What’s the Difference Between a Thermal Imaging Camera and Imaging Thermometer?

At first glance, a Thermal Imaging Camera and a Thermal Imaging Thermometer perform the same function – they measure temperature. But in fact, they have completely different goals and completely different capabilities. We will introduce you to both devices and point out the fundamental difference in their structure and use.

Thermal Imaging Thermometer

What is Thermal Imaging Camera

A Thermal Imaging Camera is a special case of Thermal Imaging technology. The operation of the camera is based on the Stefan-Boltzmann law, which allows you to calculate the body temperature from its thermal (IR) radiation. All bodies with a temperature above absolute zero emit heat. The Thermal Imaging Camera captures this heat with the help of sensors, measures and generates a temperature map. Based on the results of this Thermography, you can make an analysis, collect statistics for a certain period, or set your own parameters for collecting and processing data. For example, you can specify a temperature rise limit and trigger an alarm if this event occurs. The scenario for processing information depends on the capabilities of the selected camera model. Industrial, medical and research instances will have a more detailed scenario of actions. There is not only a powerful base for measurements, but also an advanced computer for processing parameters.

Note that some Thermal Imaging Camera models can work with very large distances. Each type of camera has its own distance from the object to the sensor. Following these recommendations, you can be sure of the reliability of the data.

Among the features of the Thermal Imaging Camera, we note the high accuracy of the readings, the response speed, the minimum error in hundredths of a degree and the systematic calibration according to the standard. Setting up Thermal Imaging Cameras depends on many parameters and requires highly qualified personnel.

How it works?

Special camera sensors, called microbolometers, assembled in a grid matrix, capture thermal radiation, heat up and change their resistance. The resistance is compared with the standard, and the difference is converted into a color image by the processor. Hotter areas are colored red, orange and yellow. And cold areas are displayed in blue-green colors. The measurement range can be widest and include thousands of degrees. For example, when smelting metal or controlling chemical reactions. Note that the temperature is measured not at one point, but at hundreds of points simultaneously. And, in real time. As a rule, you can choose your preferred color scheme from a variety of palettes. In addition, only particularly hot or cold areas can be illuminated. It is worth noting that the picture is two-dimensional and does not look like what we observe with our eyes.

Cameras are portable and stationary. For everyday life, more compact options are designed. In industry, very impressive models can be used, which sometimes require special working conditions.

What is Imaging Thermometer

The Imaging Thermometer is a small portable Thermal Imaging Camera with basic functions. The Imaging Thermometer measures the temperature remotely at one point. As a rule, the temperature range is small. Measurements in numbers are displayed on the thermometer screen. Management is the simplest and most understandable. The software may offer to archive data for a certain period. As a rule, Imaging Thermometers have a greater error than IR Cameras. The most accurate Imaging Thermometers have a correction function for changes in ambient temperature and blackbody calibration. The device does not require high qualification for tincture. The Imaging Thermometer can be household, medical, construction, electrical, culinary, etc.

How it works?

The principle of operation of the Imaging Thermometer is simple, it is distinguished by the presence of one sensor, instead of a whole matrix of sensors. The Imaging Thermometer lens collects infrared energy and directs it to a sensitive sensor. Using a thermocouple, it converts heat into an electrical signal. The value of this signal is measured and displayed as degrees on the Thermometer screen.

What’s the Difference Between a Thermal Imaging Camera and Imaging Thermometer?

A Thermal Imaging Camera can work with the entire surface of an object, as it reads data from hundreds of thousands of points. The Thermal Imaging Thermometer works with a single point. The Camera can be useful for covering a large area. While the Thermometer is suitable for spot measurements.

The Thermal Imaging Camera can operate with very distant heat sources. The Imaging Thermometer, on the contrary, takes readings at short distances.

The Thermal Imaging Camera is more informative, can process data, keep statistics, make a selection, work according to a scenario, and even give an alarm signal. In addition, it is possible to take pictures and videos, transfer files wirelessly, print diagrams. In a word, everything is as clear as possible and it is possible to get a report.

The Imaging Thermometer has a more modest potential and is designed for the most convenient and simple use. It can store data for a certain small period, but does not analyze it.

The Thermal Imaging Camera gives out a Thermogram, and the Imaging Thermometer gives numbers.

The response time of the best cooled TV camera can be less than one microsecond. The Imaging Thermometer is slower and gives a result in a few seconds.

The Thermal Imaging Camera has a minimum error and is very accurate. The Imaging Thermometer, on the contrary, allows a small error.

The Thermal Imaging Camera requires qualified personnel for maintenance and adjustment. The Imaging Thermometer is simple and does not require special knowledge.

As for the cost, the Imaging Thermometer will be a more budgetary purchase, unlike a Thermal Imaging Camera. Expanding opportunities always entails additional costs.

The Thermal Imaging Camera can be bulky and require permanent installation. Some Thermal Imaging Cameras require specialized terms of service. For example, continuous cooling. The Imaging Thermometers are compact, mobile and do not require special conditions for taking readings.

If you need a device for domestic use, then this is the best choice. When solving non-trivial tasks, it is worth taking a closer look at a Thermal Imaging Camera. It is worth noting that Imaging Thermometers with an image appeared. But the screen is small, there is not enough resolution and there is still no data analytics. This device should be considered as some kind of attempt to visualize a point with an atypical temperature change. It is worth considering with a small budget and the need for mobile use.


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