A leading thermography consultant in Netherlands uses a FLIR thermal imaging camera to inspect the insulation of different commercial refrigeration facilities.

Large walk-in freezers are installed by enterprises that need to store large amounts of goods at temperatures well below the freezing point of water. Capable of keeping whole rooms full of these goods at very low temperatures, these freezers have a high demand for energy. It is therefore very important that no outside heat leaks into the freezer. 

To make sure that the freezer's insulation is working properly, thermographers inspect the insulation material with a thermal imaging camera.

Dennis van Est, thermographer at the Uden, Netherlands based Thermografisch en AdviesbureauUden explains that inspecting walk in freezers, cold rooms and other types of large commercial refrigeration units is very similar to building insulation inspections, the only difference being the direction of heat. Building insulation inspections usually involve detection of heat leakage from the inside of the building to the outside air while the focus is on heat leaking inwards with refrigeration units. 

The thermography consultant comments that heat leakage can cause a huge unnecessary expenditure on energy bills; detecting these heat leaks at an early stage allows the owner to fix the insulation defects, preventing soaring energy bills. The rising energy prices are seeing a corresponding increase in the demand for walk in refrigerator and freezer inspections.

Van Est finds insulation problems in many of the walk in freezers and cold rooms he is hired to inspect. Even newly built refrigeration units have faulty construction problems such as the joints between the insulation panels not being protected properly, creating heat bridges and causing unnecessary energy consumption. Older units might develop insulation faults over time due to wear. 

He recommends using thermal imaging cameras for both scenarios to detect insulation defects. 

Van Est is also particular about the quality of the thermal imaging camera; only high quality thermal images can detect heat bridges in the freezer insulation. In addition to thermal sensitivity and accuracy, the image resolution is also very crucial as the thermographer should be able to interpret the thermal image without missing any information to draw the right conclusions. 

Van Est is confident about the quality of the FLIR P640 thermal imaging cameras. With an image resolution of 640x480, a thermal sensitivity of 30 mK (0.03°C) and an accuracy of ± 2°C or ± 2% of the reading, the thermal images produced by the FLIR P640 thermal imaging camera are of exceptionally high quality. He also finds the FLIR thermal imaging camera model as very user-friendly while the ergonomic design prevents backaches and arm strain.

Another important thermal imaging camera feature for this particular application is the calibration range, says Van Est. The FLIR P640 thermal imaging camera is calibrated to a minimum temperature of -40°C, which ensures accurate temperature measurements. Most freezers are kept at a temperature range of -20°C and -30°C. However, even at temperatures just below the official calibration range, such as some exceptionally cold freezers that cool down their contents to -50°C or even -60°C, the FLIR P640 thermal imaging camera is still quite capable of visualising insulation leaks.

Ralf Grispen, commercial manager at Thermografisch en AdviesbureauUden underlines the importance of training in the use of the camera. He explains that the knowledge and skill of the thermographer is just as important as camera quality. The company therefore makes sure that all of their inspectors have at least a level I thermography certificate from the FLIR Infrared Training Center (ITC) and preferably level II as well. 

Van Est concludes that high quality thermal imaging cameras and good training come at a price, but they are definitely worth the money. Thermografisch en AdviesbureauUden has several FLIR thermal imaging cameras, which are used for a wide variety of applications, including building insulation inspections, industrial maintenance inspections, HVAC systems, airplane composite materials, water ingress and refrigeration unit insulation inspections.