There's little question that infrared (IR) technology reduces electrical danger. In addition to allowing workers to get farther away from the danger zone, infrared equipment can also decrease costly down time. Here is a selection of IR tools and associated safety applications:
1. Infrared thermometers
An IR thermometer can quickly survey compressor head temperatures, compressor oil sump temperatures, evaporator coil and suction line temperatures, discharge line temperatures, condenser coil and liquid line temperatures, and fan motor temperatures. Safety applications are numerous, including:
- Staying away from hazardous and inaccessible or distant targets.
- Staying away from electrical components.
- Allowing big picture evaluations of machinery and surfaces without coming directly into contact with machinery.
2. Visual Infrared thermometers
Unlike a regular infrared thermometer with digital-only display of temperature values, visual infrared thermometers display a low-resolution thermal image combined with a visual image. In effect the visual infrared thermometer combines elements of an infrared thermometer with a thermal imager. Safety applications include:
- Taking temperatures as far as 10 feet (3 meters) away
- Measuring infrared radiation from an area in front of the device and further from danger.
- Checking for abnormal temperature conditions or other power devices on circuit boards or heat sink assemblies, allowing diagnostics without overexposure to hazards.
3. Infrared cameras
Infrared cameras detect heat energy and convert it into an electronic signal. This signal is then processed into a thermal image, used to perform temperature calculations. Safety applications include:
- Creating highly informative thermal images without making contact with the subject equipment.
- Remote scanning of circuits for problems outside the arc flash boundary.
- Reading measurements outside the arc zone.
4. Infrared windows
Infrared windows provide a solid barrier between the thermographer and the live conductors. By design, it is possible to reduce the trigger effects of an arc, but also provide a far safer working environment. Some of the safety applications include:
- Ability to inspect energized components with the panel door closed.
- Heavy duty construction designed to protect the thermographer under arc-flash conditions.
- Locking security covers ensure that only trained and authorized people can remove the infrared window to complete an inspection or scan.
Whether taking thermal images or inspecting equipment, infrared technology aids safety measures by allowing remote temperature and image assessment. This technology is becoming commonplace and is a critical component of many company safety programs.
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