Infrared equipment and accurate interpretation of the temperature data

Thermal Imaging Work – Email from Reader

I appreaciate your help with the thermal imaging work I have done. I also appreciate the suggestions for improving service to customers.

As I have noted in a previous email to you, I am starting this thermal business on a serious shoe string budget. The Agema 450 camera was a huge windfall find (at least from my perspective). As you may know the Agema was the benchmark thermal camera in the 1990′s. It has remained a reliable rugged camera to this day and with the firmware 4.0 this unit has, with its streaming video, with the auto setup features, etc it can compete head to head with most IR cameras below the FLIR T400, its current replacement. The original price on the Agema was $30,000 but I was able to buy it from government auction for $480. I have been able to update the unit with palmsized DVR for direct feed-in from camera IR to TV-in for color monitor and HQ-DVR record of 1.5hours of video with a matching palm DVR 1.3mp video camera for simultaneous Viz / IR video to do picture in picture reports. I am running the camera on Li Ion 12VDC cells with a flood LED spotlight for all light condion IR evaluations. I was able to cobble all this together for about $735. I have been paying the camara bills off for the last three months. I should have the camera and accessories paid for by end of April 2011.

 I have been able to find a few residential customers for a range of construction dates and types that have allowed me to verify the capability of the camera to provide accurate evaluation data. As I mentioned in earlier conversations, I have been offering the “evaluations” for about $60. For Americans in the current economic climate this is a reasonable price for a report, with a “Virtual Energy Tour” on DVD. I have learned a great deal from my review of web based IR thermography info, some write ups on basic thermography, “watching the competition”, imitating what I have seen, knowledge gained from 32 years of energy upgrade work on my 115 year old balloon construction home (those projects include, achieving Energy Star 5 performance, upgrading from 90+ gas heat to high efficiency air source heatpump, adding 6.68 PV solar to the house and an outbuilding, upgrading my 115 year old windows to perform equal to the one new Anderson wood framed Low-e window in the house, upgrading my attic insulation, adding a return air duct to HP system to reduce temp diff down to upstairs from 12F to less than 1.5F, and other similar projects).

It was very rewarding to get the Agema camera in Dec 2010 and recheck the FLIR IR evaluation I had done in 2007 and actually see / verify that the projects had achieved significant measurable improvements in addition to the reduced Kwhr’s on my electric bill and reduction of my gas bill to less than $6/month for gas to heat water and cook ($22 distribution/delivery costs….sigh!….thank you Ohio Public Utilities Commission).

The business issue I have to deal with now to move the thermal business forward is to get certification. The cost for even beginner level certification is way beyond my budget for the foreseeable future.

I am wondering if there is an option you know of that is valid in the US market for testing to obtain thermography certification? Below I have briefly detailed a bit of my background. I believe my technical training plus the 32 years of energy related home projects provides a solid foundation for understanding, analyzing and correctly performing thermal evaluations.

I would like to be prepared this fall to really capture the results of the “word of mouth” referrals I suspect will come from the thermal evaluations I have done so far with the handful of customers this winter.

Just a bit on my background. For the past 23 years, I have worked as a Materials Science technician, Bench Chemist technician, R&D chemical technician and Product Design and Testing technician in the Thermal Cutoff (TCO) product group for Therm-O-Disc, Inc, the sensors and controls division of Emerson Electric, St. Louis, Missouri. I hold a chemical processing trade secret and the patent for the highest rated temperature TCO (257°C; 17°C higher than any competing design) in the global TCO market. TCO’s were designed and first marketed by Therm-O-Disc / MicroDevices, (we are still the leading global manufacturer) and TCO’s are in use in myriads of products worldwide.

I am sure many of the products in your home, office and car have a Therm-O-Disc TCO designed in them to protect the product from catastrophic failure. TCO’s are THE absolute precise, best protection for over temperature conditions in a wide range of electrical applications. They are thoroughly tested and comply with UL and other global agency standards.

That training in precise temperature measurement, good design of experiment, correct use of equipment and accurate interpretation of the temperature data gathered has been the foundation of the thermal imaging work I am doing now for customers. I have used the Agema IR camera to evaluate residences constructed from the 1890′s to 2006. The structures that have had known insulation issues, the Agema camera has confirmed.

The structures with unknown insulation levels have shown missing or improperly installed insulation and no insulation issues in others, etc.

I look forward to your feedback.

All the best,

Perry L Kent
ThermalNRGyINC, LLC
Mansfield, OH 44902
419 709 5051      (mobile)
perrylkent (skype ID)
perry.kent@thermalnrgyinc.com
4197095051@txt.att.net

Reply:

Hi Perry,

Wow… sounds like you should just drop the thermal camera and write a DIY book about how to make a home energy efficient on a budget!

With the vast amount of knowledge you have on the topic, you should seriously write a small book… and give that away as your lead generator and credibility builder. Will talk about this in an upcoming newsletter.

An idea just came to mind. Can I take a ‘copy and paste’ of your email below and blog it on my website, with a link to you as the article source? Could help you get leads coming in and build you some credibility. Let me know.

Regarding the course certification, you first need to check if there is actually a certification requirement to carry out energy audits. Where I live, there is no requirement for any thermography certification (yet). Probably a good idea though as it look credible for you. Unfortunatley it does come at a cost though, so keep looking around and as soon as your funds allow, go for it.

The only solution I can think of for you to raise the funds, is to sell the camera you got for a higher price on ebay, and maybe you’ll have a few thousand left over (Not sure what it’s worth sorry… ask Greg Stockton). Do the course and pick yourself up a certification, then buy a cheaper camera that will do the job for what you need, then you’ll be in a better position. That’s just an idea, but I can’t imagine you would want to sell it after the effort you’ve put in to get it so cheap.

Hopefully the above helps.

Dean

And Perry’s reply:

Dean,

Thank you for the kudos. Much appreciated.

Yes, you can use the email in your newletter and in otherways that would be mutually beneficial.

No, certification is not required, it just gives you street cred and an advertising leg up.

One area where it is required is any building maintenance, electrical, etc. and the Equine thermography which is of interest requires the therm cert 1.

Yes you are correct about the camera for two reasons one, it is a direct nearly head to head against the FLIR T400 regarding features just lacking resolution and image definition and the drawback on size and power portability. I just solved the power issue tonight. I am using 16 of the new NiZn AA cells from Power Genix. They work well.

And seocndly because it is needed for the overall larger project goal I eluded to previously. I have a patented concept that needs the camera’s features.

I am honored by the courtesy of your time to reply and encourage.

All the best,

Perry

Perry L Kent
ThermalNRGyINC, LLC
Mansfield, OH 44902
419 709 5051 (mobile)
perrylkent (skype ID)
perry.kent@thermalnrgyinc.com
4197095051@txt.att.net