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Seeing the Invisible: Cooled vs. Uncooled Cameras

Seeing the Invisible: Cooled vs. Uncooled Cameras

Apr 13,2023
thermal imaging cameras
Thermal imaging can be used to detect defects, provide assistance, make predictions, and solve problems in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military scenarios. Thermal imaging sensors "see" the heat radiated by objects (invisible to the human eye) and convert it into an image. All objects with a temperature above absolute zero generate heat energy. Radiated thermal energy covers part of the electromagnetic spectrum and increases with temperature.

Thermal imaging has a wide range of uses, from advanced research to defense and security, and even sports and leisure activities. There are currently two types of thermal imaging cameras on the market, cooled and uncooled.

Uncooled thermal imaging sensors operate at ambient temperature. Cooled sensors are housed in a unit, keeping them at extremely low temperatures. These systems cooled by cryogenic technology are very sensitive. However, they are more expensive and less reliable than uncooled sensors, mainly because they require complex cooling systems.

How do you know if a cooled or uncooled imager is right for your needs? You first need to understand where and how your thermal imaging camera is used.

Cooling System

The cooled thermal image is kept at a very low temperature by a cooling system. The fact that they are cooled suggests that they are not "blinded" by their own infrared radiation. Every time the system starts up, it must be cooled. These cooling sensors are most sensitive to small temperature differences between objects in the observed scene. Cooled imagers are generally bulkier than uncooled imagers, but they provide very high image quality and are compatible with long-distance lenses.

Uncooled (bolometer-based) Systems

Uncooled thermal imaging cameras are compact and do not need to be integrated into bulky and potentially heavy packages. They are especially suitable for mobile applications where weight is more important than image quality. Microbolometer-type detectors are significantly less expensive than their cooled counterparts, making them compatible with compact, affordable devices. These sensors are also more reliable under similar operating conditions. For example, for monitoring applications, microbolometers require much less maintenance than cooling sensors.

Uncooled thermal imaging sensors can offer some very significant advantages over cooled imagers. However, understanding the conditions under which the image will be used is critical to making the right choice.

For ranges of 5 km or more, a cooled thermal imaging system may be more economical and better suited for the task. That's because uncooled cameras require bulky, expensive lenses to increase their range.

Our experts can help you choose the type of system that suits your needs. If you want to buy a thermal imager, please contact us.

JAVOL provides thermal and infrared imaging solutions, which are widely used in machine vision, autonomous driving, drone payloads, high-end manufacturing, medical diagnosis, and other fields. We have leading R&D technology and excellent manufacturing technology. We can continuously adjust and optimize the design scheme according to the actual needs of users. Our products are sold all over the world and used in various industries. If you want to know about specific services, please send us your requirements, and we will give you a satisfactory answer in time.
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