In a previous post I dealt with the issue of non-electrical people carrying out thermography. There is also an issue with electrically qualified people without any knowledge of thermography carrying out electrical thermography. This post deals with this issue.
As an electrician myself, I know that many electricians believe that once they finish their apprenticeship then they are qualified and that is the end of their studies. Sadly, this was the case many years ago. Today as most younger people realise, working in any industry means a certain commitment to a lifelong learning program. However, the perception pervades that an electrician can simply pick up a thermal imaging camera, and away he goes. I suppose this is in part because they are used to picking up and using all kinds of test equipment. I have met electricians that did not know how to use their own multimeter, and have had to show a few how to use their own clamp meter correctly. No doubt many of them don’t know how to use a thermal camera correctly.
As camera prices fall, more and more people have access to them, and many don’t invest in any form of training. Some do watch some youtube videos, where the core teaching has been reduced to to a level to suit those with the attention span of a goldfish. Cheaper cameras are available, but usually have less features than expensive models and it can be more challenging to find problems with low end cameras like these.
A good electrician will certainly find some problems with thermography, but it unlikely that he will find them all without some specific thermography skills. He is unlikely to develop those skills without some form of training, and certification provides written proof that he at least understands certain required principles.
In the same way that most electricians consider it inappropriate for someone without electrical training to carry out electrical thermography, most thermographers also consider it inappropriate for someone without thermography training to carry out electrical thermography.
Thermography is one of those methodologies that looks a lot easier then it really is. When you look at a camera, you get nice images that appear easy to understand, but this is not always the case. Training and certification programs exist, and while in many regions they are not yet mandatory, they exist for a reason. Thermography training is not new, and has been around since the very inception of the industry. Many thousands of people have been through formal training and certification programs.
In short, electrical thermography requires two competencies, electrical AND thermography. You need both to be carrying out electrical thermography. If you are an electrician, you only have one.
Part one of this post can be found here