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Thermal imaging camera recommendation?

swazo | Posted in General Questions on

I plan on buying a thermal imaging camera to locate air leaks when we do our blower door tests. Does anyone have a recommendation? Although I’m sure we would use it for other projects , my main goal is for the current need. I’m considering the FLIR ONE or ONE Pro. The One Pro looks like it would work much better but is about twice the price. $400 vs $200. Other options- Home depot rents a better model for $75 a day. I have read about used digital cameras converted to thermal imaging with a filter.
I thought I would use a blower from an old furnace first to find leaks before paying for the blower door test. Is there any chance that would work or would it be a waste of time.
If it matters, we plan on testing before sheet rock so we can fix leaks.


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    I'll let other readers provide recommendations on what model to buy or rent. But you should understand that interpreting what you see on the screen of your camera requires training. For more information, see An Introduction to Thermal Imaging.

  2. Randy_Williams | | #2

    Hi Jim,
    I currently use a Flir C3, but at $700, it's much more expensive than the Flir 1. I only use mine a few times a month, so couldn't justify the $3,000 or more for a Ex or Exx series camara. Another option is to look for a used unit. I recently sold my 10 year old Extech I5 for $200. Would have been a perfect camera for your needs. Martin is right, you should spend some time learning how to use the camera. Formal training is best, but Youtube videos will get you started. As far as using a furnace fan as a blower door, it might work depending on building size and tightness. By the time you buy a camera and build a blower door, it might be worth just hiring someone to conduct a blower door test.

  3. NormanWB | | #3

    I looked at the specs for each and decided on the non-pro version. You can find them on ebay and elsewhere for $200 or less.

  4. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #4

    Large reversible multi-speed high cfm window fans (eg the 20" AirKing 9166 or the 16" AirKing 9155 , or 16: Lasko 2155A ) can help a lot when leak-chasing with an IR camera, and are a lot easier to deal with than a furnace blower. The reversability function allows you either pressurize or depressurize the room/house to find the leaks that are bigger in one direct than the other.

    You don't get a leak rate or pressure number, but you're talking ~$150 for the 20 incher, less than $100 for a 16 incher rather than a couple grand or more for a calibrated blower door with accessories & instrumentation.

  5. gusfhb | | #5

    I bought a seek thermal iphone attachment

    gives good images and the app is reasonable.
    my phone has developed plug issues[have to play with it to get it to charge] and the cameras has quit working this week, will have to get the phone fixed

  6. Chris_King | | #6

    Hey Keith,
    Try cleaning out the charge port. It’s amazing how much dust it collects. Turn off the phone and stick Something in there and gently poke around especially the corners to clean it out. Make sure the item isn’t metal so use like a tooth pick or the end of those floss/tooth pick combos and it should fix at least the charge issue.

  7. gusfhb | | #7

    Yeah, I have, no love. I am charging an old iphone right now to see if I can convert it to a toolbox device.

    to further drift, I have replaced the battery, and will eventually replace the screen, so when I do that, I will replace the charge port.
    much easier than you think

  8. swazo | | #8

    Thanks for all the info.
    Randy- you should have called me before you sold the camera. LOL
    I have the furnace blower. I will need to do a documented blower door test but thought I could get a good start on finding leaks with the furnace fan. "leaks that are bigger in one direct than the other" I have never heard that but I guess it makes sense. I read up on it. Thanks once again Dana.
    I'll educate myself on usage. I used one before and usage seemed straight forward. I could see the nails in an old house on a cold night. Awesome!

  9. DennisWood | | #9

    I've been using an older FLIR ONE on a iphone 5s kept alive just for the imager. It has been fine for my purposes, but I would not be using it in a commercial setting due to its limited resolution.

    If your house is reasonably tight, you can generate air leaks by just firing up bathroom exhausts and kitchen exhausts at the same time, if you have them. Otherwise a few box fans in windows do indeed work very well. I use them all the time during renovations to negatively pressurise areas for dust management.

    My biggest mistake during the last reno (using a spray foam contractor) is not doing a quick leak test while the guys were still on site by reversing the box fans already being used to pressurise the house. Getting them back to address issues for example after blown in was added over a closed cell foam air sealed attic was impossible. The FLIR one picked up air leaks from ceiling light fixture cover boxes that had not been properly air sealed with closed cell foam in the attic. Spray foam is exothermic which means the heat generated during cure will allow air leaks to show up quite visibly (cool air, warm walls) with even a small delta T.

    I've found time and time again that attention to fine details (like thermal imaging after insulation jobs) can address a lot of issues that are potential long term problems. With the FLIR device on an iPhone you can take thermal images along with normal pics so you can reference any corrective actions for a contractor.

  10. tommy56 | | #10

    I love the idea of a camera doorbell with monitor. I think it would be great to see who is at the door before opening it. It would also be great to talk to the person without opening the door. I think this would be a great security feature for any home. A great option for home security is the camera doorbell with monitor That way, you can see who's at your door without opening it. Camera Doorbell will take a picture of the person at the door and send it to your monitor. Then you can decide whether to open the door or not.

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