How Thermal Imaging Is Used and What Are Its Benefits

Benefits of Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is a process in which infrared thermal cameras are used to capture light that is invisible to the naked eye. This is, of course, the infrared light that radiates from the surface of all materials. The higher the temperature of the object, the more infrared light it radiates.

Although thermal imaging has many uses, its primary use of it is gathering details about objects in environments with lower visibility, like fog, smoke, nighttime environments, etc. Nowadays, there are many professions that rely on it, or at least are improved by thermal imaging. Before we get into more details of the use cases of this technology, let’s first briefly explain how it works.

How Does Thermal Imaging Work?

As we previously mentioned, all objects emit some level of infrared energy, which is in simple terms, their heat or their temperature. In simple terms, thermal cameras are devices that hold thermal sensors, capable of registering the smallest differences in temperatures.

When the camera is pointed at an object, the sensors pick up its infrared radiation and start to map an image based on the information they gathered. Usually, this image is very poor in quality compared to the images that digital cameras produce, as quality is not a priority here.

The vast majority of thermal cameras produce images in greyscale (i.e. everything is presented in levels of gray), where the white color represents hot objects and the black is for the cold. Everything in between is a shade of gray. That being said, some newer models started adding a few colors to the images to provide a bit better distinction between the captured objects.

Use Cases of Thermal Imaging

While there is no proof for it, it is believed that the first real-life use of thermal imaging was during the Korean War in the early 1950s. The armies were using it for night vision as well as scouting and other military purposes. Nowadays there are countless ways thermal imaging is being used by professionals in almost any field, here are a few examples:

  • Electricians use thermal cameras for imaging to identify parts that are heating up more than they should in closed circuits. It can help in locating loose connections and pinpointing devices that might be failing.
  • People who work with animals (like rescuers or pest control services) use thermal imaging in several ways. With its help, they can easily spot animals in a dark spot,  animals trapped in a dryer vent, etc. Furthermore, thermal imaging is the best way to locate termites. Finally, it allows observing wildlife in an un-invasive manner.
  • Thermal imaging is very useful in transport too. It is an essential tool for sailing at nighttime. More recently, automobiles started implementing thermal imaging technology to alert drivers of objects which are out of the reach of the headlights.
  • Medical professionals use thermal imaging to easily spot fevers or any other body temperature anomalies. It is particularly useful at airports where spotting a fever can be essential for mitigating outbreaks and pandemics.
  • Firefighters use thermal imaging technology to get better visibility during rescue missions. It allows them to see through smoke and in some cases they can see activity behind walls and obstacles. Most importantly, thermal imaging is essential for timely spotting fires and extinguishing them before they spread.

Benefits of Using Thermal Imaging

It is important to note that it is not only professionals that can benefit from thermal imaging. The technology can be useful to people in their homes as well. They can use it for locating leaks by themselves, without relying on professional help.

It can also be useful for performing other home inspections like heating maintenance, identifying air leaks, and identifying other ways electrical energy might be going to waste. With a thermal camera, anyone can pinpoint electrical faults and find the parts that might be overheating.

Lastly, thermal cameras can prove to be very useful security cameras as well. In low-light scenarios, they provide night vision and free users from visual limitations. The advantages that thermal cameras offer can’t be replaced with any other tool. This is why, even though they are expensive, it can be a wise investment to get one and potentially prevent a catastrophe.


In summary, thermal imaging technology gives its user a one-of-a-kind ability to see things that are otherwise invisible. While it has found its place in almost all areas of work, people can take advantage of it in their own homes as well. Although thermal cameras are quite pricey, their value has no substitution, so investing in one can be a wise choice.

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