How Thermal Imaging Is Used to Find Loose Power Connections

Loose power connections pose a safety hazard for residents or workers at home, in the office, factory, production units, or other properties. It can lead to accidents and risk people’s lives residing or working in such buildings. Loose power connections have been one of the major causes of fires in buildings that power complex and multiple electrical systems like HVAC, computers, machinery, and other equipment. Thus, it’s imperative to conduct periodic checks and maintenance activities.

Facility managers and building owners can prevent accidents and safeguard themselves against production losses, unwanted breakdowns, and future legal hassles by undertaking periodic maintenance of electrical systems housed inside the buildings. Of late, thermal imaging has emerged as an effective, non-invasive, and affordable inspection method for detecting loose connections.

Thermal imaging is user-friendly and capable of detecting the problem of loose connections at an early stage. Thus, building owners and facility managers can take corrective measures to address the problem quickly and prevent it from turning risky.

Thermal Inspection – An Overview 

Thermal or infrared cameras are used to capture images of equipment, building, machinery, and electrical wirings for a thorough analysis of temperature anomalies. Faulty equipment emits greater heat than the ones functioning normally under a standard load. Now the thermal cameras can pick even the slightest temperature change, and when the images are analyzed using software, the problem areas or faulty components can be identified easily. These faults or anomalies are impossible to detect with the naked eye and conventional methods.

The major benefit of using thermal cameras is that they can accurately calculate the heat emitted by electrical parts or components. In contrast, the electrical system is operational under standard load conditions. Identifying temperature variations in an electrical connection through infrared cameras helps in detecting loose power connections. This temperature displayed on the screen marks the cold and hot spots in differently colored images. The color spots on the thermal images facilitate the detection of loose power connections or faulty components.

From detecting faulty wires and overloading to overheating and corrosion, thermal scanning can identify a variety of problems plaguing the electrical systems. You need to hire trained and experienced thermographers or electricians to conduct thermal scanning of electrical systems. If you intend to go the DIY way, please do it under the guidance of an experienced engineer.

How to Detect Hot Spots?

Loose power connections, if ignored, can lead to significant electrical faults. Ultimately, it will have devastating effects on the entire property. However, there’s an effective way to identify the faults in electrical installation without even going near it.

Thanks to thermal imaging technology, you can easily detect major electrical faults. The infrared cameras can take accurate temperature measurements from a distance. The in-built software provides accurate measurements through colored images on the camera indicating hot and cold objects. Thus, loose power connections will show up as hot spots on the images, repaired by the maintenance team.

Reasons Behind Loose Power Connection

The primary factors that cause loose power connections are external vibration, creep, and thermal changes.

  • External Vibrations – External vibrations are caused because of overloading. External vibration sources may include wedge gears, gearing, misalignment, or even through connected loads. Sometimes these external vibrations become tough to control or avoid.
  • Creep – It’s caused due to changes in the shape of the electrical conductors over time. This type of loose connection can happen anytime, leading to permanent deformation of the conductors.
  • Thermal changes – This type of loose connection occurs because of expansion and contraction in the electrical conductors.

How to find Loose Power Connections?

Loose power connections in electrical installations can be identified through extensive thermal scanning. Here’re a few things to consider before carrying out the inspection:

  • Thermo scanning with an infrared camera is a contactless method. Thus, you can inspect without switching off the circuit or the electrical panel. This also implies that you can inspect the entire installation from a safe distance.
  • If you want to get accurate measurements, you should allow the current passage for some time. This makes the electrical panel thermally stabilized to take correct measurements.
  • The thermal imaging method is fully effective in replacing the traditional methods of detecting electrical faults that are sometimes dangerous.
  • Upon detecting loose power connections, it is better to restore them to their original specification. This will allow the engineers to understand the problem better and rectify the problem quickly.

How can Thermal Imaging help Identify Loose Power Connections?

  • 3 Phase Temperature Variation – You can compare the variable temperatures using the 3-phase method in the thermal imaging process. Thermal scanning provides information about the faulty electrical components and the temperature of the specific phase indicating cold temperature. The electrical phases that are heavy may appear a lot warmer than other circuit parts.

Hence, it becomes essential to analyze the images correctly, along with taking accurate measurements. Taking accurate measurements can lead to solving the issue correctly before it can turn into a bigger problem.

  • Wiring Issues – It is necessary to figure out the loose power connections under similar power load consumption. This method can indicate your correct diagnosis about the underlying problems of faulty, loose, or over-tightened power connection.

Sometimes the primary hotspot connections may appear normal or warm, indicating that everything is normal. You may also notice a few electrical parts appearing to be normal regardless of the cold temperature of the object.

  • Fuse Problems–While conducting a thermal inspection of the fuse, you might notice that it indicates a hotspot. This is a clear sign that the fuse is not functioning within its total capacity. However, not all loose connections indicate hot spots. Sometimes a faulty fuse can show a cooler temperature, even while it’s experiencing critical problems—this a why you need a professional, certified Thermographer to perform such inspections.

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