Steam- Heating and Process

Steam- Heating and Process

Steam- Heating and Process

Infrared thermography is a powerful & non-invasive method of monitoring and troubleshooting steam traps, controls and boilers.

When selecting a thermal imaging camera for steam heating or process there are several considerations that should be taken into account. While a standard camera might provide excellent image quality, a harsh hot environment may present a whole new set of challenges.

Qualities to consider are:

  • Environmental conditions for testing (durability)
  • Temperature range
  • Data gathering capabilities
  • Ease of use
  • Resolution (detector size)
  • Sensitivity

Environmental conditions or considerations include potential exposure to dust, dirt, water, chemicals and or extreme heat or cold.  If the camera is not suited for the environment that it is used in, or not used with extreme care in harsh environments, its life could be very short lived. While you may be able to purchase a less expensive camera with similar radiometric specifications, cameras in this category are generally better suited for less than ideal testing conditions.

Temperature range should be carefully considered during the selection process. Lower temperature range cameras like those used in building science are not well suited for industrial applications where elevated temperatures and the need to quantify them exist. If the range selected is to low, high temperature objects will wash out in the image and over range the camera. 

Data gathering is an important part of managing a thermography maintenance program. Because of PPE requirements in harsh or industrial environments, feature like voice annotation become very desirable when gloves make data recording hard if not impossible.

Ease of use is of critical importance when selecting an imager. Single handed operation, easy focus, hand straps, wrist straps, and other features which improve ergonomics are all features to consider.

Resolution is extremely important when your work is further away. Steam inspection and mechanical inspection can provide may challenges when the distance becomes a limitation.  Higher resolution means better image quality both near and far. While a higher resolution camera may initially cost more, the ability to work from the ground or at longer distances can improve workflow and eliminate the need for a ladder or a lift.   

When using an analyzer to check the operation of steam traps sensitivity is of particular importance. High mass components like case iron F&T traps and bucket traps do not change in temperature quickly when they open and close. A high sensivity imager will allow the user to see visually if the trap is operating properly or steam is blowing through to the condensate return system.