camera, further reassuring that transporting this small powerhouse will be no trouble at all. The Seek ShotPro also has a long battery life of 4 hours, ensuring uninterrupted inspections. Not only that, but you can also stream a live video of your inspection over Wi-Fi.
Issues and Limitations
The first concern for interested buyers will likely be the price. The Seek ShotPro does appear way more expensive than other thermal cameras. However, the cutting-edge technology employed in this device that truly enriches an inspection experience justifies the price. After all, you get what you pay for.
Another limitation is that the device does not have an SD card, so you cannot upgrade storage memory. This should not be too much of a concern, though. The camera has a built-in 4 GB flash memory which suffices most users.
Although the Seek ShotPro comes with a price tag heftier than that of its competitors, its multi-functionality and powerful imaging make it well worth the money. We say, if you have the budget to spare, you should get this.
Best Value for Money: HTI-Xintai HT18
Do you want all the benefits of a high-end thermal camera but at a lower price? If yes, this might just be the device for you. Lightweight, easy to grip, extremely flexible, and offering high-resolution imagery – we don’t want anything more from our thermal camera.
This handheld thermal camera has a thermal resolution of 220x160 pixels and a temperature range of -4°F to 572°F. This makes it capable of successfully handling termite inspections.
To further facilitate the inspection, these high-resolution images are displayed on a large 3.2-inch, full-color display, which makes sure you are able to see all the details clearly.
In fact, you can further enhance the clarity of your image by choosing from five color scales, including cold color, iron red, black and white, white and black, and rainbow.
Like any good thermal camera, the also gives you the option of blending thermal and visual images to produce a crisp, detailed picture.
Once you have a precise image, save it to your device free of any worries because the Xintai-H18 has a large 3 GB storage that can comfortably store as many as 20,000 images.
You can also connect the device to your laptop or smartphone using the included USB cable and transfer the images.
Issues and Limitations
The main limitation of this device is that it does not have WiFi connectivity. So, it might be a bit cumbersome to use a USB cable every time you need to share images with another device.
The Xintai-H18 has optimal clarity and great design and did not disappoint us on any fronts of thermal imaging. It comes at a great price with a USB cord and protective bag included in the package, so we really cannot complain about the little WiFi-incompatibility problem.
Buying Guide: How to Select the Best Thermal Camera for Termite Detection
Thermal cameras come in numerous different shapes and sizes, and the right pick for you depends on your personal needs. Before you go ahead and purchase your thermal camera, check out the different features and specifications that you should consider.
Weight and Size
A handheld device's weight and size is an important consideration for anyone who plans on using it for extended periods of time. It is the grip, size, and weight of a thermal camera that collectively determines whether the device's design will add to or help lower hand fatigue and whether the device is easily transportable.
Smartphone thermal camera attachments are the lightest and smallest of the three variants of a thermal camera. However, they do not have the same kind of grip and control that a handheld camera does.
These attachments are recommended as travel companions and for preliminary DIY inspections but are not your best bet for extensive, long observation.
Up next on the weight and size scale is the handheld thermal camera. Even among themselves; they vary in design. There are a lot of variants available in the market, but devices with ergonomic designs, padded camera grips, and a weight of less than 1.7 pounds are comfortable to carry, hold, and use.
Our heaviest and largest candidate is the thermal drone. These also differ in weight among themselves. However, since they fly on their own and do not have to be held during inspections, weight is not much of a consideration.
What does matter is the drone’s remote controller - it should be comfortable to hold and navigate and should allow for precise flight and easy handling of the drone.
Thermal resolution is measured in pixels and refers to a thermal camera's capability to produce sharp, clear images of the problem at hand. If the resolution of a thermal camera is low, it will only be able to give you a broad-spectrum view of your termite infestation, i.e., it will only show that there is excessive heat behind the wall.
On the other hand, a high-resolution thermal camera will do what you actually need it to do: point to precise locations of termite inhabitation, so you have to drill and dig only exactly where needed.
Now, we know why a thermal camera must have a high enough resolution. Smartphone thermal camera attachments have low resolutions, around 60x60 pixels, which is not adequate for professional or large-scale use.
The resolution required for precise thermal imaging is around 320x240 pixels, handheld thermal cameras and thermal drones usually offer this.
Your thermal camera has to be accurate for it to be trusted with its job. The accuracy of a thermal camera is measured in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. A standard device has an accuracy of +/- 4 °F. The smaller the range is, the more accurate a camera will be.
You can also understand accuracy in terms of repeatability; The reading a camera outputs for a situation should be the same when it is repeated. The more repeatable a camera’s results are, the more accurate it will be.
Types of Thermal Cameras for Termite Inspection
Thermal cameras are classified into three primary kinds, depending on how they are meant to be used. These are standalone handheld thermal cameras, thermal drone cameras, and smartphone thermal camera attachments.
Handheld Thermal Cameras
Although mainly used for home inspections, such as termite inspections or leak inspections; handheld thermal cameras are sometimes also used for industrial applications.
This category of thermal cameras is typically slightly larger and heavier than your average smartphone and comes with a camera grip or built-in handle to help with the holding and handling.
The smaller exceptions are referred to as “mini” thermal cameras and are the same size or slightly smaller than standard smartphones. You can just use them the way smartphone cameras are used.
Handheld thermal cameras are best suited for home or workplace inspections where you need a non-invasive look inside a building’s walls, ceilings, or floors. Even though these devices are priced higher than a smartphone thermal camera attachment, which most homeowners consider as their first choice because of the lower initial investment costs, they are truly worth the premium price.
Handheld thermal cameras not only just give you images of what is happening behind the scenes, but they go one step ahead. They can do this by displaying those images to you in thermal camera-specific screen resolutions in the form of shaded heat maps often supported with instant diagnostics and analytical reports.
Most handheld thermal cameras also support contactless temperature readings, visual light cameras, and built-in laser guides. In the longer run, these features end up saving you costs overall.
Extremely popular with plumbers, building inspectors, electricians, and HVAC technicians, handheld thermal cameras are equally easy to use for non-professionals.
The concept of using a drone for aerial inspection might seem a tad odd, but countless problems just cannot be analyzed from inside the building. The use of thermal drones allows you to skip the ladder and helps uncover problems you are likely to miss otherwise.
As the name itself implies, thermal drones are the product of a happy union between two clever technologies: Thermal imaging and drone cameras. The flight abilities of a drone combined with the thermal detection capabilities of a thermal camera help professionals and technicians get a quick and accurate overview of the problem that they may be facing.
Thermal drones are popularly used in the detection of home and workplace pest infestations, the presence of nesting animals or birds, blockages in drainage pipes, or faulty insulation in the exterior walls or the roof, among a variety of other uses.
These devices are useful and trusty; however, they are often quite pricey as well. For this reason, thermal drones are primarily used by businesses and professionals working in the roofing, home inspection, or pest infestation industries and are not really common with homeowners.
Smartphone Thermal Camera Attachments
A smartphone thermal camera attachment is a tiny piece of equipment that connects to your smartphone and allows you to use your device as a thermal imaging tool. These are commonly used to observe the heat patterns created by infestations and to examine HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems in your home or office.
These devices are simple to use: Simply plug in the attachment into the base of your smartphone and use your phone’s screen to control the camera. You can also save the images to your phone’s gallery or upload or stream the photos directly with your technician.
Smartphone thermal camera attachments are very easy to use and rather inexpensive, which makes them a great choice for do-it-yourself, occasional home inspections.
However, the images produced by these attachments are not as sharp and precise as the ones offered by standalone thermal cameras, and neither do they provide analytical reports. Moreover, these devices drain your phone’s battery at a very fast pace, so you may not get continuous viewing of any more than an hour.
Since they lack in accuracy and efficacy compared to a standard handheld thermal camera, thermal camera attachments are therefore not recommended for professional usage.
Similarly, homeowners are advised not to entirely rely on these attachments and continue getting regular professional inspections done. Having said that, we feel it is important to reiterate that these devices do perform a good enough job for preliminary or random home inspections.
Advantages of Using Thermal Cameras for Termite Inspection
Are thermal cameras really any good, and is it worth buying one for termite inspection? Here are some advantages to help you decide.
It is Non-Destructive
The use of thermal imaging for termite inspection does not impose any damage to your property. Unlike traditional termite inspection methods, thermal cameras do their work without calling for any holes to be made into your walls, roofs, or floors.
They are also non-invasive in the sense that only one technician (or yourself!) can do the inspection with the camera. Compare this to the traditional method, where a team of workers would be up on ladders taking parts of your walls down and leaving the room unusable for a couple of days.
It leaves behind no harmful substances
Thermal imaging for pest detection involves no use of pesticides or any other chemicals. It leaves behind no chemical footprint. Even though thermal cameras use Infrared to detect radiation, it is good to note that they do not release any radiation themselves.
It detects temperature changes all over
Thermal cameras work by identifying heat patterns. Because of this, they can even detect temperature changes in remote places such as power boxes or columns, i.e., places you may not be suspecting or even plan on inspecting. This timely detection can prevent major damage to your property.
Limitations of Thermal Cameras for Termite Inspections
Despite their far-reaching benefits, thermal cameras do have certain limitations where termite inspection is concerned. First off, a thermal camera can only pick up on the heat if enough termites are emitting sufficient heat.
This means that if termites are just beginning to infest your home, a thermal camera may not detect any temperature change and give you an ‘all clear’ signal.
Secondly, depending on its thermal resolution, there is a limit to how “far” a thermal camera can see. If there are multiple layers of wall, wood, or insulation between the camera and the target, the device may fail to properly measure the radiation.
However, this is not too much of a problem because any good thermal camera is equipped with sufficient resolution to actually be able to perform its job.
How do thermal cameras differ from spot guns when it comes to pest inspection?
To begin with, thermal cameras offer much more accurate results compared to the oft inconclusive findings of a spot gun. Then, the more accurate results of the thermal camera are further substantiated by the reports and heat maps it generates.
This means that the results are presented in an easily readable and insightful manner, which really facilitates the diagnosis of the problem. Spot guns lack this technology and cannot produce any such reports.
Finally, the use of thermal cameras is much quicker and more comprehensive compared to spot guns. The latter can only zoom into one specific spot to detect the temperature there, while thermal cameras inspect much larger areas at one time and produce instant images and analytical reports.
It is fair to say that more than being mere differences between the two methods. In fact, these comparisons are functional superiorities of thermal imaging.
Does a thermal camera termite inspection give accurate results?
Compared to traditional methods of the termite inspection, thermal cameras give far more accurate results. The exact accuracy of each device varies. However, most, if not all, thermal cameras can accurately detect temperature differences of at least 0.1°C, which is adequately accurate for a pest inspection.
Thermal cameras begin their operation by detecting and measuring the heat signature, i.e., the infrared energy given off by termites residing as a large enough community.
Then, they convert this heat signature into an electronic heat distribution map that you can view as an image on a digital display. As you can tell, this is a very standardized and scientific method that leaves little room for human errors or inaccuracy in general.
That said, you will still need to make a physical inspection to follow up on thermal imaging. This is not because the accuracy of the latter is dubious. Rather, it is done to support the results of thermal imaging.
Final Verdict: The Best Thermal Camera for Termite Inspection
The best thermal camera for a termite inspection is the FLIR TG267. It produces clear images, allows instant image editing and sharing, can venture deep behind ventilation ducts and complex spots, and has a built-in laser pointer. All of this at a reasonable price makes it a great investment.