Reviews of the Best Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes for 2017

Thermal imaging rifle scopes have been used with great effectiveness in military and tactical situations, and these scopes have also proven to be an advantageous asset for hunters, especially when hunting boar. The following guide will go over everything you need to know to purchase a thermal scope on the civilian market.

Thermal imaging is a lucrative tool for hunters because it allows the observer to not just see their target in the dark of night, but to actually witness the ambient heat that targets give off at any moment in time. This ambient heat can be fluorescently colored or simply display as a brighter animal shaped figure on a dark background. In any situation, this technology makes hunting live prey exceptionally easier.

Top Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope Recommendations

Detailed below is a variety of our top thermal imaging scope recommendations. Each of these quality scopes provide a diverse set of features to fit a variety of needs, depending on what is most important when making your purchase.

Best Overall Thermal Rifle Scope

ATN Thor 640-5x Thermal Weapon ScopeATN’s ThOR series of thermal hunting rifle scopes has made a firm reputation for its reliability, strong features, and overall versatility. The ATN ThOR 640-5x (30hz) lives up to the great reputation that the ThOR line brings to bear. As this is a thermal scope that is rated for combat, ATN utilizes mil spec germanium ballistic lenses for the eye pieces on this unit. This model is also very lightweight and fits well within the palm of your hand with measurements equaling 6.7 x 2.7 x 2.9 inches and weighing only two pounds. From a display point of view, the ThOR utilizes an OLED system that provides crisp 800 x 600 pixels of resolution.

This scope also has a plethora of menu options available by simply operating the directional pad positioned directly on the body of the scope itself. Some of the options that are included are the ability to change the color of the reticle, adjust the display’s brightness level, a full color overlay mode that features rich tones that vary depending on the environment, and in the menus you can also adjust the reticle type. This device also starts up very fast; it takes less than three seconds from power up to sighting. Also, you can expect eight full hours of charge from the three CR123A batteries.

This scope also has great range; its full 5X optical zoom is essential when you need to visually get closer to a target. Since the ThOR 640 has no springs or screws and utilizes a fully digital system to hold zero, the ThOR will never let the reticle move off of base. ATN has also included video-out connectivity so that you can capture your thermal imaging excursions on video.

With a thick set of features, great levels of image quality, resolution, and additional functions, the ATN ThOR 640-5x 640×480-Inch Thermal Weapon Scope is one of the most versatile thermal rifle scopes on the market, and the winner of our best overall pick.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for the Money

Armasight Predator 336 2-8x25You don’t always need to break the bank to get a quality thermal scope. The Armasight Predator 336 2-8×25 (30 Hz) Thermal Imaging Weapon Sight provides some great, rich features that all come in at a very low price tag.

Very light and portable, this thermal scope measures in at 3 x 7.6 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and weighs only 1.4 pounds. The Predator utilizes solid state, un-cooled, long-wave infrared magnification technology to provide a reliable experience not just to the sportsman, but to law enforcement and military users as well. The targeting display is of a LED type and can display a resolution of 640 x 480. This is a great resolution, so the images are crisp and detailed.

This FLIR detector utilizing thermal scope has several features that make it one of the most competitive on the market. The Predator makes use of a drop down menu system to help users navigate through the thermal scope’s features. This ensures that the user experience is both intuitive and simple. This software is upgradeable and allows you to pick from six digitally controlled reticle patterns, access the thermal scope’s recording feature, access the digital E-zoom (up to 4x magnification), and adjust the contrast of the image. Overlay color modes include, white hot, black hot, and rainbow.

In addition to the digital E-zoom, this scope also has a optical 1.6x zoom for resolution loss-free sighted magnification. For the recording feature, there is a SD card slot where you can save your hunting videos for later viewing through the TV-out functionality. This sight is a great option with a rich feature-set and costs less than $3,000. It provides well-rounded design and customizability without breaking the bank.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for under $5,000

Armasight Zeus 336 3-12x42Our best thermal scope for under the $5,000 is another in the Armasight line of products, which is their Zeus 336 3-12×42. This scope employs a mid-sized 42mm lens to provide great resolution and vivid thermally enhanced images to the user. Its most noteworthy features include build quality, great drop down menu, and the inclusion of the exceptional FLIR TAU 2 un-cooled micro-bolometer thermal imaging system.

This is one durable scope. The Armasight Zeus is comprised of aircraft quality aluminum that can take several tumbles without compromising the chassis of this quality scope. Despite this sturdy construction, this scope is still almost feather light and compact. Measuring in at 10 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and 1.5 pounds this scope will add minimal weight to your weapon, and will fit comfortably in your hands. As mentioned previously, Armasight created this scope to be 42mm; this is quite larger than the industry standard 35mm. This extra size ensures that the thermal imaging that this scope creates has larger pixels and is thusly more detailed. The screen is a color organic LED screen that has a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.

From a features perspective, this scope has more than enough. The keypad for the menu is durable and blends in very well with the body of the scope. The drop-down itself has features that allow you to access the six different reticle types, reticle patterns, color, polarity, and overlay colorization. The E-zoom feature allows you to utilize the digital zooming system without losing as much of the details as typical digital magnification systems. A really neat feature available in the drop-down is the ‘scenarios’ selection. This lets you cycle through high value target, hog hunting, coyote hunting, deer hunting, bear hunting, mountain lion hunting, and elk hunting scenarios.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for Hunting

FLIR Systems RS64 Thermal Night Vision RiflescopeWhen utilizing a thermal scope for clearing varmints or hunting for game, you’ll find no better scope than the FLIR Systems RS24 1X Thermal Night Vision Riflescope. Hunting takes patience and a scope primarily used for hunting needs to have measured versatility for all of the types of hunting usage that it will encounter and the RS24 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. This scope comes in at 8″ x 3.3″ x 2.9″ inches in dimensionality and is around two pounds, and while that’s adds a little heft to your weapon, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This unit comes packaged with an active matrix LCD display that displays a resolution of 640 x 480 and is capable of providing 16x magnification. The focal length of the lens is 13mm.

While the included internal lithium ion battery pack guarantees more than four hours of life, it’s the fact that this pack is rechargeable through a USB connection that makes this scope great for hunting. You don’t have to replace your pack at all if you keep the cable wired in to a local power source, so there’s no need to necessarily enter standby mode.

Insofar as internal features, the RS24 has a simplified scope interface that utilizes a four button control system. You can access batter charge info from the display, adjust the reticle colors from white, black, red, or green, choose between three distinct reticle types, adjust the color palettes, or establish the included E-zoom magnification. When using the digitally-based E-zoom the targeted object’s resolution is automatically corrected for the extended zoom which helps for high magnification shots. Finally, like many of the scopes present on our list, this thermal imaging scope has video out capability, so that you can keep a record of your hunts.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for an AR-15

As the AR-15 is a great precision rifle, utilizing a thermal scope that is designed to give as much precision at the potential higher moving speeds that you might need to hunt active, larger game is just what the doctor ordered. With its 640 x 480 high resolution sensor, the ATN ThOR 640 5-50x is exactly what you need.

Simply put, this ATN ThOR scope has built in technology called the Smart Shooting Solution that allows you to forgo hassling with charts, reticles, and calculators to acquire your perfect shot. After you range in on your target and enter wind readings, your scope will adjust your point of impact as necessary for you. Furthermore, the scope’s Recoil Activated Video feature records a video that starts right before you take a shot, the moment itself, and whatever amount of footage you would like to have after the shot is taken; you don’t have to worry about forgetting to record the perfect kill shot or losing your target when trying to mess with video recording. Overall, the HD imaging provides a crisp and beautiful video recording experience to perfectly capture the best moments of your excursions.

This compact instrument weighs just a little more than typical ThOR scopes at about 2.75 pounds, and it is 10.67″ x 3.97″ x 3.47″ in dimension. On board are a bevy of features that make this scope perfect for utilization with a AR-15, including built a built in smooth zoom feature with the ability to reach 50x magnification. The scope’s built in E-Compass and weather resistance make this the ideal tool to have on long hunting trips in a variety of conditions and locations, and you can record where your excursions lead you using the geotagging capabilities. If you plan to use this scope for more than one rifle due to its vast number of technologically advanced capabilities, you can make use of the scope’s profile manager to customize a series of settings specific to each of your rifles. Only 4 AA lithium batteries are required to operate the scope, and it comes with a 3 year warranty.

Top Brands of Thermal Rifle Scopes

When looking for a great thermal imaging rifle scope there are a few strong brands that always release products that are functional, last for years, and are feature-rich. The recommended scopes listed above are all manufactured by one of the following top global thermal imaging rifle scope brands:

ATN

In operation for two decades, ATN has made its specialty the creation of quality night vision and thermal imaging scopes. According to their site, “Our R&D Department has consistently allowed us to launch cutting edge and innovative products and technologies. The new Thermal Line ThOR Series Weapon Scopes, launched in 2011, have been universally recognized as the best line of Thermal Scopes on the market today.”

Armasight

Armasight creates quality thermal imaging scopes for a myriad of sectors. Their mission statement encompasses their desire to provide functional, versatile thermal imaging: “The primary goal of Armasight is to create a meaningful presence in the night vision and electro-optical arena by supporting elite military units, law enforcement professionals, first responder agencies and commercial consumers worldwide with the highest value price-to-performance goods and services that are delivered on time combined with the best after-sales support in the industry.”

FLIR Systems

FLIR took its name from the detector system that is most vital to thermal imaging and is responsible for many of the thermal technology that is used today. FLIR is also one of the oldest producers of scopes and thermal imaging technologies. From their site, “An industry pioneer for over 60 years, FLIR is the most vertically-integrated thermal imaging company in the world. We control the technology that’s key to our products’ thermal performance. In producing the R-Series, we leveraged our vast experience designing military-grade thermal imagers that have to be durable, precise, and reliable. The top shots around the world depend on FLIR. So should you.”

Pre-Purchase Considerations

In addition to considering the brand of scope that you’re interested in, there are multiple factors to consider before making your purchase, especially when trying to identify the features that are most important to you. If you are still unsure about which scope to purchase solely based on the information above, here are some other points to consider:

Price

Even the un-cooled types of thermal imaging scopes can get expensive. Models go from around $1,500 to more than $8,000. As a rule, the more costly thermal imaging scopes have a richer feature set and greater magnification. When searching for a great scope, try to keep your budget in mind, but also remember that you might not want to sacrifice functionality for a cheaper scope. This is a device that you’ll use for years to come and hopefully it’ll bring you success in use, so be sure to balance your need with your wallet judiciously. Also, thermal imaging technology is becoming more mainstream, so while today’s scopes might seem to be more on the expensive side, prices are sure to come down a bit in the near future. Even today, prices for these types of devices are a fraction of what they were even a few years ago.

Battery Life

Like many modern devices, thermal rifle scopes require power to function. Typically, you can use lithium batteries to power your scope and charge will vary greatly based on model. If you can find a thermal imaging scope that lasts around eight hours on a charge, then you’ve found one that lasts fairly well.

Refresh Rate

Just like in today’s graphical processor and television systems, refresh rate has great value in thermal imaging. Most scopes on the market today come in 30 or 60 hertz varieties. Hertz, when it comes to digital images represents cycles per second or how often a presented image is refreshed. The more refreshes the more lifelike the displayed image will appear. As a rule, when it comes to refresh rate, shoot for a thermal imaging rifle scope that has a rate over 30 hertz, this will ensure that if whatever you’re tracking starts to move it won’t appear like a slideshow. Some find that a larger 60 hertz display isn’t really that important as that level of cycles per second won’t make a noticeable difference unless the target is moving at a fairly rapid pace. Others have noted that if trying to target something from a moving platform, such as the bed of a truck, 30 hertz tends to lag too much, so this is a situation where 60 hertz shines.

Resolution

Thermal imaging scopes aren’t like standard mechanical scopes; their image is relayed using technology not unlike what is found in many of our current crop of digital devices. Just like in any other digital display, resolution is the primary means to providing a crisp, reliable image while using a thermal imaging scope. The reasoning for this is simple; too much pixilation distorts the edges of the target which can then cause misses. When it comes to resolution, your best bet is to purchase the highest resolution that fits within your scope budget. Thermal imaging doesn’t always provide as high detail as standard night vision imaging as its power is in detection, so having extra resolution for clearer image finding can really help you out on a hunt.

Zoom

Zoom typically goes hand-in-hand with resolution. There are two types of zoom, optical and digital. As a rule, optical zoom will allow you to magnify in on a target without losing quite as much of its resolution. Digital on the other hand, utilizes software to get closer to the target and zooming too far with this, at least without the help of other tech, will result in a lower resolution image. Thermal scopes with a combination of these types are a great way to get the extended zoom of the digital, with the image quality of the optical. When you’re thinking about making a purchase of a scope, definitely take a look at what the scope has to offer for zoom.

Reticle Option

The reticle, also known as a crosshair or reticule, helps provide accurate target sighting on a thermal scope. Some scopes feature a fine reticle while others feature one with thicker lines. Some scopes have a wide selection of reticles which you can select and can range from a standard crosshair to a simple central dot. Some manufacturers don’t provide a reticle in their thermal scopes, so be sure to do some research on the scope you intend to buy so that you know what to expect when you use it to target.

Germanium lenses

Glass is a great insulator; and as a result, it isn’t a material that can be used very well in thermal optics. The reason why glass is transparent is because visible short wavelengths pass freely through the material, but since infrared is heat energy and the glass blocks these wavelengths as an insulator, it’s impossible for the infrared detector elements to pick up the thermal information as the glass is blocking its reception. Germanium, a chemical rare element, can be made transparent and allow for the transmission of light on the infrared spectrum so the lenses on thermal imaging scopes tend to be made of this material. One caveat though, germanium is very expensive, especially compared to standard glass. As a matter of fact, a sizeable reason that these scopes costs so much compared to standard scopes is because of this lens material. You can safely assume that the larger the lens, the more you can expect to pay for the rifle scope.

Color or Monochrome

When many think of thermal imaging, they think of the bright oranges, reds, and yellows portrayed in the 1987 film Predator. While with the current crop of thermal scopes, you can get a great approximation of this effect, it’s not the only option for thermal imagery. For a little less you can get a monochromatic option that provides a great gradation level when observing an option. For monochrome thermal scopes, warm targets are simply brighter on the grayscale and still stand out very well from their cooler environments.

Clip-on versus Standard

For rifle sights, there are two types of scope systems that can help you utilize thermal imaging on your next hunt. These types are:

  1. Clip-on – Clip-on sights employ a thermal imager that you attach via rails to your current scope. These work very well, and many of the scopes in this category can be used independently but typically have slightly reduced zoom capability, so they are better when used in conjunction with another scope. Since your standard scope is view finding through the screen of your thermal imaging scope, at high magnifications some loss in resolution can occur.
  2. Standard – This is the type that utilizes standard scope technology and works in conjunction with an internal thermal imaging sensor. The images that this type produces provide great heat detail by using a myriad of colors, or it can present the thermogram display in a more monochrome readout. This typically depends on the manufacturer and the imaging system’s components.

Extra Features

Some scopes have extra bells and whistles on them like a DVR to record everything that the scope sees. This allows you to take a look at the days hunting after it’s done. Some models even feature an RCA out setup that will allow you to hook a monitor directly to the scope. Another extra feature on some scopes is the addition of a standby mode. Since most scopes incorporate a battery as a power source, this type of feature allows you to save the battery during times when you are relaxing or when the scope is not in active use. Many thermal scopes utilize a menu system that allows you to select your reticle, adjust brightness, or wind and elevation settings. Having extra features can make your thermal scope seem more versatile, which adds value to your purchase.

Selecting a great thermal imaging scope is a process that requires a lot of due diligence but is ultimately a very rewarding experience. Take the time to establish a budget, get to know the technology intimately, and learn the feature sets of some of the best units on the market. This guide, hopefully, will help you through the process and help to educate you on some of the features of the tech, the brands available on the market today, and some of the best units for sport shooting and beyond.

How Does Thermal Imaging Work?

How does this technology work? Initially developed in the military sector, thermal imaging allows those who utilize it to see the seemingly invisible. As a rule, all animals emit infrared energy as heat during the natural processes of life; it is that thermal energy that is visible to an observer using an thermal imaging scope. Since the majority of objects in the natural world emit heat in one form or another, the majority of scopes capture the differences in heat between the target and its immediate environment.

Forward looking infrared (FLIR) systems are the types of infrared detectors that many rifle scopes utilize to pick up infrared light. The lens in the scope focuses all of the incoming infrared light; this light is then scanned by infrared detector elements in the array, and these elements create a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirteenth of a second to create a thermogram, so to the observer it appears to happen in real-time. The thermogram is then processed and projected to the display for the observer to use. The images that are delivered can tell you when a target is under a bush or even hunkered down to avoid a strong rain shower. The majority of external elements such as weather or poor lighting do not decrease the reliability of this type of imaging.

Types of Thermal Imaging Systems

When it comes to thermal imaging, there are typically two systems that are used on the market: cryogenically cooled and un-cooled. Here is how these two unique systems work to provide sharp thermal imaging:

  1. Un-cooled thermal imaging – This type of thermal imaging is what the majority of thermal imaging devices utilize. The elements that detect infrared energy operate at standard temperatures; and as a result, they don’t need additional materials to keep the key thermal elements below 32 degrees fahrenheit. Since extra machinery isn’t needed, this system is very quiet, which can be beneficial for hunters. These types of sights provide great temperature differential information but aren’t quite as sensitive as the other type.
  2. Cryogenically cooled thermal imaging – This is typically the more expensive option. The system employs internals that are sealed and mechanically cooled to freezing temperatures or below. These types of devices can have a slight hum to them though that is typically only noticeable in close proximity to the assembly. Despite the additional cost, this system provides a great advantage as they have heightened sensitivity compared to un-cooled systems of thermal imaging. These types of scopes can observe very minute temperature differentials from more than 1,000 feet away from the target. The only negative aspect of this type of thermal imager outside of the cost is the fact that with all of the extra components for cooling, this type of device is not quite as rugged as the un-cooled variety.

For the most part, the majority of weapon targeting thermal imaging scopes are un-cooled and the weapons scopes that we’ll be covering in this guide are of this type as well. As mentioned before, cryogenically cooled devices offer more temperature detail and this type is perfect for many civilian applications, but as these can get to be very expensive they are mostly limited to thermal imaging cameras.

Reviews of the Best Thermal Imaging Cameras

Top Thermal Imaging Cameras on the MarketBuyers looking to purchase a thermal imaging camera should consider a number of factors before making a final decision. Especially those who are not sure what they should look for, there are a number of useful tips that can help anyone make the right choice based on his or her individual needs and budget. In general, some of the factors that should go into your camera selection include built-in features, portable vs. fix mounted and whether your selection has the appropriate software needed for an application.

Although many buyers already understand thermal imaging and have an idea of which brand they may prefer, some buyers are completely new to the industry and require additional information to make the best decision possible. As far as brands go, FLIR and Fluke are the most well-known and reliable options. Each has a vast selection of cameras from which to choose.

Best Thermal Camera for Home Inspections

Extech i5 Thermal Imaging Camera

Ideal for facility maintenance and home inspections, the Extech i5 Compact Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera is compact and fully automatic. Its ease-of-use makes it a popular choice among buyers with little or no experience using a thermal imaging device. As one of the smallest and lightest thermal cameras on the market, this powerful tool features intuitive one-handed operation. It also includes a high-resolution, 2.8-inch LCD color screen and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

The included QuickReport software aids in the sharing and analysis of radiometric images. In fact, each image can be organized and analyzed. The software enables users to drag and drop images, add text comments and add a company logo to inspection reports.

Additional Extech i5 Thermal Imaging Camera Features and Benefits

  • Rugged body
  • Includes a two-year limited warranty
  • Has a storage capacity of up to 5,000 images
  • Helps to quickly find problems and evaluate work

Find Problems, Evaluate Work and Schedule Repairs

Home inspectors can use the Extech i5 Thermal Imaging Camera to see things that are not readily visible to the naked eye. The camera can detect and reveal minor temperature variations that may signal moisture problems and electrical failures. In addition, the Extech i5 weighs a mere 12 ounces and easily fits in a tool kit, pocket or belt.

Best Thermal Camera for Fire Fighters

As a firefighter, safety is key when performing essential job functions. That is why it is important for firefighters to utilize high-quality thermal imaging devices that are specifically designed for the unique working conditions of firefighting crews.

FLIR K2 TIC with MSX

The FLIR K2 TIC with MSX is a high quality thermal imaging camera designed for ease-of-use and affordability for firefighting crews. This camera possesses all the ruggedness, capability and reliability every firefighter needs to stay safe on the job.

FLIR K2 Thermal Imaging Camera Features

  • Uses FLIR’s patented MSX technology
  • Compact and easy to attach to turnouts
  • Includes a bright LCD and intuitive interface
  • Can be used for multiple firefighting applications
  • Equipped with seven different thermal imaging modes
  • Engineered to survive tough conditions, including withstanding a 2-meter drop onto concrete

FLIR K33 & K53

The FLIR K-series is easier-to-use and more affordable than many other cameras of its kind. Without sacrificing reliability, clarity or performance, both the K33 and K53 include FLIR’s FSX™ Flexible Scene Enhancement. In addition to the camera’s ability to intensify structural and textural details in thermal images, these cameras help improve awareness in a given situation to provide firefighters with an increased sense of safety and confidence while on the job.

As the camera of choice for buyers looking for high image quality without all the extras, the K33 and K53 models both power on ready to go. Not only can this save time on the job, but also firefighters can focus on their immediate challenges rather than wasting energy setting up his or her thermal imaging device.

FLIR K33 & K53 Features

  • Includes a two-bay charging station
  • Both cameras include FSX Flexible Scene Enhancement in real-time
  • Equipped with one on/off button starts the camera in TI-Basic mode
  • Freezes an image on the K33 or captures stills and video on the K53 with the easy pull of a trigger
  • Designed for high resolution that includes the following:
    The K33 resolution of 240 x 180 matches the resolution of the K45 cameras
    The K53 resolution of 320 x 240 is equal to the image quality of the K55 and K65
    cameras

Additional FLIR K33 & K53 Features and Benefits

  • Comes with multiple color palettes
  • Equipped with automatic heat detection capability
  • Allows for regional adjustments that include units, date and time formats

Best Thermal Camera for Electrical Inspections

Electrical contractors understand the importance of having the tools required to get the job done right. As a leading brand, FLIR offers a wide range of thermal imaging solutions designed to help contractors complete their work safely and efficiently. Not only can these cameras help detect problems, but they can also help electrical professionals prevent outages and shutdowns.

Accurate Temperature Measurements

In addition to revealing the specific location of heat issues, thermal imaging devices provide an accurate way to measure temperatures without requiring the contractor to touch the source of the problem. Not only does that help create a safer working environment, but it also makes the process easier and less stressful for every worker on the job.

FLIR’s selection of lightweight handheld infrared cameras comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. While some can fit easily in a tool belt, others are full-featured, high-resolution options that can help any electrical contractor gain an edge in the industry.

FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera

With a spot ratio of 24 to 1, the FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera can help electrical professionals discover temperature problems often missed by standard radiometers.

FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera Features

  • Simple to operate
  • Fits every budget
  • Rugged and reliable
  • Targets the right spot
  • Great for HVAC inspections
  • Has a spot ratio of 24 to 1
  • Can withstand a 2-meter drop
  • Includes intuitive menu icons
  • Equipped with dual laser pointers
  • Proven to have true thermal detection
  • Made with a portable, ergonomic design
  • Comes with a tripod mount and lanyard connection
  • Created by the world leader in thermal technology
  • Stores images and data on a removable micro SD card
  • Equipped with FLIR’s exclusive Lepton® micro thermal camera
  • Has a convenient pull trigger that activates lasers and freezes images
  • Includes a mini USB port for charging the battery and downloading images

FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera Benefits

  • Detects mechanical overheating
  • Designed with rugged durability
  • Aids with predictive maintenance
  • Measures temperature more accurately
  • Helps workers stay safer and more aware
  • Assists with detecting refrigeration issues
  • Helps the contractor see heat issues clearly
  • Allows the contractor to troubleshoot quickly
  • Allows for the documentation of work performed with images
  • Perfect for finding hot fuses and troubleshooting electrical issues
  • Includes a two-year product warranty with a ten-year thermal imaging detector
    warranty when registered within 60 days of purchase

FLIR TG167 Spot Thermal Camera

The FLIR TG167 Spot Thermal Camera closes the gap between a single spot infrared thermometer and FLIR’s other thermal camera options. With the FLIR TG167, electrical contractors can see the heat easily, which means they will know where to measure it.

TG167 Spot Thermal Camera Features

  • Grab and go simplicity
  • Has a 24:1 spot size ratio
  • Stores images and downloads data
  • Designed for the harshest environments
  • Includes FLIR’s exclusive 2-10 warranty
  • Designed for indoor electrical inspection
  • Instantly shows what is hot and where to aim
  • Includes FLIR’s Innovative Lepton® IR Imaging Engine
  • Equipped with FLIR’s exclusive Lepton® micro thermal sensor

FLIR TG167 Spot Thermal Camera Benefits

  • Rugged and reliable
  • Eliminates blind guesswork
  • Great for electrical troubleshooting
  • Built to withstand a two-meter drop
  • Compact for easy storage in a tool bag
  • Reveals the heat for accurate measuring
  • Easily saves images and data for documentation
  • Intuitive to operate with no special training required
  • Downloads images fast over USB or from removable micro SD
  • Enables a contractor to fire it up and get to work in seconds
  • Perfect for showing customers images and including in reports
  • Provides quality image detail on even small connectors and wires
  • Helps contractors easily find unseen hot and cold spots in electrical cabinets or switch boxes

Best Thermal Camera for Leak Detection

FLIR E-Series and E-Series bx

Now, with MSX, FLIR’s advanced thermal imaging camera performance continues to get better with each new development. Not only can the FLIR E-Series and E-Series bx cameras enable efficient troubleshooting, but they also help leak detection professionals create detailed reports easily and share images faster.

FLIR E-Series and E-Series bx Features

  • Includes a WI-FI app
  • Includes optional lenses
  • Has an auto screen orientation
  • Includes FLIR Tools mobile app
  • Can add more measurement tools
  • Includes simple touchscreen tools
  • Can add up to three moveable spots
  • Connects to smartphones and tablets
  • Can help expedite critical decisions
  • Includes MSX thermal image enhancement
  • Allows live streaming of thermal video
  • Capable of importing radiometric JPEG’s
  • Has a dark precision touchscreen interface
  • Enables one to adjust contrast and color easily
  • Includes optional optics and full focus control
  • Equipped with FLIR E-Series Infrared Camera WI-Fi
  • Equipped to email findings directly from the field
  • Easily helps contractors package images in reports
  • Allows co-workers to watch along as leak detection occurs
  • Lets you switch between portrait and landscape view without affecting the upright
    position of the temperature measurement overlays

Additional FLIR E-Series and E-Series bx Features and Benefits of E40, E40bx, E50, E50bx, E60 & E60bx

  • Provides extra visible detail for MSX enhancement
  • Equipped with LED lamp and laser pointer for lighting dark settings and marking locations in photos
  • Higher thermal sensitivity at <0.045°C allows for easy detection of subtler temperature patterns
  • Higher temperature range (up to 650°C or 1,202°F) enables the accurate measurement of hotter-running equipment
  • Bluetooth communication sends data from MeterLink-enabled clamp and moisture meters to the camera, embedding it into thermal images

Black & Decker TLD100 Leak Detector

Although most people do not realize it, the average house has a significant amount of leakage. In fact, although heating and cooling accounts for approximately 50-percent of most people’s energy usage, their leaks and drafts can significantly increase the amount they spend on heating and cooling. That is why it is important to find a high-quality thermal leak detector like the Black & Decker TLD100.

In addition to the detector’s ability to find leaks along walls, duct work and molding, it can also provide intuitive feedback to the user when it comes to finding the right location to place insulation or caulk for best results. With this device, anyone can increase the efficiency of their home’s insulation.

Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector Features

  • Equipped with a red light to indicate warmer spots
  • Equipped with a blue light to indicate cooler spots
  • LCD screen displays temperatures in either Fahrenheit or Celsius on the LCD screen
  • Designed to select multiple temperature tolerances, including one, five and ten degrees

Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector Benefits

  • Helps identify problem areas
  • Can be used to diagnose engine misfires
  • Aids in checking for leaks around windows and doors
  • Can be used to check refrigerator and freezer settings
  • Helps uncover hidden leaks caused by insufficient insulation
  • Equipped with an easy-to-read color coding system and screen
  • Identifies weak spots that often lead to high heating and cooling costs

Best Budget Thermal Cameras

Fluke Visual Hand-Held

Created with solid technology, the Fluke Visual Hand-Held Infrared Thermometer & Imaging Camera is a quality thermal imaging thermometer and camera designed to meet a wide range of needs. Not only is this camera affordable, but it is also versatile, easy to use and made to last.

Fluke Visual Hand-Held Infrared Thermometer & Imaging Camera Features

  • Includes SD card memory
  • Able to scan between 14˚ and 482˚ Fahrenheit
  • Equipped with a wide range of temperature detection
  • Great for the purposes of leak detection and inspection
  • Includes a degree of precision that is within several degrees in either direction

Fluke Visual Hand-Held Infrared Thermometer & Imaging Camera Benefits

  • Designed with adjustable emissivity
  • More accurate than a standard temperature gun
  • Enables blending from full visual to full thermal
  • Blends real world imaging with the thermal detection unit
  • One of the most affordable thermal imaging thermometer camera combinations on the market

Thermal Imaging Takes on a Whole New Market

Once only used by professionals needing to detect temperature, thermal imaging is beginning to take on a whole new life. In fact, although smart phones do not currently come equipped with built-in infrared cameras, anyone can purchase an infrared camera add on for their own mobile device.

Thermal Imaging Devices for Smart Phones

In today’s society, most people carry their phones with them at all times. It’s no wonder that more people are finding beneficial uses for thermal imaging capabilities on their android devices.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android

A lightweight accessory designed to transform an android device into a powerful infrared camera, the FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android displays live thermal infrared images by using the FLIR ONE app. With the app, temperature variances can be measured, captured and shared as thermal images and videos.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android Features

  • Comes with a protective case
  • Features automatic shuttering
  • Has its own internal battery
  • Equipped with a built-in battery
  • Possesses patented MSX Technology
  • Includes a power/status indicator
  • Includes Lepton thermal camera module
  • Non-contact spot temperature measurement
  • Operating temperature: 32°F to 95°F (0°C to 35°C)
  • Scene temperature range: -4°F to 248°F (-20° to 120°C)
  • Weighs 2.75-ounces with dimensions of 2.8 x 1 x 0.7-inches
  • Comes equipped with a micro-USB connector for Android phones

FLIR ONE App Features

  • Includes a thermal time-lapse
  • Has the ability to take thermal panoramas

FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android Benefits

  • Easy to carry
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Offers superior image quality
  • Conserves its own battery life
  • Designed to be sleek and practical
  • Automatically switches to low-power mode when inactive
  • Lets the user know when its fully charged or running low
  • Technology that allows for no reduction in handset battery life

How They Work

When using a thermal imaging camera, the image produced is frequently called a thermogram. It is analyzed through a process called thermography. As sophisticated devices that process the captured image and display it on a screen, thermal imaging camera images can be used for a number of things. They can assist in the immediate diagnosis of a potential problem, or they can be processed through specialized software for further evaluation. Instead of providing a number for the temperature, thermal imaging cameras give you a picture that actually shows the temperature differences in an area.

What Is Thermal Imaging?

A method of improving the visibility of objects in a dark environment by detecting the objects’ infrared radiation to create an image is commonly known as thermal imaging. In addition to its ability to work in environments without any ambient light, thermal imaging can penetrate through things like fog and smoke. Most often, thermal images are gray scale in nature. However, some thermal cameras do add color to images for easy identification of objects at various temperatures. In gray scale, white objects are hot while black objects are cold. The amount of gray indicates variations between cold and hot temperatures.

Also known as, a thermographic camera or an infrared camera, this type of device is similar to a traditional camera except that thermal cameras operate in wavelengths as long as 14,000 nm rather than the 400 -700-nanometer range of typical visible light cameras.

For most people, getting the best value for the money spent is a top priority. However, depending on an individual’s specific needs and expectations, there are a number of things to look for during the search for the right camera. Some of those factors may include deciding between qualitative and quantitative cameras, deciding on specific built-in features needed for an application and whether the preferred choice is portable or fix mounted.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Depending on the specific application, buyers should decide which type of camera best suits his or her needs. The following is an explanation of the differences between the two:

Qualitative Measurement: Obtaining and interpreting thermal images based on thermal contrast. This helps determine the specific location of temperature variations as well as what the temperature difference is between the main target and the surrounding areas.

Quantitative Measurement: Determines the correct temperature readings of thermal images. Especially when needing to know the exact temperature of a target to determine whether it will fall in or out, the quantitative measurement is quite useful.

Built-In Features

An important factor to consider when choosing a thermal imaging camera is whether the camera has the specific built-in features needed for the particular application. The following are only a few of the many features to look for:

  • Built-in alarm
  • Messaging function
  • Image masking function
  • Digital inputs and outputs

Portable, Fix Mounted or Pan and Tilt

With a wide range of choices, thermal imaging cameras can be portable, fix mounted or pan and tilt. The good news is, with a clear understanding of the differences of each, the selection process is often simplified.

Portable Thermal Imager

Ideal for applications like research, electrical, mechanical, firefighting, building inspections, energy audits and process control, portable handheld thermal imaging cameras are typically lightweight and easy to use. Buyers should take note of the design and weight of their desired camera during the selection process. In some cases, buyers should also consider environmental protections as well as durability.

Regardless of the portable camera’s designated application, buyers should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Will the camera be used for an extended period?
  • What size lens is required for the specific application?
  • Should the camera come with specific voice annotation capabilities?
  • Does the camera battery need to hold a charge for a specific period?

Fix Mounted & Pan and Tilt

When buying a fix mounted or pan and tilt thermal imaging camera, there are a number of factors to consider as well. Buyers should ask themselves the following:

  • Should the camera remain fixed at all times?
  • Does the camera need to have the ability to pan and tilt?
  • Will the camera be exposed to outdoor environmental elements?

Look For High Resolution Options

When setting out to purchase a thermal imaging camera, it is important for buyers to understand that the majority of these cameras have fewer pixels than most visible-light cameras. For this reason, buyers should select a camera with the highest resolution and image quality possible. Understandably, smaller budgets may limit the choices for some buyers, but each buyer should still focus his or her attention on high-resolution options that fit within their own unique budget. This is important because, in thermal imaging, the higher the resolution and image quality, the more accurate the results for showing fine details.

Thermal Imaging Cameras Make Life Easier

Whether you’re a professional looking to enhance your work performance or a home owner hoping to detect problems in your own house, finding a reliable, high-quality thermal imaging camera is a key component to getting the accurate temperature measurements you deserve. Clear images can not only make filing reports easier, but they can also help you see potential problems right away.

Buyer Considerations Review

As a buyer, it is best to seek help from a knowledgeable professional if you are not sure which camera may be the right fit for your specific need and budget. However, a few things are certain; high-quality cameras will last longer and provide clearer and more accurate images. Buyers looking to purchase a thermal imaging camera should consider a wide range of factors before making their final decision. Anyone that is not sure what they should look for can benefit from the detailed information included for each camera discussed in this review. When following these tips, anyone can make the right choice based on his or her individual needs.

New to Thermal Imaging? There’s no need to worry. Although some thermal imaging camera buyers are savvy in the industry and possess a clear understanding of thermal imaging and all that it entails, many people find it useful to conduct significant research to ensure they will make an informed decision.

Keeping Workers Safe

Whether a worker is a firefighter, electrical contractor, home inspector or leak detector, there is a lot to learn about each thermal imaging device and how it can bring the most benefits to a work place. With a well-designed thermal imaging camera, firefighters can remain safe and more confident in their job, electrical contractors can rest assured that they will not have to touch hot wires and home inspectors can relax in knowing that they got the job done as thoroughly and completely as possible.

Regardless of the specific thermal imaging camera you choose, you can experience the many benefits associated with each brand and design. You may prefer a fully equipped multi-use infrared device or a compact, but powerful camera. Either way, the main point is to purchase a thermal imaging camera that is sure to give you the most benefits for your money. Taking the first step toward getting that high-quality thermal imaging camera is easy when you understand how these cameras work, and how each one could benefit you.

How Does Thermal Imaging Work? Technology Basics

Using heat as a light source, infrared, or thermal imaging, is a technology that’s impacted everything from hunting to public health. In its simplest form, it follows the basic steps used in normal electronic imaging. With thermal imaging, though, there are modifications. There are also options and capabilities that just don’t exist with monitors relying on the visible light spectrum. Knowing how thermal imaging operates and how it’s put to work can help anyone determine how to make effective use of it for their own projects.

The Basic Process

In any electronic imaging system, a lens focuses an image onto an array of sensors that emit electrical signals that correspond to the brightness of the light hitting them. This is the case with both electronic devices and the visual systems of higher vertebrate animals like humans. When infrared light is substituted for visible light, a few modifications are required. Since normal glass actually reflects infrared light, materials like germanium or zinc selenide are used instead for lenses. These materials let infrared waves pass through while simultaneously focusing them. This image is cast on an array of sensors called a focal plane array. The sensors use special transistors made with compounds like indium antimonide or indium gallium arsenide that allow electrical current to flow through them in proportion to the intensity of infrared light striking them. Like standard video cameras, more sensors per inch result in higher resolutions. From this point, the signals generated are used to create a visible image on a video screen.

Characteristics of Infrared Light

Using heat as a light source gives thermal imaging some interesting advantages over visible light imaging. It also produces a few complications. First of all, any object that is warmer than its surroundings is a source of infrared light. Although it seems counter-intuitive at first glance, this includes warm-blooded animals. Infrared light also behaves differently in terms of how it interacts with various materials. As was just mentioned, it’s reflected off of glass and similar clear plastics, like Plexiglas, that won’t block visible light. Aluminum and silver are other examples in this category. Other materials like smoke, fog, and some plastics let heat easily pass through. Making things complicated, the infrared portion of the light spectrum covers a much wider range of frequencies than the visible portion, so different frequencies of infrared light have different characteristics. In general, infrared light can penetrate certain materials opaque to visible light because of its longer wavelengths. In turn, radio waves, having even longer wavelengths, can pass through objects impenetrable to both visible and infrared waves. Further complications come from the fact that some objects can absorb heat until they begin to radiate it back out when their surroundings become cooler. With some uses, most of these qualities of heat energy aren’t important, but in other circumstances, they require making adjustments.

Gun Scopes

As prices fall, thermal imaging is increasing in popularity as an accessory for rifles and other firearms. Here, the purpose is simply to acquire targets, and the technology is often confused with night vision capability. There are scopes that are designed to amplify visible light. This is not the same as utilizing thermal energy to see in the dark. Night vision still requires a small amount of visible light to work. It’s also blocked by the same obstacles that interfere with any other visible light. Two ways in which thermal imaging is used in firearms is by relying on the natural heat production of animals and other objects or by actively generating infrared light that’s reflected off of objects in the field of view. A passive approach utilizing natural heat is preferred since an additional infrared light source attached to the scope consumes extra power. It also gives away the user’s location to anyone else with their own thermal detection ability. When using passive thermal imaging, the focal plane array itself can absorb some heat, and this heat can interfere slightly with incoming rays. Some scopes offer the addition of a cooling system that lowers the array’s temperature so it can pick up faint signals from greater distances. The trade-off is a more expensive device that’s less rugged.

Thermal Cameras

Beyond rifle scopes, thermal imaging is employed in a wide variety of fields to achieve results that are otherwise impossible. As with some rifle scopes, surveillance cameras harness an infrared light source for illumination that provides sharper grayscale video that’s not possible with a passive system. In these situations, it’s unlikely that a burglar or trespasser will be toting their own infrared detection equipment. This technology is also sometimes included with consumer-grade camcorders. Because of the complex interactions that occur between multiple heat sources, thermal cameras that use the passive approach employ computer algorithms to create an image that reveals temperature variations in as realistic a fashion as circumstances allow. Information like ambient air temperature and wind speed is included in these calculations. This capability to chart heat gradients makes passive thermal imaging valuable in dissimilar settings.

Putting Infrared Images To Work

Nearly everyone is familiar with the multi-colored images produced by thermal imaging cameras. Cooler temperatures appear in hues of blue, black, or violet. As temperatures increase, shades change from yellow to intense red. These types of cameras are used in such detective work as finding heat leaks in buildings or spotting overheating wiring hidden inside walls. In law enforcement, they’ve been used to track suspects by observing footprints created when heat is transferred from warm shoes touching cold ground. The Coast Guard uses these devices in both day and night rescues. A person’s warmth stands out dramatically against cold ocean water. Thermal cameras are valuable in locating blood circulation and inflammation problems in animals who can’t describe their ailments to veterinarians. Thermal cameras have even been used at airports to examine passengers from locales experiencing outbreaks for fevers caused by infectious diseases like the flu or Ebola.