In construction and home improvement, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to utilize thermal cameras for your iPhone or Android phone. Thermal imaging comes in extremely handy, especially for home inspectors and contractors.
Thermal cameras are helpful to detect many issues in and around your home, whether you are a contractor, homeowner, or home inspector. However, a home inspector or contractor trying to detect these problems is only as good as their thermal camera. Choosing the right camera option and knowing how to use it is paramount to its usefulness.
This article will cover everything you need to know about thermal cameras for your iPhone or Android. We will go over the best types of thermal cameras and how to choose the right one. If you’re ready to take your career as a home inspector or contractor to the next level, you will do well to pay attention to this article!
When are Thermal Cameras Necessary?
Thermal cameras are helpful at bringing several problems to light that you cannot see with the naked eye. As the name indicates, thermal cameras detect the presence of heat or the absence of it. While it might seem silly that this is a necessary attribute for home inspectors and contractors, thermal cameras can be a lifesaver.
Here are some of the issues that thermal cameras can help you detect.
- The presence or lack of insulation
The most helpful way to utilize thermal imaging as a contractor or house inspector is to detect insulation. Depending on the temperature outside, your thermal camera can see what you cannot. Walls and ceilings covered in drywall cannot be accessed for insulation inspection by the naked eye.
However, a thermal camera will quickly detect if certain parts of your home have enough insulation or are lacking based on the imagery feedback they receive.
- Roof leaks
Depending on the location of your roof leak and its severity, a thermal camera will be able to detect it. Thermal cameras detect even the most subtle temperature differences, meaning that hot air sneaking through a cool roof will be noticeable.
- Plumbing leaks
Plumbing leaks are detectable by thermal cameras depending on the temperature of the water coming out of the leaky pipe. If the water is noticeably warmer or cooler than the rest of the tube, it’s usually a sign of a plumbing leak.
- Termite damage
Termite damage isn’t as evident to thermal cameras as some of these other changes. However, a high-profile thermal camera can detect termite damage if there are enough termites present. Their heat signatures will be noticeable through floorboards or behind walls. The damage itself might not be apparent by a thermal camera. Still, a skilled contractor or home inspector will pick up on the heat signatures of these tiny creatures and be able to identify them.
How to Choose the Right Thermal Camera
Choosing the right thermal camera depends on what your goals are and what your budget is. To help you make your decision, we’ll go through all the considerations to keep in mind when making your purchase.
Compatibility to Your Phone
The first and most obvious consideration to consider is whether or not the camera is compatible with your phone. Certain cameras are only compatible with iPhones, while others are compatible with Android devices. You also want to make sure that the thermal camera you choose is compatible with your specific phone or if you need to upgrade or update your device.
Temperature Sensing Range
The temperature sensing range is massively essential depending on what you’re using your camera for. It’s equally important to think about the temperatures and climates you’ll be doing the bulk of your work under. Certain cameras work better in cold conditions, while others work better in warmer conditions. Ideally, you should find a thermal camera that works well under both weather conditions.
Resolution and Focus
Because of the types of images that thermal cameras pick up, it’s imperative to choose one with the resolution you need. If you plan on being able to detect tiny temperature differences and focus on pinhole leaks, a camera with high resolution is essential. You’ll also need a thermal camera that can see the most subtle differences between thermal images and visual pictures, which is where focus comes into play.
Sensitivity and Accuracy
Accuracy and sensitivity go hand in hand with quality resolution and focus. There’s no point in investing in a thermal camera if it can’t pick up on subtle temperature differences with high accuracy. An excellent thermal camera should also measure the differences in temperature between different objects and images. The more sensitive and accurate your thermal camera is, the better it will be able to detect and measure temperature differences.
Your budget is also critical. If saving money and only detecting the minor details is all that matters to you, then don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a thermal camera for your phone. However, if the quality is the most essential aspect of your thermal phone, throw the budget out the window and purchase the best thermal camera.
Do I Have to Purchase an Additional Accessory to Use My Smart Phone as a Thermal Camera?
While you can download thermal imaging apps on your iPhone or Android device, they aren’t as good as thermal cameras. You should always opt for the physical camera over an app for the best and most accurate results.
Best Thermal Cameras for iPhone and Android Devices
Now that we know how to choose the best thermal camera and how to choose one, let’s go over the top options on the market.
FLIR One Pro LT
The number one choice for us and the most similar website for the best thermal camera is the FLIR One Pro LT. FLIR has several excellent thermal cameras for both iPhones and Android phones. The FLIR One Pro LT is compatible with iPhones and Android phones and offers some of the highest-quality thermal imaging.
A couple of important features about the FLIR One is that it comes with its own app, or you can operate it with many different 3rd party apps if you want to. It also offers 4,800 resolution to go with 80 x 60 pixels, which will be hard to beat for a thermal camera phone attachment. It attaches easily and quickly to any phone with a USB port and is equally easy to operate.
FLIR is one of the most respected names in thermal imaging cameras, and the FLIR ONE Pro LT is no exception. It also has a decent battery life of 45 minutes to an hour, which is more than enough time for most contractors and home inspectors in a single setting. The only possible downside of the FLIR One Pro is that you might have to remove your phone case to connect the camera, depending on the type of phone and case.
SEEK Thermal Compact Pro
The SEEK Thermal Compact Pro thermal imaging camera is the number two thermal camera. Compact makes many top-notch thermal cameras, and we’ll get to more of them in a moment. However, the SEEK Thermal Compact Pro is one of the best thermal camera options for iPhones and Androids.
An awesome feature about this phone-connected thermal camera is that you don’t have to worry about charging it while it’s connected to your phone. You can simply connect it to the bottom of your phone and start using it until your heart is content. The camera offers 320 x 240 resolution and has four different modes to take pictures.
- Traditional mode where it works like a normal camera.
- Temperature mode, where it detects the exact temperature of a specific area.
- Threshold mode where it only detects images within a predetermined temperature range.
- High-low mode.
Whether your thermal imaging or temperature detection goals or what kind of phone you have, the SEEK Thermal Compact Pro is hard to go wrong with.
A great thermal camera attachment specific for Android smartphones is the HTI Xintai. This thermal camera has incredible resolution at 384 x 288 and highly effectively captures thermal images and videos alike. You can capture real-time thermal images at 24-herz, and you’ll never need a battery or charger when the device gets connected to your phone.
The HTI Xintai also comes with a custom carrying case and offers high resolution for thermal imaging. The only real downside is that the app it requires to operate with can be tricky to download and has a reputation of being tough to work with. While it has the highest resolution of any thermal phone camera on this list, it’s only compatible with Android devices.
Compact is one of the top names in thermal cameras that can attach to phones. They offer several top products, including the SEEK Thermal Compact Pro, which we’ve already covered. Other top options include the original Compact, Compact XR, and Compact Pro, which are all compatible with all smartphones. The Compact Pro XR, however, is only compatible with Android devices.
No matter which one of these fantastic cameras you choose, you are bound to be blown away by the quality and resolution of your images. They all offer temperature detection from -40 to 626 degrees Fahrenheit, come with a waterproof case, have a focusable lens, and can record both photos and videos.
The most significant difference between each of the Compact products lies in the quality and resolution they offer and the maximum detection distance they offer.
FLIR One 3rd Gen
FLIR also offers several different thermal camera options for various smartphones like Compact devices. However, the other one that’s most worthy of mention is the FLIR One 3rd Gen. This model is slightly more budget-friendly than most other FLIR devices, but it’s also slightly older. However, it has the same FLIR quality and branding and takes extremely high-quality thermal images and videos.
However, because it’s slightly outdated, the FLIR One 3rd Gen won’t work with micro-USB devices. It also has a history of not connecting correctly to all phones, though it’s compatible with Android devices and iPhones. However, for its price point and overall quality, it’s hard to compete with the FLIR One 3rd Gen.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly thermal camera option, the Perfect Prime is perfect. It has a 32 x 32 resolution with 1024 pixels and includes a USB adapter. While it may get the job done in certain instances, it isn’t as good as any other cameras on this list, and contractors and home inspectors should avoid it. It is, however, a decent option for homeowners who are curious and feel like poking around.
Can an Android phone do thermal imaging?
There are both apps and thermal camera attachments for Android phones, allowing them to record high-quality thermal images.
Can I use an iPhone as a thermal camera?
As with Android devices, both apps and thermal camera attachments for iPhones allow them to record excellent thermal images.
Is there an infrared app for Android or iPhone?
There are infrared apps for Android phones and iPhones, but these apps aren’t as good as actual thermal cameras.
Thermal cameras for your iPhone or Android device certainly aren’t a requirement for contractors or home inspectors, but they give you abilities that you wouldn’t have without them. If you’re looking to take your attention to detail to the next level, then it’s certainly worth investing in one of the models mentioned on this list. You’ll be able to detect issues and subtle temperature changes that you can’t without them.