Thermographic Survey of Electrical Systems – NZ

Here is exactly why a regular thermographic survey of company electrical systems is so important.

I inspect switchboards for many different private, commercial and insurance companies right across NZ, but the latest infrared electrical inspection in particular was quite interesting… for all the wrong reasons (In my opinion).

When you have a 24/7 operation, a thermal imaging survey every 6 months should be strictly enforced… not every 9 or 12 months. Recently, I was called out to an oil rig that had just experienced a fire in one of the main switchboard rooms nine months after the first thermographic inspection was carried out. If this company had maintained a strict policy for every 6 months, then this hot spot/fire hazard would have been picked up well in advance. To make matters worse, it was at 1:00am in the morning when the alarm went off. The crew of 40+ workers woke up to a fire on a ship full of oil. Not good. Put yourself in that position!

Upon the re-inspection of the surrounding switchboards in the same electronics room, I found another huge hot spot caused by a loose connection on the back of a sea water injection pump. The temperature at the connection was 167 degress! Here’s the photo…

Hot Spot Caused by Loose Connection
Hot Spot Caused by Loose Connection

This was a large offshore operation, so it was easy enough to shut this pump down and switch to the back up pump. It didn’t end there…

Next… I was thermal imaging a lighting panel in the engine room, and suddenly a glowing 92 degrees hot spot was coming off a 20amp breaker. Further testing showed 27 amps running through. It turns out the breaker and cables were under rated. One fire and two potential fires found within 3 weeks… this is not a record to brag about… but it can happen to any company who turns a blind eye to the importance of electrical system faults.

Remember, it only takes one hidden loose connection to potentially ‘bring the house down’. This is why some insurance companies now require thermal imaging prior to issuing a policy.

If you are considering a thermal imaging thermographic inspection, then now is the time. As the above company recently found out, it can turn out to be very expensive if you just ‘hold off’ for a few weeks or months… or not at all.  More electrical fault photos here

Thermal Imaging – Electrical Switchboards

We are one of New Zealand’s leading and longest established providers of quality thermal imaging services of electrical switchboards. SEE CLIENT LIST & SAMPLE PHOTOS BELOW…

Our key strengths include:

  • We are certified thermographers
  • We are experts in the infrared thermal imaging field – We created a thermal imaging business blueprint followed by over 450 thermography companies worldwide.
  • Years of experience in thermographic surveys here in NZ
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Fast 24hr turnaround of reporting
  • Reports meet the requirements of insurance companies
  • We are a preferred supplier for many insurance & property management companies
  • Quality service and excellent reporting standards assured’.
  • B.O.S.I.E T – H.U.E.T & EBS Certified by M&O Pacific Ltd (Issued in New Plymouth)
  • We are independent inspectors. What this means to you, is that we don’t have a ‘vested interest’ in finding electrical problems, with no sales pitch to ‘upsell you’ further repair services at the end of the inspection.  
  • Continuity/Familiarity – Each client is assigned one certified thermographer for the lifetime of the job.
  • Competitive pricing
  • We are already established in the industry, with many high profile commercial clients in NZ


electrical thermographers nz

NZ Commerical Clients: NZ District Councils – Hilton Hotels – Banks – Shopping Center Chains – Shipping Companies  – Mining Companies – Oil Companies – Offshore Oil Rigs – Origin Energy – Marine Services – NZ Schools – Production Facilities – Engineering Companies – Manufacturing -Electrical Contractors – Leisure Centers – and many others (Specific names available upon request).

Here’s some recent photo’s of switchboard panel inspection faults detected using our thermal imaging camera…

Below is an infrared photo of an overheated red phase on a 160 amp breaker – All 3 phases were running at 73 Amps, yet the red phase was 50% warmer. This thermal imaging thermographic fault was detected in a Coolroom switchboard from one of our nationwide clients – May 2010.

Any company that has multiple switchboards under load at any given time, should seriously consider thermal imaging as a preventative maintenance measure to detect faults in advance. Here’s why…

Our company was recently hired by a Nth Island regional city council to conduct infrared thermal imaging on all their switchboards within a particular division, and it was well worth the exercise! As a result of what we found, they have now seen the benefit of getting routine inspections as a form of preventative maintenance. Other types of faults we may come across during the inspection could look like this… (Cracked busbar insulation)

Cracked busbar insulation compare

When you have heavy machinery, or thousands of people relying on a multiple switchboards to be functioning correctly, the last thing you want is electrical failure. In most cases you only find out when it’s too late. When you open a switchboard, you’ll normally find a sea of wiring infront of you, and guessing which wire has caused the problem can certainly cost valuable time and money…especially if a shut down has occured and you’re in a hurry to get it back online. Thermal imaging will sort out any faulty wiring of switches immediately, allowing you to replace parts well in advance of a shut down.

electrical fault

In the case of this particular job (over 30 switchboards imaged), we found overheating main switches, arcing, loose connections, hot wires… you name it we found it! The electrician on the job (38yrs experience) with me couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

Thermal imaging allows us to detect minute temperature variations, so any electrical wire that is over heating stands out like a sore thumb! Unfortunately humans can not see these issues with the naked eye… but our infrared camera will see it immediately… and as a result preventing the possibility of an unwanted breakdown well in advance.

If you have a switchboard(s) in your workplace, or any electrical panel/wiring, give us a call and we’ll run the infrared camera over it for you… and as the city council just found out, it’s a very wise investment to make in your facility.

Studies show the average payback for routine thermal imaging on electrical components is 4:1.

Contact us today.

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