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Drone Thermal Imaging: The Next Wave in UAV Inspection Services

UAV inspection

As if aerial drone photography wasn’t a brilliant enough idea for roof inspections, along comes thermography equipment to make it even better. Now you can get a bird’s eye view of a home’s roofing system, plus give the customer valuable information about its energy efficiency.

What Makes Drones Smart for Home Inspections?

Drones arrived on the home inspection scene a few years ago as an alternative to climbing ladders and trekking across dangerous slopes. It was a great idea that made a lot of sense. Inspectors could stand on the ground and get a good, if not fantastic, aerial view with access that climbing can’t always allow.

No matter the site conditions or slope of the roof, a drone can soar above and get great images.

The legality of drone operation was questionable at first. Some renegades took to the skies, but no laws were in place to regulate operation. But in August of 2016, the FAA released its official “Small UAS Rule” for safe and legal use. As long as drone pilots follow safe operation rules and register where necessary, it’s A-OK to use drones for home inspection work.

UAV inspection

Why is Thermal Imaging a Great Drone Companion?

Great images and video make drones such a boon for home inspecting. With thermal imaging, customers can get a different set of information about the house they’re planning to buy.

The U.S. Department of Energy says thermography uses infrared technology to measure surface temperatures. Those measurements are conveyed in color imaging, usually with red areas representing hot, blue representing cold, and many variations in between.

In home inspecting, thermal imaging reveals hot and cold spots where the home isn’t as efficient as it could be. For example, if the roof appears orange or red in the display, it’s losing heat through the attic and needs insulation. Thermography can also help detect water infiltration or leaks. Cold, wet areas appear dark blue.

How Much Does Thermal Imaging Cost?

The biggest snag in widespread implementation is the cost. FLIR is a leader in thermal imaging technology, but their equipment doesn’t come cheap. They offer a “Home Inspection Drone” equipped with video and still imaging plus thermal imaging. That will set you back about $10k.

FLIR also offers thermal imaging kits to outfit other drones. And several other companies offer similar systems.

For the imaging kit, expect to pay about $1000 for a basic thermal imaging setup. That’s the baseline FLIR camera cost. You can find other companies, but remember that with technology, you get what you pay for.

Both drone photography and thermal imaging offer something that makes a home inspection more thorough and a better value for customers. Together in one unit, they make the process of aerial roof inspections and thermal imaging much more efficient.

ICA School stays up to date with the latest advancements in the home inspection industry. We now offer an education module on drones for home inspecting. Ready to learn more? Enroll now and get certified at your own pace.

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