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 hereĀ 



  • Well formulated Bob. On the other side, some very few electricians and thermographers never quite should have become one, and the same can be said about every other job from performing the most simple task, to being the President. LOL. Always try to get the best person for the job!

  • Well written , Yes as a level III thermographer and journeyman/master electrician I feel everyone should have at a minimum of a level I training in order to perform theses surveys safely and have a very basic understand what your doing , Level II is best as this is where you actually see what each setting is and what effects it has on your thermogram as well as A written procedures and standards should also be a part of that. All electricians should have arc flash training and knowledge of the proper PPE for working around energized equipment and utilize this equipment as needed . With technology anyone can take a photo with a camera but not like a Photographer its the same with IR just because you can see things on the screen that doesn’t mean your a thermographer, or even have a good image, what pallets are you using, are you at a good angle or is your emissivity is correct, what type of material are you looking at (shinny dull oxidized ) are exceeding your IFOV, right temperature range. I can make anything look good or bad by just making some setting adjustments.
    One Note :The use of ultrasound in conjunction with IR is a must for safety 70E arc flash and it can help find electrical issues that IR can not like arching tracking and corona.

    • Hi Jim,

      I agree with Ultrasound is essential for HV, not much sure its of any benefit on LV installations.

      • In electric power transmission engineering, high voltage is usually considered any voltage over approximately 35,000 volts. This is a classification based on the design of apparatus and insulation.

        Bob , you may not be as familiar with ultrasound as IR , I always take a quick sweep around the door seal first using ultrasound for any sign of arching or tracking that could lead to an arc flash incident before I open any door on an electrical enclosure when I’m inspecting with IR and UE. I have found many electrical issues with ultrasound. . The 600V and below equipment there are many problems to find such as dirty contacts , poorly seated or badly worn contacts in electromagnetic relays, starters and contactors, also bad shading poles on the coils and the best one I think to use ultrasound on is the stabs on an MCC bucket dirty or loose connections at the stab behind the bucket or the conductors to the termination point where the heat doesn’t follow the connection all the way around to the front side of the back plane so you can see it with IR and it would be an indirect measurement to the front side of the backplane so it may not even give you a hot spot in the bucket but you can hear with ultrasound .You can also use it to check load centers for bad connections an arching and tracking of the contacts in breakers if your checking those for data centers. If your taking the covers off you can check theses with IR as well. Yes I love the IR but in combination the UE can hold its own in some cases and is a great and easy verifier

Comments are closed.