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Old 11-19-14, 01:23 PM   #1
AC_Hacker
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Default AC_Hacker and the 'Rent-a-Flir' (thermal imaging camera)

I think that thermal imaging is an amazing technology.

I have seen the photos, and they have changed my thinking about the way heat works.

I have considered buying one, but I just can't handle the expense.

Thought about making one, as the DIY units are improving, but even then, the cost and the DIY-time is too much.

Then when I found out that the local Home Depot had them for rent, I went down to see what this was all about.

$45 for 4 hours is what it is all about. But because it was closing time, I got to keep it over night.

(* I NEED TO RETURN TO THIS THREAD LATER, UNEXPECTED INTERRUPTION *)

-AC

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Old 11-19-14, 03:49 PM   #2
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I would have a blast with one of these, but of course the Home Depots around here don't rent them. I was set to buy an Ir-Blue for my phone, but they seem to have decided to not bother to build more of them to sell.
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Old 11-19-14, 05:51 PM   #3
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Yea, I had a FLIR I7 but it was stolen. Bummer
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Old 11-19-14, 08:08 PM   #4
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Looking forward to results from this experiment, and thoughts on the equipment.
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Old 11-20-14, 12:15 PM   #5
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Yeah, I looked into renting an IR camera too. Sadly, my local Home Depot doesn't rent them either.
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Old 11-20-14, 01:01 PM   #6
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Default Rent-a-Flir (post #2)

I stopped at:

(* I NEED TO RETURN TO THIS THREAD LATER, UNEXPECTED INTERRUPTION *)

... the rest of the story...

They had me sign all manner of wavers, releases, and commitments before I could walk out with the instrument.

The model was a Flir I7 as seen below.


It was all charged up, and ready to go and had all the documentation with it that a new one would have.

There was also a "cheat sheet" included so that I could get going quickly.

[NOTE: If you are going to rent one of these, go to the Flir website and read the relevant docs before you rent, so that you'll make the best of your time.]

So, I opened up the built in lens cover, turned it on, waited a surprisingly long time for the unit to become operational... finally the picture appeared on the screen...


The device is shaped like a pistol, and the pistol's 'trigger' is the button that you push to record the image into the internal SD card memory (more later).

Pushing the button saves the image. There is a modest time-lag before the image is processed and saved.


[NOTE: to get maximum results the difference inside temperatures and outside ambient temp should be large. The greater te delta-T, the more definitive the results.]

It was about 28-sh out side, and my kitchen was about 60 F.

I took the imager outside and shot took an image of the kitchen addition of my house (the kitchen has a vaulted ceiling):


I have gone to considerable effort to insulate the kitchen walls, so I didn't expect too much heat loss there. I 'wised up' to thermal bridging late in the game, but on the last 2" EPS layer, I did off-set the 2" studs, so the thermal bridging is reduced.

I have not gone after my kitchen windows at all, and the heat loss is apparent. between the two windows is the door, and it is a real heat looser, too.

A surprise for me was the heat loss along the division between the roof (6" EPS) and the wall. Luckily, that area is still open, so I can get to work on that one.

To the right top, bairly visible in this photo (better view later) is a massive loss, because I have not completed my foaming there... so I have work to do!

Curious, is the glow from the stem wall. It's in an unheated area, but it might be residual heat from the previous day's sun...or it might mean that I need to insulate it too.


Here's the side where the massive leak is. Warm air, at the peak is leaking in and down and out through the eves. This is huge, and must be fixed soon.


This image is the front of my house. It was the first phase of my ongoing insulation efforts, begun 30 years ago.

At that time I was using standard insulation (R-11), and typical insulation practices (staple it in, cover it with sheetrock). So, it's no surprise that the walls are leaking like a seive. With no blocking, the cold air is able to leak up from the basement, through the balloon framed channels taking the heat with it.

The window and the door are both extraordinarily poor.

More to come...

Best,

-AC
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Old 11-20-14, 01:57 PM   #7
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Good images. Reminds me of when I borrowed an IR camera for a weekend. You get LOTS of good info out of those things. I should see if I can get it again to see how my office R~40 wall is compared to the rest of the house.
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Old 11-20-14, 03:56 PM   #8
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Very cool I love this technology. Thanks for sharing. I would like to use one on my house sometime I my look at renting one. They are slowly coming down in price maybe someday I could own one.
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Old 11-21-14, 12:02 PM   #9
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Default Rent-a-Flir (post #3)

Continuing on...


This image is from the back of my house, where a remodel of my back room is taking place (details yet to be posted).

On this remodel, I have tried to apply lessons learned from previous work, and I have put foam-sealed blocking at the top and at the bottom of each stud space. In this remodel, I have removed two original (122 year old) double hung windows, and replaced them with a single, smaller triple glazed double low E casement window.

I also made a 'structured I-beam' as a window header, in an effort to reduce thermal bridging. I see from this image, and from another image that will be included later, that the spaces in the I-beam will need to be foamed, for it to have it's full effect.

Also to be seen here is the thermal bridging because I have not yet built my second, 2" layer, that will be Poly-Iso and will stagger the 2" studs.

It's good to see the improved performance of the casement window.

I'm still working on finishing data and power runs in the left most stud space, so no insulation is present.

[NOTE: It was really an impulse act to get the Rent-a-Flir, and I had not considered all the implications. Since I don't directly heat my entire house, this affects the thermal images. This back room is not directly heated, though it is adjacent to the heated area, and heat does leak in. The thermal images would have been more useful if I had brought every room in the house up to temp for 4 to 6 hours before I got the thermal imager. Most people heat all rooms, at all times, and would not have this problem.]


This image is of the kitchen eves, showing the great heat loss. They are still open, so it is possible to take remedial action.


This thermal image is the next door neighbors, taking their dog for a walk on a chilly evening.

The dog is displaying significant heat loss especially in the facial area. A Poly-Iso helmet with triple glazed double low E goggles would greatly improve the situation.


This image is looking under the front porch, which is directly in front of my living room. The heat loss there came as a total surprise. The only thing I can attribute it to is that my house is baloon frame, with open channels going all the way down to the sill plate. My initial insulating job had not accounted for heat movement within the stud spaces, so I think that I am looking at heat bleeding out the bottom of the stud space and into the great heat sink of the night.


This image is from inside the house, looking at the homemade I-beam I made for a window header.

Clearly, I need to drill some holes and fill the outside void with foam, and probably layer some Poly-Iso on the inside.


Here's a big surprise... it's a GFI outlet, with no load on any of the lines!

Who would have thought that you could heat your home with GFIs?


Now, I am down cellar, scanning around, and I see this ghostly image... it is a cordless phone, sucking power 24/7, even though I might use it to take a call only once every 4 months. This definitely suggests corded phones everywhere, except when there is an over-riding need for mobility. (just barely visible, behind the phone, glowing even more brightly, and wasting even more power, is the wall wart for the phone)


Now I am in the living room, facing the shelves where my AV stuff lives.

The glowing box on the upper left is my Ku-band satellite reciever, which I had not watched for a whole week... it even has a handy switch on the back which I need to use all the time.

The glowing slice on the upper right is a media box that I use constantly, for listening to music, watching video, etc. and it acts as a NAS box to receive any pod-cast downloads coming in... so heat coming from it is acceptable, it is working for me 24/7.

But the angry red brick glowing in the lower right is a total surprise. It is a line power conditioner, and even though I actually use my AV stuff maybe 2 hours a day, this hungry little puppy has been sucking down power 24/7, 365, for the last 8 years!!! I noticed that it has a handsome red switch, right on the front, just begging to be turned off.


Now I am upstairs in my not-directly-heated bedroom, the glowing box is my very nice short wave radio that is turned off, that I have not used in four months. Lesson: pull the plug.


This image is upstairs, in the not-directly-heated portion of the house. It is my Internet cluster.

Upper right is the DSL-modem... too hot.

Mid-left is the IP phone adapter... I'd say Ooma did a fair job of power minimization there.

Lower right is my wireless router with all it dual-core stuff going on. I really like the router, but I am now questioning the need of 24/7 operation, and even the need of wireless.

More to come... final images and conclusions...

-AC
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Old 11-23-14, 11:23 AM   #10
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Default Rent-a-Flir (final post #4 - images & conclusion)


This image is an indoor view of the front door. Outside the door, I do have a storm door, with glass panes. This does slow down infiltration, but has very little effect on radiant losses.

The deep blue panel is plywood, probably about 1/4" thick, and the heat loss through it is astounding. I have been trying to balance energy efficiency, while retaining some of the flavor of a house built in 1892. The way this door is constructed is not the way to go.

I can fasten some 1/2" Poly-Iso now, but as a summer project, I should try to construct a more efficient door that could have some of the older design elements.


The results of this image were both expected and unexpected...

This is my quad-core video editing computer, and I fully expected to see heat coming from it. However, the deep blue underneath was a shock. Close examination showed it to be a heating duct. I am ripping out my accursed central heating system, and this duct had escaped my attention. I jumped on that one right away!

As an interesting side note, I read a report from a British effort to reduce heat losses on a national scale...the program included upgrading windows, insulation, install forced air central heating, etc. The net result was that the houses consumed MORE heat because of the inefficiencies and losses of forced air central heating.


This is an image of the xmas lights I use to illuminate the stairs to the second floor in my house. They are all on, providing sufficient light to navigate.

The "brightest" light is not a light at all, but is the plug terminal at the end of the strand that contains the current-limiting resistor that is radiating far more wasted heat energy than the entire strand of lights.

Amazing!


This is the bottom of the back door, which also has a storm door...

The leak under the door is mighty bad!


This shot is of the corner of my heavily insulated kitchen, I made efforts to reduce the "cold corner" effect of standard building practices. So, I was able to greatly reduce, but not entirely eliminate the cold corner.


And finally... this is a "Thermal Selfie" that I shot while siting near a sheet of EPS insulating foam that has a thin layer of reflective mylar on the surface.

If anyone doubts that the reflective layer has any effect, please tell them to look at this image.


My conclusions are that renting a thermal imaging camera is a 'quantum leap' kind of experience, in that it can give you information that was not otherwise apparent, it also changes the way you think. If you followed this thread, you got some useful information, but it can not have the same impact as actually viewing your own personal thermal environment.

In my opinion, it is not worth it to try to DIY a thermal imager. The cost is too high, the results are too vague, the scan time is way too long, and the DIY time is just too much.

It is probably not worth it to buy a thermal imager at current prices, unless you know that you can make money back by selling your imaging services to others.

There are some add-on imagers available for smart phones... they may be game changers.In the meantime, if your local "Big Box" building supply store does not have a Flir to rent, ask them why... if they say there is no demand, call ALL YOUR FRIENDS and tell them to do the same thing. Those Big Box guys are in business to make money, and if they know that they can break even by renting ($1,995.00/$45) = 44 rents, and that everything after that is pure gravy PLUS they will sell more energy saving building supplies, they will finally cave.

Best,

-AC_Hacker

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