Thermography Testing: All Questions Answered

While using an electrical panel for your home supply, there is a chance of equipment damage. Besides, the problem may lead to excess power usage or catastrophic equipment failure. Hence, the  Electricity at Work Regulation Act 1989. states guidelines to avoid it. Thermography testing,  detection of defects is becoming popular, as the thermal image can test the equipment damage for up to 99% accuracy.

Why Can You use Thermography to Inspect Electrical Equipment?

Energized electrical systems emit thermal energy as the current faces electrical resistance. The electrical system will generate the amount of heat in the form of infrared radiation, depending upon how much current is flowing through it and the high-resistance connections that come in the way. Without an increase in equipment use, this thermal diffusivity may damage the system and causes an increase in resistance, increase in power consumption, and, as a result, waves infrared.

Furthermore, losing connection in the power system makes resistance higher, resulting in a higher temperature profile. So if you detect the loose wires, the power system will start working in a better way.

Infrared thermography is an emerging test for the electrical system, and it will detect the change in temperature equilibrium and show you the high resistance areas. Moreover, the non-destructive testing method can check for poor connections as well.

How Does Thermographic Testing Work?

Thermography senses the infrared radiation surface temperature distribution of the electrical object. You may know it as infrared inspection, and testing devices detect the light as the heat spectrum. The infrared image records the color variations, and colors will be white for warm temperature areas to black for more excellent regions.

Similarly, you can use them as a quality control tool too. The electricians perform an infrared inspection after they complete the electrical insulation process. So, they will get to know the problem areas before the machine gets to work.

You will use special infrared video or still cameras to detect electromagnetic radiation, and the technology converts rays into a thermal image. Likewise, you can also see the temperature from the infrared radiation and know whether it is in the standard value or not.

Thus, you can use this test to assess the thermal condition of the critical systems.  Notably, the infrared camera is one of the most accessible infrared thermal imaging devices.

Importance of Thermographic Testing

The infrared imaging camera points out the high thermal waves. Because of it, you can easily see the surface crack. So, you can enjoy the following benefits from thermographic inspection.

  • Early detection of cause. As with equal equipment testing intervals, you can detect the cause of failure on time. The thermal wave scanning method will reduce stress to repair failed power control boxes.
  • High maintenance costs but low repair costs. While you will maintain the power system regularly, there are fewer chances of wasting your time and money on it later on. Maintenance costs may be high, but it will save you from the hefty Repair costs.
  • Less chance of injury. The repairs are on time as you detect the issue forehand. Therefore, there is less chance of circuit panels electrocuting any person working around it, decreasing the chance of death and damage.
  • Easy to maintain critical systems. Due to the complex design of the power systems, it is risky for an electrician to detect heat flow. So they cannot perform other tests where the equipment has to be in contact with the tested device. With thermographic devices, there is no need to be in touch with the surface. Hence, in heavy equipment, you can check the issue using these cameras and maintain them.

Who can Perform Infrared Inspection?

As we advise, always go for the trusted sources to inspect your electrical panel. The company may perform the inspection on its own or hire consultants. Either way, a well-trained person will best fit your need to get the test done by it.

Thermographic imaging equipment is challenging to understand. Also, you may have to expose yourself to “live” wirings and power control boxes. Thus, you should have professionals to train you for it.

American Society for Non-Destructive Testing offers a certification program. There are also diplomas for training the staff and evaluating the professional consultant. OHSA or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in Subpart S of the General Industry Standard, 29CFR1910.335(a)(1)(v) states explicitly that

“Employees shall have to wear protective masks and goggles on the face whenever there is a danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric surge or flying objects due to an electrical explosion in power transfer circuits.”

Steps to Carry Out Infrared Thermography

In this process, the device performs sensing of heat. Here the heat is in the form of infrared radiation that is emitting from the power system. 

As you conduct the test, you deep detect the thermal conditions. The inspection is done for all the surfaces of the machine with a thermal imaging gun.

These heat patterns determine the surface cracks in electrical insulation, and it gets you a picture of what is happening in an electrical panel. 

Captured image shows electrical equipment temperature changes with white and black. So you will analyze the area where the thermal energy is in excess in the electrical circuits. After the test, you can then opt for maintenance if the power system needs it.

What issues can Thermographic Testing point out?

Here are some of the problems you can quickly scan with thermal testing

  • Poor connections that increase resistance
  • Overloaded Cables in the system
  • Fuse or Breakers that support many devices
  • Overheated motor windings that are not easy to reach in other testing techniques
  • Imbalance in phase load
  • Overcrowded Trunking
  • Thermal Loss within the machine
  • Points where electrical insulation is weaken
  • Damp Equipment due to rain
  • Hotspot due to excess heat emission
  • Failing conveyors or motors in heavy equipment

When Do You Need A Thermographic Scan?

You need a thermographic scan of the system of your electrical components to have

  • Higher Power consumption without an increase in equipment use 
  • Distributive Subsystems
  • Multiple branch circuits
  • Complex heavy equipment

How Frequent Should The Inspections Be?

The inspection times depend upon the working environment of electrical components. As per Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance,

  • You must perform routine infrared inspections of energized electrical systems annually.
  • You need to have a quarter or semi-annual inspection if you have
  1. installed the power system recently,
  2. have changed the operation environment, or
  3. had extra load over the equipment

Infrared thermography is only effective when the power systems are energetic. Hence, it would help if you detected while the power transfer circuits are operational. Additionally, you may expose the power control boxes to changing weather. Here it would be best if you were more frequent with the thermal testing schedule.

Conclusion

Thermography testing is a cost-saving way. Yet, it requires frequent inspections by a professional consultant. After all, unexplained power surges are a significant threat to catastrophic equipment failure. Any questions about your infrared image? Contact us to get answers.

Here at Cloom, we offer custom wiring assembly with attention to each detail so that you don’t have to worry about loose connections. Maintain it with an annual thermographic inspection, and you are good to go.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at sales@wiringo.com to get a quote for your projects.

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