What is unique about LWIR (Long Wave Infrared) cameras?

What is unique about LWIR cameras?

Long Wave Infrared (LWIR) is more commonly known as heat or thermal energy.  It is a band of non-visible light (electromagnetic energy) with wavelengths between 7000-14000nm (7-14microns). These wavelengths are well beyond the visible spectrum (which is 400-700nm or 0.4-0.7microns) and therefore cannot be seen by the human eye. Because LWIR is non-visible, thermal cameras cannot use silicon-based sensors.  They need to use specially designed sensors called microbolometers.  These sensors can detect the long wave infrared light (which can be felt as heat).

Because LWIR does not pass-through glass, thermal cameras also need to use special germanium or homogeneous carbon lenses, rather than glass to focus the LWIR and enable them to produce clear thermal images in resolutions up to 640×480 pixels and with typical thermal resolutions down to <±0.05°C.


Do I need a Thermal Camera for my application?

Thermal cameras can be used in an incredibly wide range of applications.  The microbolometer sensor technology can detect things that other methods just cannot see or that are prohibitively expensive to investigate.  This means LWIR cameras are ideal in preventative maintenance applications, identifying problems early and offering huge cost savings compared with complete system failures.

Capturing thermal images continuously 24/7 can greatly improve the safety aspects of industrial environments in condition monitoring.  Modern thermal cameras have built-in processing features, making them so-called ‘smart sensors’ which irradicate the need for a PC once deployed and reduce the amount of equipment needed for a thermal system.  In some cases, all you need is the camera and a WIFI connection!


Why use Thermal Cameras?

Condition monitoring is one of the main applications for Thermal cameras. This involves continuously monitoring to identify problems before failures occur, preventing costly production interruptions. Typical examples of equipment monitored include power generation turbines, compressors, high and low-voltage electrical equipment and many other critical machines. This also applies to production lines and quality-checking products.

Built-in processing capability in ‘smart’ thermal cameras gives functions such as spot and area measurements, as well as the ability to calculate difference temperatures. Alarms can be set as triggers or automatically send analysis results/IR images via email.

Some advantages of Thermal Cameras are:

  • Improving safety
  • Reduce system downtime
  • 24/7 condition monitoring
  • High-resolution images
  • High-temperature resolution <±0.05°C

Thermal Cameras