Advice on purchasing a new thermal imager

I am looking for some advice/input on which level of camera to purchase. I currently have a FLIR E-8 camera that is about 5 years old. The camera is experiencing some issues requiring service which has led me to possibly purchasing a new camera. My use of the camera has strictly been limited to interior scans and general temperature measurements as part of a general home inspection and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. I don’t see the need for anything beyond an E-8 for what I am using the camera for but just wanted to get others input that have experience with quality cameras.

It has good pixel resolution 320 x 240 and if you are sold on the E-8, $3,000.00 isn’t bad:

However, if you haven’t taken at least a Level I week long course (and, preferably a Level II also), you may be missing out on a revenue stream. JMHO

15 years ago and up until 4 or so years ago, I had a B-400 (w/High Temperature option, etc. that I paid $17,000.00 for.) and it served me very well.

Good imaging. :smile:

I concur with Larry. The use you describe seems adequate for that camera.

Do not buy anything below 320 x 240 for inspecting houses.

Also consider buying another used camera. A lot of people get into this and it doesn’t pay off because of a lack of education or reasonable expectations. You can get a lot more camera (bells and whistles which may be helpful) for the buck.

Education Larry pointed out is paramount in this business, but you can’t make money just using it in a Home Inspection. This industry is just in competition to see who can get to the bottom of the pay scale!

Why HI’s don’t transition further into thermography as their primary service is beyond me. There are very few true Building Science thermographers out there. You keep your HI job to learn more about buildings and make client contacts, and you do them for more money at the same time. Your not even competing with the big gun thermographers. When was taking taking Lvl III, all Lvl III’s at Flir were re-taking the new course created by Dr. Madden. There were only four thermographers in the room that specialized in Building Science.

The camera does not find problems. You must know how to make it work for your application and you must fully understand what it is your pointing the camera at!

When you get a call for TI, your client is generally at the end of their rope. They have exhausted all attempts in finding a solution to their problem and do not even consider $$$ if you can provide the solution 100% of the time. And the word spreads… Show me a HI client like that!

That is, again, a for sure remark, David. :smile:

Larry, Thanks for the input. Curious, what other services aside from a general home inspection did you offer with your camera? That’s a lot of cheese for a camera!

Prices have come way down since I bought my imager. But, when I connected with my buddy who owns a manufacturing and coatings plant in the big city, I could travel there and pay for the imager in less than 7 to 10 jobs.

There is preventative maintenance to do e.g. hot bearings that need changing before they do more damage and shut a line down, same with motors, conveyers and elec. panels, and flat roofs. If a roofer says $100,000 to replace the roof and you can show them where the repairs need to happen, and they are done professionally, for 1/3 that price, IR included, they are elated.

But all that takes planning and studying and having the right help on sight and watching the weather to have the right conditions, etc. It is not something one can jump into after buying an imager and taking one class. It really helped having my contact, in manufacturing, that turned into more contacts and jobs.

Here’s an example I picked somewhere: roof_ir_inspection_saves_100000.pdf (33.4 KB)

David, you bring up a lot of good points. As I stated, my use for the camera right now is very limited but it helps me provide a better inspection for the client and also helps market my home inspection business. My inspection fees are definitely on the higher end of my market area and incorporating a thermal imaging scan of the interior with every inspection is one of the things that helps justify higher pricing. I can definitely see the potential with transitioning further into thermography and specializing in building science. The hard part is becoming experienced enough to do that. I see it as a highly specialized field that would require training under someone for a period of time and not just sitting through a few classes to get certified. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor when I got into the home inspection business and the amount of knowledge I gained from that was immense. Not having someone like that to use as a guide and knowledge base for branching out into thermography and building science is big deterrent for myself and I am sure other inspectors as well.

Justin- when I post here, I may start out answering your question but then add stuff for everyone else to consider. It goes from specific to general. No offence for anything.

I realize how you use IR and I commend you for it. It’s a good plan but don’t limit yourself. You can’t make what you deserve using IR in home inspections. It is a good insurance policy… I justified getting my first IR Camera after I had to fork out $5k (along with 3 other parties) to make a complaint go away which I had nothing to do with. A $5k camera seemed justified, and it was.

It took me about 5 yrs. Four IR courses and two IR conventions. ITC/Flir expects you to take a course, submit an inspection from home, and work in the field at that level for two years. It is about training and experience combined. When your certification expires, your expected to move on to the next level or re-certify at the same level. My Lvl II course had 99% professors, electrical engineers, a veterinarian, a nuclear physicist, a NASA aeronautic engineer etc. re-certifying. They had no need for Lvl III in their positions.

You take the training and learn the process, but it’s the experience by doing it that gets you there. This does not happen over nite. If your young, you have plenty of time. You just need a goal and commitment to get there. A lot of camera owners advertise all the stuff they can do with IR, but in reality the IR process can be done, but not by them…

Twelve of us from here (The Dirty Dozen) got together in Indianapolis at Firestone to attend an Architect Roofing Course which led to the formation of
NACBI. We help and support each other (and others) in areas of expertise which we all individually hold. That is where your mentors come from.

I did my Field Exercise for Lvl II on an equine subject. Working with a vet, I diagnosed an abscess in the right front hoof of a horse. But I also found a broken cannon bone in the left rear leg that the vet knew nothing about. He was working on the wrong leg! Because of the uniqueness of my submission ITC put me in touch with a vet in Australia who is an expert in this field who flooded me with information in the equine application. This is where you get your learning from.

So like you progressed in home inspection, that is how you do it in IR.

Well, you have me! I’m retired and stuck at home with a kidney machine. I have nothing but time waiting for a kidney donation so I can get back in the field. I work with a lot of guys, but they have to do their part and get the proper schooling and equipment for their intended application and I handle the Lvl III stuff.

Don’t limit yourself. Home Inspection does not have to go away and it certainly does not have to remain your primary service. You simply evolve from it.

How does one ensure the used camera is not damaged and or malfunctioning in someway and was the reason (known or not) the camera was being sold? send it in for re-certification?

Get a warranty from the seller so you can inspect it when it arrives.

Most cameras get sold because of their cost and lack of use.

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Man, one best have high confidence in the seller because it would be a long road chasing that “warranty” across the country. :flushed:

And, I do agree with this. :smile:

Places like ebay and using paypal provide that type of protection which controls funds and the ability to return the device.
I purchased a Flir T640 from the above and when it arrived, it had a bad battery, missing lens cap and the wrong lens as advertised. The seller offered money back to cover all items if I wanted to otherwise keep the camera. A T640 lens is $1,800 !

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When was the last time you had the camera calibrated?
Personally, me, myself and I just calibrated my two Fluke thermal cameras.
Made a world of difference. I just can’t remember of the three who paid for it. Lol.

As well, encase you are called to testify as witness of fact or expert witness, the camera’s accuracy will come into question.

I did now know.
Wishing you all the best. Keep us posted, David.

David, thank you for all the information and willingness to share your knowledge and experience. It is very much appreciated. Best of luck with your health issues and getting back out into the field. Till next time, take care.