Estimating the cost of electrical inspections

Hi InterNACHI,

We are in the electrical safety business (arc flash studies and training) and are often approached by our clients to perform IR scans. Generally we work with industrial manufacturing companies and are considering expanding our services.

A. What is the cost for an industrial facility? Do thermographers charge by the panel, bus, switchgear, size of the building…
B. What type/model of camera would you suggest for this type of work.

Thank you very much have learned a ton from just spending an hour on this site.

To answer this question simply as much as I can charge them and then little bit more.


…and then when you think you have it nailed down, add another 10% to be sure!

Bring in a consultant with a good reputation who already does this work. There are so many factors involved from training, equipment, scope of work etc. I understand you are just beginning to chip away at this, so I think this would be energy and money well spent if you already have the client base.


Hi Brian, Frankly have struggled to find a subcontractor. Some of this has to do extensive travel, COVID-19, etc but we just have not had much luck going down this road. We are exploring hiring a full-time technician(s) with the required training and certifications-just trying to determine if this is a viable option. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

So what made you think a Home Inspector forum was the place to find qualified answers?

Try here:

Arc flash is required training, so you understand that part. But Thermal Imaging is another whole business, responsibility, and liability. It’s not just going out and getting a camera.

Home Inspectors use thermal, but are not expected to determine life threatening conditions. Those that do, could find themselves in jail if someone is hurt or killed.

I do not just go out and look for things that are hot. You need to be able to determine what is causing temp rise, and what the apparent temp rise will be if the circuit is fully loaded. How different electrical components generate heat. How hot is too hot. What is your companies training as an electrical contractor?

Which camera? One that can produce a significant temperature gradient (to determine what the problem is). You should be able to see a halo at the outer edges of the wire or component which emissivity and reflection create. That would generally exclude devices less than 320 x 240 res.

Training: At least Lvl II, ($4-5k and a year of field work) if your the only thermographer. Lvl III if your running the show, with other thermographers under you. This will take a while, not just three courses in sequence.

Insurance: Those companies your training will require specific coverage, which you don’t find out about until the day before showing up on site. You may need $6 million just to drive on site. You may also need site specific training to enter the site (OSHA etc).

Travel: I generally use GSA rates. Travel and cost of hiring an outside contractor is a large part of any Thermal job. Will your travel, camera, training, insurance etc save money?

How much can you charge?
After all of the above considerations, what do you think you need to charge?
You can do a million sf facility in a day, if you have a crew opening/closing panels, and you don’t find anything wrong. Or it could be a nightmare! Is everything operating at 40% when you show up? Experience is the great teacher, and you can’t buy that without hiring a Lvl III Thermographer.

If your playing with the big boys, you can’t play Home Inspector with a camera.


@dandersen just gave you at least $10,000 worth of free advice in my opinion, maybe more depending on what time and energy you would spend coming to this conclusion. Despite other peoples complaints about this MB, it has some real perks.

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Bill Fabian from Monroe Infrared would be a great person to reach out to. He will be able to answer your questions. They perform industrial thermal imaging on a regular basis. And they teach the various training classes you need to be able to perform these. I reach out to Bill all the time when I have IR questions and he is very responsive. Send me an email and I can put you in contact with Bill.

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Thanks, will do

Thanks for the information