Hunting cold spots with the Flir One Thermal Camera

Thermal image of kitchen windows

I like sharing useful gadgets with people and having an inexpensive thermal camera around the house can be very useful at times.

I’ve been in the new house for about six months now and with the cold snap making it in the mid 30s outside I thought this is a good time to break out the Flir One thermal camera and see what I can find around the house.

Thermal image of front door

I’ve noticed certain rooms just feel cold and I think it’s from the older windows but I’m not sure how bad they are or if there is anything else going on behind the walls. From doing a little research I found that double glazed windows should have around an 8 degree C temperature difference to the interior walls under ideal conditions. This depends on the outside temperature but that’s a good ballpark. For single glazed windows this could be 20C and for triple glazed 4C. That’s the surface temperature of the glass vs the walls and does not take air leaks into account or the conductivity of the frame.

Thermal image of guest room window

The windows in this house are mostly double pane with metal frames. The frames are the coldest part.. easily visible in the images. Several windows also seem to be leaking a lot of air on the bottom too and the front door also needs to be better sealed from air leaks.

Thermal image of dining room ceiling

In these images of the ceiling you can see how the insulation is not uniform above the vaulted ceilings leading to cold spots. The bright box in the corner is a heating vent.

Thermal image of craft room ceiling

The camera can colorize the image in different ways.. here I have it hi-lighting the coldest part of the image. In some of these I’m seeing gaps in the insulation behind the walls… not so easy to fix but also small enough that it’s probably not a factor. The ceiling behind the fan is about 20 feet away and you can tell the image isn’t as clear but you can still make out where the ceiling joists are behind the drywall.

Thermal image of missing insulation on media room wall.

Using the camera is pretty straight forward. There’s an app to install and the thermal camera plugs into the bottom of your phone. It’s powered by its own rechargeable battery. It feels a little delicate hanging by the lighting plug and using the rig pretty much requires two hands. It does seem to work pretty well though.. and seems to be great for this sort occasional use around the house. I did have to remove my phone from the Otterbox case I usually keep it in. I’m using this with an iPhone but it’s also available for Android phones or tablets.

Our cats are curious about what I’m up to. Notice how you can see the reflected heat of the cat on the door it’s standing next to. When using the camera around reflective objects be careful about not catching a reflection of heat from something nearby. You can even see your own body heat reflected in a window when standing in front of it.

Thermal image of cat in hallway.

Other fun uses around the house… Image your power panel to see if any circuits might be overloaded. Look at your gas grill to see exactly how and where the heat goes for better control while cooking. It can also be useful to find water leaks behind a wall.