Suenos Azules Marine Surveying and Consulting • Fort Lauderdale, Florida Telephone: 754.333.0970 


Logos - Suenos Azules Marine - John Banister, AMS - Marine Surveyor

Thermal Imaging

What is Thermal Imaging?

Thermal imaging (also sometimes referred to as thermography, thermal scanning, infrared imaging or infrared thermal imaging) is the means by which humans can see the infrared portion of the light spectrum. Every object gives off some amount of thermal radiation so thermal imaging is ideal for observing temperature anomalies that are abnormal in machinery, electrical equipment, and even in solids such as wood, aluminum, steel, and fiberglass. Thermal imaging does not require light to see thermal radiation (like you would see in night vision cameras which require some amount of light) so thermal cameras can see in absolute darkness. Thermal imaging is used widely in law enforcement, security, the military, air and sea navigation, surveillance, fire fighting, private industry, medicine, and science.

Marine surveyor infrared thermal imaging West Palm Beach, Florida Certified Thermographer

              Thermal Imaging Camera

The tool used for thermal imaging is the thermographic camera, which is similar in appearance and operation of a portable digital video camera. I prefer using the Flir® brand infrared cameras. How an infrared camera works is by sensing electromagnetic waves within the light spectrum wavelength between approximately 0.9 and 14 micrometers (visible light that can be seen by the human eye is between .4 - .75 micrometers).

A special lens on the infrared camera focuses the infrared light emitted by all of the objects in view.

The focused light is scanned by a phased array of infrared detector elements. The detector elements create a very detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirtienth of a second for the detector array to obtain the temperature information to make the thermogram.

This information is obtained from several thousand points in the field of view of the detector array. The thermogram created by the detector elements is translated into electric impulses.

The impulses are sent to a signal processing unit. The signal processing unit is a circuit board with a dedicated chip that translates the information from the elements into data for the display.

The signal processing unit sends the information to the color display monitor on the camera, where it appears as various colors depending on the intensity of the infrared emission. The combination of all the impulses from all of the elements creates the infrared image. These impulses will also record surface temperatures of the image taken. Infrared cameras can be adjusted for optimum imaging by manually setting the distance to the object, humidity, and air temperature before the image is taken. Special software that we have can also adjust the thermographic image, search and label exact temperatures outside of the spot size ratio (the center crosshairs on the infrared image), adjust the thermal tuning scale, and crop and edit the image based on how small the thermal anomaly may be.

Infrared Thermal Cameras Used in My Marine Surveys and Inspections

I only use Flir® brand high definition professional grade infrared thermal cameras in my marine surveys, engine surveys, and inspections. These cameras that I own are calibrated infrared thermal imaging cameras with a minimum of 320 x 240 pixels to a maximum of 464 x 348 pixels with an image frequency of 30 Hz. The cameras I own can detect a minimum of 43,200 - 161,472 individual temperature shots per digital or video image. The minimal thermal range of the cameras I use are between -4 degrees farenheit - 2,732 degrees farenheit (-20 degrees celsius - 1,500 degrees celsius) which means I can see thermal anomalies in cold temperatures (such as freon hoses in marine air conditioning systems and refrigeration systems) and in extremely hot temperatures (such as overheating turbochargers and overheating exhaust manifolds in engines).

Each infrared thermal image I take is properly tuned based on the enviromental conditions at the time of the inspection with special software to reveal thermal anomalies accurately. As an ITC® Level III Certified Master Thermographer, I know how to properly take, tune, and interpret infrared thermal images to determine if there are abnormalities in the thermal images or video taken of hull composites, engines, electrical systems or marine components. I further understand how these systems work and what normal running temperatures are in many different engines and systems on board vessels from years of professional training and experience as a marine mechanic, a marine surveyor, and as a certified thermographer. 

My professional thermography certifications and training certificates can be found here.

Benefits of Thermal Imaging

There are numerous benefits to thermal imaging in many industires. In the marine industry there are many advantages to thermal imaging. Some of these advantages are:

1. No contact is needed. Keeps the user out of danger.

2. It is two-dimensional. Thermographic temperatures can be measured at one point or a hundred or more points on a single thermographic image.

3. It is real time. Allows fast scanning and recording of stationary targets. Objects can not escape their own radiation.

4. Thermal patterns can be seen. This helps significantly reduce the time and money spent on a technician or mechanic that would have to spend hours to disassemble and troubleshoot a component or go through miles of wiring on a boat or yacht to find the problem. The thermographic image can find the temperature anomaly quickly.

5. Enhances the marine survey report. If desired, thermal imaging can be included in the survey report on components such as engines, transmissions, electrical equipment, electronic devices, tanks, and hulls to look for heat anomalies that can determine if malfunctioning components, leaks, previous fiberglass repairs or delamination exist within the vessel.

Wiring - Suenos Azules Marine Surveying and Consulting, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Photo of Breaker Panel Wiring  

Thermal image wiring,, Suenos Azules Marine Surveying and Consulting, West Palm Beach, Florida

Same breaker panel as seen with an infrared camera showing an overheating wire and connection leading to the battery charger

Thermography and How It Makes Your Vessel Safer

As you can see in the two photos above, thermography can make your vessel (or prospective vessel you are planning to purchase) a safer investment. Thermography can sense heat that may prevent an electrical fire. Thermal imaging can detect leaking fuel or water from tanks that may prevent an explosion or water damage to the interior of the vessel. Thermal imaging can detect temperature anomalies in the engines or transmissions that can prevent much more costly engine or transmissions repairs later on. In the past I have found overheating electric motors stemming from branch breakers that would not stay on and temperature anomalies in several engines, electrical engines, and hydraulic motors that would have lead to much more costly repairs had the thermal camera not been used to find them. Below are some other images I have captured on surveys that show other findings:

Infrared thermal image of a large sportfish yacht with large fiberglass patches under the gel coat from previous damage

Infrared thermal image of raised tabbing around a stringer and transverse frame on board a sailboat

Infrared thermal image of a Yamaha outboard engine with an overheating number one cylinder from a faulty thermostat

An infrared thermal image of a overheating turbocharger on a diesel engine while running at wide open throttle

A thermal image of trapped water in the core under the fiberglass around the mount of a T-top support

An infrared thermal image of delamination in the transom of a hull

An infrared thermal image of a overheating wire connection at a solenoid on board a center console powerboat

An infrared thermal image of a loose hull insert of the starboard hull of a sailing catamaran

As you can see from the photos above and in the video below, thermal imaging can reveal many things that may not have otherwise been found using standard marine surveying practices. This is an amazing technology and incorporating infrared thermal imaging into any marine survey or damage inspection gives the boat owner or potential buyer a much better idea of what they are dealing with. As a marine surveyor, I would feel limited in my abilities without having the thermal imaging camera as one of my tools. It only makes for a much better report. With thermal imaging incorporated into my survey inspections I can submit my findings with a lot more confidence especially when dealing with issues that are beneath fiberglass, rubber, wood or other materials you may find on boats or yachts. The saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words" goes almost double with thermal images when they are presented to a boat owner or potential buyer. With a good thorough marine survey aided with thermal imaging provides little to no doubt (or argument) of what the true condition (and sometimes value) the vessel is actually in. I believe thermal imaging is the future of marine surveying and in time will be just as common as the use of the moisture meter among marine surveyors and other marine related service professionals.

Below is a thermal video taken in real time (another service we offer) of four Mercury Verado in-line six cylinder, 2.6 liter, supercharged outboard engines while running during an outboard engine survey: 


Feel free to contact me about any questions you may have about thermal imaging or to discuss if you think that it may be necessary for your boat, yacht or commercial vessel. Pre-purchase marine surveys include infrared thermal imaging on certain components of the vessel as part of the survey inspection. I can incorporate thermal imaging into any kind of other marine survey report and can adjust special pricing for this service based on your needs.

Captain John Banister, AMS®
Suenos Azules Marine Surveying and Consulting
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
SAMS® Accredited Marine Surveyor
ABYC® Standards Accredited
Yamaha Certified Outboard Engine Technician  
Mercury / MerCruiser Certified Technician  
Honda Certified Outboard Engine Technician  
USPAP® Training Certificate on Appraisal Standards
ITC® Certified Level III Master Thermographer
Member SAMS®, ABYC®, IAMI®, and NFPA®







Note: This page, written content, and all photos were orginally written and published by John Banister in May, 2012. No other person, company or entity has my permission to copy the content of this page (including photos) or any page on this website or other websites owned by me or Suenos Azules LLC. In other words, go to school, get trained on your own equipment before you use it, take your own photos, and publish your own content based on your own work, knowledge, experience, and training. “Infrared Training Center,” “ITC,” and “Flir” logos and designs are registered trademarks of Teledyne Flir Systems Incorporated and are used on this website and in proprietary reporting with exclusive permission from Teledyne Flir Systems Incorporated. 


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Suenos Azules Marine Surveying and Consulting • Fort Lauderdale, Florida