I would like to check basic thermal leaks of the house heating system (and perhaps the house thermal insulation as well). As the professional services or equipment (thermocamera) are very expensive, I would like to check if there is perhaps some DIY solution, e.g. using a digital camera, using IR webcam, using a thermometer or any other cheap or commonly used equipment.

If the tools are not something I already have at home, I am willing to pay at most USD 200 (EUR 150) for the required tools.

And as a bonus:

  • what is the difference which makes the thermocamera so expensive (USD 6000 and more) compared to a webcam or a normal digital camera? Does it have some special properties, like broad input spectrum, or what?
  • You can might be able to rent an IR camera from a big box hardware store, though I haven't looked lately so I can't say for sure. – Tester101 Sep 7 '10 at 0:36
  • Fun fact: digital camera sensors can detect IR, but they have filters to block it. You can get unfiltered versions, but they require reflected IR (just like ordinary cameras need light). True thermal cameras are much more sensitive to detect direct IR emissions, hence the higher price. – Foo Bar Dec 1 '14 at 18:47

Thanks for the advice.

I have found following detailed instruction on procedures to check insulation with IR thermometer: Determining Insulation and Air Infiltration Levels Using an Infrared Thermometer

I have decided to buy a Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector, which seems to be an IR thermometer with some additional functionality to make finding hot / cold spots easier by coloring the aiming light dot. I will write here later my experiences.

After a week of using TLD100 I have to say my experience is mixed:

  • it really works extremely well for its primary purpose, i.e. checking the house insulation
  • using it to check heating system is a bit tricky, as IR thermometers do not work very well with reflective surfaces. In my case the heating pipes are from copper, which is quite shiny, and the insulation around them is a mineral wool finished with aluminium wrap, which is very shiny. Because of this, measuring their temperature with IR is very inaccurate, a contact thermometer would probably do a much better job. That said, the same limitations would apply for IR camera, as the principle is the same in both cases.
  • 1
    I have an IR thermometer. When not in use for its primary purpose, I use it for a variety of things like checking the temperature of a batch of apple sauce to ensure it has been properly pasteurized. – user558 Nov 4 '10 at 10:33

This site has some cheap IR thermometers that might be useful.

(Found here via Google)

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