Infrared electrical testing, also called thermography, uses infrared cameras to check your electrical systems. These cameras measure temperatures, displaying hot and cold spots. These hot spots can tell an electrician if a circuit is overloaded or unbalanced or if there are any loose or deteriorated connections. If you are thinking about having an infrared electrical test, you may be curious as to whether this is the best way to test your electrical system. Learning the advantages and disadvantages of this type of test will allow you to determine if this is the best test based on your electrical system and needs. Here are some of the upsides and downsides of infrared testing.
The Cons of Infrared Electrical Testing
- The Results Can Be Misread if Someone Isn't Properly Trained
One of the downsides to having infrared electrical testing done is that it takes an electrician or home inspector skilled and experienced in infrared testing to read the results. Electrical connections are generally going to be warm and will be visible on the infrared camera. But how hot is too hot? Well, that depends on many factors including the age of your connectors and wires, what material they are made from, and even the current temperature and humidity level. A trained professional can properly interpret the results of an infrared picture, ensuring work is not done when it is not needed, or repairs that are needed are not overlooked. Unfortunately, an electrician not trained in this field may misread the photos or fail to realize what is normal for the home and geographic area.
- Infrared Technology Can't Capture Every Electrical Problem
Infrared electrical testing can find a multitude of issues within your electrical system. However, they can't detect all problems. It is great at detecting issues where a wire, circuit or connector is hotter than it should be. But not every electrical problem causes an increase in heat. A wire that is starting to fray, an overloaded circuit, or even a connector that a mouse has chewed through, may not be picked up by one of these cameras. Always be aware that this technology has its limitations and shouldn't be used in certain situations.
The Pros of Infrared Electrical Testing
- You Don't Have to Cut Into Walls to Inspect the Electrical System
One of the biggest advantages to infrared electrical testing is that you do not have to cut into walls to inspect the electrical system. Most components of an electrical system, including wiring and connections, are hidden behind your walls. You often have to cut into drywall to inspect these components. And unfortunately, if an electrician does not know where the problem is, this can involve several cuts into your drywall. Infrared testing involves the use of an infrared camera. This camera picks up on temperatures behind a wall. This allows an electrician to easily pinpoint an electrical problem without cutting into various spots within your wall. While they will have to cut into the wall to fix problems found, this helps them cut only one spot, helping to keep your wall as intact as possible so you don't have to patch and repaint multiple walls.
- You Can Catch Electrical Problems Before They Become Significant Problems
Your electrical system may have problems that you may not even be aware of. You may not notice that your electrical flow is interrupted until your energy bill begins to creep up, or worse, an electrical fire breaks out. Routine infrared testing can be done to look for these minor problems before they turn into costly and large problems. Infrared electrical testing can quickly be done on your entire electrical system in a non-invasive manner, making it a great option for routine inspections. Inspecting electrical systems has not been a routine part of home maintenance, because it was hard and tedious to inspect the system. But infrared technology is changing that, helping homeowners to head off costly or devastating electrical issues.
There are advantages to infrared electrical testing. However, there are also a couple of downsides as well. Learning about the pros and cons will help you make an educated decision as to whether this is something you should have done in your home.