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Old 11-13-09, 12:14 PM   #1
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Default Thermal Leak Detectors...

I think SVOboy's "DIY Home Air Pressure Test" substitute is very resourceful, and the idea of a wet hand to test air leaks is brilliant. But still, I've had my eyes peeled for some kind of tool to assist in finding air and heat leaks.

DIY digital camera to infra-red camera hacks abound, but after talking to thermal measuring and imaging engineers, I learned that they just don't read far enough down in the heat spectrum.

Thermal imaging cameras would be a wonderful tool, but they seem to run around $4000, the most reasonable being this Flir imager for around $2000. Still way out of my league.




Then I came across this little ruby: a Thermal Leak Detector for $50.


Basically, it's an IR thermometer with a laser, so you can see where it's pointed, and it has a way to establish a set-point, so when a high or low threshold is exceeded, an audible indicator will sound. Its chief advantage being that you don't have to keep watching a shifting digital display. Kind of expensive for my taste, but if a person had a big old leaky farm house, this little puppy could pay for itself in one month's worth of not-lost heat.

Going lower on the food chain, Harbor Freight has several IR Non-Contact thermometers...



This one is 35 bucks and reads -4F to 968F (-20C to 520C)



This one is 25 bucks and -27 to 482F (-33 to 250C)



This one is 10 bucks and reads -27 to 230F (-33 to 110C)


I have all of the HF non-contact thermometers and they each have their place. They all have a 'cone' shaped angle of accceptance, with the cheapest having the widest cone, the most expensive having the narrowest cone, etc. It does NOT follow that the most expensive one, which has the widest range is the best. It is actually less accurate in the lower range than the other two.

I found that my $25 would not read much past 350 deg. F, so I think they have extended the range, since I got mine.

All but the cheapest models have a projected 'laser dot' to show you where they are pointing. The laser is actually decptive, because it tends to imply that the dot is the point of measurement, when there is actually a 'cone of acceptance', not a dot.

It would be very nice if an analog meter was hacked onto a non-contact thermometer. it would make it a very useful tool for leak finding.

The smallest units are frequently on sale for $8, a price that spells "H-A-C-K-M-E-!".

Best Regards,

_AC_Hacker

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Old 11-13-09, 12:40 PM   #2
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I actually tried that before doing the wet hand test as I have one similar to the first harbor freight one posted. For finding drafts, its just too slow to use IMO. The wet hand is much quicker. However, it is great for finding cold / poorly insulated spots. It would also be useful for quantifying exactly how bad something is vs another thing since you get actual numbers vs just feeling something.
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Old 11-13-09, 01:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
For finding drafts, its just too slow to use IMO. The wet hand is much quicker.
Yeah, digital readouts do have their shortcomings...

I guess what I'm suggesting is the possibility of putting ananalog meter ahead of the, or instead of the digital display.

It could be mighty handy to have a non-contact sensor-on-a-stick.

Sort of like an analog metal detector, only for cold spots.


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Old 11-13-09, 07:14 PM   #4
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I got the Mastercool 52224-A a while back: Mastercool 52224-A-SP Infrared Thermometer w/ Laser

I found it very useful up in the attic when I was looking for weaknesses (gaps)
in the newly installed insulation. It was very easy to locate heat leaks and mark them (on a diagram) for extra attention.
The laser made it very convenient to check out the areas where I could not reach easily.

I had a 15 foot pole with a small screw-on scrub brush on the end, that I used
to reach out and adjust the posistion of the rolled out insulation..
Using my leak diagram, I was able to close up all the leaks and then
quickly re-check them with the sensor pistol afterwards.

I have been using the 'pistol' a lot since we got the Sanyo installed.
It's very convenient to walk into a room and laser a cushion or bed
and get a very accurate temperature reading..
It's helping me to know how well (and how fast) heat from the Sanyo is getting into the other rooms.

A valuable tool..
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Old 11-21-09, 08:49 PM   #5
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A rental sceme would be great here . . . . .

Subscribed.
P.S. A buddy has one at work, but he can't even borrow it to use at his own house . . . .

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