Infrared inspection of breaker panels

Aloha All,
I’ve read much here on the forum subject of infrared inspections of electrical components; there appears to be little consensus. I currently perform an infrared inspection of breaker panels specifically looking for hot components. When I say hot, I mean significantly higher than what I normally see. I report that I have observed a breaker or component that is hotter than what I normally see and suggest a licensed electrician evaluate the component.

Do you see any liability incurred in reporting something that appears to not be normal?

I will also be adding the statement below to me inspection template:

“A visual and infrared examination of the breaker panels is performed during the course of the inspection; a visual and infrared inspection does not ensure all components are operating properly, but rather the system appears to be properly installed and appears to be functioning normally. Any visual defects or anomalies will be reported. Load calculations and normal operating temperature of any given breaker or component is not determined as part of this inspection. Breaker temperatures are affected by many factors; A breaker that is not in use or is not under full load may not indicate elevated temperatures. If the infrared inspection shows a component that is significantly hotter than what we normally see, we suggest a licensed electrician evaluate the affected components.”

Any edits to this statement or advice on the topic anyone cares to offer?

Having trouble attaching pics here. Can help?

There are a lot of electrical defects that are not hot, but they can be just as important for the thermographer to find. The list is too complex to say any more on the forum. Low level cameras can sometimes miss these details.

Better pick through this a little better. If you’re not sure what to write I would not do a scan


This portion:
"but rather the system appears to be properly installed and appears to be functioning normally. "
cannot be determined by a thermal image of the panel.
There are way too many variables that come into play. If you do not do amp draw readings, set proper emmisivity, use correct focus, enter ambient and reflective temperatures, good resolution camera etc I would not put the thermal image and temperatures into report.
There are standards out there for electrical thermography. Spend the 35 or 40 bucks and get one. If you want to use the thermal camera for electrical and you interpret an image improperly it could come back to bite you hard.
When doing quantitative imaging expectations are much higher. Electrical thermography is both quantitative and qualitative when performed properly.

Now you can also look at a panel with the camera, see a “hot breaker/wire” and say it felt much hotter than others and state an electrician needs to evaluate

Then you are not evaluating to standards, so your liable for everything you say.

What is going to protect you when someone gets their face blown off in an arc flash because you expect the camera to tell you what is right and wrong?

You expect an electrician to get the monkey off your back? Your the one with the equipment to detect issues, not the electrician.

Electrical thermography is very valuable. When I was a Facility Manager, we had it done once a year and saved our butts a time or two. I agree you better watch what you put in your reports. Are you including these images as a courtesy? If so you may want to leave the thermo info out until you fine tune your statement based on the experienced thermographers here. Are you certified? There is too much liability in this business not to have it right.

There is plenty of liability if you lack recognized credentials and don’t know or follow an appropriate protocol.

What qualifications do you have to perform thermographic inspection of electrical distribution equipment and what SOP are you inspecting to?

Don’t expect an electrician to cover for you when you say something looks hotter than normal. It’s likely to look normal to him (he can’t see what’s hotter than you “normally see”) and he’s likely to tell everyone that you wasted their money and time. You need to TELL the electrician that there’s a thermal exception and the nature of the exception in a credible manner.