What is a Thermal Survey?

Whether you’re in need of routine surveys of your land or searching for leaks in an area that’s difficult to access, thermal surveys are a top solution that provide a swift and cost-effective result time and time again. So, if you’re wondering ‘what is a thermal survey?’, it’s best to start with the following question:

Thermal Survey showing heat signatures

What is thermal detection?

To break a common misperception, it’s worth mentioning that thermal imaging and night vision are two very different technologies. Night vision requires nearby visible light and amplifies that light for it to work, but it can be distorted by rain, fog, smoke, dust, and other similar conditions. Whereas, thermal imaging does not require any light, it picks out changes in temperature and creates a clear image showing objects with a higher heat signature in yellow, orange or red. Thermal imaging also doesn’t get affected by weather conditions and allows you to see thermal signatures underground and any other places normally out of view to the human eye.

So, the difference between night vision and thermal imaging are quite sparce, with night vision now being a rather outdated technology with limitations that thermal imaging does not have.

How does a thermal survey work?

Thermal imaging cameras detect differences in heat emitting from: buildings, liquids and gas, electrical circuits, capacitors, vehicles, machinery, couplings and insulation, land and rocks, and even living species, animals, and vegetation. On top of all of that, thermal imaging cameras can also identify heat variation in darkness and through dust and smoke, making them ideal for mining environments.

Using thermal imaging systems fitted to UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems – more commonly referred to as ‘drones’), we can capture temperature changes from above. Images are created from heat (infrared thermal radiation) rather than visible light and can capture temperature changes even as small as 0.01°C. This gives you a broad scope of data and allows you to discover any leaks or malfunctions quickly.

Then, from 3D visualisations and georeferenced images to temperature profiles and more – once the data has been captured, we supply survey data in a digital format that best suits your needs.

What are the benefits of thermal imaging cameras?

Thermal imaging cameras can quickly identity leaks and temperature loss, as well as connection problems and malfunctions. This is all captured in high definition to create detailed thermal imaging maps. Another benefit is that drones can fly lower than manned aircraft and can therefore get up-close and capture superior detail in glorious high-definition thermal imaging. 

It’s the next step up from sending workers to survey an area, as with the ability to capture different temperatures, thermal imaging cameras allow you to see an extra dimension, spotting issues that wouldn’t be visible to the naked eye. This makes this process much more effective as it’s safer and less time-consuming.

Surveys of inaccessible areas, for example, power lines, or across large areas of land such as solar farms are obvious assets that greatly benefit from the use of drones swiftly conducting regular thermal inspections. These would usually take much longer to survey if you did this manually with a team of people – the quicker any issues are identified, the quicker you’ll be able to take immediate action to resolve them.

Camera showing thermal imaging

Which thermal imaging survey is right for me?

The different types of thermal imaging surveys are as follows:

  • Heat loss surveys, 3D visualisation and temperature profiles
  • Thermographic imaging to assess building integrity
  • Thermal imaging surveys for BREEAM compliance
  • Energy reduction and CO2 emission assessments

For more information on what each thermal survey is used for, get in touch with our team and we’ll discuss the different types of thermal imaging surveys and discover which is best for your business. Still reading? Take a look at an example of a thermal survey we completed for a client based in Peterborough.