Top 9 Best Thermal Imaging Cameras (*2021 Review*)

Do you want to find the best thermal camera?

Infrared cameras are a great way to find hidden water leaks, air leaks, missing insulation, electrical faults, and more.

In this product review guide, I will go over...

  • My #1 top pick for the best thermal imaging camera
  • How I use my thermal imaging camera during home inspections
  • How do infrared cameras work
top best rated thermal imaging camera reviews (1)

My Overall #1 Rated Pick

top best rated thermal imaging camera reviews
  • 43,200 pixel thermal sensor (240 x 180 resolution)
  • Comes with built-in WiFi and bluetooth for easy photo & report sharing
  • Picture-in-picture technology for easy diagnosis (infrared on top of regular photo)
  • Temperature range of 4°f to 1022°F.

My overall top pick for the best thermal imaging camera goes to the FLIR E6-XT. This premium infrared camera has a 43,200 pixel thermal camera that will give you incredible resolution to diagnose house or building problems. It comes with WiFi and bluetooth so you can easily share images and reports on the job. The E6-XT includes picture-in-picture technology so you can overlay infrared photos over regular photos.

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1. FLIR E6-XT
  • 43,200 Pixels
  • Built-in WiFi
  • MSX Technology
  • 43,200 Pixels
  • Built-in WiFi
  • MSX Technology
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2. FLIR C3
  • Rugged & Compact
  • WiFi Enabled
  • MSX Technology
  • Rugged & Compact
  • WiFi Enabled
  • MSX Technology
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3. Seek Thermal
  • Small & Compact
  • Charging Not Needed
  • 320x240 Sensor
  • Small & Compact
  • Charging Not Needed
  • 320x240 Sensor
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4. Hti Xintai
  • 320x240 Camera
  • 2-3 Hours On Charge
  • Lightweight
  • 320x240 Camera
  • 2-3 Hours On Charge
  • Lightweight
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5. FLIR TG165
  • 8GB microSD
  • High Temp Range
  • Low Price
  • 8GB microSD
  • High Temp Range
  • Low Price
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6. FLIR TG267
  • 19,200 Pixels
  • MSX Technology
  • Circular Laser Pointer
  • 19,200 Pixels
  • MSX Technology
  • Circular Laser Pointer
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7. Klein Tools TI250
  • 10,000 Pixels
  • MicroSD Slot
  • Temp Alarm Options
  • 10,000 Pixels
  • MicroSD Slot
  • Temp Alarm Options
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8. Top Don ITC629
  • 220x160 Camera
  • 3-Hrs of Charge
  • 3GB Built-In Memory
  • 220x160 Camera
  • 3-Hrs of Charge
  • 3GB Built-In Memory
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9. FLIR C5
  • MSX Technology
  • Includes Floodlight
  • FLIR Cloud Connectivity
  • MSX Technology
  • Includes Floodlight
  • FLIR Cloud Connectivity
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Top 9 Best Thermal Cameras

The best thermal cameras have high thermal resolutions for the most detailed images. My top picks are compact, portable, and rugged thermal cameras that have decent prices. Check out the best thermal cameras below...

1. FLIR E6-XT (Top Pick)

2. FLIR C3

3. Seek Thermal

4. Hti-Xintai (Budget Friendly)

5. FLIR TG165

6. FLIR TG267

7. Klein Tools TI250

8. Top Don ITC629

9. FLIR C5 (Best Compact)

How To Pick The Best Infrared Camera?

Choosing the right thermal camera for you may involve numerous specifications depending on the complexity and purpose of your task.

But the first criteria is choosing the right type or form factor for your thermal camera. There are thermal cameras that can be plugged into your phone, and there are also trigger-type thermal cameras that are self-powered and easy to use with one hand.

In regards to camera specs, the thermal resolution or pixel count is also very important. The higher the resolution, the more details you will be able to 'see' in the thermal imagery.

For more details, keep reading...

Thermal Camera Types (Form Factors)

The 'Phone Connected' Thermal Camera

The first type (and probably the least expensive) is the phone connected thermal camera.

These thermal cameras are plugged into your cell phone, and it uses the battery power of your phone. They are great for hobbyists, homeowners, and professionals who won't be using them for long periods of time. The portability and ease of use are great for short term applications.

However, if you plan on using a thermal camera for a long period of time --- such as for professional home energy audits --- then a handheld 'trigger-style' camera is preferable.

Read Also: What Are The Best Thermal Cameras For Android?

Handheld Thermal Imagers

The handheld style thermal cameras are also highly portable and easy to use like the phone-connected imagers. However, these 'rectangular shaped' thermal cameras have their own battery supply so it won't drain your phone's battery life during use.

Also, these thermal cameras have their own screen which is usually larger than trigger type cameras. These thermal cameras avoid any issues of connecting the thermal camera to your phone and all of those sort of problems.

And again, these thermal cameras are also very nice for short periods of time, but for long and exhaustive applications, a trigger-style is still preferable.

Read Also: How To Interpret Thermal Images?

Trigger Type Thermal Imagers

Trigger style infrared cameras are handheld devices that you hold with one hand as if your finger is on a trigger. There usually isn't an actual 'trigger' but it is just a way to hold the device. These devices are designed to be used for longer periods of time, and it is easier and ergonomic to use with one hand.

The downside of these types of thermal cameras is that the screens are usually smaller than the phone-connected and handheld cameras.

If you plan on using thermal cameras extensively for a home inspection, energy audit, or other professional uses --- then these cameras are likely your best option. The trigger style thermal cameras are usually the most expensive.

Choosing Thermal Resolution

Probably the most important thermal camera rating is the resolution or pixel count. Basically, the higher the resolution, the more thermal details you will see.

If you buy a IR camera with too low of a resolution, it will be difficult or impossible to pinpoint problems, and may be a waste of time. Buying a thermal camera with too high of a resolution will be needlessly expensive. The basic minimum of a thermal camera is in the 80x60 resolution range.

But for most work applications, such as home inspecting, a good resolution is in the 160x120 range.

What Are The Uses of Thermal Imaging Cameras?

Thermal cameras can be used in a wide variety of applications. Firefighters use thermal cameras to 'see' through smoke and to locate people. Law enforcement use thermal imagers to find criminals. I invite you to read my detailed guide on the uses of thermal cameras for homes.

Here are the top ways to use thermal imaging cameras in the home...

Water Leaks

Thermal cameras are great to find water leaks and moisture problems with homes. During my home inspections, water concerns are frequently a top problem with houses.

A thermal camera can quickly scan an entire area to find cold spots of likely water intrusion.

On the exterior of homes, especially flat roofing, pooled water or leaks will show up as hot spots as the sun goes down (water retains heat for a long period).

Electrical Hot Spots

Abnormal electrical connections can quickly be spotted using a thermal camera.

Loose wiring, broken insulation, and other electrical anomalies can quickly be detected using a IR camera. Especially with exposed electrical wiring, a home inspector or contractor may not want to get close to it.

With a thermal camera, you can get a bird's eye view of the electrical equipment.

Missing Insulation

Thermal cameras can be great tools to find missing or inadequate insulation and air leaks.

When I inspect an attic, a thermal camera can be a nice way to get pictures of missing or inadequate insulation.

Attic insulation ideally should be several inches above the ceiling joists, but I frequently find that older homes have areas of only a few inches of insulation.

But you can also find exterior walls with missing insulation and other areas.

Home Inspections

I have used thermal imaging cameras on many of my home inspections. If I have a suspicion about a certain area, let's say a basement wall, I can pull out my thermal camera to get a quick overview of temperatures in the area.

I can also take a picture of the infrared imagery and include it in my home inspection report. Even though I always use a moisture meter to confirm the presence of water or moisture --- using a thermographic camera can also help greatly. In addition to finding water, other uses for thermal imaging cameras can be to find electrical problems, air leaks, and missing insulation.

Read Also: What Are The Best Thermal Cameras For iPhones?

What Is A Thermal Imaging Camera?

A thermal imaging camera is a special type of video camera that will record videos and take pictures of the thermal landscape. Thermal cameras will convert the infrared signal (heat) into an electrical signal and display it visually on the screen.

Infrared cameras are much more popular than years ago because prices have dropped considerably. Thermographic cameras used to exceed $10,000 but can now be purchased for a few hundred dollars.

The type of light emitted by objects that is seen by thermal cameras is called infrared radiation.  Infrared radiation is in the electromagnetic spectrum just like visible light --- except that it is invisible to human eyes.

When you take a picture of a room using an infrared camera, it will show different colors or shades which represents the different temperatures of the environment. Most commonly, the higher temperature objects will appear orange and yellow, and the lower temperature objects will appear blue or purple.

My guide on how thermal cameras work goes into detail on how they detect heat, focal plane arrays, and thermal blindness.

What Is The Best Thermal Imaging Camera?

Here are my full reviews of top rated thermal cameras that won't break the bank. Check them out below...

My #1 top pick for the best thermal imaging camera goes to the FLIR E6-XT. 

The camera comes with a 43,200 (240 x 180) pixel infrared detector so you can see things that other cameras miss. It's temperature range goes from -4°f to 1022°F.

The E6-XT comes with built-in Wi-Fi which will allow you to share infrared pictures and send reports from wherever you are.

This FLIR camera has picture in picture technology so you can have a fixed section of a thermal image onto a regular digital photo to diagnose problems.

Pros

  • 43,200 pixel infrared detector
  • Detects from -4°f to 1022°F.
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Picture in picture technology

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May have poor software usability

The FLIR C3 is a premium thermal camera that is compact enough to fit in your pocket (or tool pouch).

Despite its size, it is a fully featured high quality thermal imaging camera with everything you expect from FLIR.

Each picture is 4800 pixels (640 x 480) with a temperature range of 14 to 122 fahrenheit.

It also includes WiFi connectivity and picture-in-picture technology.

Pros

  • Compact and rugged design
  • WiFi connectivity
  • Picture-in-picture technology with touchscreen

Cons

  • Missing cover for lens
  • Software may not work for PCs
  • Thermal resolution not very high for the price
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Seek Thermal transforms your android or apple smartphone (or tablet) into a fully functioning IR camera at a fraction of the price.

The 320 x 240 thermal sensor allows you to find electrical faults, water leaks, insulation problems and other heat related issues.

This thermal camera doesn't requires batteries (uses phone battery) and it comes with a waterproof case when not in use.

Pros

  • Compact and small 
  • Charging is not required (plugs into phone)
  • 320 x 240 thermal sensor

Cons

  • May need to remove phone case to plug it in phone
  • Will drain cell phone battery life

The Hti-Xintai HTI-19 is a budget friendly thermal camera (made in China) that has a good thermal resolution at a low price.

This thermal camera has 320 x 240 resolution with 300,000 pixels with an accuracy of 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

It comes with a 3GB built-in memory card and micro-USB connection for easy storage.

This camera will last 2-3 hours on a single charge and is lightweight (less than one pound).

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • 320x240 thermal resolution
  • 2-3 hours on single charge
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Lower quality than FLIR
  • Need to make more adjustments for clarity

The FLIR Spot Thermal Camera is a high quality thermal camera that won't break the bank.

This rugged IR camera can withstand a fall from 6ft and can be stored in a tool bag without issues.

The camera has an 80 x 60 resolution and temperature range up to 716 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes with 8GB microSD card so you can easily transfer photos to your computer.

No training required, it is simple to use.

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • 8GB microSD card
  • High temp range camera

Cons

  • Lower quality images
  • Screen may flicker

The FLIR TG267 is a premium thermal camera but it still won't break the budget.

This handheld and lightweight thermal camera features 19,200 pixels for high resolution images for work applications.

It also features a circular laser pointer so you can clearly see in your environment what your are measuring.

And of course, this FLIR camera comes with MSX image enhancement which adds visual details onto the thermal image.

Pros

  • 19,200 pixels for high resolution
  • Circular laser pointer
  • Lightweight
  • MSX image enhancement

Cons

  • Long boot time
  • Image lags

The TI250 by Klein Tools is a nice lightweight thermal camera.

The thermal imager has over 10,000 pixels for a good thermal resolution when you are inspecting.

The TI250 also has a temperature alarm option for more functionality, and the battery is rechargeable.

It includes a carrying case, and the thermal camera has three different color palettes.

Pros

  • Over 10k pixels
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Carrying case
  • Temperature alarm option

Cons

  • Slower than FLIR
  • No handle or trigger

The ITC629 by Top Don is a high quality thermal camera with the same features as high end camera but at a much lower price. This camera has a resolution of 220x160, 0.07 degree sensitivity, and 5 different thermal color palettes.

This Top Down thermal imager has a very wide field of view so you can capture many objects in the thermal camera at one time.

The battery is rechargeable and you can get up to 3 hours of working time on a single charge. It also comes with 3GB of built-in memory that can allow you to store up to 20k+ images.

Pros

  • 220x160 resolution
  • Wide field of view
  • 3 hours on single charge
  • 3GB built-in memory for 20k+ stored images

Cons

  • Lower quality images than FLIR
  • Doesn't have visual overlay details

The FLIR C5 is really nice compact and rugged thermal camera from renowned FLIR company. This portable thermal imager has a camera with 19,200 pixels for top quality thermal images.

It also has FLIR cloud connectivity so you can automatically backup and transfer images.

This FLIR thermal camera is actually a 3-in-1 tool because it includes a floodlight and a regular visual camera.

And of course, this thermal camera has FLIR's MSX technology which overlays visual data onto thermal images for more details.

Pros

  • MSX visual overlay for detailed images
  • Includes floodlight and regular camera
  • Automatically transfer and backup images

Cons

  • Poor instructions

My #1 Top Pick: FLIR E6-XT

My #1 top pick for the best thermal IR camera goes to the FLIR E6-XT. Here's why...

#1. 43,200 Pixels

This high quality thermal camera will give you incredibly detailed thermal images. The resolution is 320 x 240 with over 40k pixels.

#2. Picture-In-Picture Technology

This feature by FLIR allows you to overlay an infrared photo over a regular photo to help you diagnose problems --- a unique benefit.

#3 WiFi

The E6-XT is WiFi and bluetooth enabled so you can easily share photos and reports on the job.

#4 Leading Brand

FLIR is the leading manufacturer of thermographic cameras so it is a brand you can trust.

Read Also: What Are The Best Moisture Meters For Home Inspecting?

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Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

I am a licensed home inspector in two U.S. states and the founder of Home Inspector Secrets. After performing hundreds of inspections, and seeing thousands of house defects, I realized people would love to have an online resource dedicated to home maintenance. I write detailed home guides and product reviews sprinkled with inspection tips. You can read my bio here.

About Home Inspector Secrets

Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home maintenance. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, and much more.

Other Home Guides

Looking to learn more about home maintenance? Check out our other informative home product reviews and guides!