Infrared thermography Blog
Infrared imaging is an online electrical test that can detect failing components.
No test or service can predict the future.
Because it is an online test this can be extremely dangerous so appropriate PPE and training is an absolute must. Service entrance transformers and equipment are your biggest source for Arc BLAST.
An infrared imaging scan can detect loose connections, undersized components, overloaded components, overheated components and loose connections. Loose connections can be wire, terminals, bolt bus connections, or failing contacts inside of fusible, disconnect, or circuit breakers.
Accessibility And Infrared Inspections
Infrared inspections by themselves cannot give you a condition analysis on every component in your electrical system. Certain electrical components are not accessible or practically accessible for infrared inspections, for example overhead bus duct switches running through a production floor. And many times, not every circuit in your electrical system will be under load at the time of the inspection. For instance, if the infrared imaging technician is in front of the parking lot light panel at 2 o’clock in the afternoon he won’t be able to detect any hotspots because the circuits are not loaded at that moment. Infrared scanning should take place when circuits are under regular or heavy load. There are standby components to an electrical system that infrared testing simply is not applicable for for instance, if a trip solenoid in a circuit breaker has failed open, there will be no heat associated with that, and so the infrared inspector will not be flagged to report that condition.
It is important to bring an infrared inspector onto your site during normal production or operations. For instance, if half of your building is under construction, it may not be a good time for an infrared inspection.
Enclosed components must be opened. A direct line of sight must be given to the Thermographer to test and inspect components properly. For instance, a pad mount transformer needs to have its two front doors opened, providing a direct line of sight to the high-voltage cables and the low-voltage cables. A circuit breaker panel must have its dead front removed in order for there to be a direct line of sight to the wire terminations into the circuit breaker's load side, and the bus bar connections into the line side of the breaker. If you are going to inspect a switchgear, especially switchgear with multi K circuit breakers, most, if not all, of the metal covers must be removed for a thermographer to inspect all of the connections inside that switch with care.
If you want to cut down on the cost of the infrared inspecting process and or time associated with the project, a well trained certified Thermographer will be able to help you determine which equipment is most troublesome and needs adjustment. Equipment with very low levels of current draw typically do not benefit from thermal imaging. However, that does not exclude those items from having some sort of preventative maintenance done. For instance, if you don’t have the Thermographer inspect any of your lighting panels during your yearly shut down, be sure to include them for cleaning break or exercising and wire connection torque check.
Infrared Inspection Reporting
After the on-site inspection is done, an infrared inspection report it’s created with a detailed list of the items, inspected and report pages that have the hotspots noted.
Infrared inspection is typically a two-man job, one Thermographer, and one electrician. However, you can really speed things along with two electricians, one Thermographer, and a little forethought as to the route you will be taking through the building.
When a problem is detected, an image will be captured and typically national electrical measurements will be made like a current reading via an amp clamp.
The Main Goal of Thermal Imaging
It is important to keep in mind that the main goal of thermal imaging is to fix the items that are found with defects. As part of my infrared inspection process I capture part numbers or other relevant information on items that need to be replaced. Collecting defective part information saves you time by providing you the list of needed parts to make your repairs and you don't have to backtrack and figure out what you need.
The operation of thermal imaging equipment is not very difficult. However, if you do not have an in-depth understanding of the devices you’re looking at especially as it relates to safety you can be seriously injured, over report issues or under report problems.
It's important to use a certified infrared technician for your thermal imaging inspection.