You Don’t Need To Be a Spy To Get Your Hands On These Handheld Thermal Imagers

Infrared Camera
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Handheld thermal imagers or cameras are a helpful tool to use around the home, office, and in emergency situations when looking for sources of heat, cold, leaking air, and more. Handheld thermal imagers take thermal heat, which is energy, and translate it into visible light, which can be seen on the camera’s screen and is often displayed in a variety of colors or in black and white as a way to show the difference in temperature.

The image that the camera displays is called a thermogram and is processed by thermography, as explained by The three thermal infrared cameras that we’ve included on our list all come with a screen that displays the images and a built-in memory card where the thermograms are stored. The photos are later downloaded, usually to a computer, and can either be kept for reference or further examined using additional thermal infrared software.

Handheld thermal imagers are most commonly used by professionals when examining buildings and checking for hot and cold zones. Home inspectors, heating and cooling experts, farmers, and firefighters all use thermal infrared cameras in their daily work. Outside of buildings, the cameras are also often used by auto mechanics.

While often used by professionals, thermal infrared cameras can also be an excellent addition to any personal tool collection. By having one of the high-tech cameras at your disposal, homeowners can check for leaks in pipes, windows, near fireplaces, in the foundation of a building, around doorways and more. This can help homeowners to quickly and accurately diagnose any issues they have in the home and either fix it themselves or call an expert. Though the imagers are costly, being able to accurately diagnosis where a heating or cooling issue is stemming from can help avoid having professionals make unnecessary home visits, which often includes a fee.

Check out our top three picks for the best handheld thermal imagers below!

1. HTI-19 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera

The HTI-19 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera is a professional quality IR Infrared Thermal Imager that is used by home inspectors, farmers, firefighters and more thanks to its accurate 2.5°F temperature readings and five color scale palettes.

Pros: The HTI-19 features a 320 x 240 resolution a five-color scale palettes that are displayed on the 3.2” color screen, which provides a fast and accurate readout. The HTI-19 includes a built-in 3GB memory card where images can be stored. Download the images and charge the camera at the same time with USB connection, with one charge lasting for two to three hours of use. We like that the HTI-19 is not only accurate, but easy to use, with straightforward control buttons, including menu, navigational keys, and an image capture key.

Cons: Customers note the HTI-19 can be noisy in low-temperatures and that it can only save images in JPEG format, with RAW format not an option.

HTI-19 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera

Image courtesy of Amazon

2. HTI-18 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera

The HTI-18 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera has a 220 x 160 IR Resolution and a 3.2” color screen to show off its professional quality images.

Pros: The HTI-18 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera has almost all the same features as the HTI-19 model, including a 3GB memory card, a 3.2” color screen with five color palettes, easy button navigation, a USB charging cord that can also be used to download images, and temperature readings accurate to 2.5°F.

Cons: The HTI-18 has a smaller camera resolution than the HTI-19, with 220 x 160 versus 320 x 240.

HTI-18 Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera

Image courtesy of Amazon

3. FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera

The FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera is a Class II laser product and is so intuitive that it can be used by amateurs and professionals.

Pros: The FLIR has an object temperature range of –13 to +716°F and a minimum measurement distance of 10”. The FLIR has a safe 24:1 spot size ratio, which allows the user to stand a safe distance back when measuring heat. Like both HTI models, the FLIR has a USB cord that allows for easy image download, but its included memory card is much bigger at 8GB.

Cons: Unlike the HTI-18 and 19, the FLIR does not come with a case. The FLIR also has the lowest resolution on our list at 80 x 60.

FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera

Image courtesy of Amazon