Electrical maintenance presents challenges unique to the electrical contracting field. Previously, problems were mostly identified during or after an emergency, an inconvenience for the building owner that was forced to deal with an unscheduled outage.
While infrared technology is not new, its everyday applications are becoming more apparent. For electricians, it is becoming an industry staple. Construction crews or building owners would be wise to seek out electrical contractors with access to infrared technology.
What Is Infrared?:
Infrared refers to the range of radiation along the electromagnetic spectrum that can be detected by thermal imaging cameras. The specific radiation range is ideal for visualizing objects without using light, largely because levels are detectable at room temperature ranges. According to the “black body radiation law,” temperatures exceeding regular room temperatures appear illuminated in various colors that are easily seen with a detection screen.
Because radiation emissions increase with temperatures, a specialist can make exact determinations from a safe distance.
Electricians and electrical contractors are just one group that regularly uses infrared technology for detection purposes. Infrared is used by government personnel for security reasons. Firefighters look through smoke with infrared, while building construction teams can use infrared cameras to spot air leaks and heating inefficiencies.
How Is Infrared Technology Used in Electrical Inspections?:
Electrical contractors must observe tiny spaces. Even major electrical problems start small. If an electrician hopes to prevent a serious issue, he or she must have the ability to trace an entire electrical network from end to end.
Trained professional can use infrared cameras to inspect circuit breaker panels, power transformers, motors, motor control centers, bus connections and controls for air compressors, boilers and cooling systems.
With infrared cameras, electricians are able to detect many otherwise unnoticeable warning signs. For example, loose or poor connections might not pose an immediate problem, but they will eventually. Cameras also can spot fuse stress and contact wear.
With infrared technology, electricians can identify circuit overloading and imbalances.
Why Is Infrared Technology Preferred in the Electrical Contracting Field?:
Problem prevention is likely the most important use for infrared thermography for electrical contractors. The technology can allow a trained professional to identify issues months or years before they become serious problems. That advance notice allows customers to repair and replace faulty equipment without the serious interruptions associated with outages or other emergencies. In addition, infrared inspections can be done without disrupting normal operations.
By enlisting an electrical contractor with infrared equipment, a building owner can avoid a dangerous situation. A thorough infrared inspection can put the occupants of a building at ease, knowing an unexpected outage is less likely.
Mike Pempek writes for John J. Pempek Inc., a leading Chicago electrical contractor dedicated to providing quality industrial and commercial contracting, infrared thermography and the manufacture of UL-registered custom industrial control panels.
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