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Seek Thermal Camera vs Energy Audit

TheDukeAnumber1

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My wife and I recently purchased an old house and we were considering getting an energy audit, the kind where they use a blower door and a thermal camera, to resolve any insulation issues that are less apparent. We actually found a company that would do it for only $100.

Our issue is deciding if the one time price tag plus their evaluation is worth it, or if we would be better served getting the seek thermal camera for only twice the price where I would do the audit myself and we could check it year after year.

Does anyone have any experience or thoughts on this? Here are some of the Seek links if you haven't seen it yet.


Thermal Camera for iPhone and Android | Seek Thermal

Seek Thermal Review: Cheaper Predator Vision For Your Smartphone

http://www.amazon.com/Seek-UW-AAA-Thermal-Imaging-Connector/dp/B00NYWAHHM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1422297724&sr=8-3&keywords=thermal+camera
 



Hiemal

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Honestly, from the way it sounds the Seek thermal doohickie sounds like it'd be the better option for what you're using it for. You don't need to know exactly what you're looking at in the thermal pictures (you know anyway, i mean you're pointing it at drafty doors n' stuff) to understand that yeah, there's a cold spot here.

And considering it's only $100 more than what you'd pay anyway for a one time thing, I'd say definitely go for it.
 

TheDukeAnumber1

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You don't need to know exactly what you're looking at in the thermal pictures (you know anyway, i mean you're pointing it at drafty doors n' stuff)
Exactly lol, It would be an easy choice if the picture was a even a little better, but how helpful can it really be if I have to look off camera to know what I'm looking at?
 

jeffreythe00

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I have a seek camera and while I would have rather spent the 900$ to get an E4 its not too bad of a camera.

The difference between buying a Seek camera and getting an energy audit besides the obvious, would be that the guy you're hiring will likely be using a MUCH better camera than Seek.

Though I live in a very old, very drafty house and besides re-insulating the entire house its been pretty good at showing where some of the bigger leaks are and I've been able to check friends houses and various other things with the camera.

I can try to post a few photos for you if interested.
 

Teej

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There is some interpretation of what you are looking at besides just if something looks hot or cold etc.

The principles are somewhat straight forward, but, I see them misapplied/misinterpreted regularly.

The cheaper the charge to do an energy audit, the more subsidized it needs to be to make it worth doing for the party doing it.

IE: There are grants from the EPA, etc, and, they can reduce the costs, and/or, the party doing the audit is counting on the opportunity to sell you a follow-up service, such as the repairs or improvements they recommend, etc.

Part of an audit is to help you understand how to prioritize remedial measures. IE: What is the better use of your resources, $1,200 for attic insulation or $1,200 for sealing window air leaks, or $1,200 to replace bulbs, or upgrade to a higher efficiency furnace or AC unit, and so forth....what's the pay back period at your local energy rates?

The camera can see heat...but it doesn't calculate energy costs per square inch, etc.

If you spend some time studying, you could probably wing it and get a rough idea of what would be worth doing in what order, etc...and avoid the private party doing it for $100 and proposing you spend X$ with them to remediate the deficiencies, etc.

I'm a certified thermographer, and, I am quite familiar with all of these procedures, but, I also review studies done, and see what's out there, and, well, the studies are often OK, with a heavy emphasis on boiler plate, but the recommendations pushed high profit alternatives rather than pragmatic solutions.

One way to compromise is to get your cheap IR, and, have the audit done while you follow them around and see what they did....and what you see when looking at what they see, etc....so you have a baseline.

You might not have a blower door, etc...so, a lot of what they see with forced airflow, positive or negative pressure differentials, etc...you won't see, because you will be looking at the house under passive conditions.

IE: Follow them around, see what they see while you use your IR, then, after they're gone, look at the same places again...and see the difference.

You know know what you see means.

:D


If what you see is clear or too unclear as far as diagnostic help...then you know your IR under passive/blower conditions is useless or not. If you can see enough of what you saw with the blower on, without it, you have a fighting chance to tell if your repairs made a difference after you make them.

The scale on the temperature reading, that gives the differentials, is part of the key to knowing what the differences are...so, the accuracy of your camera will be proportional to your odds of success...if doing the math.
 
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Pman

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I have a "no heat" home. Double walls with 14" between them filled with insulation and everything silicone sealed. House is all electric and just has a couple of 220V baseboard heaters and an air to air heat exchanger run off a humidistat. Generally only need heat when it gets down to about 15F out.
 

ped

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Not available in the UK :/
 

TheDukeAnumber1

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@ Teej

What are some of the more common misinterpretations? Ideally it would be good to have both so I can collect my own data and be sure of the interpretations but budget wise I really only want to do one. I'm confident I could rig my own blower door aswell. The company I'm considering hiring will be looking to sell work to minimize heat loss after the inspection.

@ Pman

I'm definitely wishing I had one of those homes atm.
 

Teej

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@ Teej

What are some of the more common misinterpretations? Ideally it would be good to have both so I can collect my own data and be sure of the interpretations but budget wise I really only want to do one. I'm confident I could rig my own blower door aswell. The company I'm considering hiring will be looking to sell work to minimize heat loss after the inspection.

@ Pman

I'm definitely wishing I had one of those homes atm.

Its sort of a long list, but, some areas are more common/normal leak points, and, there can be water damage that can fool people into thinking its air infiltration and visa versa if focusing on hot/cold areas.

The most important thing to consider starts with the outdoor conditions relative to the indoor conditions at the time of your testing.

For example: If its hotter outside, infiltrating air will be warmer...but, the longer the pathway, the cooler it will become as it exchanges heat with its passageway materials, etc.

Studs, etc, will essentially act as breaks in the insulation, so, in the winter for example, will appear colder than the insulation to either side.

Insulation is supposed to be installed with the vapor barrier flaps or "ears" overlapping the studs or joists, etc...but many installers are lazy/uninformed and simply tuck the ears into the stud bays, etc.

Batting typically has breaks at seams...so if they are stuffing a section of batting in, and don't seat it to the next section well and tape the seam, there will be a break in the barrier at that seam, etc.

Corners and headers and places where the framing lumber is doubled or tripled, etc, have no space to put the batting, so, that area/junction will be more similar to the outside temp, and, tend to not have a continuous vapor barrier.

Some places have reversed vapor barriers, where the contractor applied a rule of thumb that should have had an exception. For example, the vapor barrier should face the direction the vapor is coming from.

Many contractors interpret this to mean facing the occupied side, if they are from the north, where the humidity, etc, tends to be from the occupants.

Some, from the South where it is more humid outside, put the barrier facing outside, not on the occupied side.

Some buildings are built by crews who might be from any combination of states...and who put in the barriers the same way they always did...w/o thinking about why.

Some buildings are built by those who stopped insulating at points that they felt an inspector was unlikely to check. For example, the crawlspace has insulation visible from the hatch, as far as a flashlight can hit from there, but, beyond that and around the corner is bare, etc.

Some places had renovations that covered an existing vapor barrier with a another set of materials that acted as a second barrier, resulting in a doubled barrier which traps moisture, etc.


Moist air is LIGHTER than dry air, so it rises. So, attic insulation tends to have the barrier facing down. If you add a second layer of insulation, it should not also have a barrier, to avoid that trap.

Many windows are designed to accept a certain amount of rain, etc, in, but to drain it back out. That often involves an air passage, and plugging that can cause the window water to drain back into the wall, etc. Some windows are not flashed in or insulated properly, and the air gap/flashings are a problem that needs to be fixed. (You need to know what you are looking at to know which response is appropriate)





And so forth.
 
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djQUAN

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I say go with Teej's advice. Having a thermal imager is very useful, especially if you know what you're looking at.
 

jeffreythe00

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Heres a few photos I snapped from various areas of my hpuse. You can clearly see the temp differeces around leaky areas and thermal uniformly on areas with little to no temp difference.

Seek Thermal - Imgur
 

jeffreythe00

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Units are ready to ship in the US if anyone wants one now. I'd have no problem drop shipping as long as you pay for the shipping.
 

EnergyCoherence

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I would take a look at the seek xr, it's $100 more, but it has adjustable focus, giving sharper images for closer targets. Flir also makes the flir 1, but it only has a 80x60 sensor, although the seek isn't really 206x156, as it has every 15th pixel blacked out to skirt around a flir patent. Flir is coming out with the flir1 gen2 for android which will use a 160x120 lepton sensor, but that's mid-year preorder.
 




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