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Community and Q&A

Thermal Image Camera for Air Sealing

zollerbuilders | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I’m looking for a thermal image camera that makes sense for my business, but with so many options it’s overwhelming.

I’m a custom home builder in PA.  I typically only have a blower door test performed at the end of the build.

Before insulating,  I’ll have the drywall ceilings hung.  I use a makeshift blower door to de pressurize the home and identify any air leaks.  I have a smoke pencil/puffer to help me identify the problem spots and seal the air leaks as I walk the home.  I’ve always had success with this approach…but it takes forever.

I’m looking for a thermal image camera that will help me easily identify any air leaks before insulating.  I have the HVAC system running by this point so there is a temperature difference between the outside and inside.

I’m sure I don’t need anything crazy, but if I do I’m always open to purchasing a tool that will make me more efficient at my job.  I almost bought the FLIR One Pro for my iPhone but haven’t pulled the trigger because of the battery life and some mixed reviews.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you! Jared.

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  1. walta100 | | #1

    I am not sure an IR camera will be very useful before you have the furnace/ AC running as there is going to be very little temperature difference between indoors and outdoors for the camera to see.

    Have you considered a fog machine inside the house and pressurizing the house and look for fog on the outside?


    1. zollerbuilders | | #2

      I have the HVAC system running by this point. That’s why I was asking about a thermal camera.

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #3

    I've used the handheld FLIR units. They are nice but spendy.

    For budget ones, look for the resolution of the unit. Lot of times this is buried in the specs. More detail is always better as it lets you spot problems for further away. Most manufactures have multiple models and the professional version tend to have higher resolution.

  3. jberger | | #4

    If you are just getting started the Flir One is fine.
    You may need to chose a different phone case to use the clip on camera, but the combo works very well.
    I've had the original model for years and it has worked well, but it is one more thing to charge, etc. You can't beat the portability, and you will spend 2x the cost to buy a similarly performing all in one unit.
    Your insulation subs will probably hate you, it shows in stark detail where they missed the mark.

  4. CMObuilds | | #5

    If I were you I’d buy a blower door first, the leakage numbers you can reference matter more than a thermal scan and will be far more valuable knowledge as you go forward.

    I build custom and spec in WI and do home performance/insulation retrofits since 2003, I used to blower door test with a hung ceiling but coordination and time lost with hangers, plus having done this so long Ive found its not necessary to go through that preinsulation test. Rather do your airsealing and trust it. You can test after hang, and if something went sideways you can fix it before drywall finish.
    If you want a lower cost blower door, Ive got 2 older ones in my shop I don't use, a magnehelic and a DG3.

    If you are set on thermal, I started way back with a Flir BCam and a Flir B50, I still use the B50 and dont need anything better, so in my opinion you could get away with the lower cost Flir products since you are looking for defect leakage which will be extremely obvious on an early test.

    1. zollerbuilders | | #7

      That’s actually a good way of looking at it. Definitely interested in talking more about the blower doors you have.

      1. CMObuilds | | #8

        Not sure if this board has messaging anymore, if you can figure it out you can message me for my contact info.

        1. zollerbuilders | | #9

          I’ve been having a hard time figuring that out...maybe you can reach out to me? My email is [email protected].

  5. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #6

    Here are a couple resources you might want to check out:

    How to Look at a House like a Building Scientist (Part 2: Heat), specifically the section titled “A bit about cameras.”

    And last week’s BS* + Beer show was about building-science diagnostic tools, and includes a discussion on IR cameras.

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